Biological monitoring of hospital pharmacy personnel occupationally exposed to cytostatic drugs: urinary excretion and cytogenetics studies

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Abstract

For evaluation of the risk borne by hospital pharmacy personnel exposed to antineoplastic agents, the incorporation of cyclophosphamide, ifosfamide, and platinum-containing drugs was quantified by the determination of urinary concentrations. In addition, the induction of micronuclei (MN) and sister-chromatid-exchange (SCE) rates in peripheral blood lymphocytes were studied for correlation with the urinary excretion of cytostatic drugs. Cyclophosphamide and ifosfamide were determined in 24-h urine samples using gas chromatography with electron capture (detection limit 2.5 μg/l). Voltammetric analysis enabled the determination of platinum concentrations of 4 ng/l. Heparinized blood (20 ml) was drawn and lymphocytes were cultured for MN and SCE studies. In all, 13 hospital pharmacists and pharmacy technicians regularly involved in the preparation of cytostatic drugs participated in this investigation (7 persons represent a follow-up group). All subjects applied standard safety precautions, including the use of a vertical laminar air-flow hood, protective gowns, and latex gloves. On the day of urine sampling an average of 4,870 mg cyclophosphamide, 5,580 mg ifosfamide, and 504 mg platinum-containing drugs were handled. The excretion of 5 and 9 μg cyclophosphamide/1 urine was measured in two samples, respectively. An elevated level of urinary platinum was found in one pharmacist (22.3 ng/g creatinine) in comparison with a nonexposed control group. Mean frequencies of MN and SCE did not differ significantly between the drug exposed group and control group. The employees who had incorporated chemotherapeutic agents were part of the follow-up group and, thus, particularly cautious and sensitive to a possible hazard. The results emphasize the necessity of improving personal protection of hospital pharmacy personnel occupationally exposed to cytostatic drugs and support the importance of biological monitoring. In an ongoing project in our department the sources of contamination are being investigated parallel to biological monitoring so as to determine critical situations and improve personal protection.

Received: 7 August 1996 / Accepted: 3 January 1997