A simple approach to assess the cancer risk of occupational exposure to genotoxic drugs in healthcare settings

2022-04-01

Background: Several drugs for human use possess genotoxic properties as a necessary consequence of their intended therapeutic effect (e.g. antineoplastics). Health workers may be exposed to these chemicals in various occupational settings such as dose preparation and administration. To date, there are no quantitative risk assessment models to estimate the cancer risk of health workers due to the handling of genotoxic drugs. We therefore developed a quantitative risk assessment model to assess the cancer risk of occupational exposure to genotoxic drugs in healthcare settings based on the threshold of toxicological concern (TTC) concept. This model was used to evaluate the cancer risk of health workers due to the handling of genotoxic drugs in modern health care facilities. Methods: We modified the threshold of toxicological concern (TTC) concept to fit the purpose of occupational cancer risk assessment. The risk model underlying ICH guideline M7 (R1): “assessment and control of DNA reactive (mutagenic) impurities in pharmaceuticals to limit potential carcinogenic risk” was used as a starting point for our model. We conducted a short review of studies on the occupational exposure of health workers to genotoxic drugs. These occupational exposure data were compared to the acceptable exposure levels resulting from our TTC based risk model. Results: Based on the threshold of toxicological concern (TTC) concept, we defined an acceptable daily intake (ADI) of 4 μg/day as threshold of no concern for the exposure of health workers to genotoxic drugs. Regarding the dermal exposure of health workers to genotoxic drugs, we derived a corresponding acceptable surface contamination level (ASCL) of 20 ng/cm2. Both ADI and ASCL are usually not exceeded in modern healthcare settings. Current safety precautions provide sufficient protection to health workers. Conclusions: The application of our model indicates that workers in modern healthcare facilities are not at risk of developing work related cancer above widely accepted cancer risk levels due to the occupational exposure to genotoxic drugs. Hence, the present study may assist employers and public authorities to make informed decisions concerning the need for (further) protective measures and during risk communication to health workers.

Authors: Johannes Gerding, Lea Anhäuser, Udo Eickmann, Albert Nienhaus
; Full Source: Journal of occupational medicine and toxicology (London, England) 2022 Apr 1;17(1):8. doi: 10.1186/s12995-022-00349-z.