Cytostatics as hazardous chemicals in healthcare workers’ environment
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Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Łódź, Poland (Department of Chemical Safety)
Online publication date: 2019-03-19
Corresponding author
Katarzyna Konieczko   

Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Department of Chemical Safety, św. Teresy 8, 91-348 Łódź, Poland
Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2019;32(2):141-59
Cytostatics not only induce significant side-effects in patients treated oncologically but also pose a threat to the health of occupationally exposed healthcare workers: pharmacists, physicians, nurses and other personnel. Since the 1970s numerous reports from various countries have documented the contamination of working areas with cytostatics and the presence of drugs/metabolites in the urine or blood of healthcare employees, which directly indicates the occurrence of occupational exposure to these drugs. In Poland the significant scale of occupational exposure to cytostatics is also confirmed by the data collected in the central register of occupational carcinogens/mutagens kept by the Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine. The assessment of occupational exposure to cytostatics and health risks constitutes employers’ obligation. Unfortunately, the assessment of occupational risk resulting from exposure to cytostatics raises a number of concerns. Provisions governing the problem of workers’ health protection are not unequivocal because they derive from a variety of law areas, especially in a matter of hazard classification and safety data sheets for cytostatics. Moreover, no legally binding occupational exposure limits have been set for cytostatics or their active compounds, and analytical methods for these substances airborne and biological concentrations are lacking. Consequently, the correct assessment of occupational exposure to cytostatics, the evaluation of health hazards and the development of the proper preventive strategy appear difficult. The authors of this article described and discussed the amendments to the European provisions concerning chemicals in the light of employers’ obligations in the field of employees’ heath protection against the consequences of exposure to cytostatics. Some modifications aimed at a more effective health protection of workers occupationally exposed to cytostatics were also proposed. Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2019;32(2):141–59
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