University of Texas Medical Branch signs on as EPA pollution reduction partner
Today the Environmental Protection Agency welcomed the University of Texas Medical Branch into its national partnership for pollution reduction. As a member of the National Partnership for Environmental Priorities, the Galveston school pledges to replace mercury-bearing equipment at its facility.
"Protecting public health and the environment is a team effort,” said EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene. “EPA is honored to have the University of Texas Medical Branch join us and our other partners in making a positive environmental impact by cutting pollution.”
The National Partnership for Environmental Priorities consists of both public and private organizations that work with EPA to reduce usage or release of 31 priority chemicals beyond what is legally required. Reduction of these chemicals is important because of their ability to build up in the environment, causing harm to humans and the ecosystem. Mercury is one such priority chemical that can get into water and build up in fish, shellfish and animals that eat fish.
The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) pledges to reduce its use of mercury by switching to alternative blood pressure units as part of a mercury-free purchasing policy. The university is the first in EPA’s south central region to join the partnership and brings the total number of Texas partners to 14.
“Our location on the Texas Gulf Coast has made the University of Texas Medical Branch especially cognizant of lessening the number of mercury-bearing instruments we use in our hospitals, clinics and laboratories,” said Dr. Ben Raimer, UTMB vice president of community health services. “The great amount of damage mercury can cause -- not only to our marine life but also to any of our fellow citizens who ingest contaminated fish -- is reason for considerable concern. UTMB is here for the health of all Texans, whether they dwell on land or at sea. Reducing the amount of mercury we use in our clinical and research enterprises helps to improve the health of Texans.”
More than 100 partners across the nation have joined the National Partnership for Environmental Priorities program, which has set a goal to work with industry and the public to reduce the use or release of four million pounds of priority chemicals by 2011. Additional information on the National Partnership for Environmental Priorities is available at http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/minimize/partnership.htm.
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