When an inhaler provides relief to an asthma patient it may also be harming the ozone layer, but an NGO is advocating a complete switch to eco-friendly inhalers.
"If everything goes fine, all asthma inhalers in India will use either dry powder or will use a hydrofluoroalkane (HFA) propellant," said N Mansukhani, development facilitator of the NGO, CFC Free Inhalers.
Many of the existing varieties of inhalers release chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) into the atmosphere, eating up the fast-depleting ozone layer.
The health ministry and the environment and forests ministry are concerned about such inhalers, used by many of the approximately 15 million asthma patients in India, and are considering a shift to those varieties that do not harm the ozone layer and thus help reduce many climatic and health- related problems.
A day-long conference to deliberate on this issue is scheduled in New Delhi on Monday.
"The effort is to shift to hydrofluoroalkane-based inhaler," Mansukhani said.
He said India is one of 195 signatories to the Montreal Protocol and is working towards phasing out CFCs completely by January 2010 and save the ozone layer that protects life on Earth from harmful UV radiation.
CFC Free Inhalers has been coordinating with the two ministries for the switchover.
"These inhalers provide the same health benefits as the old CFC-containing inhalers but without damaging the ozone layer," he said, adding that the cost of the new variety may be a little higher than the current market price.