Preventing Pollution – one chemical at a time

You may have heard from me in the past couple of months, pestering to set up a meeting. Or you may have seen me running around, with some colourful sheets rifling through your cabinets.

This intro makes me sound rather suspicious but trust me, my actions were not. For the last few months I’ve had the pleasure of working on the Pollution Prevention Plan Also known as the P2!

suspiciousperson-cartoon

(I’m not suspicious, I swear)

If you haven’t had the pleasure of me bothering you to help complete this plan, let me give you the quick break down.

Essentially, the City of Toronto requires organizations to submit a Pollution Prevention Plan. This plan includes recording any products used by UHN that could potentially contaminate the city sewers with chemicals of concerns.

This plan follows 3 principal rules, with the aim to keep the city’s water system clean – Avoid, Reduce and Eliminate (quite similar to the 3R’S we’ve all come to love).

avoidreducelimate

Here’s a quick summary of the three rules.

  • AVOID using products with harmful pollutants – this will help reduce the contamination of waste water.

The City of Toronto has identified the following harmful pollutants as top priority in its mission to reduce pollutants being released into water systems.  Not only does UHN try to avoid these chemicals of concern, but we also follow five other policies. These cover guidelines at a national level, provincial, municipal, our organization and even Proposition 65 – which comes from sunny California, (the golden child we all want to be like).

badchems

List of nasty pollutants, according to the City of Toronto

  • ELIMINATE products with harmful pollutants from the department, and replace with more environmentally-friendly substitutes!
  • If it is not possible to avoid using the pollutant, find ways to help REDUCE the release of the chemical into the wastewater or the environment. The simplest solution to this is to avoid dumping any of these chemicals down the drain.

At the end of the day, we want to mitigate contamination of the water system.  In Toronto, water is constantly recycled and eventually it becomes our drinking water – and no one wants to drink water filled with scary sounding chemicals like xylene or mercury or Trans-1,3-dichloropropylene.

At UHN, we’re committed to Patient and Planet Centred Care, and by making a Pollution Prevention Plan, we continue to strive to our commitment. This year, we were able to develop a more detailed and comprehensive list. We even added 24 new departments!

My experience working on the Pollution Prevention Plan has been quite an adventure. As a person with a naturally questioning nature, I must say this has made me more of a paranoid parrot … but in a good way. I’ve learned that unfortunately many companies still do not list ALL of the ingredients used in their products (proprietary formulas, e.g. fragrances could contain anything … a valid reason to fuel my paranoia).  As well, I was proud to positively impact the safety of UHN patients, staff and the environment.

What are you looking at?

What are you looking at?

A big THANK YOU to all the Management and Staff who have helped me to successfully compile this grand list of products and spread awareness about the Pollution Prevention Plan.  I have had the immense pleasure of getting to know many different people, and have learned so much!

I hope you have become more aware of the products that you use in your department or even at home, and the proper ways to dispose of these products.

Thanks for tuning in.

One thought on “Preventing Pollution – one chemical at a time

  1. Water is our most precious resource. Keeping it clean is important. Does your HVAC closed loop and cooling tower use chemicals to make it more efficient? Have you tried any non chemical ways to treat water and remove the pollutants flushed down the drain?

    Like

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