Affiliations: Department of Pediatrics, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Lausanne, Switzerland | Division of Neonatology, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Lausanne, Switzerland | Institute of Work and Health (IST), Lausanne, Switzerland
Note:  Corresponding author: Bernard Laubscher, Department of Pediatrics, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, 1011 Lausanne, Switzerland. Tel.: +41 32 913 44 16; Fax: +41 32 713 58 27; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract: Objective: To analyze the atmosphere inside incubators regarding alcoholic solvent such as isopropanol or ethanol which are commonly used in hand disinfecting solutions. Design: Observational. Setting: The third level neonatal unit of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Lausanne, Switzerland. Patients: Nine neonates with median (range) gestational age of 29 4/7 (25 5/7–39 0/7) weeks and birth weight of 960 (550–3050) grams. All neonates were inside incubators. Interventions: Alcoholic vapors inside incubators were directly and cumulatively measured by photoionisation and gas chromatography respectively after absorption on a charcoal sampling tube. Results: Eleven studies (mean study time: 230 ± 19 minutes) were performed. Highly variable isopropanol/ethanol concentrations profiles were found inside incubators. Peak value for isopropanol was 1982 part per million and for ethanol was 906 part per million. Conclusions: Incubators' inner atmosphere can be highly polluted by alcohol vapors. To reduce them staff should respect long evaporation time between hands disinfection and manipulations inside incubators. The use of an ethanol-based disinfecting solution, because of its short evaporation time, could be favored. As alcohol vapor toxicity for neonate remains largely unknown, further studies could be welcome.