Let’s cut to the chase, our whole world is oil-dependent. Seriously! Most industries rely heavily on the production of oils and petrochemicals to manufacture their products. If it weren’t for the oil industry, most of the other different widely popular industries would fade away! That includes healthcare. Yes, the healthcare system also depends a great deal on petrochemicals. Have you never heard of the existence of petrochemicals in healthcare? Petrochemicals exist in plain sight – in everything we use to take care of ourselves. We just never took a closer look. Now, you see, the big deal about petrochemicals is that… Well, they’re chemicals! And not only any substances, but toxic chemicals! Can petrochemicals affect our bodies? And how much of it are they using? If so, what are they putting in our bodies? What about the shift in the price of petroleum? It changes every day. How would that affect the costs of healthcare? Here’s everything you need to know.
What are Petrochemicals?
Petrochemicals are compounds that are behind the evolution of huge industries! Cosmetics, electronics, and textile industries all depend on petrochemicals to evolve and profit! Without petrochemicals, these industries can not manufacture their products at all. Petrochemicals mainly come from natural gas and oil, which turn into petrochemicals. After that, they can create whatever they want with them. They make resins, films, materials for pesticides, rubber, detergents, and paint! And a whole lot more. If you think about it, as you read this article, there are so many objects surrounding you right now that contain petrochemicals! But, that does sound very chemical-ly. How do petrochemicals and healthcare come together? Well, the healthcare system, on its own, does rely on chemicals a lot. Or else, we’d still rely on alternative medicine! Therefore, you have to know where petrochemicals stand when it comes to healthcare. Why is it essential to improve and maintain our health? Keep reading!
So, what about petrochemicals in our healthcare system?
Most of the time, when we think of the word petrochemical, we think petroleum. Stuff like that, right? Well, in general, yes. But, petrochemicals go beyond that. They exist in so many of our day to day objects; you’d genuinely be surprised! There are petrochemicals in more objects around you than you can imagine. Your very own iPhone has petrochemicals. Cosmetics, shoes, shampoo, certain utensils, appliances, and many more all contain petrochemicals. So, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to know that petrochemicals are an actual thing. Different parts of the healthcare system use petrochemicals, and that does not include only the transport of ambulances! There are so many things that depend on petrochemicals; it’s insane. Even the detergents that the doctors and nurses wash their hands in is petroleum-based. This is because petrochemicals prevent the risk of infections running around the hospital.
Petrochemicals in Healthcare: Where Are They?
Besides the soap, they wash their hands in, where are the other petrochemicals! It’s not just the detergent. Petrochemicals are everywhere. Some of them are easier to spot than others.
- For example, petrochemicals are critical components in disposable latex gloves. Hospitals worldwide use gloves in insane amounts- all a part of petrochemicals. Another prominent use of petrochemicals is disposable syringes, blood bags, saline bags, and disposable masks! Even the little tubes they fill with your blood. Creepy. Petrochemicals make up all of these objects! The idea or reasoning behind the use of petroleum-based items is because they’re much much cheaper than using glass. Of course, they still use glass tubes, but they do need petrochemicals-based detergents to clean them again!
- Petroleum jelly (like Vaseline) is another object made out of, well, petrochemicals. It’s evident from its name. If you did not see THAT coming, there’s an issue. Also, pretty much anything made up of plastic comes from petrochemicals. We told you, it’s crazy. It’s widely used for chafing and rashes. We’ve all grown up with a tub of Vaseline in our houses, but we never actually stopped and thought about where it came from.
- Even your medicine capsules contain petrochemicals! Most over the counter pain medications contain Acetylsalicylic acid, manufactured from petrochemicals. Seriously, petrochemicals just can’t be escaped! Most pharmaceutical drugs rely on petrochemicals at some point in their manufacturing. It could be in their chemical structure, in their capsules, in their bottles, or even in the purification process. You just can’t run away from petrochemicals.
What about Shortage?
Okay, so we’ve established that the healthcare system heavily relies on petrochemicals. But, we also learned that petroleum is slowly becoming like liquid gold – valuable and hard to obtain! So, what happens if we face a shortage of oil? What happens to the healthcare system? Petrochemicals proved to play a significant role in saving hundreds of lives, treating patients, and preventing diseases. But, it is also the main reason behind the evolution of healthcare as a whole. Just think about it, we used to use catguts instead of bandages and gauses for stitches! These are made out of cow intestines. Yes, intestines. So, we guess we’re thankful for petrochemicals. It is scary to be so dependant on petrochemicals and not have a backup plan!
Not just medical supplies and pill capsules rely on petrochemicals. Some of the most vital drugs in the world use petrochemicals in their manufacturing. That includes penicillin, which is the largest prescribed medicine in the world. Most, if not all bacterial infections, use penicillin in their treatment; and it is entirely useless without petrochemicals!
And what about artificial limbs! It’s not rocket science. Prosthetics use plastics that come from petrochemicals. People around the globe who have lost limbs all need petrochemicals to lead a more normal life. Even cancer and AIDS medication rely on petrochemicals for their effectiveness. If petrochemicals no longer become available, these medications would be increasingly expensive! More than they already are.
So, what is it going to be about petrochemicals in healthcare? We need petroleum-based products to continue manufacturing medical products! There is no scientific evidence that can state petrochemicals affect us negatively since they clinically test all medicinal drugs before manufacturing and distribution. But, the danger poses in our reliance on them! There are no backup plans, no plan B, regarding the possible shortage if petrochemicals. Whenever the supply of petroleum decreases, the prices of medical supplies increase. And therefore, so does the prices of medicines in general! So, when it comes to petrochemicals, we probably should start investing in finding other resources!
Our health care system is extremely vulnerable and reliant on the petroleum supply – which is very unstable. When we consider everything humanity has gone through this year, a petroleum shortage does not seem to appear as far-fetched anymore. And the demand for health care increases every second! Maybe 2020 can be the year where we explore alternatives to petrochemicals in our healthcare system.