Exposure of anesthesiologists to nitrous oxide during pediatric anesthesia

Wushou Peter Chang, Chih Wen Kau, Shu Shya Hseu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Nitrous oxide (N2O) is one of the most common inhalation anesthetics in current anesthesiological practice. Even though artificial ventilation and active scavenging in operating theaters are employed in most of the modern hospitals, potential N2O contamination persists in regular anesthesia, particularly pediatric operation. In order to understand personal exposure during pediatric anesthesia, ambient monitoring for N2O exposure around the breathing zone of the anesthesiologist was conducted by a portable infra-red Miran 1B2 spectrophotometer. The results demonstrated that general mask anesthesia generated greatest N2O contamination, with the mean time- weighted-average (TWA) concentrations of 85 ± 48.4 (mean ± S.D.) ppm in 12 cases. Initial mask induction followed by cuffed endotracheal incubation (6 cases) or intravenous induction followed by uncuffed endotracheal intubation (6 cases) also produced significant pollution to the workers, with the mean TWAs of 33.2 ± 24.0 ppm and 31.9 ± 18.0 ppm respectively. These procedures provided exposure levels above the 25 ppm Recommended Exposure Limit (REL) of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), U.S.A. Modification with intravenous induction followed with cuffed endotracheal intubation or mask general anesthesia provided with a ventilation hood diminished the contamination apparently, with the resulting mean TWAs of 11.0 ± 4.7 ppm and 17.9 ± 9.8 ppm in 7 and 5 cases respectively. The results indicated that excessive N2O exposure to anesthesiologists was not negligible during routine pediatric anesthesia. Significant reduction could be achieved via appropriate industrial modification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-118
Number of pages7
JournalIndustrial Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Anesthesia
  • Anesthesiologist
  • Anesthetics
  • Exposure
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Pediatric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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