Want to Save the Environment? Stop Breathing

  • AUTHOR: fiona
  • POSTED ON: December 13, 2019

If you think fossil fuels and oil are the main contributors of greenhouse gases, then UK researchers want you to reconsider everything.

“Breathing is getting difficult due to pollution” is a phrase we have all heard a lot of times but did you know that wanting to breathe itself has major consequences? Yes, that’s right. BBC published a report by UK researchers on 30th October, claiming that asthma inhalers release a gas that contributes to the carbon emissions in the environment. 

“Asthma carbon footprint as big as eating meat”, read the headline and not surprisingly, people were not happy. 

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames the airways of the lungs, resulting in swelling of the passage that triggers shortness of breath. Today, millions of people suffer from the illness due to increasing pollution and every year, it proves to be fatal for at least 3600 patients. 

Source: The Independent

To provide an instant solution to the difficulty in breathing, metered-dose inhalers were designed by the pharmacists. This device releases the medication straight into the lungs of the sufferer, making it easy for them to breathe.

The inhalers contain a propellant called hydrofluoroalkane to push the medication out. This is a greenhouse gas, and since seven out of ten inhaler prescriptions are metered-dose, researchers suggest that this is causing a major problem in the environment.

In recent times, there is a wave of awareness for climate change, and activists and government are coming together to tackle the issue by removing the contributing factors. 

Source: Voice of America 

Therefore, researchers suggested that asthma patients can switch to alternatives like dry-powdered devices and cut down their carbon footprint by using “greener inhalers’. The use of dry-powder inhalers will help in cutting down the emissions effectively as it is free of greenhouse gases. Researchers believe that it would be as efficient as turning vegetarian.

However, this has upset a lot of patients because they believe that avoiding meat out of choice is not the same as switching to an “environment-friendly” medication. Doctors have noted that it is not safe for everyone to shift to dry-powdered inhalers because it can lead to severe consequences. But that’s not all.

The research gave rise to a lot of opinions and people pointed out the irony of blaming asthma patients for climate change. They stated that instead of asking the users to change their methods, the government should pressurise the pharmaceutical companies that produce this medical device. A Twitter user, Jazmine Scarlet condemned the research in strong words saying,

 “Go scrutinise the industries who make the bloody things, not the users! 

Other users challenged the government to look at the “real” causes of climate change instead of holding the individuals with a genuine disease accountable. The argument about the reasons of why so many people have acquired asthma in recent times was also brought up, and the leading causes included vehicle emissions, fossil fuel burning and oil refining, all of which are also major contributors of climate change.

@allonsyjenni voiced her opinion regarding the problem in these words:

“Just another voice chiming in that my asthma was caused by pollution so don’t get on my case for needing an inhaler powered by a greenhouse gas every now and then when collective reliance on fossil fuels is the reason I can’t breathe properly in the first place.”

Source: LAist

With growing climate change, it is important to alter individual lifestyle to benefit the environment. However, going after the true culprits like oil refining industries and companies that expose the masses to chemical waste would prove to be more effective than asking people to make sacrifices that are not under their control.

Still, if you want to switch to a cleaner alternative, consult your doctor about the condition first. As mentioned before, dry powdered inhalers are not suitable for anyone and the fact that the options for life-saving drugs are so limited is not the patient’s fault. Therefore, making them feel guilty about something as basic as wanting to live is not the right way to go about it.

Updated December 13, 2019
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