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Environmental and occupational hazards of the anesthesia workplace.

AANA journal

etiology, Radiation Injuries, Operating Rooms, Occupational Exposure, Medical Waste, adverse effects, Lasers, Humans, Environmental Exposure, Anesthetics, Anesthesia

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      Abstract

      Our present state of research and knowledge strongly suggests that the volatile agents, halothane, enflurane and isoflurane, present only a minimal threat to our environment. Nitrous oxide, however, has ozone-depleting potential as well as a greenhouse gas effect which may contribute much to the problem of global warming over the next few decades. Release of anesthetic gases into the atmosphere presents a small problem in contrast to other sources of ozone-depleting chemicals and greenhouse gases, but anesthesia providers have a responsibility to minimize unnecessary atmospheric pollution by reevaluating the use of N2O, using low flows of gases and exploring the use of activated charcoal absorption in the scavenging systems to remove volatile agents. Infectious waste, radiation, lasers, chemicals and waste gases pose possible occupational health hazards in the operating room. Each of us should play a critical role in monitoring harmful substances and should actively practice techniques which would lessen the hazards. We should be cognizant of the fact that sources not yet introduced into our environment may have adverse effects on our health and that vigilance and education are key factors in maintaining a safe work environment.

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