OBJECTIVE: Climate change poses a significant threat to humanity and human activity is largely responsible for it. Clinical microbiology laboratories have their unintended shares in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The aim of this study is to estimate CO2 emission of a clinical microbiology laboratory and to propose initiatives to reduce the emissions.
METHODS: CO2 emission of instruments was estimated based on their electricity consumption. CO2 emitted in producing consumables was estimated by weighing the consumables needed to perform major tests in a large academic hospital. A systematic literature review was performed to identify studies on the impact of clinical microbiology laboratories on the environment. A short survey was sent to four major manufacturers of agar plates on initiatives to reduce the environmental impact of their products. Opinion was given on activities that can reduce CO2 emission in laboratories.
RESULTS: The study shows that the largest amount of CO2 emission in the microbiological laboratories comes from consumables and personnel commuting. For example, the production and transportation of agar plates needed to culture samples for a year in a hospital with 1320 beds result in 16 590 kg CO2 is emitted. All survey participants mentioned that they were committed to reduce environmental impact of their products. The initiatives to reduce CO2 emission can be performed at the laboratory and at policy level, such as reducing the number of tests to only the necessary amount to reduce consumables.
DISCUSSION: The calculations contribute to map CO2-related emissions in clinical microbiology laboratory activities, and the proposed initiatives to reduce the CO2 may serve as starting point for further discussions.