Huntington Beach, CA, October 12th, 2021
Healthcare professionals who work in hospitals, operating rooms, dental offices, and veterinary clinics where anesthetic gases are utilized could potentially be exposed to waste anesthetic gases (WAGs) and be at risk of occupational illnesses. According to a past estimate from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than 200,000 healthcare professionals were potentially being exposed to WAGs on the job in the United States.
Waste anesthetic gases are described by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) as small amounts of volatile anesthetic gases that leak from a patient’s anesthetic breathing circuit into the air of operating rooms during the delivery of anesthesia. These gases may also be exhaled by patients recovering from anesthesia. According to OSHA, some potential exposure effects to WAGs include nausea, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, and irritability, as well as sterility, miscarriages, birth defects, cancer, and liver and kidney disease.
Back in 2019, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) published a Workplace Hazard Update about veterinary worker exposure risks to isoflurane, a commonly used anesthetic gas. An investigation by the department found high levels of isoflurane in workers' breathing zones during common veterinary procedures. Regarding exposure risks to humans, the CDPH document states that while more study on human exposure is needed, scientists are concerned that evidence from laboratory animal studies points to potential nervous and reproductive system harm in people.
“Fortunately, there are a number of ways to control exposure to waste anesthetic gases,” said Joseph Frasca, Senior Vice President of Marketing at LA Testing. “These include, but are not limited to, engineering controls (ventilation and scavenging equipment), work practices, hazard communication and training, and air monitoring. In California, the industrial hygiene and indoor air quality (IAQ) scientists at LA Testing’s network of laboratories offer testing services for a number of WAGs from sampling badges.”
LA Testing has even sponsored an educational video about WAGs and exposure risks that can be seen at: https://youtu.be/lZ5eLx7Egi8.
To learn more about testing for waste anesthetic gases or other industrial hygiene and IAQ services, please visit www.LATesting.com, email info@LATesting.com, or call (800) 755-1794.
About LA Testing
LA Testing is California’s leading laboratory for indoor air quality testing of asbestos, mold, lead, VOCs, formaldehyde, soot, char, ash, and smoke damage, particulates, and other chemicals. In addition, LA Testing offers a full range of air sampling and investigative equipment to professionals and the public. LA Testing maintains an extensive list of accreditations including: AIHA-LAP, LLC (AIHA-LAP, LLC EMLAP, AIHA-LAP, LLC IHLAP, AIHA-LAP, LLC ELLAP), CDC ELITE, NVLAP, State of California, State of Hawaii Department of Health, and other states. LA Testing, along with the EMSL Analytical, Inc. network, has multiple laboratories throughout California including South Pasadena, Huntington Beach, San Leandro, San Diego, and Ontario.