Skip to Main Content

The claims sound terrifying:

Just breathing the air in an operating room where hot surgical tools are being used to slice and cauterize tissue — emitting puffs of caustic smoke in the process — is said to be the equivalent of smoking up to 30 unfiltered cigarettes a day. The smoke contains an array of carcinogenic toxins. And nurses regularly exposed to it report they are are twice as likely as the general public to suffer congestion, coughing, and asthma.


Citing such data, health care workers have launched national campaigns to push hospitals to require the use of devices that suction up surgical smoke as it’s produced. Laws to mandate such devices in operating rooms are already making their way through state Legislatures in California and Rhode Island, with vocal backing from nurses. But the warnings of health risks are based on scant evidence — and, at least in some cases, propelled by profit motives.

Unlock this article by subscribing to STAT+ and enjoy your first 30 days free!

  • I am glad this article is older, and has no real validity regarding the topic of surgical smoke. I have been a medical device representative for over 15 years, and 14 with the World leader in surgical smoke. I can’t believe how ignorant and insensitive your position is regarding healthcare personnel, and the voice they need to protect themselves from a known hazard like surgical smoke. I noticed in this clever article, you took the protected position of the surgeon over the staff that has to deal with the nonsense of the primadonna
    surgeon. Why is it ok for the doctor in the OR to determine the health and safety for everyone else in the room? Why is it ok for a doctor to determine that smoke is ok for them to breath every day for hours a day? There are thousands of particle studies that show the many chemicals, compounds, gases, carcinogenic, and mutagenic cells exist in smoke vapors? How about the study done by a surgeon colleague that found neurotoxins in smoke plume? Yeah no big deal just like standing around a barbeque of human flesh and blood! Speaking of blood, I noticed you failed to mention blood fragments exist in the smoke plume. There are at least 2-3 studies I know that prove there are blood fragments found in surgical smoke. I have been to hospitals, where the hallway is as bad as the OR room with actual smoke vapors, and smell so bad it makes you cough going past. We educated RN’s, techs, administration, educators, and most important doctors on why smoke is bad, and the proven facts in white paper studies show it is very bad for anyone to be exposed. The bottom line this article is biased, and your facts are not facts, but merely opinions of doctors who are upset there is added cost to a procedure they won’t get paid on. So instead of the Porsche, or high end lambo they will be forced to drive the Lexus and live in the million dollar home instead of the 3 million dollar. Just google surgical smoke and the dangers of exposure, and there are articles and white paper studies from around the world with hard black and white facts on the hazards of exposure to surgical smoke. You are entitled to your opinion, but I would say your opinion is crap, and you don’t know what you are talking about.

    a Medical Device Representative still helping healthcare workers protect themselves from dangerous surgical smoke!

  • Several states and hundreds of cities and counties have banned the use of lifesaving vapor products in virtually ALL workplaces even after many scientific studies have found that vapor aerosol is very similar to indoor air quality and poses no risks to nonusers.

    Just as profiteers are exaggerating the risks of surgical fumes to make money for themselves, the American Lung Association, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and others (after being given several hundred million dollars by Big Pharma smoking cessation drug manufacturers) have deceitfully claimed (since 2009) that vapor aerosol is a dangerous public health threat, and have lobbied for hundreds of laws that redefine smokefree vaping as “smoking” in order to ban use of the lifesaving products and scare the public to believe vaping is as harmful as smoking in order to preserve their future funding from Big Pharma.

    Even worse, those same Big Pharma shills convinced Obama’s DHHS to unlawfully ban the sale of all vapor products in 2009 (and did so again last year when FDA issued the Deeming Ban), to urge local and state governments to ban vaping in workplaces, and to lie about lifesaving vapor products in order to achieve their crony capitalist protection for Big Pharma’s ineffective NRT and less than safe Chantix.

    But instead of exposing the massive crony capitalism and public health malpractice of vaping prohibitionists (who falsely claim to be public health organizations), STAT has repeated the lies about vaping and advocated vaping bans and banning the sale of lifesaving vapor products.

  • Some doctors and nurses could understandably more sensitive to surgical smoke than others, and could also experience health impacts. If you are one of them, would you rather be on the leading or lagging end of protection efforts?

Comments are closed.