Control Laser Surgery Smoke and Gases with Fume Extractors

Control laser surgery smoke and gases with fume extractors 1

One of the latest medical breakthroughs to come out in recent years has been laser or electrosurgery, which allows doctors to cut into skin with unparalleled precision to separate unhealthy tissue from patients or stop blood vessels from bleeding. However, while performing potentially life-saving laser surgery, medical professionals may be exposed to smoke and inhale toxic gases and vapors. With the health of surgeons, nurses and other workers on the line, hospital and medical facility employers should ensure workers are safe in a contaminant-free work space using air filtration systems.

Health effects of laser surgery smoke and gases

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration said nearly 500,000 workers are in contact with smoke plumes during laser or electrosurgical procedures annually. What is contained in these smoke plumes are gases including benzene and formaldehyde as well as biological and microbial material, such as viruses.

“As such, they can produce upper respiratory irritation, and have in-vitro mutagenic potential,” OSHA said.  “Although there has been no documented transmission of infectious disease through surgical smoke, the potential for generating infectious viral fragments, particularly following treatment of venereal warts, may exist.”

The smoke given off during laser surgery is associated with a number of health effects, such as upper respiratory tract irritation, especially if workers are exposed to high levels of these air impurities, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Controlling the risk of plume exposure during laser surgery

While OSHA does not have standards associated with controlling the risk of laser/electrosurgery plume exposure, NIOSH states that employers could use ventilation techniques to reduce the amount of laser smoke from surgical procedures. Workers can employ a combination of general room and local exhaust ventilation, but they will have to implement more controls to remove contaminants effectively. NIOSH suggests using air filters to extract smoke from the workplace.

“A high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter or equivalent is recommended for trapping particulates,” NIOSH said. “Various filtering and cleaning processes also exist which remove or inactivate airborne gases and vapors.”

One air filtration solution that is regularly implemented to remove microbial material is the use of fume extractors. Placing extractor arms near laser surgery equipment will help ensure that these toxic gases and smoke do not enter the medical staff’s breathing space and affect their health.

Hospital and medical facility news brought to you by Air Impurities Removal Systems, Inc.

Indoor Air Quality Considerations & Airport Smoking Lounges

Designated Airport Smoking Lounges Pose Indoor Air Quality Challenges.

Designated Airport Smoking Lounges Pose Indoor Air Quality Challenges

While the number of US airports offering designated smoking areas has declined in the past ten years, many still do exist. A study conducted by the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) found that the average air pollution levels directly outside airport smoking lounges were 23 times higher than in smoke-free airports.

The CDC focused their study on the top five commercial airports that have not imposed a smoking ban. Located in major cities (save one), the five airports highlighted in the report span the map: Denver and Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Atlanta, and Virginia’s Dulles International. Together these five served more than 110 million passengers last year, representing close to 15% of all US air travel.

Airport spokesmen at these hubs assert that designated smoking areas are an important service amenity; one that helps smoking customers who have short layovers avoid missing flights (should they feel compelled to smoke outside, far from their connecting terminal). In addition, they say, it affords an alternative to their lighting up in a non-designated spot, potentially affecting non-smoking clientele.

The most recent statistics report that the smoking rate in America is on the decline with only 15% of adults participating in the habit. While that may be true, countless people still smoke. And with over 500 commercial service airports in our country – taking into consideration that the majority are smoke-free – a lot of travelers mean a lot of SHS exposure.

But there are even more non-smokers who travel and as long as an airport that serves the commercial public continues to allow smoking, the vast majority of passengers, flight crews, and airport workers – anyone who is in proximity to, cleans, or works near a designated smoking area – including lounges, bars, and restaurants – should be protected from SHS exposure, particularly airport employees who are not merely passing through for the day.

SHS Exposure: What Do We Know & What Can We Do About It?

The aforementioned CDC report cautioned that separating smokers from the rest of the airport population isn’t enough to prevent SHS exposure and that the only safe level of SHS exposure is none at all. And yet, many airports still allow smoking. For designated smoking rooms in these airports, industrial extraction methods are vitally important. Industrial extraction is the process in which harmful air contaminants are removed from the atmosphere for the protection of passengers and employees. This is critical for a safe and healthy airport environment.

Consider the pollutants emitted from secondhand smoke. There are approximately 600 ingredients in cigarettes, creating more than 7,000 chemicals. Nearly 70 of those are proven carcinogens. Toxins such as arsenic, benzene, lead, and toluene are present in various other consumer products; all of which require warning labels to alert consumers to the possible risks. Oddly enough, the same warning labels are not required for cigarettes.

It used to be assumed that SHS exposure posed only a minor threat – one that disappeared once the smoke evaporated. But consider the fact that every year over 41,000 people in the US die from SHS exposure, with the most vulnerable being children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with respiratory problems.

Until there is full participation amongst commercial airports in terms of banning smoking entirely, indoor air cleaning measures are of the utmost importance; the public health implications demand it.

At Air Systems Inc, we are an authority on indoor air quality and supply our customers with stellar air cleaning products. For the safety of your airport employees and passengers, contact us today for a free indoor air quality assessment from one of our skilled and experienced environmental experts.