Health Care Without Harm

hcwh_logo.gif I remember growing up along Long Island Sound and enjoying its beaches as a child. In the late eighties, when tons of medical waste ended up in the NY rivers and the sound, the beaches became hazardous, or what was perhaps even more disgusting, bio-hazardous. My friends and I heard awful stories of syringes and other medical waste littering the shore. I recently had to undergo a surgical procedure and wondered what was going to happen to the wrappers, tubes, and those hideous little rubber padded socks that all procedure rooms seem to require. Were those awful socks going to end up on some beach next to some poor unsuspecting kid’s sandcastle in Greenwich one day?

Health Care Without Harm is a global coalition of medical practitioners, hospitals, community groups, labor unions, and environmental health affiliates whose constituents include 443 organizations in 52 countries. The purpose of the coalition is to minimize pollution and thereby protect the health of practitioners, their patients and the surrounding environment, a.k.a. the earth.

In 1995 the EPA identified medical waste incinerators as the leading source of dioxin contamination in the environment. This report brought health care workers together to found the organization in 1996. Today, HCWH touts such successes as: eliminating mercury-based equipment completely in the US, promoting safe waste management and helping to close incinerators worldwide, initiating green building programs geared specifically toward hospitals, and helping to improve the food hospitals serve in order to support local agriculture and provide patients with nutritionally viable meals.

The HCWH has come under fire from conservatives who feel the organization is a front for the anti-capitalistic environmental movement that thwarts progress on any level. Perhaps right wingers are just fearing the loss of their extra special golf cart at the club, or their financial panderings from BigBiz. The religious right fear the organization’s manipulation of clergy for their detrimental eco-slander that supposedly does more harm than good by promoting less toxic practices. HCWH stays strong and continues to fight for the removal of PVCs and other dangerous materials and contaminants in medical systems. And then there are religious groups affiliated with the coalition who steer clear of the partisan politics.

Just as the Hippocratic Oath promises to, “first, do no harm,” HCWH is based on the premise that health care providers have a responsibility to eliminate practices that harm people and the environment. Together with our partners around the world, we share a vision of a health care industry that first does no harm, and instead promotes the health of people and the environment. To that end, we are working to implement ecologically sound and healthy alternatives to health care practices that pollute and contribute to disease.

I love good news. To find out what you can do to participate in this movement click here.

About Kimberly Jordan Allen


  1. Wow! I’ve never even heard about this group….I wondered what exactly happened to all that medical waste we used to hear about.

  2. After buying a 34 year old beuaty supply business for my daughter and I being a professional artist since age 8 who, way back when, had to learn about the ingredients and binders of paint, clay and other mediums, started reading the ingredients on the products we carried. I was horrified to see that they are full of plastics, silicones, petroleum and its derivitives, uselss fillers and aluminum derived dyes. I started my own line of natural cosmetics (I need to up date my website for I have gone completely natural as I have learned much since my site first wrent up)). The FDA is powerless against the cosmetic industry for they have to legally prove something is harmful. Thanks to the lobbyiest (sorry about the spelling-dyslexic here) fiom the cosmetic industry, funds have been reduced fro the FDA and its branches.
    It is said that Alzheimers has a connection to aluminum. Red # 27 is an alumimun derived dye that is an EXTERNAL USE ONLY dye, but it is used to dye anti-histimines such as Benedryl, Kirkland and many others. Women’s laxitives are dyed with it too. I found it in many candies too! How could the FDA allow this dye to be used on these drugs since drugs have to be submitted to the FDA before marketing. The Peidmont section of the Carolinas known for its allergies being a lush, sub tropic area is rampant with Alzheimers. I took the dye of of 2 Benedry tablets and the dye was enough to dye 5 sticks of lip balm bright pink! Just think fo people taking these tablets every 6 hours for weeks and months at a time.
    Then there is the benzine family that is in so many of our foods with the premise that it is such a little amount of this known poison is needed to preserve that it won’t hurt. Oh yeah? What if one consumes many products in a day that is preserved with this? The same thing goes for the parabeans.
    This entire scenario sickens me for the reason these ingredients are aloowed is simply greed. The cosmetic companies use these harsh preservatives so that there is a longer shelf life. There are other effective preservatives that are more costly, but safer and don’t preserve as well; hince a shorter shelf life, but what do they care. Burt’s Bees was bought by Estee Lauder. They flavor their lip products with strong pepermint so that when the product goes rancid, one can’t taste the rancidity because of the pepermint.
    I am angry and on the soap box. I have been givnig talks and have put together an easy to read dictionary of good ingredients, bad ingredients and product comparisons. (So many books on this subject are too complicated for the average consumer). I want to do everything I can to educate the public and provide good products that are safe and non threatening. I have signed up for these spirit, mind and body shows where it will give me the exposure to educate the consumer and provide them with cosmetics that they can use with no problems. And my cosmetics are more than reasonably priced for I do not use throw away packaging and costly labels and advertising.
    Next. LOOSE MINERA POWDERS NEED TO COME OFF THE MARKET FOR THE INGREDIENTS ARE DANGEROUS TO BREATHE. The companies who put these together (like Bare Minerals) know this. Silica alone (main ingredient) causes silicosis cancer of the lungs. The micronized titanium is coated with aluminun. None of the ingredients of these loose powders will come out of the lungs, nor are they absorbed into the system. They pigments are not natural. All are syntheticly derived from natural minerals. This is the current most dangerous cosmetic on the market. I have written a short article on it in the form of an e-mail that I sent out in hopes that it will be forwared for the only way to get the cosmetic industry to do anything is through the consumer, not the FDA.
    Let me know what else I can do to help.
    Alexandra Odell

  3. Hi,
    Now that we know the bad things to look for, what are the good ingredients found in cosmetics, moisturizers and regenerating creams?
    It’s hard to tell from a huge list of chemicals on the boxes of eye creams, wrinkle creams and other products. Which vitamins help the skin and do alpha hydroxie (sp) creams build collagin. How about retin A? Does it do more harm than good if it makes you more sensitive to the sun?

  4. The good things to look for in cosmetics is the 100% natural or orgainc label. Avoild anything that has soy in it for it doesn’t penetrate the skin and is a cheap natural ingredient that is used in place of Almond or Jojoba oils. Jojoba is actually a wax ester that is most bio-identical to our skin cell structure. It is perfect for dry, chapped, sun burned skin. Almond oil is next as an excellent emoillent. The only synthetic vitamin is vit. C l-ascorbic acid. Molecularly identical to the c found in nature. It has to be in an airtight container and in a dark bottle to protect form light. It is not very stable and can dissapate quickly if not keep in a treatment pump bottle and out of the light in a drawer or medicine cabinet. Check out Somerset cosmetics for their individual ingredients-mindful that they sell synthetics and harsh preservatives as well as natural. I purchase my viramin C from them. The law allows for a 15% margin of posslbe synthetics in an product. Most “natural” companies use that “grace” percentage for harsh preservatives, I use that margin for Vit. C. In my opinion, vitaminC is still the best active ingredient for the skin for it forces miosture into the cells and in time fades and prevents “age or liver” spots.The best perservative in natural cosmetics is potassium sorbate; food grade and effective. Magestic mountain Sage has the best prices in oils, aloe vera gel (has just about everything your skin needs and is a good ingredient in which to add Vitamin C) and they have treatment type bottles that are the best prices with small minimums. The best natural formualry company is Ingredients To Die For. They formulate responsible all natural products at a good price. These are 3 of my favorite suppliers. These sites give you an education on the different ingredients. As well, check out the FDA site for cosmetics and ask Jeeves for definaitions in more detail.
    hope this is helpful!
    alexandra Odell

  5. Retin a is by prescription and really does reverse the aging process by excellerating the skin renewal process that slows dowm as we age. One must use sunblocks with it for if one uses Retin-a and spends time in the sun it will actuall acclerate the damage done to the skin by the sun!!! There are many beleivable looking self taning products if you want to appear to have a tan. Stay out of the sun and out of tanning beds. Cigarette smoking and the sun are the main contributors to premature aging fo the skin.
    I am not pro any thype of friut acids unless they are used in a small quantity to help other ingredients to penetrate the skin. If you use Retin-A % vit. C, you don’t need all the skin peels and acids. C also stimulates collagen in the skin. The best way to take care of your skin is what you put into your body. Puritian Pride is an on line vitamin ans supplement company with prices that are at leat 50% cheaper than healthfood and drugstors. Hyaluronic acid, DMAE, alpha lipoic acid, flax oil, probiotic acidophilus, co-enzyme Q10 and digestive enzymes need to be added to a muti-vitamin regime. Taking the individuals in the morning, flax and co-enzyme Q 10 taken with fats and protein at lunch. Vitamins and digestive enzymes at night. Pro-biotics can be taken a couple of times a day as well as enzymes with meals for the best assimulation into the system.

  6. nancy witman says:

    I read alexandra o coments and found it very intersting. I just found her website where she has written a lot about what is really in our cosmetics. Their products are concentrated and reasonalbby priced. check it out. I was gald I did! Thank you. nancy

  7. This is very interesting. I’m very interested in learning more about the harmful effects of the chemicals we unknowingly put into our bodies. On the 1/23/07 post by alexandra, could you direct me to some of your sources. Thanks!

  8. Pingback: Fragrance Free Skin Care Products

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