Medicines account for up to 25% of emissions within the NHS, with inhalers making up 3% of these emissions. Your respiratory care, and your inhalers, can therefore have a big impact on your carbon footprint.
This is because Pressurised metered dose inhalers (pMDI) contain propellants that are powerful greenhouse gases and which contribute to global heating. The most commonly prescribed pMDI in the UK is Ventolin Evohaler.
So what can you do to help?
- Asthma Control – if your asthma is well controlled, you should rarely need to use your reliever inhaler and you will only need one reliever a year. We also know that if people are using more than three reliever inhalers a year, they are more likely to have serious flare ups of their asthma that may require steroid tablets or admission to hospital to treat. If you are using your inhaler more than three times a week due to asthma symptoms, or needing more than three reliever inhalers a year, then you should book an appointment with the practice nurse to review your asthma treatment.
- Good inhaler technique – we would recommend that pMDI inhalers are used via spacer devices. If you don’t have one, please request one at your next asthma review. Here is a link to resources to checking your technique: https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/inhaler-videos/
- Switching your inhaler – changing the type of inhaler you use could reduce your carbon footprint a lot
As a practice we will be changing to using a brand of reliever salbutamol inhaler called Salamol, which reduces the carbon footprint from this medication by more than half. You may see that the name on your repeat prescription changes over the next few months. Don’t worry – this medication works in the same way, is taken in the same way, and is equally effective, just with a lower impact on the environment.
- Dry powder inhalers (DPI) and Soft mist inhalers (SMI) do not use these propellants and so have substantially lower impact on climate change. They are not suitable for everyone, but we would like patients to consider if they would like their preventer inhalers changed from aerosol inhalers to dry powder inhalers and let us know at their next review.