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Arch Hellen Med, 29(1), January-February 2012, 23-28


The effects of exposure of health care professionals to volatile anesthetic gases

A. Patelarou, E. Melidoniotis, E. Patelarou
University Hospital of Heraklion, Heraklion, Crete, Greece

One of the exposures of health care professionals that may have serious adverse effects on their health is from the use of volatile anesthetic gases. Exposure to volatile anesthetic gases can be either direct, from the wastage of gases during administration of anesthesia, or indirect, from the elimination of anesthetics through patients' exhalation following surgery. Current epidemiological evidence in this field is contradictory. The most common health effects of exposure to anesthetic gases among health care workers that have been documented are: Migraine, chronic headache, depression, anemia, peripheral neuropathy, neurotoxicity, hepatotoxicity, and multiple sclerosis. In addition, studies of exposed pregnant women have shown a high risk of miscarriage, congenital fetal abnormalities and overall adverse pregnancy outcome. Although ventilation and gas-scavenging systems have reduced significantly the exposure of health care professionals, the optimal protection of their health demands, the participation of the relevant organizations of occupational safety and further research on the relationship between exposure to volatile anesthetics and adverse health effects. Effective preventive measures against occupational exposure to anesthetics include informing and educating the health personnel, effective engineering and administrative control, periodic measurements in the workplace, personal protection, and the substitution of harmful anesthetics by safer substances.

Key words: Health, Occupational exposure, Volatile anesthetics.

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