The manufacture of virgin anaesthetic agents and their eventual release as waste volatile gases is highly damaging to the environment and contributes significantly to the total carbon footprint of healthcare. These gases cause climate change by trapping heat, and they also contribute to respiratory disease from smog and air pollution.
The World Health Organisation has listed the ‘World Climate Crisis’ as the most significant health challenge we face, with air pollution alone killing an estimated seven million people annually with more than 25% of deaths from chronic respiratory disease, heart attack, lung cancer, and stroke being attributed to the same emissions responsible for global warming.¹
Anaesthesia is administered by ~15,000 anaesthetists for ~450,000 surgical procedures annually in the UK.²
The healthcare industry is the cause of 4-5% of all global CO₂ equivalent (CO₂e) emissions.³
The NHS carbon footprint is 25 million tonnes of CO₂e (t/CO₂e).³
Anaesthetic gases are responsible for around 2% of all NHS emissions,⁴ equating to 500,000 t/CO₂e.
Patients exhale 95% of anaesthetic agents into the atmosphere as waste gas.⁵
Around a fifth of anaesthetic gas emissions are caused by volatile anaesthetics (sevoflurane, isoflurane and desflurane),⁶ ⁷ equating to 100,000 t/CO₂e.
The UK government is focused on reducing CO₂e emissions, with the NHS committed to reduce these by 80% by 2028-2032.⁸
Anaesthetic gases are a priority under Scope 1 – directly controlled emissions of the NHS Carbon Footprint Plan.
of anaesthetic agents
Only through the capture and recycling of anaesthetic agents can we move to a more sustainable delivery of anaesthesia.
Carbon Footprint Of Volatile Anaesthetic Agents
Every hospital and healthcare setting has an impact on our environment. SageTech Medical offers organisations a bespoke carbon savings report based on your actual volatile agent usage. This report uses the information below to calculate the amount of CO₂e our proprietary technology is estimated to save your organisation.
Please click here to fill in a survey to receive a free, bespoke carbon savings report.
1. Advisory / The 13 biggest threats to global health, according to WHO 2. Assocation of Anaesthetists | Environment FAQS 3. The Lancet / Health care’s response to climate change: a carbon footprint assessment of the NHS in England 4. NHS England / Putting anaesthetic-generated emissions to bed
5. National Library of Medicine / Environmental and Occupational Considerations of Anesthesia: A Narrative Review and Update 6. RCoA / Sustainability: Intravenous and local anaesthetic agents 7. Sustainable Healthcare / The Nitrous Oxide Project 8. NHS / Delivering a ‘Net Zero’ National Health Service 9. Environ.Sci.Technol. / The Global Warming Potentials for Anesthetic Gas Sevoflurane Need Significant Corrections