TRENTON, N.J. – The Assembly on Thursday advanced a measure to protect health care workers from surgical smoke exposure.
Sponsored by Assemblywomen Nancy Munoz and DeAnne DeFuccio, the bill (A256) requires certain health care facilities to use smoke evacuation systems in operating rooms.
“Our health care professionals deserve a truly smoke-free workplace,” Munoz (R-Union) said. “No one should have to inhale surgical fumes, which can infiltrate masks, when there are systems that are designed to clear the air. Studies have shown that there are risks for pregnant women and health consequences for workers who have prolonged exposure to surgical smoke. Let’s eliminate unnecessary risks for everyone in the operating room.”
Surgical smoke, a byproduct of tissue destruction during certain procedures, can contain toxic gasses and vapors and may disseminate infectious pathogens, according to research. Advocates say inhaling surgical smoke for one day in the operating room is the same as smoking up to 30 cigarettes. Exposure can lead to headaches, eye irritation, cough, sore throat, nausea, drowsiness, dizziness, sneezing, and more.
“Smoke evacuation systems are an investment in the long-term wellbeing of our health care workers. This bill makes sure that all health care workers can benefit from smoke evacuation systems and considers the safety of staff in addition to patients,” DeFuccio (R-Bergen) said.
A study by the Journal of American Medical Association found only 14% of operating room workers use smoke evacuators. Nine states – Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Rhode Island, Oregon and Washington – have adopted similar legislation.