NIOSH Publishes Health Hazard Evaluation on Chemotherapy Drug Exposure

Published June 27, 2012

NIOSH released a new health hazard evaluation (HHE) report on Monday titled “Chemotherapy Drug Exposures at an Oncology Clinic – Florida.” The agency received a confidential evaluation request from an employee who was concerned about potential exposures to chemotherapy drugs and the health effects caused by those exposures, such as upper respiratory symptoms, rash, diarrhea, migraine and headache. During the evaluation, NIOSH personnel took surface wipe samples and hand wipe samples for platinum-containing chemotherapy drugs, cyclophosphamide, ifosfamide and doxorubicin; interviewed employees about health and safety concerns; and reviewed workplace injuries and illnesses from 2006 to 2008.

NIOSH investigators found platinum-containing chemotherapy drugs in most of the surface wipe samples; cyclophosphamide and ifosfamide were found in some surface wipe samples. NIOSH found no platinum-containing chemotherapy drugs in the hand wipe samples. Employees told NIOSH investigators that training was insufficient on the occupational hazards of chemotherapy drugs and that they used personal protective equipment (PPE) inconsistently. The 36-page report details the agency’s recommendations, including administrative, engineering and PPE controls. In addition, NIOSH recommended that the clinic review cleaning practices and PPE use to reduce exposures to chemotherapy drugs in the workplace.

View more NIOSH HHE reports on the agency’s website.