For healthcare professionals only

Research Article

Measurement and reduction of occupational exposure to inhaled anaesthetics.

Br Med J 1976; 2 doi: (Published 20 November 1976) Cite this as: Br Med J 1976;2:1219
  1. H T Davenport,
  2. M J Halsey,
  3. B Wardley-Smith,
  4. B M Wright


    The occupational exposure of hospital staff to inhaled anaesthetics was investigated using a personal sampling device that provides a measure of the average concentrations breathed by a person over a period of time, as distinct from the spot sampling in the general environment. The anaesthetist's average exposure to nitrous oxide and halothane during complete operating sessions was twice that expected from simple dilution of the escaping gases by the operating room ventilation. The sampling technique was also used to evaluate the effect of (1) redirection of the waste gas outflow; (2) active scavenging connected to the piped vacuum system. Short-period studies under controlled conditions in the operating theatres and anaesthesia induction rooms showed that the anaesthetist's exposure could be reduced two- or fourfold by redirecting the outflow and another four- to sixfold by active scavenging. Exposures during complete operating sessions were reduced two- to seven-fold by scavenging.