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Title of the item:

The carbon footprint of Australian health care.

Title :
The carbon footprint of Australian health care.
Authors :
Malik A; Integrated Sustainability Analysis, School of Physics, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
Lenzen M; Integrated Sustainability Analysis, School of Physics, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
McAlister S; Ecoquantum Life Cycle Assessment, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.
McGain F; School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia; Departments of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, Western Health, Footscray, VIC, Australia. Electronic address: .
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Source :
The Lancet. Planetary health [Lancet Planet Health] 2018 Jan; Vol. 2 (1), pp. e27-e35. Date of Electronic Publication: 2018 Jan 09.
Publication Type :
Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Language :
Imprint Name(s) :
Original Publication: [Amsterdam] : Elsevier B.V., [2017]-
MeSH Terms :
Carbon Footprint/*statistics & numerical data
Delivery of Health Care/*statistics & numerical data
Australia ; Delivery of Health Care/classification ; Humans
Entry Date(s) :
Date Created: 20180405 Date Completed: 20190521 Latest Revision: 20190521
Update Code :
Academic Journal
Background: Carbon footprints stemming from health care have been found to be variable, from 3% of the total national CO 2 equivalent (CO 2 e) emissions in England to 10% of the national CO 2 e emissions in the USA. We aimed to measure the carbon footprint of Australia's health-care system.
Methods: We did an observational economic input-output lifecycle assessment of Australia's health-care system. All expenditure data were obtained from the 15 sectors of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare for the financial year 2014-15. The Australian Industrial Ecology Virtual Laboratory (IELab) data were used to obtain CO 2 e emissions per AUS$ spent on health care.
Findings: In 2014-15 Australia spent $161·6 billion on health care that led to CO 2 e emissions of about 35 772 (68% CI 25 398-46 146) kilotonnes. Australia's total CO 2 e emissions in 2014-15 were 494 930 kilotonnes, thus health care represented 35 772 (7%) of 494 930 kilotonnes total CO 2 e emissions in Australia. The five most important sectors within health care in decreasing order of total CO 2 e emissions were: public hospitals (12 295 [34%] of 35 772 kilotonnes CO 2 e), private hospitals (3635 kilotonnes [10%]), other medications (3347 kilotonnes [9%]), benefit-paid drugs (3257 kilotonnes [9%]), and capital expenditure for buildings (2776 kilotonnes [8%]).
Interpretation: The carbon footprint attributed to health care was 7% of Australia's total; with hospitals and pharmaceuticals the major contributors. We quantified Australian carbon footprint attributed to health care and identified health-care sectors that could be ameliorated. Our results suggest the need for carbon-efficient procedures, including greater public health measures, to lower the impact of health-care services on the environment.
Funding: None.
(Copyright © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an Open Access article under the CC BY 4.0 license. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.)
Comment in: Lancet Planet Health. 2018 Jan;2(1):e8-e9. (PMID: 29615209)

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