SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1990

Is There an Anesthetic Contribution to Ozone Depletion or Greenhouse Warming?


Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are firmly linked with stratospheric ozone depletion and potential global atmospheric warming—the greenhouse effect. Halogenated anesthetics—halothane, enflurane, and isoflurane—are superficially similar in chemical structure to CFCs, and concern has been expressed regarding their possible contribution to the same environmental issues.

The historical development of both concerns is traced, together with the chemical structures of the highly stable CFCs and of the less stable substitute materials now under development. From this information it is shown that any conceivable contribution to either issue by halo-genated anesthetics would be absolutely minimal.

On a production volume basis alone, the annual world production of anesthetics is about one thousand times less than that of CFCs. In addition, the chemical structures of anesthetics show much more similarity with the “environment-friendly” substitutes for CFCs than with CFCs.

Author Information

Joyner, BD
ISC Chemicals Ltd, Avonmouth, Bristol
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Developed by Committee: F29
Pages: 35–46
DOI: 10.1520/STP25433S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5147-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-1394-7