Real-time measurement and control of waste anesthetic gases during veterinary surgeries

Joseph E. Burkhart, Terrence J. Stobbe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Veterinary clinics are typically small businesses without access to sophisticated occupational safety and health programs that may exist for larger firms or hospitals. Exposures to waste anesthetic gases have been linked to a myriad of adverse health-related conditions. Excessive exposures to anesthetic agents are possible because many of the clinics use portable gas delivery carts that are not designed to capture waste gases. While scavenging systems are available to remove waste anesthetic gases, the cost may be prohibitive for smaller clinics and the effectiveness of these systems has not been fully established in veterinary clinics. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends limiting exposures to nitrous oxide (N2O) to a time-weighted average (TWA) concentration of 25 ppm and halogenated agents to 2 ppm. The NIOSH TWA is based on the weight of the agent collected from a 45-L air sample by charcoal adsorption over a sampling period not to exceed 1 hr. The NIOSH criteria state that, in most situations, control of N2O to the TWA as defined will result in levels of approximately 0.5 ppm of the halogenated agent. At present, no Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) permissible exposure level (PEL) exists for exposure to anesthetic agents; nor do specific recommendations exist for veterinary scavenging systems. Waste anesthetic gas exposures were determined using a modified MIRAN 1A at five veterinary clinics operating within the Morgantown, West Virginia, vicinity. For unscavenged systems of methoxyflurane and halothane, 1-hr time-weighted average exposures ranged from 0.5 to 45.5 ppm and 0.2 to 105.4 ppm, respectively. A method is described in this paper in which activated charcoal adsorption was chosen as an alternative method for controlling anesthetic gas exposures during veterinary surgeries. Factors considered in designing a charcoal adsorption system were cost, size, service life, and efficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)640-645
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Industrial Hygiene Association Journal
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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