U.S. healthcare system’s GHG emissions rise 30% in past decade

If U.S. healthcare were a country, it would rank 13th in GHG emissions.

July 06, 2016 |
U.S. healthcare system’s GHG emissions rise 30% in past decade

Photo: Gerald Simmons/Creative Commons.

Researchers say greenhouse gas emissions from the healthcare sector grew 30% over the past decade, and accounted for 9.8% of the national total in 2013.

If the U.S. healthcare system were a country, it would rank 13th in the world for GHG emissions, according to a study published recently in PLOS ONE, one place behind the United Kingdom. The studied included previously unreported environmental and public health impacts of the nation’s healthcare sector.

The researchers’ economic model was based on federal data to calculate total emissions of different pollutants produced by the healthcare sector over 10 years. They analyzed direct emissions from hospitals and clinician’s offices, as well as indirect emissions generated by the suppliers of energy, goods, and services.

The research team also reported significant national percentages of other environmental impacts from the healthcare sector, including acidification (12%), smog formation (10%), and respiratory disease from particulate matter (9%).

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