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Can J Hosp Pharm. 2012 Nov;65(6):428-35.

Environmental contamination with hazardous drugs in quebec hospitals.

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, BPharm, MSc, MBA, FCSHP, is Head of the Pharmacy Department and Pharmacy Practice Research Unit, Centre hospitalier universitaire Sainte-Justine, and Professor in the Faculty of Pharmacy, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Quebec.



Since publication of the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health alert on hazardous drugs in 2004, many health care organizations have reviewed their procedures for handling hazardous drugs. Occupational exposure may occur when handling, compounding, or administering a drug considered to be hazardous, at any stage from storage to waste management.


To describe environmental contamination with cyclophosphamide, ifosfamide, and methotrexate in pharmacy and patient care areas of Quebec hospitals.


Sixty-eight hospitals were invited to participate. At each hospital, 12 prespecified measurement sites (6 each within pharmacy and patient care areas) were sampled once (midweek, end of day). The samples were analyzed by ultra-performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry to determine the presence of the 3 drugs. The limits of detection (LODs) were 0.0015 ng/cm(2) for cyclophosphamide, 0.0012 ng/cm(2) for ifosfamide, and 0.0060 ng/cm(2) for methotrexate.


Twenty-five (37%) of the hospitals agreed to participate. Samples from sites other than the 12 prespecified sites were excluded. Overall, 259 valid samples were collected between April 2008 and January 2010 (147 samples from pharmacy areas in 25 hospitals and 112 samples from patient care areas in 24 hospitals). No hospital was using a closed-system drug transfer device at the time of the study. The median (minimum, maximum) number of sites per hospital with at least 1 positive sample for at least 1 of the 3 hazardous drugs was 6 (1, 12). A total of 135 (52%) samples were positive for cyclophosphamide, 53 (20%) for ifosfamide, and 7 (3%) for methotrexate. The median (minimum, maximum) concentration in positive samples was 0.0035 ng/cm(2) (below LOD, 28 ng/cm(2)) for cyclophosphamide, below LOD (below LOD, 8.6 ng/cm(2)) for ifosfamide, and below LOD (below LOD, 0.58 ng/cm(2)) for methotrexate.


The levels of environmental contamination with 3 hazardous drugs in this multicentre study were similar to or below those in most published studies. Periodic measurement of surface contamination is necessary to ensure that current practices limit occupational exposure to hazardous drugs.


cyclophosphamide; environmental monitoring; hospital pharmacy service; ifosfamide; methotrexate; occupational exposure

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