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Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Stops Buying Furniture with Flame Retardants

Kaiser PermanenteKaiser Permanente says it will stop purchasing furniture treated with flame retardants, making it the first healthcare system in the US to remove these toxic chemicals from hospital furniture.

The decision could impact more than 38 hospitals and 600 medical offices in eight states and the District of Columbia, the company says.

Kaiser’s new furniture standard specifies that upholstered furniture in new or remodeled buildings should not contain added fire retardant chemicals.

The decision follows a move by California, which updated its flammability standard for upholstered furniture. The new rules say that furniture manufacturers can meet standards without the use of fire retardant chemicals, which studies show offer no significant benefit in the fire safety performance of furniture. Companies must comply with the new rules by Jan. 1, 2015.

The company is working with its furniture manufacturers to meet this revised standard and says it expects to see safer furnishings in its hospitals within the next one to three years.

Kaiser spends about $30 million a year to furnish its hospitals, medical offices and other buildings with chairs, benches, sofas and other furniture.

Kaiser says it has led the industry in sourcing safer alternatives to products used in healthcare settings. It is among the companies that uses The Guide to Safer Chemicals, a tool that tracks the safety of chemicals in products and supply chains. The company also encouraged manufacturers to produce PVC-free carpets and to develop fabrics that eliminate chemicals of concern, including vinyl, heavy metals and volatile organic compounds.

Additionally, more than 50 percent of its overall spending on cleaning products is spent on Green Seal-certified products, the company says.

And, in 2010, it launched its Sustainability Scorecard to provide preference to eco-friendly suppliers and products. The organization has made the Sustainability Scorecard available to the healthcare industry’s largest group purchasing organizations to advance an estimated $135 billion in annual purchasing of care delivery products that do not use chemicals known to be harmful to human health or the environment.

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