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Anaesthesia. 1989 Jun;44(6):511-4.

Occupational exposure to nitrous oxide in four hospitals.

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University Department of Anaesthesia, Western Infirmary, Glasgow.


Diffusive samplers were used to measure the exposure of the anaesthetist, anaesthetic assistant and circulating nurse to nitrous oxide in every operating theatre of four Glasgow hospitals. Each theatre was surveyed over 1 or 2 weeks; samples were taken during every operating session. The exposures were in general surprisingly high. The anaesthetist's exposure was greater than ppm on about half the occasions. The study underlines the need for theatre ventilation systems and scavenging equipment to be properly maintained and for scavenging facilities to be used effectively. It is concluded that regular monitoring of staff exposures is required to check the effectiveness of antipollution measures.

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