drugsHazardous Drugs include agents that exhibit one or more of the following characteristics in humans or animals:

  1. Carcinogenicity
  2. Teratogenicity or other developmental toxicity
  3. Reproductive toxicity
  4. Organ toxicity at low doses
  5. Genotoxicity

Hazardous drugs include antineoplastic agents which are used to treat cancer. Many of these antineoplastics bind to or damage DNA (for example alkylating agents), interfere with cell growth and proliferation, or interfere with DNA synthesis. In some cases, the non-selective actions of antineoplastic agents disrupt the growth and function of both healthy and diseased cells, resulting in toxic side effects for treated patients. These nonselective actions can also cause adverse effects in occupational settings when workers are inadvertently exposed to hazardous drugs.

Hazardous drugs are used at UNC Chapel Hill in work environments such as healthcare, veterinary healthcare, laboratory research and animal research. Examples of some of the hazardous drugs that are used at UNC are listed below. For a more complete list see the 2014 NIOSH List of Hazardous Drugs.

  • Arsenic trioxide
  • Etoposide
  • Bortezomib
  • Fluorouracil (5-FU)
  • Carboplatin
  • Gemcitabine
  • Cisplatin
  • Irinotecan
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Paclitaxel (Taxol)
  • Docetaxel
  • Streptozocin
  • Doxorubicin
  • Tamoxifen

The use of hazardous drugs should follow specific policies and procedures based on your work environment. Workers should be trained to recognize and understand the risks associated with hazardous drugs and be provided with proper engineering controls and personal protective equipment (PPE). If you have questions regarding hazardous drugs including antineoplastic agents please contact chemsafety@unc.edu.

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