Articles  |   September 2019
Waste Anesthetic Gases: Focus on a Major Problem
Author Affiliations
  • Uday Jain, B.S.E.E., M.D., Ph.D., FASA
    Committee on Surgical and Procedural Anesthesia
  • Dolores Njoku, M.D.
    Committee on Surgical and Procedural Anesthesia
  • Chris R. Giordano, M.D., FASA
    Chair, Committee on Surgical and Procedural Anesthesia
Article Information
Pharmacology / Articles
Articles   |   September 2019
Waste Anesthetic Gases: Focus on a Major Problem
ASA Monitor 9 2019, Vol.83, 26-28.
ASA Monitor 9 2019, Vol.83, 26-28.
Every year, more than 50 million general anesthetics are performed in the U.S.1  A vast majority of them utilize halogenated inhalational agents including sevoflurane, desflurane and isoflurane, and non-halogenated agents including nitrous oxide. Although not an anesthetic, cautery smoke is surgical waste generated in the O.R.
Slow degradation: A small fraction of administered inhaled anesthetic is metabolized in the patient’s body. The rest is scavenged in the O.R. and then discharged into the atmosphere as waste anesthetic gas (WAG). WAGs are persistent, bioaccu-mulative and toxic (PBT) chemicals that degrade slowly. They accumulate in the atmosphere and can be measured worldwide. They cause cumulative short-term and long-term adverse effects.
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