Reducing the emissions of inhalers can have a significant effect on lowering climate impacts, with asthma and COPD affecting hundreds of millions of people across the globe.

Inhalers are the main way to administer pharmaceuticals to the lungs to treat asthma and COPD symptoms.

When considering the climate impact of inhalation therapy, dry powder inhalers (DPIs) have a minimal carbon footprint compared with pressurised metered dose inhalers (pMDIs).

Carbon footprint for Easyhaler1

Products: 0.580 kg CO2e (e=equivalent)

While the 1987 Montreal Protocol banned the use of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbon propellants (CFCs) in inhaled products, the most commonly used inhalers today – pMDIs – still use potent greenhouse gases (hydrofluoralkane, HFA) to push the medicine out of the device2.

For example, just five doses from a pMDI have a global warming potential equivalent to a nine-mile car trip3. Each dose has an estimated carbon footprint of up to 500g of carbon dioxide and emitting up to 36kg of CO2 in its lifetime4.

DPIs deliver the medication in dry powder form utilizing the patient’s inspiratory flow without the need for a propellant. Each DPI’s lifecycle emissions are 10 to 37 times lower compared to pMDIs5.

  1. Carbon life cycle assessment report for Orion Corporation, Orion Pharma. Executive summary. Carbon Footprint Ltd 2021. Available at: Orion.fi.
  2. Montreal protocol on substances that deplete the ozone Medical and chemicals technical options committee. Assessment report 2018.
  3. https://pharmaceutical-journal.com/article/letters/reducing-the-impact-of-asthma-treatment-on-climate-change#fn_2
  4. https://time.com/5717676/asthma-inhalers-and-climate/
  5. https://www.orion.fi/en/Sustainability/stories-about-responsibility/inhaler-environmental-footprint/