doeHealth Care Waste & Toxics Reduction Tips

for small and medium size health care facilities


Health care facilities of any size that use anesthesia on-site can benefit from waste reduction and resource efficiency efforts.


beakerReasons for Change

By assessing and implementing one or more of the practices described here and on the accompanying downloadable table, health care facilities can enjoy:

          • Reduced regulatory obligations and oversight, by reducing quantities of anesthetic gases, containers and filters that must be managed as dangerous waste.

          • Increased safety and reduced risks for patients, staff, visitors and the community, by reducing and eliminating air emissions from anesthetic gases.

          • Pollution prevention and improved cost savings by maintaining anesthetic services in optimal waste-free condition


Opportunities for Action

Specific tips on ways Anesthesia Service providers can reduce and prevent toxic wastes and resource inefficiencies are listed in this fact sheet’s downloadable/printable table.  A sampling of these tips is listed below. 

Basic Best Management Practices for Anesthesia Services

  • Minimize excess inventory

  • Use oldest product inventory first

  • Do not dispose of liquid & gas wastes down the drain or in the trash.

  • Use filters appropriate for gases being used.

  • Use scavenging units to collect fugitive anesthetic gases.

  • Use and maintain low-leak equipment.

  • Properly manage the waste (including filters and filter media/absorbents) and spill clean-up materials as dangerous waste.

  • Return compressed gas containers to vendor for reuse or proper disposal 

Next Steps to Improve Anesthesia Service Practices

• Purchase compressed gas cylinders only from vendors and manufacturers who will accept empty bottles for return and refilling.

• Use non-barium-containing soda lime (carbon dioxide) absorbent.



Additional Resources

This resource guide’s home page has links to additional fact sheets in this series, plus other useful tools and information from the Washington Department of Ecology and other experts..

Medical research abstract describing the health effects of anesthetic pollution in operating theaters.



This information is brought to you by the Washington Department of Ecology/Toxics Reduction Unit with assistance from the Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center (PPRC) . June 2010