Surgical Lasers: Operating Room Smoking Guns


Hospitals and health centers across the United States have long been conscientious about maintaining sterile environments in their operating rooms and surgical centers. Generally speaking, the indoor air quality (IAQ) in medical and clinical establishments is as clean as it gets. Despite this, there has been increasing unease within the medical community about health risks posed to both patients and medical personnel. The concern stems from surgical smoke; specifically, the emissions from surgical lasers.

It is estimated that over 500,000 operating room workers – doctors, nurses, specialists and techs – are affected annually. Laser surgery smoke is generated as the result of the interaction between heat-producing equipment and human tissue. During this process, molecules are released into the air. Small particles carry chemical risks; larger particles, the threat of infection.

Though surgical smoke is a necessary result of patient healthcare, it none-the-less emits potentially harmful pollutants such as formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and benzene gases.

Consequently, patients and OR staff members have a right to be concerned before any surgical procedure, no matter how minor. Medical workers could contract respiratory ailments due to continual surgical smoke inhalation and patients could develop a surgical-site infection resulting from exposure to contaminated particulate matter. While the minor threats associated with surgical laser smoke, such as respiratory irritation, are often tolerated with the use of surgical masks, more serious health hazards such as Chronic Respiratory Disease and patient wound infection, need to be addressed with more comprehensive risk-reduction measures – namely, surgical smoke extraction. Independent studies have suggested that the best way to contain particulates emitted by laser surgical equipment is by extracting them at the site. OSHA, despite surgical smoke inhalation being a known occupational hazard, has no standards in place, so it is up to individual medical care facilities to voluntarily install laser smoke air-cleaning systems in their OR’s.

At Air Impurities Removal Systems Inc. we offer numerous options to extract airborne surgical particulates. Our extraction products are specially designed for removing surgical laser smoke at its source – helping to maintain a clean and sterile operating room environment. Contact our trained specialists today for a free clean air analysis.