Did you know the personal protective equipment (PPE) keeping our health care professionals safe is made from oil and natural gas?

It might surprise you, but almost every form of plastic, as well as synthetic fabrics like polyester, comes from petrochemicals. Polypropylene, for example, is derived from propane.

This means that, in addition to providing the majority of the reliable electricity that makes modern medicine possible, fossil fuels are keeping our health care heroes safe through:

  • N95 and surgical masks
  • Disposable gloves
  • Face shields
  • Hospital gowns and bodysuits
  • Ventilators
  • Scrubs
  • Shoe covers
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Safety goggles and glasses
  • Test tubes and COVID-19 test kits

This is in addition to the vast array of other medical equipment made from plastic, from the simplest bandages, syringes, and IV bags to the most complex machinery like MRIs, CAT scanners, ultrasounds, and heart valves — and the microchips and circuit boards that make those devices function. Many Americans rely on petrochemicals to manage their health every day, often without thinking about it, through life-sustaining products like insulin pens and inhalers.

Though the reputation of plastics has been sullied by environmentalists pushing unilateral bans, our health care system would grind to a halt without them. Plastic is simply the only practical and sterile option, making oil and natural gas production critical to our recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Those who advocate to “keep it in the ground” have yet to provide an alternative path to replace not only the affordability and reliability of electricity produced through fossil fuels, but also the petrochemical products that save lives each and every day.

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