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Médecine du travail du personnel hospitalier

Occupational exposure to nitrous oxide – the role of scavenging and ventilation systems in reducing the exposure level in operating rooms.

Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2007 Mar;210(2):133-8. Epub 2006 Oct 10.
Occupational exposure to nitrous oxide – the role of scavenging and ventilation systems in reducing the exposure level in operating rooms.
Krajewski W, Kucharska M, Wesolowski W, Stetkiewicz J, Wronska-Nofer T.
The Polish Mother Memorial Hospital, Research Institute, Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine, Lodz, Poland.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to assess the level of occupational exposure to nitrous oxide (N(2)O) in operating rooms (ORs), as related to different ventilation and scavenging systems used to remove waste anaesthetic gases from the work environment. METHODS: The monitoring of N(2)O in the air covered 35 ORs in 10 hospitals equipped with different systems for ventilation and anaesthetic scavenging. The examined systems included: natural ventilation with supplementary fresh air provided by a pressure ventilation system (up to 6 air changes/h); pressure and exhaust ventilation systems equipped with ventilation units supplying fresh air to and discharging contaminated air outside the working area (more than 10 air changes/h); complete air-conditioning system with laminar air flow (more than 15 air changes/h). The measurements were carried out during surgical procedures (general anaesthesia induced intravenously and maintained with inhaled N(2)O and sevofluran delivered through cuffed endotracheal tubes) with connected or disconnected air scavenging. Air was collected from the breathing zone of operating personnel continuously through the whole time of anaesthesia to Tedlar((R)) bags, and N(2)O concentrations in air samples were analyzed by adsorption gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. RESULTS: N(2)O levels in excess of the occupational exposure limit (OEL) value of 180mg/m(3) were registered in all ORs equipped with ventilation systems alone. The OEL value was exceeded several times in rooms with natural ventilation plus supplementary pressure ventilations and twice or less in those with pressure/exhaust ventilation systems or air conditioning. N(2)O levels below or within the OEL value were observed in rooms where the system of air conditioning or pressure/exhaust ventilation was combined with scavenging systems. Systems combining natural/pressure ventilation with scavenging were inadequate to maintain N(2)O concentration below the OEL value. CONCLUSION: Air conditioning and an efficient pressure/exhaust ventilation (above 12 air exchanges/h) together with efficient active scavenging systems are sufficient to sustain N(2)O exposure in ORs at levels below or within the OEL value of 180mg/m(3).

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