NIOSH Updates List of Drugs that Pose a Risk to Health Workers

The agency estimates 8 million U.S. health care workers are potentially exposed to such drugs in their workplaces.

NIOSH has released the "NIOSH List of Antineoplastic and other Hazardous Drugs in Healthcare Settings, 2014," an updated list of the hazardous drugs that health care workers administer to patients, such as those used for cancer therapy. The agency estimates 8 million U.S. health care workers are potentially exposed to such drugs in their workplaces.

The new document is the latest version of the list first published by NIOSH in 2004 as an appendix to an Alert document about preventing occupational exposure to hazardous drugs in health care. Drugs on the list include ones used for chemotherapy, antiviral drugs, hormones, and some bioengineered drugs.

"Millions of American workers in health care facilities may come into contact with drugs that are capable of causing serious health effects such as cancer, fertility problems, and organ damage," said NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard. "This list is an important resource to help workers be aware of the hazards certain drugs pose so they can take the necessary steps to protect themselves from exposure while doing their job."

The undated list includes 27 drugs that were not on previous lists; 12 drugs were removed that did not meet NIOSH's criteria for hazardous drugs. NIOSH made previous updates to the list in 2012 and 2010. The document also explains how health care facilities can generate a list of hazardous drugs specific to their workplace, and it offers resources for evaluating the hazard potential of a drug.

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