The Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI) was started by 12 US health systems to make healthcare environments safer for patients, guests, and caregivers. The initiative focuses on 6 challenge areas: Engaged Leadership, Healthier Food, Leaner Energy, Safer Chemicals, Smart Purchasing, and Less Waste. Participation is voluntary—hundreds of hospitals and health systems are enrolled and undertaking one or more of the challenges.

The Safer Chemicals challenge relates to furniture and healthcare interiors. It’s not surprising that more chemicals are used in healthcare than in any other industry—many of these chemicals can have a lasting and negative impact on people. The HHI Safer Chemicals challenge encourages users to commit to using greener chemicals to clean and disinfect, eliminate chemicals of concern (mercury, formaldehyde, and more), and purchase furniture items that are free from harmful chemicals.

For furniture, items and their components (textiles, foam, etc.) must be free from added flame retardants, antimicrobials, and “chemicals of concern.” Those chemicals include heavy metals, PFCs, and PVC. Many of these chemicals can build up in the body and cause diseases and other health concerns, like asthma.

The interiors industry has embraced the effort to reduce or eliminate the use of these chemicals in healthcare settings. Most major furniture suppliers have made efforts to eliminate these harmful chemicals to meet HHI standards. This not only benefits the healthcare industry but can result in a safer manufacturing environment and less toxic waste in landfills.

NBF supports this important initiative—our item descriptions call out those items that meet HHI standards, and our furniture consultants can help build a package of sustainable, healthier furniture for any facility.


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