Together with scavenging and proper ventilation, monitoring on waste anesthetic gases plays a vital role in preventing serious health effects of workers in operating rooms, dental facilities and veterinaries.

Workplace exposures to Waste Anesthetic Gases (WAGs)

It is estimated that just in the U.S more than 200,000 (1) health care professionals are potentially exposed to waste anesthetic gases, and therefore might face occupational illness.

Anesthetic gases find their way to the worker environments through various channels:

  • Leaks in some part of the anesthesia machine, such as in the valves, defected rubber and plastic tubes, hoses, ventilator bellows, etc
  • Poorly fitting face masks
  • Through exhale (in recovery rooms)

Commonly used anesthetic agents can be divided into two categories

  1. Nitrous oxide. First introduced in 1844 and still in active use.
  2. Halogenated agents. Developed in the 1950s to replace the flammable and explosive agents used in that period. Most anesthetic gases used today are included in this category, such as
    1. halothane (Fluothane®)
    2. enflurane (Ethrane®)
    3. isoflurane (Forane®)
    4. desflurane (Suprane®)
    5. sevoflurane (Ultane®)

Various studies have reported positive associations between anesthetic exposures and reproductive problems in women and developmental defects in their offspring, together with various other short- and long-term health effects (2). Additionally, excessive anesthetic gases can negatively affect personnel during demanding tasks, such as medical operations.

Due to the potential hazards caused by WAGs exposure, it has become a matter clinicians need to be concerned with.  Together with scavenging and effective ventilation systems, air monitoring is one of the fundamental tools used in minimizing worker exposure to anesthetic agents.

Problem with badges – uncertainty and weeks of waiting

Currently, many hospitals, dental clinics and veterinaries face uncertainty and extensive waiting times in their WAGs monitoring. Solutions such as waste anesthetic gas badges collect samples that then need to be sent to a laboratory or to a separate analyzer for results. A normal waiting time from sampling to results can be two weeks or more.

With extensive waiting times, it is essentially impossible to detect the source through which the WAGs ended up in the working environment. Weak situational awareness caused by long feedback loops in WAGs monitoring also makes it difficult to find causalities and improve processes. Situations where WAGs exposure negatively affects medical personnel during demanding operations can only be addressed when results from air monitoring are available in real-time.

Fast and portable measurements

Many advantages can be achieved by using portable direct-reading instruments in WAGs monitoring. The possibility to measure all frequently used anesthetic waste gases simultaneously reduces risks in healthcare facilities with multiple operating rooms. As there is no need for time-consuming separate sampling and sample treatment, measurements can be performed a lot quicker. This enables more comprehensive surveys of the air quality as a lot more samples can be collected and measured. Avoiding separate sampling is also cost-effective as no consumables are required for the sampling process. Gasmet GT5000 Terra gas analyzer provides an ideal solution as it offers on-site measurement of air quality without compromising on the quality of the analysis.

GT5000 Terra – market leading solution for waste anesthetic gas monitoring

GT5000 Terra is a trusted solution for anesthetic waste gas monitoring. It delivers accurate and instant results of all frequently used (listed above), which makes leak detection and process improvement a reality to its users. The GT5000 is powered by FTIR technology.

The GT5000 can be operated completely wirelessly, which makes it easy to move to the locations where it is needed. It has a rugged, splash and dustproof cover, making it a practical solution to various demanding settings.

All Gasmet FTIR analyzers are supplied with Calcmet software. The software collects, stores and visualizes the FTIR spectra of the sample gas and analyzes the concentrations of gas components. You get quick and accurate results in an easy-to-use package.

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