Sustain Mount Sinai
Acknowledging that human health is inextricably linked to the environment, Mount Sinai is committed to protecting our patients, our people, and our planet through sustainable practices.
History of Environmental Health at Mount Sinai
Mount Sinai has been a world leader in environmental medicine since the creation of our medical school more than 50 years ago. Mount Sinai researchers were the first to prove the link between asbestos and lung cancer. Mount Sinai physicians led the effort to remove lead from gasoline in the U.S. and around the world. Mount Sinai researchers have documented the effects of pesticides, phthalates, and other synthetic chemicals on children’s health, and have led the way in creating evidenced-based programs for the prevention of exposures to these toxic chemicals. Mount Sinai physicians and researchers are revealing how climate change affects human health and modeling how best to protect the health of future generations.
Why care about sustainability in healthcare?
Hospitals make significant contributions to their communities by caring for the sick, providing jobs, educating students and community members, and functioning as centers for important medical research. Hospitals operate all day every day and need sophisticated heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to maintain operating rooms, laboratories, computers, medical equipment, as well as food and housekeeping services. It’s not a surprise then that hospitals have a significant environmental impact. They are among the most energy intensive facilities accounting for at least 8 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and 7 percent of dioxide emissions. Hospitals generate a large amount of waste—nearly 7,000 tons per day including toxic waste from chemicals. Hospitals consume large amounts of water for cleaning and energy for heating and cooling—up to two times the energy compared to an average office building. Research facilities like Mount Sinai can use even more! On average hospitals generate about 34 pounds of waste per patient bed per day and almost 6 million tons of garbage every year. Air pollution from the health care sector's own electricity usage increases cases of asthma, respiratory illnesses, and emergency department visits that cost $600 million per year.
The environmental impact of providing healthcare can affect human health by increasing pollution, greenhouse, and by contributing to environmental degradation which disrupts life supporting eco-systems. The Sustain Mount Sinai Executive Committee understands it has a unique opportunity to improve the health and well-being of our patients, employees, visitors and community members through the efficient use of energy and natural resources and by reducing as much as possible waste and pollution.
Health Benefits of Sustainable Healthcare Practices
- Reducing potential exposure to toxic chemicals within our walls creates a safer environment for our patients, visitors, and employees.
- Reducing our waste and energy use reduces pollution in the communities where we reside improving the health of the community
- Reducing the use of scarce resources and preventing environmental degradation preserves the eco-system, biodiversity, human health and supports the delicate ecosystem that supports life on Earth.
Caring for the environment is consistent with the most basic tenet of healthcare: First do no harm.
In 2013, Mount Sinai Health System was formed by linking seven hospital campuses and one medical school to create an integrated healthcare delivery network. Mount Sinai Health System is the largest non-governmental employer in New York State and one of the largest not-for-profits in the U.S. A system this large uses many resources in day-to-day operations and provides many opportunities to implement sustainable practices that can improve the health of our patients, our people, and our planet.
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