Page 221 - WaterSense at Work

October 2012
Introduction to Laboratory and Medical Equipment
Many older pieces of medical and laboratory equipment use single-pass cooling
continuously for the purpose of keeping equipment cool or for tempering hot water
before it is discharged to the sewer. Newer technologies and better practices are
available that can significantly reduce this water use. For example, retrofitting a
steam sterilizer with a thermostatically actuated valve can reduce tempering water
needed to cool hot steam condensate before discharge by up to 90 percent. Vacuum
pump recirculation systems can save 50 to 80 percent of the water used to cool the
vacuum. For traditional photographic and X-ray equipment, recycling and reusing
the final rinse effluent as make-up for the developer or fixer solution can save 50 per-
cent or more of the water required to process film. Converting to digital equipment
can eliminate this water use entirely.
One consideration to note is that laboratories and medical facilities might face
unique challenges because of the high quality of the water required for their equip-
ment. Most of these facilities require the use of potable water at a minimum and
more highly treated water in many cases. Water is frequently used to disinfect parts
of these facilities as well. The need to maintain high-quality standards can preclude
the use of certain technologies and alternative sources of water, as described in other
sections within this document. For example, laboratories often require purified or de-
ionized water to perform tests and experiments. Medical facilities also must maintain
high standards for health and safety. These standards can limit the types of technolo-
gies that can be utilized in these types of facilities. Water efficiency alone will not be
a driver in the choice of technologies or processes in these facilities. Rather, it should
be a consideration after other requirements have been met.
Section 7: Laboratory and Medical Equipment
WaterSense at Work
provides an over-
view of and guidance for effectively reducing the water use of:
Water purification
Vacuum pumps
Steam sterilizers
Glassware washers
Fume hood filtration and wash-down systems
Vivarium washing and watering systems
Photographic and X-ray equipment
Laboratory and Medical
Equipment Case Study
To learn how Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olym-
pia, Washington, saved 31 million gallons of water
by installing water-efficient laboratory and medical
equipment and implementing many additional
best management practices described in
Sense at Work
read the case study in Appendix A.