Mar 19, 2023

Stanford Medicine magazine looks at how health and the environment interact — and ways to counter negative impacts

The new issue of Stanford Medicine features articles on reducing the environmental impact of health care, updating medical education and protecting human health amid environmental challenges.

June 6, 2023 - By Rosanne Spector

Stanford Health Care anesthesiologist Praveen Kalra, MD, was surprised to read a few years ago that a commonly used anesthetic, desflurane, had an outsized negative environmental impact compared with other anesthetic gases that work equally well.

He convinced his anesthesia colleagues to drop desflurane in favor of more environmentally friendly anesthetics, and in doing so, became part of a green movement now sweeping health care. Desflurane has been eliminated in all Stanford Health Care operating rooms.

The new issue of Stanford Medicine magazine, featuring a special report on the environment and health, includes articles describing efforts by Kalra and others toward green health care.With about 8.5% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions originating from the health care industry, many in the field feel a responsibility to reduce that contribution.

"We’re at a moment of realizing that all this research says climate change impacts the patients we take care of, and we have to start doing things differently," Christy Foster, director of sustainability at Stanford Medicine Children's Health, said in an article about innovations to reduce the environmental impact of conducting surgery.

Also in the report, Health on a planet in crisis, are stories about ways to reduce the health impact of environmental hazards, including wildfire smoke in California, dust storms in sub-Saharan Africa and lead poisoning in Bangladesh.

The report includes:

Beyond the theme package, the issue also features an article about the unexpected importance of the sense of smell — and a faster, more successful treatment for the loss of the underdog of senses; a story about drug delivery strategies that could reduce side effects from mRNA vaccines; and a perspective Q&A about self-compassion from a physician well-being expert and emergency medicine doctor who works the night shift.

Stanford Medicine magazine is available online at as well as in print. Request a copy by sending an email to [email protected].

About Stanford Medicine

Stanford Medicine is an integrated academic health system comprising the Stanford School of Medicine and adult and pediatric health care delivery systems. Together, they harness the full potential of biomedicine through collaborative research, education and clinical care for patients. For more information, please visit

The new issue of Stanford Medicine magazine features articles about the ways nonmedical factors can help or hinder our health and presents initiatives to promote health equity.

How the environment and health interact