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Reduction in greenhouse gases from anaesthetic agents

Widely used anaesthetic gases such as sevoflurane, desflurane and nitrous oxide/entonox are greenhouse gases, with varying atmospheric lifetimes and Global Warming Potential (GWP).

  • Sevoflurane: Atmospheric lifetime: 1.1 years. GWP100: 130.
  • Isoflurane: Atmospheric lifetime: 3.2 years. GWP100: 510.
  • Desflurane: Atmospheric lifetime: 14 years. GWP100: 2540.
  • Nitrous Oxide: Atmospheric lifetime: 110 years. GWP100: 298.

A multidisciplinary team has been set up to review and address nitrous oxide use and waste. One of our anaesthetic consultants is leading on reducing the use of desflurane and reviewing the usage of nitrous oxide and entonox (laughing gas), with a view to reduce usage, leakage, and possibly theft.

In percentage of usage and carbon emission terms (tCO2e), the Trust has made significant improvement since January 2022.

The two main sites used 75.4% of desflurane and 24.6% Sevoflurane in June 2021 – equivalent to 53.58 tCO2e and 8.76 tCO2e respectively.

However, in May 2022 the Trust has used only 5.8% of desflurane and 94.2% Sevoflurane, which equates to 8.9 tCO2e and 7.7 tCO2e respectively.