Evaluation of occupational exposure to antiblastic drugs in an Italian hospital oncological department

J Occup Health. 2008;50(1):48-56. doi: 10.1539/joh.50.48.


The determination of the current antiblastic drug contamination levels in an Italian hospital oncology ward was carried out. Statistical evaluation of data aiming to identify potential exposure causes was performed. Cyclophosphamide (CP), ifosfamide (IF) and 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) were determined by wipe tests, extracted with diatomaceous earths and quantified by GC/MSMS or HPLC/UV. Data were analysed with respect to the potential contamination levels of sampled surfaces, and various amounts of handled analyte. chi(2) tests and Spearman correlation coefficients were calculated. Median concentration levels of 0.086, 0.071, 2.363 microg/dm(2) were obtained, (CP, IF, 5-FU, respectively). 3.8 and 13.5% of investigated surfaces showed CP and IF concentrations higher than 1 microg/dm(2) (up to 26.96 microg/dm(2)) and 13.4% of samples contained 5-FU concentrations in the range 20-208.9 microg/dm(2). Analytes' concentration levels were dependent on sampling sites, with significant correlations showing a progressive contamination decrement going from workbenches, floor, hood planes and other surfaces. A diffuse contamination (traces of all the three analytes) was found on all investigated surfaces, even when analytes had not been used during the sampling days. A significant correlation (rho s=0.303, p=0.001) between the measured analyte concentration and the analyte handled amount was found only in the case of IF. The risk management strategy should be improved, as suggested by the measured and widespread levels of contamination. Since contamination also depends on other factors attributable to working modalities and cleaning procedures, the obtained results suggest that performance of specific training courses as well as scheduling environmental monitoring plans to achieve an actual decrement of the observed contamination levels should be implemented.

MeSH terms

  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / analysis*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Alkylating / analysis*
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cyclophosphamide / analysis
  • Drug Compounding / adverse effects
  • Drug Compounding / standards
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Equipment Contamination
  • Female
  • Fluorouracil / analysis
  • Gloves, Protective / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospital Units
  • Humans
  • Ifosfamide / analysis
  • Italy
  • Nurses
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*


  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Alkylating
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Fluorouracil
  • Ifosfamide