Nitrous oxide (N20) has been leaking and harming the GMH nurses, doctors and equipment operators since 2008 and management has yet to resolve this serious problem. “In 2008, when the operating room staff was complaining of headaches, dizziness, falling asleep while driving home from work, the Biomedical department tested the nitrous oxide air quality in the operating room. The normal is “NOT BEYOND 25PPM”. The air quality tested at twice that!” explained one of the GMH staff. “After the 2008 incident, it was discovered that nobody had tested the N20 vapors since 1983!” further explained by the GMH staff. The GMH anesthesia department performed monthly nitrous oxide tests only up until 1983.

EXTREMELY HIGH N20 EXPOSURE IN GMH
Since the incident in 2008, affected GMH staff was told the problem would be fixed but in 2009 lab analysis reports still indicated high exposure levels. Exposure levels were as high as 117.22ppm (parts per million)! This clearly exceeds the recommended exposure limit of 25ppm according to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) guidelines. The latest reports came in this month (May 2011), once again, indicating high levels of nitrous oxide.

EFFECTS ON PEOPLE
As stated in OSHA’s health hazard information on nitrous oxide, symptoms of exposure include dizziness, difficult breathing, headache, nausea, and fatigue, which many of the workers were experiencing. Long term exposure is associated with numbness, difficulty in concentration, increased risks of spontaneous abortion, and premature delivery.

WHAT HAS MANAGEMENT DONE?
This is a serious problem that must be resolved immediately. Our nurses, doctors, maintenance workers, and medical techs of GMH have been exposed to extremely high levels of nitrous oxide causing harmful health conditions. “…the only thing management has done is schedule us for physical exams and give us a workmen compensation form,”- GMH Staff. If the hospital can’t protect the health of their employees, then how can they protect the health of our families?

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