Created July 17, 2019, last updated 6 months ago.
Collection: 100, Score: 852, Trend score: 0, Read count: 909, Articles count: 9, Created: 2019-07-17 23:56:56 UTC. Updated: 2022-05-31 22:54:50 UTC.
Also see Carbon Footprint from Anaesthetic gas use [pdf] from the UK’s Sustainable Development Unit.
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Although the increasing abundance of CO(2) in our atmosphere is the main driver of the observed climate change, it is the cumulative effect of all forcing agents that dictate the direction and magnitude of the change, and many smaller contributors are also at play. Isoflurane, desflurane, and sevoflurane are widely used inhalation anaesthetics. Emissions of these compounds contribute to radiative forcing of climate change. To quantitatively assess the impact of the anaesthetics on the forcing of climate, detailed information on their properties of heat (infrared, IR) absorption and atmospheric lifetimes are required. ⋯ On the basis of the derived 100 yr GWPs, the average climate impact per anaesthetic procedure at the University of Michigan is the same as the emission of ∼22 kg CO(2). We estimate that the global emissions of inhalation anaesthetics have a climate impact which is comparable with that from the CO(2) emissions from one coal-fired power plant or 1 million passenger cars.
Inhaled anesthetics are recognized greenhouse gases. Calculating their relative impact during common clinical usage will allow comparison to each other and to carbon dioxide emissions in general. ⋯ Under comparable and common clinical conditions, desflurane has a greater potential impact on global warming than either isoflurane or sevoflurane. N2O alone produces a sizable greenhouse gas contribution relative to sevoflurane or isoflurane. Additionally, 60% N2O combined with potent inhaled anesthetics to deliver 1 MAC of anesthetic substantially increases the environmental impact of sevoflurane and isoflurane, and decreases that of desflurane. N2O is destructive to the ozone layer as well as possessing GWP; it continues to have impact over a longer timeframe, and may not be an environmentally sound tradeoff for desflurane. From our calculations, avoiding N2O and unnecessarily high fresh gas flow rates can reduce the environmental impact of inhaled anesthetics.
Anesthetic drugs have the potential to contribute to global warming. There is some debate about the overall impact of anesthetic drugs relative to carbon dioxide, but there is no question that practice patterns can limit the degree of environmental contamination. In particular, careful attention to managing fresh gas flow can use anesthetic drugs more efficiently--reducing waste while achieving the same effect on the patient. ⋯ This article provides background information and discusses strategies for managing fresh gas flow during each phase of anesthesia with the goal of reducing waste when using a circle anesthesia system. Monitoring oxygen and anesthetic gas concentrations is essential to implementing these strategies safely and effectively. Future technological advances in anesthetic delivery systems are needed to make it less challenging to manage fresh gas flow.
“Inhalational anaesthetic agents are chlorofluorocarbons, ‘greenhouse gases’ that have between 349 (sevoflurane) and 3714 (desflurane) times the global warming potential over a 20 year time horizon of carbon dioxide (isoflurane 1401), equivalent to driving a car 18 (sevoflurane) to ~350 miles (desflurane) per hour of anaesthetic use (isoflurane 30 miles); these figures do not account for the additional carbon cost of heating desflurane vaporisers. Together with nitrous oxide, inhalational anaesthetic agents contribute ~2.5% of the 22.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents the NHS produces annually.” - Whitesummary
Nitrous oxide (N2O), like carbon dioxide, is a long-lived greenhouse gas that accumulates in the atmosphere. Over the past 150 years, increasing atmospheric N2O concentrations have contributed to stratospheric ozone depletion1 and climate change2, with the current rate of increase estimated at 2 per cent per decade. Existing national inventories do not provide a full picture of N2O emissions, owing to their omission of natural sources and limitations in methodology for attributing anthropogenic sources. ⋯ Our findings point to growing N2O emissions in emerging economies-particularly Brazil, China and India. Analysis of process-based model estimates reveals an emerging N2O-climate feedback resulting from interactions between nitrogen additions and climate change. The recent growth in N2O emissions exceeds some of the highest projected emission scenarios3,4, underscoring the urgency to mitigate N2O emissions.
Nitrous oxide is now recognised as an important contributor to the 'greenhouse' effect. Each year the medical profession unwittingly adds a very small burden of this gas to the atmosphere. Unfortunately, the long lifetime of nitrous oxide means that all emissions into the atmosphere are significant. By making small changes in their practices, anaesthetists are well-placed to help reduce the potential environmental damage.
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