Green Prescribing

Can your asthma inhaler be changed and made better for you and the planet?

The traditional Pressurized Metered-Dose Inhalers (pMDI) that most of us are familiar with have been calculated to be some of the NHS’s biggest contributors to climate change.  It’s thought that some of the non-medicated gases and propellants that they contain are having big impacts to our carbon output and to the overall environmental burden.

This can be easily changed, and the solution has been available to us for many years but only recently have we realised what benefits the readily available alternative Dry Powder Inhalers (DPI) could provide to us and our precious planet.

When you attend for your asthma review this fact might be something to discuss when considering changes to your therapy. It is also likely that if you are started on your first inhaler this might now be a Dry Powder Inhaler that has a much smaller carbon footprint.

An episode of Inside Health from BBC Radio 4 discussed this topic in detail and is worth a listen.

You can hear how Dry Powder Inhalers, with their significantly reduced carbon footprint, can also be more effective in controlling some people's asthma.

Wessex Adult Asthma Guidelines 2021

Some inhalers contain propellants, known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFCs do not have an effect on the ozone layer. However, they are powerful greenhouse gases and can contribute to global warming. This is referred to as their carbon footprint, measured in carbon dioxide equivalents (g CO2eq). The bigger the carbon dioxide equivalent, the bigger the impact on global warming.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has produced a patient decision aid which you can find here. This gives more information on choosing the best inhaler for you and the environment.

The guidlines below show various inhalers used in Asthma management. The carbon footprint of each device is shown in either green (low) or red (high). If you click on the device you will be taken to a video showing how to use each inhaler.