Rivermead Gate Medical Centre

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Reducing the carbon footprint of inhalers

Some inhalers for respiratory diseases – called Metered Dose Inhalers (MDI) – contain propellants known as hydrofluorocarbons to deliver the medicine. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are powerful greenhouse gases – thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Inhalers which contain HFC’s can have a high carbon footprint; up to 28kg of carbon dioxide equivalent per inhaler, depending on the type of inhaler device. That’s the same carbon footprint as the tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions of driving 175miles (or from London to Sheffield) in a small car.

By comparison, dry powder inhalers have a significant lower carbon footprint; up to 1kg of carbon dioxide equivalent.
Cutting carbon emissions is good news for everyone, especially those with respiratory conditions, however not to the detriment of your health.

As a reaction to the 10-year NHS plan published earlier this year (which recommended a greater emphasis on environmentally-friendly approached in the health service we are trying to help reduce the carbon footprint from inhalers and when you are reviewed by a clinician they may suggest a change of inhaler, this would only be trial and you would be reviewed to see how you were getting on with it.

Our clinical pharmacists may well discuss this at your next review.

Anyone currently using metered dose inhalers should absolutely continue to do so, but when being reviewed a greener option may be offered to you.