Photo: Chemmat’s Dr Saeid Baroutian


Researchers at the University of Auckland have estimated that the anaesthetic gases released by one hospital annually in New Zealand have the carbon footprint of 500 return plane journeys between New Zealand and London.

The good news is that the same researchers have developed a way to capture those gases and dispose of them in an environmentally benign way.

Millions of operations take place around the world each year and many of them wouldn’t be possible without anaesthetic gases. Yet those necessary and sometimes life-saving surgeries come at a cost to the planet – anaesthetic gases are also greenhouse gases, some of them hundreds to thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Dr Saeid Baroutian, who leads the Waste & Biomass Processing Group at the Faculty of Engineering, was prompted to investigate the problem after being approached by concerned anesthetists at Middlemore Hospital.

“They said, ‘we have a problem; anaesthesia, and surgery is a polluting industry’. They were aware of the problem, wanted the health community to be made more aware of it, and they wanted to find ways to address it.” says Chemmat’s Dr Baroutian.


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