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Health hazard evaluation report: evaluation of pharmaceutical dust exposures at an outpatient pharmacy.

Fent KW; Durgam S; Methner M
Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, HETA 2010-0078-3177, 2013 Apr; :1-31
The HHE Program evaluated concerns about employees' exposures to pharmaceutical dust at an outpatient pharmacy. Investigators sampled the air for dust and measured particle levels. Samples were analyzed for lactose (a common inactive filler) and active pharmaceutical ingredients; both were found. The use of compressed air to clean automatic dispensing machine canisters released dust into the air. Investigators found that after this activity more than an hour passed before the small particles were no longer in the air. Most of these canisters contained uncoated pharmaceutical tables. On two days, one employee was exposed to lisinopril at levels near or above the manufacturer's exposure limit. HHE Program investigators recommended that the employer develop a list of dusty pharmaceuticals and gather exposure guidelines and toxicity data to determine how to handle these substances. A partially-enclosed local exhaust hood should be installed for cleaning and filling canisters with tablets, as well as other tasks that could release pharmaceutical dust into the air. Investigators recommended that the use of compressed air to clean canisters be discontinued and replaced with the use of a vacuum with a long narrow nozzle. Lactose was found on surfaces throughout the pharmacy. The highest contamination level was on a surface used in refilling canisters before it was cleaned. Higher amounts of lactose were found on work surfaces than on undisturbed areas such as elevated shelving. Investigators recommended that all work surfaces be cleaned with alcohol wipes before breaks and at the end of each workday. Investigators noted that employees did not wear protective clothing or safety glasses in the pharmacy, but some employees did wear nitrile gloves when handling pharmaceuticals. HHE Program investigators encouraged employees to (1) wear nitrile gloves when handling pharmaceuticals, (2) wash their hands before eating, drinking, or using tobacco products, and (3) follow procedures for using and maintaining the local exhaust hood.
Region-5; Pharmacists; Pharmaceuticals; Pharmaceutical-industry; Dusts; Ventilation; Ventilation-hoods; Ventilation-systems; Drugs; Personal-protective-equipment; Industrial-hygiene; Gloves; Work-practices; Author Keywords: Pharmacies and Drug Stores; drugs; pills; pill dust; active pharmaceutical ingredients; APIs; tablets; pharmaceuticals; outpatient pharmacy; retail pharmacy; automatic pill dispensing machine; robotic pill dispenser
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Hazard Evaluation and Technical Assistance
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
HETA-2010-0078-3177; B20130520
NIOSH Division
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: April 1, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division