Cochrane & Associates, LLC

Veterinary Workers Issued Isoflurane Workplace Hazard Update from the California Department of Public Health

Source: Cochrane & Associates, LLC

Clark Seif Clark provides industrial hygiene testing, monitoring and training to protect veterinary and health care workers from exposure to waste anesthetic gases.

Chatsworth, CA, February 10th, 2020 -- Last year, the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) Hazard Evaluation System & Information Service (HESIS) published a Workplace Hazard Update about veterinary workers and potential exposure risk to isoflurane, a commonly used anesthetic gas. Isoflurane is used for both animals and humans and is sold under various trade names. It is a general anesthetic that is inhaled and can be used to start or maintain anesthesia.

 

The Workplace Hazard Update was released because CDPH reports the department found high levels of isoflurane in workers' breathing zones during common veterinary procedures. The 4-page document describes various peak inhalation exposure risks that can occur, including when veterinarians or technicians roll an animal over that is undergoing a procedure. In this instance, exposure could happen when the endotracheal tube is disconnected to reposition the animal while the gas continues to flow. If high exposures like this occur multiple times during a shift, workers could be exposed to isoflurane over the legal limit.

 

“Isoflurane is just one of many anesthetic gases that workers in the veterinary and health care professions could encounter,” said Zahid Iqbal, MPH, CIH and Technical Director at Clark Seif Clark (CSC). “The term waste anesthetic gases, commonly referred to as WAGs, is described by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) as small amounts of volatile anesthetic gases that leak from a patient’s anesthetic breathing circuit into the air of operating rooms during delivery of anesthesia. These same gases may also be exhaled by patients during recovering from anesthesia. There are methods to monitor for WAGs in the air and ways to mitigate potential exposure, including engineering controls, hazard communication and training, and work practices.”

 

A list of occupations provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that could put workers at risk of exposure to WAGs includes anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists, surgical and obstetric nurses, operating room (OR) technicians, nurses’ aides, surgeons, anesthesia technicians, post-anesthesia care nurses, dentists, dental assistants, dental hygienists, veterinarians and their assistants, emergency room staff and radiology department personnel.

 

To help protect workers from exposure risks and occupational illnesses associated with WAGs, the industrial hygiene professionals at Clark Seif Clark offer consulting, air testing, monitoring and training services. CSC also recently sponsored an educational video about WAGs and exposure risks that can be seen at: https://youtu.be/lZ5eLx7Egi8

 

To learn more about this or other occupational, indoor air quality, environmental, health, and safety testing and training services, please visit www.csceng.com, email csc@csceng.com or call (800) 807-1118. 

 

About Clark Seif Clark

CSC was established in 1989 to help clients in both public and private sectors address indoor air quality, occupational, environmental, and health and safety (EH&S) issues. CSC is a leading provider of these services with multiple offices along the western seaboard and southwest. The company believes in science-based protocols and has a strong background in engineering, making them the preferred environmental consultants to industrial clients, healthcare facilities, architects, schools, builders, contractors, developers and real estate professionals.