Waste Anesthetic Gases


The anesthetic gases and vapors that leak into the surrounding room during medical procedures are considered waste anesthetic gases. Health care professionals who work in hospitals, operating rooms, dental offices and veterinary clinics, are potentially exposed to waste anesthetic gases and are at risk of occupational illness. The waste anesthetic gases and vapors of concern are nitrous oxide and halogenated agents (vapors) such as halothane, enflurane, isoflurane, and desflurane. Some potential effects of exposure to waste anesthetic gases are nausea, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, and irritability, as well as sterility, miscarriages, birth defects, cancer, and liver and kidney disease, among operating room staff or their spouses (in the case of miscarriages and birth defects). Employers and employees should be aware of the potential effects and be advised to take appropriate precautions.


OSHA standards do not specifically address waste anesthetic gases.

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Hazard Recognition

Provides information and guidance about anesthetic gases and workplace exposures.

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Possible Solutions

Provides links and references to information that aides in controlling waste anesthetic gas hazards in the workplace.

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Additional Resources

Provides links and references to additional resources related to waste anesthetic gases.

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  • Hospitals. OSHA eTool. Focuses on some of the hazards and controls found in the hospital setting and describes standard requirements as well as recommended safe work practices for employee safety and health.
  • Isoflurane May Harm Veterinary Worker Health. Hazard and Evaluation System & Information Service (HESIS), California Department of Public Health Occupational Health Branch, (2019).