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Appl Occup Environ Hyg. 1999 Jun;14(6):384-90.

Anesthetic gas exposure in veterinary clinics.

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  • 1Workplace Safety & Health Branch, Occupational Hygiene Unit, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.


Concerns were raised by several workers from veterinary clinics in Manitoba, Canada, regarding potential exposure to isoflurane and halothane during anesthetic administration. There has been no guideline established for isoflurane by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienist (ACGIH) or a Permissible Exposure Limit by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or a recommended exposure limit (REL) by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The ACGIH TLV-TWA for halothane is 50 ppm and NIOSH has established 2 ppm as a recommended level based on an one-hour sampling. OSHA has established no guideline for halothane. The Miran IB Portable Ambient Air Analyzer was used to conduct real-time sampling and to identify leaks during administration. All veterinary clinics inspected had installed the passive waste gas scavenging system. Ten clinics were each monitored during anesthetic gas delivery for one surgical procedure performed. Induction was 4 to 5 percent and maintenance 1.5 to 2.5 percent. Nine clinics were small animal practices and the tenth was an equine clinic. Veterinarians' personal exposures were higher than the assistants'. Veterinarians' personal exposures for isoflurane ranged from 1.3 to 13 ppm (AM = 5.3; SD +/- 2.7; GM = 4.6; GSD +/- 1.6) and for their assistants, personal exposures ranged from 1.2 to 9 ppm (AM = 4.7; SD +/- 2.5; GM = 3.9; GSD +/- 1.6). Veterinarians' personal exposures for halothane ranged from 0.7 to 12 ppm (AM = 4.2; SD +/- 3.6; GM = 2.9; GSD +/- 1.4) and for their assistants, personal exposures ranged from 0.4 to 3.2 ppm (AM = 1.8; SD +/- 1.0; GM = 1.5; GSD +/- 1.7). One clinic had significant leaks in the anesthetic gas delivery lines. Personal halothane exposure for the veterinarian at this clinic was 7.2 to 65 ppm (AM = 18.0; SD +/- 11.5; GM = 15.9; GSD +/- 1.8). Based on this study, worker exposures were acceptable. Peak exposures were recorded when the cuffed endotracheal tube was removed from the animal. Equipment leaks were minimal when the system was maintained at its optimum operating condition.

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