A new study finds that healthcare workers continue to be exposed to hazardous surgical smoke despite known practices that could reduce the risk. Keep reading for important information on this and additional hazards faced by doctors, nurses, and others who work in surgical settings.
During surgical procedures using a laser or electrosurgical equipment, the destruction of tissue creates a smoke byproduct. This smoke plume can contain toxic materials like benzene, hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, dead and live cellular material, and viruses. OSHA estimates that a half-million healthcare workers are exposed to surgical smoke each year. Exposure can cause health effects ranging from eye, nose, and throat irritation to emphysema, asthma, or chronic bronchitis.