TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblywomen Nancy Munoz and DeAnne DeFuccio celebrated the signing of their legislation protecting health care workers from surgical smoke exposure on Monday. The new law requires certain health care facilities to use smoke evacuation systems in operating rooms.
“Surgical smoke poses problems for pregnant women and health consequences for workers who have prolonged exposure,” Munoz (R-Union) said. “This law represents a commitment to eliminate an unnecessary risk for New Jersey’s health care professionals. They have dedicated their careers to taking care of others, so it is our collective duty to ensure their health is also protected.”
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 law makes sure that more 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 evacuation systems. Nine states – Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Rhode Island, Oregon and Washington – have adopted similar legislation.
The law takes effect in 90 days.