Air Emissions

Air Emissions

We are committed to controlling air emissions from our facilities to reduce local, regional and global impacts.



Our Air Management Standard requires our facilities to quantify and control air emissions to comply with applicable regulations and emission standards. Air emissions are generated in our manufacturing and research operations, as well as from combusting fuel in on-site equipment and fleet vehicles.

Our pharmaceutical manufacturing processes, cleaning operations and research laboratories typically require the use of solvents. Evaporation of solvents into the air is the primary source of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. In an effort to reduce VOC emissions, reduction in solvent usage has been incorporated as an element of our Green & Sustainable Science program. Key elements of the program include designing efficient processes that use fewer and less-hazardous solvents and using water-based methods for cleaning our process equipment where they are as effective as solvent-based methods. Additionally, to reduce emissions from processes where solvents are used, we use pollution-control technologies such as conservation vents, carbon filters, thermal oxidizers, condensers and scrubbers.

Air emissions are also generated by burning fuel in our boilers and power-generation turbines (for heat and energy), and by other combustion processes, such as thermal oxidizers (for treating air emissions) and incinerators (for destroying waste). Our fleet vehicles and aircraft also burn fuel and generate air emissions. These combustion processes result in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). We strive to make our facilities more energy-efficient through our energy-management programs. By making these improvements, we also reduce emissions of CO2, NOx, SOx and VOCs from our operations.


Air Pollutant Emissions by Type (MT)12013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Ozone-depleting substances (ODS)1.5 1.5 0.1 0.7 0.1
Nitrogen oxides (NOx)535 495 475 435 454
Sulfur oxides (SOx)49 48 47 36 36
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)516 511 454 439 377
Note: Previously reported data have been restated per our methodology, which includes adding facilities that have been acquired and removing facilities that have been sold as operating sites.
1. Data are estimated using conservative assumptions and factors, not measured or weighed.

Our air emissions data reflect the facilities we own and operate as well as our leased facilities and our vehicle and aircraft fleet–related emissions. The increase in NOx emissions from 2016 to 2017 is attributed primarily to using emergency generators at our Puerto Rico facility during an extended power outage caused by Hurricane Maria.

The decrease in VOC emissions from 2016 to 2017, as well as the steady levels of SOx emissions, is attributed primarily to our adoption of more-accurate emission-tracking methods, reductions in the use of solvents in our manufacturing operations, and our energy-management programs. Emissions of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) are the result of non-routine releases from temperature-control and fire-suppression systems, and can vary significantly from year to year.