Occupational Exposure to Antineoplastic Agents

Catherine Utecht Graeve, Patricia Marie McGovern, Bruce Alexander, Timothy Church, Andrew Ryan, Martha Polovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Approximately 8 million health care workers are unnecessarily exposed to highly toxic drugs used to treat cancer; antineoplastic drugs can contribute to negative health effects for these workers. The drugs have been detected in the urine of workers and on the floors and counters of worksites. Safety precautions that could reduce the risk of exposure are underutilized. This cross-sectional study of 163 oncology health care workers used a survey to measure workplace and individual factors, and environmental sampling to measure surface contamination. The study objective was to identify potential exposures to antineoplastic drugs and factors influencing safety behavior. Personal protective equipment (PPE) use was lower than recommended; unit of employment was significantly associated with PPE use. Chemical residue from antineoplastic drugs was found, revealing potential exposures. Workplace safety must be a higher organizational priority. The contamination of common work areas where PPE use is not expected was of utmost concern.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-20
Number of pages12
JournalWorkplace Health and Safety
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Support for this research was provided, in part, by the: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH Training Grant T42 OH008434).


  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
  • disease prevention
  • government regulation
  • hazard analysis
  • medical surveillance/risk
  • occupational hazards
  • occupational health and safety programs
  • occupational safety and health administration (OSHA)

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