Benson SM, Maskrey JR, Nembhard MD, Unice KM, Shirley MA, Panko JM. 2019. Evaluation of personal exposure to surgical smoke generated from electrocautery instruments: A pilot study. Ann Work Expos Health wxz070; open access.
Hospital technician surgical smoke exposures during several types of electrocautery-based procedures were evaluated. Personal and area air sampling was performed for 106 individual analytes including ultrafine particulate matter (UFP), volatile organic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, phenol, aldehydes, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, and hydrogen cyanide. Acetone, D-limonene, ethanol, ethyl acetate, and fluorene were measured in surgical suites at concentrations 1.1- to 3.7-fold higher than those observed in background. Benzene, α-pinene, methylene chloride, and n-hexane were measured in the absence of a detectable background concentration. All analytes were measured at concentrations that were <1% of the corresponding US federal and state 8-h permissible exposure limits (PELs), if PELs existed. Full-shift average UFP concentrations ranged from 773 to 2257 particles/cm3, approximately one order of magnitude higher than surgical suite background concentrations. A comparison of two breast reduction procedures suggested that the use of smoke evacuators reduced UFP exposure by 6-fold. We concluded that selection and evaluation of key hazards, particularly UFP, under a variety of experimental conditions would be beneficial to elucidate potential health effects and causes osf employee complaints. Recommendations for successful sampling campaigns in future surgical smoke occupational exposure studies are provided. We also recommend the continued use of engineering controls, local exhaust ventilation, and surgical N95 respirators to reduce personal exposures to UFP in surgical smoke.