Environmental Assessment of Cytotoxic Drugs in Oncology Departments of UAE Hospitals

Laila Al Alawi1, Khalid S. Balaraj2, Mohamed Abuhaleeqa3, Michal Grivna1, Fatima Al-Maskari1, 4, Aisha M. Alsalami3, Maria Aamir2, Eleftheria C. Economidou5, Elpidoforos S. Soteriades6, 7, *
1 United Arab Emirates University, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Institute of Public Health, Al Ain, UAE
2 SEHA, Tawam Hospital, Al Ain, UAE
3 SEHA, Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, Department of Oncology, Abu Dhabi, UAE
4 United Arab Emirates University, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Zayed Center for Health Sciences, Al Ain, UAE
5 University of Ioannina, School of Medicine, Ioannina, Greece
6 Open University of Cyprus, School of Economics and Management, Healthcare Management Program, Nicosia, Cyprus
7 Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health, Environmental and Occupational Medicine and Epidemiology, Boston, MA, USA



Our study aimed to conduct an environmental assessment study of hazardous drugs in two Oncology Centers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).


Cytotoxic drugs (CDs) represent potential hazards for healthcare professionals in oncology departments. Significant concerns are associated with the detection of CDs in many healthcare settings.


Our study aimed to assess the potential workplace contamination of oncology centers of two UAE hospitals with ten frequently used cytotoxic drugs.


Wipe samples were obtained from workplace areas of two Oncology Centers, including clinical, drug preparation (pharmacy) and administration areas (oncology wards). Potential contamination with cyclophosphamide (CP), ifosphamide (IF), 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and other cytotoxic drugs was examined using internationally accredited laboratory methods.


A total of 79 samples were analyzed. In 11 samples (14%), we detected and quantified at least one cytotoxic drug. Additionally, 5 samples (6.5%) indicated contamination by more than one cytotoxic drug in both hospitals, mainly in the Oncology pharmacy department. The contamination levels in the positive samples ranged from 0.006 to 50 ng/cm2.


The overall percentage of sample contamination at both Oncology Centers was relatively low compared to other centers worldwide. In addition, the detected levels of contamination with cytotoxic drugs were very low, with the exception of the workspace inside and around the biological safety cabinet.


This is the first study conducted in the United Arab Emirates examining the potential environmental contamination with cytotoxic drugs in oncology hospital settings.

Keywords: Environmental assessment, Hazardous drugs, Cytotoxic drugs, Anti-neoplastic agents, Oncology department, UAE.

Abstract Information

Identifiers and Pagination:

Year: 2023
Volume: 16
DOI: 10.2174/18749445-v16-e230505-2022-214

Article History:

Electronic publication date: 05/05/2023
Collection year: 2023

© 2023 Al Alawi et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode. This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Correspondence: Address correspondence to this author at the Open University of Cyprus, School of Economics and Management, Healthcare Management Program 33, Giannou Kranidioti Ave 2220, Latsia, Nicosia, Cyprus; Tel: + 357 22411956; Fax: + 357 22411794; E-mail: elpidoforos.soteriades@ouc.ac.cy