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Occup Environ Med. 1998 Mar;55(3):145-9.

Human effect monitoring in cases of occupational exposure to antineoplastic drugs: a method comparison.

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  • 1Medical Institute of General Hygiene and Environmental Health, University of Goettingen, Germany.



To investigate whether DNA damage increased in subjects possibly exposed to high amounts of antineoplastic agents.


The level of genetic damage was determined in peripheral mononuclear blood cells with the sister chromatid exchange test, the alkaline elution technique, and the cytokinesis block micronucleus test.


The supposed increased exposure of the study subjects was caused by a malfunction of a safety hood resulting in leakage of air during preparation of an infusion of an antineoplastic drug. Two months after a new safety hood was installed, the frequencies of micronuclei and sister chromatid exchanges of exposed nurses (n = 10) were still significantly increased when compared with a matched control group (p < 0.01 and p < 0.05, one sided Wilcoxon test, respectively). In a second examination seven months later, the frequency of micronuclei had significantly decreased to control values (p < 0.05, one sided Wilcoxon test, n = 6). Moreover, the study subjects who smoked (n = 8) had significantly increased frequencies of micronuclei and sister chromatid exchanges (p < 0.01 and p < 0.05, one sided U test, respectively). No differences in the rate of DNA damage could be detected with the alkaline elution technique.


Control measures on the level of biological effect should be performed regularly to ensure maximum safety precautions for workers potentially exposed to genotoxic agents.

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