Background Animal studies have shown that many signs of acute poisoning result from phenol entry into the systemic circulation by absorption or ingestion. While no evidence of systemic complications in patients who have undergone phenol nail matrixectomies have been reported, the safety of phenol vapour inhalation by physicians performing this treatment has yet to be investigated.
Objective The goal of this study was to determine whether the levels of phenol to which physicians are exposed to during a phenol-based matrixectomy procedure are within the limits of safe exposure.
Methods A continuous prospective study was carried out to measure the urinary phenol concentrations from physicians after performing chemical matrixectomy for ingrown toenails.
Results The highest concentration of urinary phenol was measured at almost 10 mg/L within the first 2 h after exposure, and subsequently decreased approximately 1 mg/L every 2 h for the first 10 h post exposure. The levels dropped to 3 mg/L at 72 h post exposure.
Conclusions The risk associated with phenol exposure while performing chemical phenol matrixectomy was well below the current safety limits when the physician is exposed to 90% phenol vapour for approximately 20 min. Thus, no further specific safety recommendations are required for physicians performing this procedure.