Asthma patients are encouraged to use more environmentally friendly inhalers (file image)

Asthma patients who switch to & # 39; green & # 39; inhalers would have the same effect on the environment as cutting meat, scientists say.


The NHS has been urged to replace dose inhalers after researchers discovered that they had 37 times as much CO2 footprint as dry powdered ones.

Metered dose inhalers accounted for 70 percent of the 50 million inhalers prescribed in the UK in 2017.

Replacing one in ten for a dry powder alternative could reduce annual CO2 emissions by 58,000 tons, Cambridge University experts found.

This is the same amount of pollution that would be emitted during 180,000 return journeys from London to Edinburgh.

Measured dose inhalers contain substances known as hydrofluorocarbons to get the medicine into the airways.

Asthma patients are encouraged to use more environmentally friendly inhalers (file image)


Asthma patients are encouraged to use more environmentally friendly inhalers (file image)

They have an estimated carbon footprint of 18 oz (500 g) of carbon dioxide equivalent per dose.

Five doses of a dose inhaler can have the same CO2 emissions as a nine-kilometer ride in a car.

They contain around 100 doses, which means that they have emitted the same amount of carbon as a 180-mile (290 km) drive by the time they are empty.

On an individual level, each of these inhalers that are replaced by a dry powder inhaler can save the equivalent of between 5,291 oz (150 kg) and 14110 oz (400 kg) of CO2 per year, the scientists say.

The team, led by Dr. Alexander Wilkinson, claims that this can have the same effect on the environment as recycling or cutting meat.

But people should not cut back on their medication to try to reduce emissions, the researchers warned.


Instead, patients should discuss whether environmentally-friendly inhalers are available and suitable for use, they said.

The carbon footprint of the devices accounts for almost four percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions of the NHS.

Calls have been made for several years to go to more environmentally friendly alternatives.


Many asthma patients currently use dose inhalers, which contain substances known as hydrofluorocarbons to get the dose into their respiratory system.

These devices have an estimated carbon footprint of 500 g of carbon dioxide equivalent per dose.


Five doses of a dose inhaler can have the same carbon emissions as a nine-mile trip in a car, Nice said.

For comparison: dry powder inhalers only contain 20 g of carbon dioxide per equivalent dose and work well for many patients.

But health authorities have repeatedly baulk on the price of greener, dry powder inhalers.

But, published in their study in BMJ Open, the researchers claim that the NHS could actually reduce costs by making their prescribed inhalers more environmentally friendly.

They say replacing one in 10 dose inhalers with the least expensive brands of dry powder equivalents could reduce medication costs by £ 8.2 million a year.


Dr. Wilkinson, consultant in respiratory medicine at East and North Hertfordshire Trust, said: “Every step to" greener "inhalers should ensure that replacements were cost effective.

& # 39; By switching to cheaper brands, we have demonstrated that it is still possible to have a positive impact on CO2 emissions while reducing the costs of medicines.

& # 39; It is important to emphasize that patients should not stop taking their usual treatments to reduce their carbon footprint. & # 39;

People can also ensure that they use their inhalers correctly, return finished specimens to pharmacies for proper disposal, and prevent them from discarding half-full items to reduce the CO2 footprint of their medication, he said.

Study co-author Dr. James Smith, a public health consultant at the University of Cambridge, added: & # 39; Climate change is a huge and current health threat that will have disproportionate consequences for the world's poorest and most vulnerable people, including those with an already existing lung disease.


& # 39; Our study shows that switching to inhalers that are better for the environment can help individuals and the NHS as a whole to significantly reduce their impact on the climate.

& # 39; This is an important step towards a low-carbon healthcare system suitable for the 21st century. & # 39;

Jessica Kirby, head of health advice at Asthma UK, said: “We recognize the need to protect the environment, but it is crucial that people with asthma get the medicines they need to stay good and a life-threatening prevent asthma attack.

& # 39; Switching to another type of inhaler can be complicated for people with asthma, as it teaches a new inhaler technique, so it should only be done with the support of a doctor or asthma nurse.

& # 39; Taking inhalers correctly is essential to get the medicine you need and to reduce the chance of side effects.

& # 39; It is vital that you continue to use your inhalers as directed. If you are concerned about the environmental impact, discuss this with your doctor or asthma nurse at your next annual asthma exam to see if there is another type of inhaler that would work for you. & # 39;


According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there are six important pollutants that can have an impact on human health and well-being.

Fine dust: Particulate matter is the term for a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets in the air.

These particles come in many sizes and shapes and can consist of hundreds of different chemicals.

Some are emitted directly from a source, such as construction sites, unpaved roads, fields, chimneys, or fires.


Fine particles (2.5 parts per million) are the main cause of reduced vision (haze) in parts of the United States, including many of our precious national parks and wilderness areas.

Carbon monoxide: Breathing air with a high concentration of CO reduces the amount of oxygen that can be transported in the blood stream to critical organs such as the heart and brain.

At very high levels, which are possible indoors or in other closed environments, CO can cause dizziness, confusion, unconsciousness and death.

Nitrogen dioxide: NItrogen dioxide mainly enters the air by burning fuel. NO

It is formed by emissions from cars, trucks and buses, power stations and off-road equipment.


Breathing air with a high concentration of NO can irritate the airways in the human airways. Such short-term exposures can exacerbate respiratory conditions, particularly asthma, leading to respiratory symptoms (such as coughing, wheezing, or respiratory problems).

Sulphur dioxide: The largest source of sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere is the burning of fossil fuels by power plants and other industrial installations.

Short-term exposure to SO can damage the human respiratory tract and make breathing difficult. Children, the elderly and people with asthma are particularly sensitive to STD effects.

Living-level ozone: The ozone layer in the lower part of the lower part of the stratosphere, about 12 to 19 miles above the surface of the planet (20 to 30 km).

Although ozone protects us against UV radiation, when found at ground level, it can cause health problems for vulnerable people suffering from lung diseases such as asthma.


It is caused by chemical reactions between nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – which are found in exhaust gases – in the presence of sunlight.

Lead: Important sources of lead in the air are ore and metal processing and aircraft with piston engine that run on lead-containing aircraft fuel.

Other sources are waste incinerators, utilities and manufacturers of lead acid batteries. The highest air concentrations of lead are usually found in the vicinity of lead smelters.

Depending on the level of exposure, lead can have a negative influence on the nervous system, kidney function, the immune system, the reproductive and development systems and the cardiovascular system.

Infants and young children are particularly sensitive to even low levels of lead, which can contribute to behavioral problems, learning disabilities and a lowered IQ.

Source: EPA

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