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Gas monitoring instruments and systems for compressed breathing air - Health and Safety

Compressed breathing air is subject to strict limits of harmful contaminants defined in European standard EN 12021 and various defence standards such as DEF STAN 68-284 issue 3. The testing interval of breathing air compressors and associated equipment is 3 months and gases tested include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and oil vapour defined as hexane and heavier hydrocarbons. EN 12021 covers underwater applications including self-contained open circuit compressed gas breathing (SCUBA) and compressed gas line breathing (hard-helmet diving), respiratory equipment used on ground for escaping from toxic atmospheres and for working in contaminated atmospheres. It also covers breathing gas for hyperbaric operations and synthetic air. While EN 12021 does not cover aerospace applications, the British MOD publication DEF STAN 68-284 and its counterparts in other countries cover also the breathing gases used in aviation.

The anesthetic gases and vapors which leak into the indoor atmosphere during medical procedures are considered waste anesthetic gases (WAGs). The exposure is of relevance to thousands of professionals in hospitals, operating theaters, patient recovery rooms, dental offices, and veterinary clinics around the world, who may be continually exposed to the waste anesthetic gases during their workday. Typical gases of concern include nitrous oxide N2O and several halogenated compounds in vapor form, such as sevoflurane, isoflurane, enflurane, halothane, desflurane, and methoxyflurane. Short-term exposure to these gases may lead to several symptoms, such as dizziness, headaches, fatigue, nausea. Long-term exposure to some of the anesthetic agents may result in sterility, birth defects, cancer, and liver and kidney disease.

The medical staff can be exposed to waste anesthetic gases in many ways: gas may escape from around a patient's anesthesia mask, there may be leaks in the anesthetic gas system, or gas may escape during purging of the system. Also, patients may exhale anesthetic gases even days after the surgery.

The Gasmet™ Multicomponent FTIR Gas Analyzers may be used to continuously measure waste anesthetic gases. A continuous or routine monitoring program can easily be done with a fixed-installation or portable solution for gas monitoring, providing key information on air quality at the workplace. The powerful FTIR technology will tell you reliably how much and what anesthetic agents are in the air.