Health Care without Harm

Resolution Adopted by the CCAR


Adopted by the 109th Annual Convention of the

Central Conference of American Rabbis

June, 1998


The incineration of medical waste is a leading source of pollution. Such incineration produces dioxin – a known human carcinogen that has been linked to birth defects, decreased fertility, immune system suppression and other hormonal dysfunction – and mercury, which can interfere with the development of the fetal brain and is toxic to the central nervous system, kidneys and liver.

Health Care Without Harm was created in 1996 to provide a remedy for the pollution from health care practices. The organization’s principle goals are to promote comprehensive pollution prevention practices in local hospitals and health care facilities, support the development and the use of environmentally safe materials, technology and products; and educate and inform health care institutions, providers, workers, consumers, and all affected constituencies about the environmental and public health impacts of the health care industry and solutions to its problems. Thus far, over 68 organizations have signed on to the campaign and are working, together, to reduce the environmental dangers of health care practices without compromising safety or care.

Under Jewish tradition, the principle of “pikuach nefesh” – saving human lives above all else – is our greatest moral obligation. We are commanded to preserve the earth and all its varied life for our own sake and for generations yet unborn. In 1984, the CCAR passed a resolution reaffirming our commitment to an environment free from the dangers of chemical wastes and pollutants, and recognizing that each individual bears responsibility for solving the problems of toxic wastes.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Central Conference of American Rabbis:

  • Join the national Health Care Without Harm coalition to support the elimination of hazardous medical waste incineration; and
  • Call upon its members to “adopt” hospitals in their local communities to serve as partners in achieving the goals of Health Care Without Harm.