UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Towards the reduction of occupational exposure to cytotoxic drugs Barzan, Cristian Vasile


Background: One of the most powerful and widely used techniques in cancer treatment is the use of cytotoxic drugs in chemotherapy. These drugs are inherently hazardous with many of them causing carcinogenic, mutagenic or teratogenic health outcomes. Occupational exposure to cytotoxic drugs is of great concern due to their lack of selectivity between healthy and unhealthy cells. Widespread cytotoxic drug contamination has been reported in North America, Europe and Australia. Current cleaning protocols for hazardous antineoplastic drugs include the use of disinfectants and oxidizing agents, such as household bleach. Aim: The thesis project focused on two objectives: 1) hypothesize and confirm potential hazardous byproducts arising from cleaning cyclophosphamide, a widely used cytotoxic drugs, with household bleach, a commonly used cleaning agent; 2) develop an effective and safe cleaning agent for cytotoxic drugs in order to prevent and eliminate exposure to these drugs. Methods: The gas chromatograph mass spectrum (GC/MS) was used to analyze the decomposition of cyclophosphamide by household bleach (5.25% hypochlorite). The reaction was conducted in a test-tube and the by-products extracted and derivatized prior to analysis. Multiple cleaning agent compositions were tested on 10x10cm stainless steel plates spiked with the two model cytotoxic drugs, cyclophosphamide and methotrexate. A wipe-sampling procedure was used to determine amount of contamination present on surface post cleaning with different cleaning agent compositions. Analysis of wipes was conducted on a liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrum (LC/MS/MS). Results: Decomposition of cyclophosphamide by household bleach was determined to produce nornitrogen mustard. Production of nor-nitrogen mustard was determined to be dependant to reaction time and volume of household bleach used. A safe and effective cleaning agent for cytotoxic drugs, which acts by dissolving the contamination and not by decomposition, was developed. The cleaning agent was determine to remove >98% (methotrexate) and >95% (cyclophosphamide) of contamination by using a one-wipe procedure. A systematic cleaning protocol is recommended by using a two-wipe procedure followed by the use of isopropanol. Conclusion: Decomposition of cytotoxic drugs on surface can lead to unwanted and hazardous exposure. Cytotoxic drug contamination can be safely removed from surfaces without decomposition.

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