Anesthetic vapors that leak into the surrounding room during animal surgeries are called Waste Anesthetic Gases (WAG). It is estimated that more than 250,000 health care professionals who work in hospitals, operating rooms, dental offices and veterinary clinics, are potentially exposed to waste anesthetic gases and are at risk of occupational illness. The waste anesthetic gases and vapors of concern involved in animal surgery are liquid halogenated inhalation agents (vapors) such as halothane, enflurane, isoflurane, and desflurane. Some potential effects of exposure to waste anesthetic gases are nausea, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, and irritability, as well as sterility, miscarriages, birth defects, cancer, and liver and kidney disease, among operating room staff or their spouses (in the case of miscarriages and birth defects). Lab workers should be aware of the potential effects and be advised to take appropriate precautions.


Transport bottles of liquid inhalation agents in a secondary container.  This will prevent bottles from breaking if they are dropped.Dispense liquid anesthetic gases in a fume hoods or ducted biosafety cabinets

Liquid anesthetics must be scavenged using a fume hood, ducted biosafety cabinet, charcoal scavenging filter or an active scavenging device.


Single use nitrile or latex gloves should be worn when handling anesthetic agents.

Protective apparel

Lab coats, closed toed shoes and long sleeved clothing and safety glasses should be worn when handling anesthetic agents. Additional protective clothing should be worn if the possibility of skin contact is likely.

Signs and labels

All anesthetic agents must be clearly labeled with the correct chemical name. Handwritten labels are acceptable; chemical formulas and structural formulas are not acceptable.

Waste disposal

Anesthetic agents are hazardous wastes. Questions regarding waste disposal should be directed to the Office of Environmental Health and Radiation Safety.


revised 2019