Expert Commentary

A Random Sampling of Members of AORN Reveals That The Dangers of Inhaling Smoke Generated by Electrosurgery is Equivalent to Smoking 6 CIGARETTES IN 15 MINUTES. 1




FACT: Most states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico have passed smoke-free laws that cover restaurants and bars. It is understood that there is no risk-free level of exposure to second-hand smoke. 2

FACT: It’s now uncommon to find someone smoking a cigarette in a restaurant or bar, yet health care professions are exposed to surgical smoke in the operating room every single day.

FACT: Healthcare professionals are exposed.
You are at risk.

FACT: Restaurants and bars have less dangerous smoke than O.R.s.

“The issue of surgical smoke in the workplace is about where second hand cigarette smoke was 20 years ago—it was tolerated. People thought if they weren’t smoking themselves they were not at risk. Today we know better. Evidence has driven regulation to provide smoke-free public places to protect people from harmful effects of cigarette smoke exposure. Further research on the health effects of exposure to surgical smoke and the practice of its proper evacuation will hopefully lead to similar regulation to improve workplace safety in the U.S. ORs.”

— Ben Edwards, MS, CLSO, a health physicist in the Radiation Safety Division at Duke University Medical







1 Ball, K. “Are Your ORs Smoke-Free?” Outpatient Surgery Magazine. December, 2009.–12-09. Accessed December 10, 2010.
2 Smoke Free Laws: “Protecting Our Right to Breathe Clean Air.” Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Accessed May 19, 2009.