Exposure of health care workers to pentamidine isethionate

Occup Med (Lond). 1999 May;49(4):243-5. doi: 10.1093/occmed/49.4.243.


Pentamidine isethionate is currently used for the prophylaxis and treatment of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia. Its use has been associated with a number of symptoms in staff administering treatment, and there are some additional concerns about possible adverse health effects of long term exposure. The aim of this study was to quantify exposure of health care staff administering nebulized pentamidine to patients. Personal breathing zone and static air samples at the height of the patient's head were collected during the nebulization of pentamidine to nine sequential outpatients attending a haemophilia unit. These were analysed using a standard method allowing the exposure of staff to be estimated. The duration of treatment varied between 15 and 60 min. Personal breathing zone samples showed exposure to be between 2 and 100 micrograms/m3. Static samples showed the concentration of pentamidine in the room varied from 15 to 2,100 micrograms/m3. While these exposures were relatively low, they were higher than some other studies have reported, and may pose some risk of adverse effects to staff. Some simple measures could reduce staff exposure.

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols
  • Antiprotozoal Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antiprotozoal Agents / adverse effects*
  • England
  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Pentamidine / administration & dosage
  • Pentamidine / adverse effects*


  • Aerosols
  • Antiprotozoal Agents
  • Pentamidine