What are Greener Inhalers?
There are more than five million people with asthma in the United Kingdom.
The study examines the environmental effects of various inhaled medicines prescribed to NHS patients in England.
About 50 million inhalers were prescribed in 201
7. Seven out of every 10 of them are metered dose inhalers – the type that contains greenhouse gases.
Gas – hydrofluoroalkane – is used as a fuel to disperse the drug from the inhaler.
What difference would it make?
Dosage inhalers account for nearly 4% of NHS greenhouse gas emissions, according to experts.
Researchers estimate replacing even one in every 10 of these greener friendly inhalers (dry powder inhalers) would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 58 kilotons.
This is similar to the carbon footprint of 180,000 car journeys from London to Edinburgh.
And on an individual level, any metered dose inhaler replaced with a dry powder inhaler can save the equivalent of between 150 kg and 400 kg (63 stones) of carbon dioxide per year – similar to reducing the carbon footprint of cutting meat from your diet.
Leading researcher Dr. Alex Wilkinson says: "The gases in these jars are such a powerful greenhouse gas that they can make a significant contribution to an individual's carbon footprint, and if you use one or two of these inhalers each month, then added up to hundreds of pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent over the course of a year, which is similar to other actions people want to take to reduce their carbon footprint, such as going vegetarian. "
He said that doctors and patients should consider switching to green alternatives whenever possible – something that the National Institutes of Health and Care also recommends.
Is it safe to switch?
Switching to another type of inhaler can be tricky for people with asthma because it involves learning a new inhaler technique, so should only be performed with the support of l
NICE also created a decision aid to help patients make choices.
For patients who were unable to change their medications as this it was not clinically advisable, said Dr. Wilkinson, there are still ways to be "greener."
"It is really important to use these inhalers wisely, to keep patients well." make sure they know how many doses their inhaler contains so they don't lose it.
"Once you have finished your inhaler, it is important that you dispose of it properly because it has greenhouse gases left in it.
"Take them back to your pharmacy for proper disposal."
UK asthma health consultant Jessica Kirby said: "It is vital that you continue to use the inhalers as prescribed.
“If you are concerned about the environmental impact, talk to your asthma doctor or nurse at your next annual asthma examination to see if there is another type of inhaler that would work for you. "
Simon Stevens, CEO of the NHS, said:" The NHS has already reduced its carbon footprint by one-fifth in the last decade and enables patients to switch to lower-carbon green when clinically appropriate. " inhalers, as stated in the Long-Term Plan, is not only right for them, but the planet. "