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Secondhand Smoke in the Operating Room? Precautionary Practices Lacking for Surgical Smoke
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  • Alternative Title:
    Am J Ind Med
  • Description:

    Consensus organizations, government bodies, and healthcare organization guidelines recommend that surgical smoke be evacuated at the source by local exhaust ventilation (LEV) (i.e., smoke evacuators or wall suctions with inline filters).


    Data are from NIOSH’s Health and Safety Practices Survey of Healthcare Workers module on precautionary practices for surgical smoke.


    Four thousand five hundred thirty-three survey respondents reported exposure to surgical smoke: 4,500 during electrosurgery; 1,392 during laser surgery procedures. Respondents were mainly nurses (56%) and anesthesiologists (21%). Only 14% of those exposed during electrosurgery reported LEV was always used during these procedures, while 47% reported use during laser surgery. Those reporting LEV was always used were also more likely to report training and employer standard procedures addressing the hazards of surgical smoke. Few respondents reported use of respiratory protection.


    Study findings can be used to raise awareness of the marginal use of exposure controls and impediments for their use.

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