Date of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Type


Director of Thesis

David Simmons, PhD

Second Reader

Allison Combs, M.S.Ed


The American population is rapidly growing and aging. In order to accommodate such a large population and its associated challenges, the healthcare industry has had to continually expand and adapt. The United States healthcare industry is now one of the largest, most expensive components of the economy. As such, it produces vast amounts of waste. Healthcare waste can damage the environment and contribute to climate change, which in turn can contribute to worsening health outcomes in the population. This thesis aims to explore both the immediate and prolonged impacts of the American healthcare industry on the environment, as well as provide insight into possible remedies for current practices. It consists of a literature review conducted through the University of South Carolina library databases. It identifies various sources and types of waste produced by the healthcare system and links that waste to its environmental impacts. Additionally, this thesis compares the United States healthcare system to other countries in order to identify possible interventions that could reduce the industry’s contributions to climate change.

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