April 22, 2024

Hazards of Veterinary and Animal Laboratory Anesthesia

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Hazards of Veterinary and Animal Laboratory Anesthesia

Veterinary Anesthesia

Animals play a huge role in human lives. They provide companionship, assist people with disabilities, guard and protect humans and other animals, aid in medical research, and help find cures for both human and animal diseases. Some are even part of the human workforce, such as police dogs and draft horses.

Like their human counterparts, animals can get sick or hurt. In some cases, they require surgery. During surgical procedures, the anesthetic gases used to sedate the animals can escape into the air, potentially posing health risks to both the animals and workers if indoor air quality measures are not employed.

There are millions of surgical procedures performed on animals in the United States each year. Whether in a veterinary office or a research laboratory, indoor air pollution can cause problems for both the animals and the humans who work there. Without air cleaning measures – such as fume extraction – germs, smoke, and particulates can pose a threat.

Sources of Air Pollution

Knowing the sources of air pollution can aid in preventing them. Before surgeries even take place, IAQ (indoor air quality) can be compromised by a variety of airborne contaminants such as,

  1. Molds & mildew
  2. Animal dander
  3. Viruses and bacteria
  4. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from cleaning products
  5. Equipment exhaust
  6. Anesthetic Gases

Health Concerns

In any environment with a poor indoor air quality, the health and well-being of those exposed to it – in this case animal patients and their handlers – are at risk.

Animals undergoing surgery are susceptible to infection and clinical complications if exposed to viral and bacterial germs. Medical and lab individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions or compromised immune systems may experience worsening of their symptoms when exposed to indoor pollutants.

Take fumes from anesthesia, for example. VOCs, such as isoflurane and sevoflurane, are commonly used in veterinary medicine to induce and maintain general anesthesia during surgical procedures. Generally considered safe, these gases can potentially escape into the environment and if not properly extracted, can lead to occupational exposure for laboratory and veterinary staff, as well as potential harm to animal patients.

The specific risks depend on the concentration of anesthesia used as well as the duration and frequency of exposure. Health problems associated with both acute and chronic exposure to uncaptured anesthesia vapors include (1):

  1. Respiratory distress such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath
  2. Exacerbation of pre-existing health conditions such as asthma and allergies
  3. Central nervous problems such as headache, dizziness, fatigue, and in severe cases of overexposure, unconsciousness
  4. Long-term (chronic) exposure has been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage and birth defects, as well as liver and kidney damage
  5. Chronic exposure has also been linked to an increased risk of cancer

Air Filtration Solutions for Anesthesia and More

To minimize potential risks associated with indoor air pollution, veterinary offices and animal laboratories should implement proper control measures. Multiple strategies, working in tandem, will provide the most safe and healthy environment for humans and their animal patients.

Begin by using personal protective equipment. Ensure there is good ventilation in any area where animal patients or workers are present. Regularly service all HVAC units and medical/surgical equipment. Finally, install and properly maintain a high-quality air filtration system to remove fumes, dust, and surgical emissions at their source.

At Air Impurities Removal Systems, Inc., we offer numerous air cleaning options for our veterinary and animal laboratory customers. Our mobile SP987-2 Portable Air Cleaner, for example, is specially designed to remove surgical fumes at their source to create a clean and sterile surgical environment.

Contact us today for a free clean air analysis from one of our trained indoor environmental specialists.

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