On this Project:
This study analyzes the environmental impacts of birthing procedures in the US using a life cycle perspective. Using the tool life cycle assessment (LCA), this study attempts to better understand which aspects of each mode of birth significantly contribute to overall environmental impacts and proposes methods to improve those impacts. The major components evaluated in the LCA were the HVAC, lighting, and machines within the birthing rooms, the surgical instruments and disposable custom packs associated with each procedure, and the sterilization, decontamination, and waste segregation for the end of the life of materials.
The results conclude that energy consumption due to HVAC, the end of life impacts of the disposable custom packs, and the production of the disposable custom packs contributed to the highest environmental impacts for all births. Improvement strategies targeting these categories, such as better HVAC controls, preferred purchasing, and better waste management, will reduce overall environmental impacts associated with each birth procedure. As a preliminary study introducing LCA to the healthcare industry, there are many potential research trajectories.