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Emission of volatile organic compounds from medical equipment inside neonatal incubators




To determine emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from plastic medical equipment within an incubator.

Study Design:

Air samples from incubators before and after adding medical equipment were analyzed using EPA TO-15 methodology. Headspace analysis was used to identify VOC emissions from each medical equipment item. Air changes per hour (ACH) of each incubator were determined and used to calculate the emission rate of identified VOCs.


Cyclohexanone was identified in all incubator air samples. At 28 °C, the mean concentration before and after adding medical equipment items was 2.1±0.6 and 57.2±14.9 μg m−3,respectively (P<0.01). Concentrations increased to a mean of 83.8±23.8 μg m3 (P<0.01) at 37 oC and 93.0±45.1 μg m3 (P=0.39) after adding 50% humidity. Intravenous tubing contributed 89% of cyclohexanone emissions. ACH were determined with access doors closed and open with means of 11.5±1.7 and 44.1±6.7 h–1, respectively. Cyclohexanone emission rate increased from a mean of 102.2 μg h–1 at 28 oC to 148.8 μg h–1 (P<0.01) at 37 oC.


Cyclohexanone was quantified in all incubator air samples containing plastic medical equipment. The concentration of cyclohexanone within the incubator was inversely related to ACH in the closed mode. The cyclohexanone concentration as well as the emission rate increased with higher temperature.

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This research was funded by a grant from the Advocate Lutheran General Health Partners Endowment.

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Correspondence to B L Puppala.

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Colareta Ugarte, U., Prazad, P., Puppala, B. et al. Emission of volatile organic compounds from medical equipment inside neonatal incubators. J Perinatol 34, 624–628 (2014).

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