"Health care is vital to all of us some of the time, but public health is vital to all of us all of the time."
- Everett Koops (1916-2013)
Operating in a Climate Crisis: A State-of-the-Science Review of Life Cycle Assessment within Surgical and Anesthetic Care
Both human health and the health systems we depend on are increasingly threatened by a range of environmental crises, including climate change. Paradoxically, health care provision is a significant driver of environmental pollution, with surgical and anesthetic services among the most resource-intensive components of the health system.
This analysis aimed to summarize the state of life cycle assessment (LCA) practice as applied to surgical and anesthetic care via review of extant literature assessing environmental impacts of related services, procedures, equipment, and pharmaceuticals. The annual climate impact of operating surgical suites ranged between 3,200,000 and 5,200,000 kg CO2e5,200,000 kg CO2e. The climate impact of individual surgical procedures varied considerably, with estimates ranging from 6 to 1,007 kg CO2e6 to 1,007 kg CO2e. Anesthetic gases; single-use equipment; and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system operation were the main emissions hot spots identified among operating room- and procedure-specific analyses. Single-use equipment used in surgical settings was generally more harmful than equivalent reusable items across a range of environmental parameters.
I'm Daniel Rainham, an associate professor at Dalhousie University. I work with a fantastic team of trainees and colleagues to explore the relationships between the quality of the environment and human health. The quality of the environment can be beneficial, like when we take time to immerse ourselves in nature; or, it can be detrimental such as when we are exposed to harmful contaminants.
My research is focused on measuring the characteristics of the environment, investigating how these characteristics affect our health, and experimenting with solutions and interventions toward a sustainable, healthy lifespan. If this type of work sounds interesting or even fascinating to you then please get in touch.
I'm always looking for enthusiastic and motivated individuals to join or support the team. Opportunities.