The health care sector may be as bad as the aviation industry when it comes to greenhouse gases and pollution.

The anaesthetic gases released every year by one New Zealand hospital have the carbon footprint of 500 return flights between New Zealand and London, University of Auckland researchers have estimated.

One hour’s use of a commonly administered anaesthetic, desflurane, has the carbon footprint equivalent of driving a car about 370 kilometres, it was estimated in The Lancet.

 

“More than 95 per cent of anaesthetic gases given to patients are expelled into the atmosphere where they contribute to the heating of the planet,”

 

explains Chemmat’s Dr Saeid Baroutian, who leads the Waste & Biomass Processing Group at Auckland’s Faculty of Engineering.

 

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