19 November 2019
By Hayley Carmichael
We are fortunate to live in the Western World where medication is easy to come by, but some of what makes us feel better is not helping the health of the planet at all…inhalers in particular have a high carbon footprint.
Why are inhalers so bad for the planet?
There are over 5 million asthma sufferers in the UK and the vast majority are provided with inhalers to help manage the condition.
In the UK over 70% of inhalers prescribed are what are known as metered dose inhalers, that propel the drug into the lungs. The gases used to do this (hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are powerful greenhouse gases.) have a very high carbon footprint, in fact they are roughly 25 times higher than the dry powder inhalers that are breath propelled.
With over 26 million prescriptions for inhalers in just one year (2017/18) tackling this offers the NHS a great opportunity to reduce the carbon impact of healthcare.
If you want to know whether you are using the right inhaler, or whether you could choose a more environmentally friendly option, NICE have created a patient decision maker guide to help you make the best choice for you and the environment. You can view it here.
Amazingly, the positive impact of making the switch (if it is medically the right one for you) is about the same as opting to go vegetarian.
Get your technique right
Taking your inhaler the right way is incredibly important, not only because it helps ensure you get the drug you need in the dose you need it, but also because it can reduce waste.
Asthma UK have some great advice on how to use your inhaler with ‘how to’ videos for all the different types of inhaler out there.
You can check them out here.