This article was originally published here
Sci Total Environ. 2021 Apr 29;786:147401. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.147401. Online ahead of print.
Medical oxygen is the key to survival for COVID-19 patients. To meet the pandemic-driven oxygen demand spike, local hospitals began searching for a suitable medical oxygen delivery system. Among the studies published on the impact of COVID-19 on a range of aspects, including the global economy and the environment, no study has been conducted on the environmental impact of medical oxygen supply to hospitals under epidemic conditions. In this paper the authors perform a comparative Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to evaluate the environmental and economic impact of three scenarios (oxygen cylinders, liquid oxygen in tanks and on-site oxygen production) of local oxygen supply to hospitals in Poland. The LCA was performed according to ISO 14040 -14044 standards requirements, using the SimaPro 9.0 software. Results from the analysis showed that the Global Warming Potential (GWP) and Fine Particulate Matter Formation Potential (FPMFP) indicators for the liquid oxygen in tank scenario are the lowest and equal 265 kg CO2 eq and 0.309 kg PM2.5 eq. respectively. The greatest terrestrial acidification reductions (-1.38 kg SO2 eq) can be achieved when applying the on-site oxygen production scenario. Our findings revealed that the oxygen in cylinders scenario has the most harmful impact on the environment. The economic analysis was performed in order to compare the monthly and annual operational costs of analysed scenarios. The results show that hospitals sustain the lowest annual costs when using the on-site oxygen production scenario.