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Is Pregnancy Safe for Women Working in Chemistry Labs?

Easy Steps to a Safer Pregnancy - View e-book or Download PDF - FREE!
An interactive resource for moms on easy steps they can take to reduce exposure to chemical toxins during pregnancy.

Other excellent resources about avoiding toxins during pregnancy

These are easy to read and understand and are beautifully presented.

A friend, who works in a Organic Chem lab, would like to know if its safe to conceive and go through a pregnancy, while working for almost 8-10 hrs every day. She does not handle any radioactive stuff although she works with several organic chemicals like acetone, hexane, etc. etc..

As a working chemist and Mom, I can say based on my experience (at the bench for 18 years) and those of my co-workers, that it is possible to work in a lab safely. The same precautions that keep you safe, will keep the baby safe (e.g. gloves, working in a fume hood etc.). It is also important to use the same caution with household chemicals. It is easy to forget about the importance of protective clothing and ventilation at home.

Organic solvents, such as hexane and to a lesser extent acetone are pretty dangerous and i would suspect that they could have devastating effects on a developing baby. Hexane in particular is a neurotoxin, and even though good safety practices may be in place, it is very easy to breathe a fair amount of the stuff without realising.

How about doing some library work for a while? Iím sure you could write up a good literature review in 9 months, and avoid a lot of hard work later on.

According to OSHA guidelines, your place of business must have on the premises a copy of the MSDS (material safety data sheets) for each chemical on the worksite. The sheets list the composition of the chemical, hazard rating for the chemical (what happens if it's ingested, inhaled or spilled on you), whether it's flamable or explosive and the sheets also state the "known" safety for pregnancy.

If the sheets are not available, call OSHA and find out how to get them, or check the container for the manufacturer's name and address and go right to the source.

What about the effects of toxins, solvents and other nasties on sperm? The same restrictions should then also apply to all men working in a lab, since sperm can also be affected by toxins.

Bottom line...ALL people who are of childbearing potential should take precautions when working with potential toxic substances, both in the lab and everywhere else.

I'm not a lawyer but I'll bet that if you were in charge and you were to force her out of the lab you would probably run the risk of being sued for discrimination.

If I were running the lab, I would, at the very least require her to go to a toxicologist and get the best information possible on the hazards.

Frankly - she should get out of the lab. Whatever is known about the effects of common solvents on pregnant women, it's probably not enough.

This Web page is referenced from another page containing related information about Medications/Teratogens/Substance Abuse


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