Asthma inhaler harming our Planet, If there is any field of science that understands the doctrine of unintended consequences, it’s medicine. We rely on antibiotics to wipe out infections and in the process breed a class of superbugs resistant to the drugs. We develop powerful medications that can control chronic pain, and in the U.S., have a nationwide addiction crisis to show for that breakthrough.
One of the main takeaways is that switching from a high-emitting inhaler to one that doesn’t use a greenhouse gas propellant “could save 150 – 400 kg [carbon dioxide equivalent] annually; roughly equivalent to installing wall insulation at home, recycling or cutting out meat.”
Study about inhaler
In the U.K., MDIs represent about 70% of all inhaler prescriptions and the researchers estimate they are responsible for releasing the equivalent of 635,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. If just 10% of those patients switched to DPIs, the equivalent of 58,000 metric tons of CO2 could be kept out of the atmosphere. That, Britain’s Sky News pointed out, is the same carbon footprint as 180,000 gas-powered cars driving making the round-trip journey between London and Edinburgh—about 1,300 km (or approximately 800 miles) each.
What makes such a switchover especially important, the study argues, is that many of the people who are hurt most by all this MDI outgassing are the very people the inhalers are designed to help. “Climate change is a huge and present threat to health which will disproportionately impact the poorest and most vulnerable people on the planet,” the researchers wrote, “including people with pre-existing lung disease.”
It’s hard to square a number that small with a headline that says inhalers are “choking the planet”. And many asthmatics already feel singled out for the minuscule carbon footprint of a medication that, in many cases, is literally lifesaving.
Asthma inhaler harming our Planet. “Patients, healthcare providers, and policymakers must keep these findings in perspective,” the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America said in a statement.
“However,” the group writes, “we recommend focus remain on other large-scale improvements we can make to reduce carbon footprints, methane and ozone emissions.”
That’s a nod to the tension at play as individuals and societies grapple with how best to slow climate change. For much of the 2000s, policymakers and business leaders homed in on individual choice as a response to global warming.
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