“There is no safe level of exposure.”

OSHA: Controlling Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Drug – Chapter 3, Section F : Human Effects

“Many HD’s (hazardous drugs) are known human carcinogens,for which there is no safe level of exposure. The development of secondary malignancies is a well-documented side effect of chemotherapy treatment.”

80% of Cancer Care is Delivered in an Outpatient Setting*

All hospital or clinic staff that may be exposed to chemotherapy or to patient’s waste or clothing, have been specifically trained and use personal protective equipment and procedures to minimize exposure to these extremely dangerous drugs. This includes pharmacists, nursing staff, and cleaning staff.

However, patients and their family members are not made aware of these facts; nor are they given the information and equipment they need to keep their family members and caregivers safe from the very exposure that hospitals work so hard to avoid:

Exposure to cytotoxic chemicals from urine, feces, vomit, and sweat.

How to keep your family safe.

Family members and caregivers must understand that even ultra-low levels of exposure to cytotoxic chemo drugs can cause serious, irreversible health problems.

This includes trace amounts that may be left on door knobs, floors, sink faucets, light switches, telephones, and keyboards.

Chemotherapy patients, and their family members and caregivers must follow careful procedures during the “danger period”  after each infusion.

Read The American Cancer Society’s “Safety Precautions” for simple safety measures you can take to protect your family.

We’re Here to Help

We’re working with the legislature in Rhode Island to enact a new law that would provide patients with the knowledge needed to protect their families, caregivers, and our environment from cytotoxic chemo drug contamination.

Please feel free to contact us if you have questions or concerns about:

  • Any chemotherapy or cytotoxic drugs
  • How to protect your home and our environment
  • What to do if you think you may have contaminated your home or someone you know

The Facts About Cytotoxic Chemicals

  • Certain problem chemotherapy drugs are excreted from the patient’s body at high concentrations for a specific amount of time (from 1 to 9 days, with an approximation of about 48 hours after EACH treatment).
  • Even ultra-low exposure of these drugs can cause serious injuries and illness, including cancer, miscarriage, and birth defects.
  • These drugs are excreted mainly through urine, however the drugs are also found in vomit, feces, saliva and sweat.

Even hospitals struggle with cytotoxic safety

Hospitals and health care facilities that work with patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment go to great lengths to protect employees, including pharmacists, nurses and cleaning staff, from the risk of exposure to cytotoxic chemo drugs.

Even after rigorous safety protocol and control measures are in place, trace amounts of cytotoxic drugs have been found.

Health care safety procedures include, but are not limited to:

  • Information and training
  • Designated handling areas
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Hygiene practices
  • Procedures for safe removal of contaminated waste
  • Decontamination procedures

Illness may not be detected for months or years and include serious health problems, including cancer, miscarriage, and birth defects.

Pregnant women, babies and children are particularly vulnerable to the danger of secondhand chemotherapy due to the  DNA-damaging effect of cytotoxic chemo drugs on rapidly dividing cells.

In Safe Management of Wastes from Health Care Activities, The World Health Organization advises health care professionals to educate patients on the risks of exposure to cytotoxic drugs.

Unfortunately, as mentioned above, many patients do not receive this information or the warnings are not strong enough to truly explain the danger to family members, caregivers, and our environment.

Cytotoxic Chemicals in Chemo Drugs Are Dangerous to Families, Caregivers, and the Environment

Family Members Are at High Risk of Exposure in the Home Setting

If proper precautions are not taken, these drugs are highly likely to contaminate their home environment.

In fact, studies published in 2013 and 2014 have documented exposure and contamination of chemotherapy patient’s home settings as well as their family members.

Exposure to the Cytotoxic Chemicals Found in the 27 “Problem Chemo Drugs” Are at Risk of Serious Illness

All 27 of these cytotoxic chemo drugs are on OSHA's hazardous drugs list because they are proven to be:

• Genotoxic - damages DNA, resulting in cell death or mutations

• Cytotoxic - kills or damages cells, particularly rapidly dividing cells

• Teratogenic - damages the growth and development of an embryo or fetus, resulting in fetus death or birth defects

• Mutagenic - causes direct or indirect damage to DNA, resulting in mutations

All have high excretion rates - large quantities of the drugs are excreted in the patient's urine, feces, vomit, sweat, and saliva for approximately 48 hours after EACH treatment.

See if your chemo drugs are on the list.

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