Printer Friendly

Do veterinarians need ethylene oxide?

Do veterinarians need ethylene oxide?

Ethylene oxide (EtO) is a gas used widely to sterilize surgical equipment that can't tolerate steam sterilization. In the past, its use has been linked to high rates of miscarriage (SN:1/22/83, p.54) and subtle white-blood-cell chromosome changes in exposed hospital workers (SN:3/26/83, p.202). Now environmental epidemiologist John I. Freeman, with the North Carolina Department of Human Resources in Raleigh, has challenged its use in veterinary practices.

Based on a written survey of his state's veterinary clinics, he found that only about 14 percent found a need for this sterilant. More important, site visits to nine clinics that did use it showed that five were exceeding the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's "action level' for the chemical of 0.5 parts per million (ppm) in air when they used it. Although employers are supposed to monitor pollutant levels and keep employee exposure records when EtO levels exceed the action level, Freeman found that the North Carolina establishments he visited did not. Moreover, three of those clinics' EtO levels clearly violated OSHA's permissible-exposure limit of 1 ppm.

Freeman says that as a result of his findings, announced at a state veterinary meeting last year, "I think most [veterinarians] in North Carolina have quit using it.' Most, he found, had used EtO to sterilize common household drills for use in orthopedic surgery. They can avoid the problem by buying different drills or by using steam-sterilized metal drill-bit extenders to avoid contaminating an animal with a nonsterile drill. Alternatively, he says, they can use the chemical under a ventilation hood.
COPYRIGHT 1986 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Science News
Date:Aug 9, 1986
Words:269
Previous Article:A disbelief in 'cygnets.' (subatomic particles radiating from Cygnus X-3)
Next Article:Scared of trichinosis? Check with ELISA.
Topics:


Related Articles
Bed liner maker picks up.
WORK AND PROGRESS.
Denker done as South's girls basketball coach.
Cynthia Knight joins South Lane.
Incumbent Hall, newcomer McCown capture LCC seats.
Employers put teens at risk, study says.
Connecting young adults and libraries in the 21st century.
Global warming and religious stick fighting.
Catwalk.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters