Breathing Green

Understanding the Environmental Impact of Inhalers and Making Eco-Friendly Choices

Have you ever wondered about the impact of your inhaler use on the environment? It might surprise you to know that the propellants in some inhalers are powerful greenhouse gases contributing to climate change. Even after you’ve used your inhaler, it still holds these environmentally damaging gases. We’re specifically talking about Metered Dose Inhalers (MDIs).

Did you know that MDIs are the second-largest source of planet-warming gases within the NHS? Shockingly, MDIs alone contribute to 4% of the total emissions from the NHS. To put it into perspective, using just one Ventolin Evohaler creates the same amount of planet-warming gases as driving 175 miles in a car!

The Scottish Government has set a commendable target to reduce emissions from inhaler prescribing by 70% by 2027. This initiative aims to address the environmental impact of MDIs and encourages a shift towards greener alternatives.

Variations in Emissions: Choosing Wisely for the Planet

Not all MDIs are created equal when it comes to their environmental impact. For example, Salbutamol MDIs vary widely, with Ventolin MDI producing three times more greenhouse gas emissions compared to Salamol MDI. It’s clear that the choices we make in inhalers can make a difference.

Opting for Dry Powder and Respimat inhalers is an environmentally conscious choice, as these alternatives have virtually no associated emissions since they contain no harmful propellants like HFCs.

The next time you have an asthma review with your prescriber, inquire about greener inhaler options. It’s a simple step that could contribute to a significant positive change. However, we want to emphasize that this doesn’t mean you should stop using your current inhalers. Your health is of utmost importance.

How You Can Make a Difference Now: Return Your Used Inhalers

When it comes to disposing of used inhalers, tossing them into your household waste or recycling bins is not the way to go. In fact, if MDIs end up in the regular bin, HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons) can leach out into the atmosphere, perpetuating global warming.

Bring them to your local pharmacy for safe disposal. Returned inhalers will be responsibly incinerated, destroying the greenhouse gases. Incineration will also prevent inhaler plastics going to landfill as the plastics from inhalers cannot be recycled using domestic recycling schemes. If all used inhalers in the UK were returned for safe disposal, it could save a staggering 512,330 tonnes of CO2 equivalent annually – equivalent to a VW Golf car being driven around the world 88,606 times!

Return all inhalers to the pharmacy, not just MDIs.

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