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Projects Database

Mercury Pollution Prevention In Healthcare Initiative

Project Information

Award Amount:$70,000.00
Dollars Leveraged:$25,200.00
Start-End Dates:10/1/99-9/30/01
Description:Summary: Erie County Department of Environment and Planning conducted hospital surveys/audits with the objective to eliminate the use of mercury-containing products in healthcare facilities and replace them with suitable mercury-free alternatives. Principle sub-objectives were to: 1) implement in-house mercury awareness and education campaigns, 2) identify and quantify current use of mercury in each hospital, 3) identify and quantify mercury products storage, 4) pursue mercury-free purchasing policies, and 5) identify opportunities for solid waste reductions.

Environmental Results/Products: The Erie County Program Manager met with representatives from each of the following hospitals: Erie County Medical Center (county facility), Buffalo General Hospital (Kaleida Health System), and St. Joseph Hospital (Catholic Health System), and Roswell Park Cancer Institute (State facility). Roswell Park declined to participate in the program stating the newly constructed facility was already mercury free. A work plan was developed for the three remaining facilities, focusing on the initial phases of the project and developing a time line for the various phases of the program. The Program Manager extended the program to include a Visiting Nurses Association for mercury pollution prevention efforts.

Following the completion of facility surveys, the Program Manager and staff from the Erie County Office of Solid Waste scheduled two-day pollution prevention and solid waste management audits of each hospital. The audits included mercury use and storage; current waste handling practices; polyvinyl chloride use; recycling practices; and waste reduction. Follow-up reports, specific to pollution prevention and solid waste management were prepared for each hospital. Each report summarized major findings from the audits, proposed recommendations and best management practices and contained supporting documentation.

The pollution prevention and solid waste reduction accomplishments realized by the hospitals participating in the pilot study included:
• elimination of use and distribution of mercury fever thermometers by the hospital
• elimination of use of tungsten-weighted feeding tubes
• continuous phase out of mercury sphygmomanometers
• implemented dental amalgam recycling
• implemented lead foil recycling
• implemented in-house programs to increase solid waste recycling participation

The hospital staff continues to work with Erie County DEP to investigate reuse opportunities for products such as unused durable equipment, surgical supplies, and surgical packaging.

As noted previously, a local chapter Visiting Nurses Association (VNA) was included in the program. The baseline surveys that identified mercury use and storage in healthcare facilities indicated a substantial number of thermometers were used by the VNA, which is an affiliate of the Kaleida Health Systems. At the time, the VNA provided home care patients with mercury thermometers. The Program Manager provided the VNA with samples of mercury-free thermometers, which they found to be a cost-effective and suitable alternative. The VNA now offers patients mercury-free thermometers as well as information on proper disposal of mercury-containing products. Through participation in the program, the VNA eliminated their existing stock of mercury thermometers, totaling 1,687 as well as future purchases.

The Program Manager was an active player in several workshops and conferences that either targeted the hospitals participating in the program, enhancing their understanding or showcased their accomplishments:

• A total of 679 thermometers from project partner hospital employees’ households were exchanged for mercury-free thermometers.

• 270 mercury thermometers were collected at exchanges at other Erie County, New York area hospitals.

• Overall 1800 mercury thermometers will no longer be purchased annually by 3 Erie County, New York area hospitals and the Visiting Nurses Association.

• 364 lbs of mercury is no longer used through sphygmomanometer replacements by 3 Erie County, New York area hospitals.

• 931 mercury-weighted feeding tubes will no longer be purchased by 3 Erie County, New York area hospitals.

• 5 lbs of mercury amalgam will be recycled per year by 3 Erie County, New York area hospitals.


There are no reports associated with this project.

Funding Organizations

Below is a list of organizations with individual contacts that are funding this project.

U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office - Primary Contact

77 W Jackson Blvd
Chicago, Illinois 60604
There are no individuals in this organization
associated with this project.

Organizations Receiving Funding

Below is a list of organizations with individual contacts that are receiving funding for this project.

Erie County Department of Environment and Planning - Primary Contact

95 Franklin Street
Buffalo, New York 14202
p: 716-858-7674
f: 716-858-7713
Individual Contacts
  • Michael Raab

Associated Organizations

Below is a list of associated organizations that are NOT giving or receiving funding for this project.

Buffalo General Hospital (Kaleida Health System) - Partner

100 High Street
Buffalo, New York 14203
p: (716) 859-5600

Buffalo, NY Sewer Authority - Partner

City of Buffalo
City Hall
Buffalo, New York 14202

Erie County Medical Center - Partner

462 Grider Street
Buffalo, New York 14215
p: 716-898-3000

Health Care Without Harm Coalition - Partner

1755 S Street, NW
Suite 6 B
Washington, District of Columbia 20009
p: 202-234-0091
f: 202-234-9121

St. Joseph Hospital (Catholic Health System) - Partner

555 E. Market Street
Elmira, New York 14901
p: (607) 733-6541

Visiting Nurses Association - Partner

99 Summer Street
Suite 1700
Boston, Massachusetts 02110
p: 617-737-3200

Western New York Healthcare Association - Partner

1876 Niagara Falls Blvd.
Tonawanda, New York 14150


Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR)
One East Hazelwood Drive Champaign, IL 61820
(217) 333-8940

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