Inhaled anesthetics used to put patients to sleep during surgery contribute to global climate change, according to a new study.(via Planet Gore)
Researchers determined that the use of these anesthetics by a busy hospital can contribute as much to climate change as the emissions from 100 to 1,200 cars a year, depending on the type of anesthetic used, said University of California anesthesiologist Dr. Susan M. Ryan and fellow study author Claus J. Nielsen, a computer scientist at the University of Oslo in Norway.
The three major inhaled anesthetics used for surgery -- sevoflurane, isoflurane, and desflurane -- are recognized greenhouse gases, but their contribution to climate change has received little attention because they're considered medically necessary and are used in relatively small amounts.
These anesthetics undergo very little metabolic change in the body, the researchers noted. When they're exhaled by patients, they're almost exactly the same as they were when administered by anesthetist. The anesthetics "usually are vented out of the building as medical waste gases," the study authors wrote in a news release. "Most of the organic anesthetic gases remain for a long time in the atmosphere where they have the potential to act as greenhouse gases."
Desflurane has a 10-year "lifetime" in the atmosphere, compared with 3.6 years for isoflurane and 1.2 years for sevoflurane. When they factored in the flow rates at which the different anesthetics are given, the researchers calculated that desflurane has about 26 times the global warming potential as sevoflurane and 13 times the potential of isoflurane.
Using desflurane for one hour is equivalent to 235 to 470 miles of driving, according to the study.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Global Warming Puts Me to Sleep
As reported in the July 8th HealthDay News: