Climate crisis is changing some types of gases, their emissions and their use

A new research has produced significant and surprising results about this issue

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Climate crisis is changing some types of gases, their emissions and their use
© Matt Cardy / Stringer Getty Images

The only three gases used in anesthesia are: oxygen, air, nitrous oxide. Oxygen and air are not anesthetic gases in the strict sense because they have no pharmacological action and only serve to allow adequate oxygenation. Nitrous oxide, on the other hand, is an anesthetic gas, capable of producing central nervous system depression; it is not used pure, but in mixtures with oxygen and other halogenated vapours: it has, among other effects, excellent analgesic power, allowing the reduction of the concentration of halogenated gases in the mixture used.

Nitrous oxide is always stored in blue cylinders. Currently, inhalation anesthesia with mixtures of air, oxygen and halogenated vapors is increasingly common; nitrous oxide sees a decline. Its use alone, however, is common for analgesia during labor and can nevertheless occasionally be found in dental practices.

Anaesthetic gas
Anaesthetic gas© Matt Cardy / Stringer Getty Images

The authors of the study The science of climate change and the effect of anaesthetic gas emissions, published on the Anaesthesia, shared an interesting retrospective on the issue, explaining the relationship between the climate crisis and this particular type of emissions. Yiu can read below the abstract of the article:

"The international anesthetic community's commitment to reducing the environmental impact of healthcare is important and should be celebrated. When supported by solid science, it has the potential to make a real difference. However, volatile anesthetic agents have been widely promoted in the medical literature as harmful to the climate, leading to a push to remove them from clinical practice This is based on theoretical CO2 equivalent values ​​created using the simple emissions metric known as global warming potential are given due consideration. to the science of climate change, emissions of volatile anesthetic gases cannot simply be equated with actual carbon dioxide emissions and their impact on the climate is vanishingly small. This document provides anesthesiologists with a framework for making informed choices based on science and calls climate change to refocus attention on the urgent need to reduce the very real carbon emissions associated with healthcare."