Background: Different adverse health effects associated with occupational exposure to antineplastic drugs (ANPDs) have been frequently reported. But there is no specific investigation on the incidence of respiratory problems experienced by nurses.
Objective: We aimed to assess work condition and identify respiratory adverse effects related to occupational exposure to ANPDs.
Methods: A cross sectional study was conducted on oncology nurses in four hospitals. The data were collected on work conditions and training background in terms of ANPDs handling, and experienced respiratory symptoms.
Results: The mean age of participants (n=41) was 33.1±7.6 years and their median work experience in oncology was 3.2 years (0.08-18). The nurses had at least a bachelor degree in nursing, most of them were female, and 39% were trained in handling ANPDs. Nearly, all nurses (96%) worn personal protective equipment (PPE) and used a biological safety cabinet (BSC) during preparation. The respiratory problems were experienced by 75.6% of nurses during preparation or even after work shift for hours. Cough (15.2%) was the most frequent respiratory symptoms reported by the nurses followed by sore throat (12.7%), dyspnea (10.2%),Itchy throat (9.32%),and runny nose (8.5%). There was a significant correlation between the work experience and the number of reported respiratory problems.
Conclusions: the incidence of respiratory adverse effects was high despite of having bachelor degree in nursing, wearing PPE, using BSC and training. Evaluation of PPE and BSC effectiveness and frequent training in safe handling of ANDPS are recommended. Medical surveillance for respiratory adverse effects especially in experienced nurses is necessary.