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Research project

Prevention of chemical and biological hazards

Evaluation of ethylene oxide exposure in health establishments

Alain Lajoie / IRSST



0083-0170 : Completed

Recently published studies indicate that ethylene oxide - used as a disinfectant in hospitals - may be carcinogenic. The Canadian Safety Council recommends a ceiling exposure limit for this substance of 5 ppm. This project identified the potential exposure sources to ethylene oxide in hospitals, and assessed the extent of exposure and effectiveness of available control measures. The initial phase of the project consisted of a questionnaire study on the use of ethylene oxide in hospitals. Of the 140 establishments responding, 85 confirmed using ethylene oxide. The specific stages of the disinfection process during which workers are liable to be exposed, and the situations in which leaks are likely to occur, were subsequently characterized in a comparative study of 14 of these 85 establishments.

The most significant exposures generally occurred upon opening the sterilizing equipment and during the transfer of newly-sterilized material; peak concentrations measured under these conditions exceeded 75 ppm. A list of recommended operating procedures, equipment, and work practices was drafted by the IRSST working group and the Association pour la santé et la sécurité du travail du secteur des affaires sociales (Social Affairs Occupational Health and Safety Association), and the project report is being used by the sectorial association as a prevention guide in hospitals.



IRSST publications


IRSST
L'oxyde d'éthylène dans les établissements de santé au Québec - Problématique et mesures de contrôle   (Ethylene oxide in Québec hospitals - Problem and control measures )
Profil-Recherche  PR-017, Montréal, IRSST, 1984, 2 pages. Free download   More Info


Deadman, Jan Éric; Martel, Jean-Guy; Julien, Renée; Gallant, Claude; Lajoie, Alain; Savoie, Jean Yves
Ethylene Oxide in Hospitals in Québec
Studies and Research Projects / Report  S-001, Montréal, IRSST, 1985, 55 pages. Free download   More Info


Deadman, Jan Éric; Martel, Jean-Guy; Julien, Renée; Gallant, Claude; Lajoie, Alain; Savoie, Jean Yves
L'oxyde d'éthylène dans les établissements de santé au Québec - Problématique et mesures de contrôle   (Ethylene oxide in Québec hospitals - Problems and control measures)
Études et recherches / Rapport  E-009, Montréal, IRSST, 1984, 61 pages. Free download   More Info

Scientific publications and communications


Gendreau L.,  Drolet D. ,  Lajoie A.  
Problems associated with the monitoring of ethylene oxide in the hospital environment
in American Industrial Hygiene Conference, (May 1985 : Las Vegas, California, USA), 1985.

Lajoie A.  
Ethylene oxide in hospitals in Quebec
in American Industrial Hygiene Conference, (May 1985 : Las Vegas, California, USA), 1985.

Legris M.,  Roberge B. ,  Deadman J. É.,  Ménard L. ,  Baril M.  
Chapitre 35 : Rapport d'hygiène du travail
in Manuel d'hygiène du travail : du diagnostic à la maîtrise des facteurs de risque, Roberge, B., Deadman, J.É., Legris, M., Ménard, L., Baril, M. (éds), Mont-Royal, Modulo-Griffon, 2004, p. 693-697.

Lord J. M.,  Gravel R. ,  MacDonald E.,  Dufresne A.,  Roberge B. ,  Lajoie A.  
Évaluation de l’exposition à l’oxyde d’éthylène au service de stérilisation d’un centre hospitalier (Affiche)
in Les réalisations du milieu, une récolte abondante à partager : Actes du 17e congrès de l'Association pour l'hygiène industrielle au Québec / AHIQ (17e : 3-5 mai, 1995 : Saint-Hyacinthe, Canada), 1995, p. 247.

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