Date: Mon, 9 Aug 2010 17:18:03 -0400
Reply-To: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: ILPI <info**At_Symbol_Here**ILPI.COM>
Subject: Re: pregnant student in chemistry lab
In-Reply-To: <B1331E0BABBF2F41ADBB549EF89EA74A033492391CA6**At_Symbol_Here**>

Many good common sense replies to all of this so far.  Just thought  
I'd chime in with one cautionary note for those of you in an employer- 

employee relationship.

I am not an attorney.  This is not legal advice.  But it is my  
understanding that it is **ILLEGAL** to exclude workers of one sex  
from a job for the purpose of protecting fetuses. See:

The specific Supreme Court ruling that established this was Johnson  
Control's attempted exclusion of all fertile females from jobs in its  

workplace that exposed them to lead.  Thus, if a woman wants to work  
on a battery assembly line, she can not be prevented from doing so.   
No word on whether she could then turn around and sue for a  
teratogenic outcome...

One can make a reasonable argument, as we have already seen in this  
thread, that appropriate workplace controls (substitution, engineering  

controls etc.) can easily protect all workers.

Rob Toreki

Safety Emporium - Lab & Safety Supplies featuring brand names
you know and trust.  Visit us at
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On Aug 9, 2010, at 2:54 PM, David C. Finster wrote:

> I am aware that a student who will be taking a general chemistry  
> course this fall is pregnant.  I am writing to the list to seek  
> advice about how to best handle this circumstance (assuming that one  

> of the options - not taking the course - is not a preferred 
> (I have checked the D-CHAS archives, and other sources, and found no  

> particularly helpful answers to this question.  This is not really a  

> CHP matter since the student is not an employee - although we  
> ordinarly use our CHP as the safety document for students, too.)
> So far as I know (but I can check this to be certain) none of the  
> chemicals used in our general chemistry labs are teratogens.  Thus,  

> my initial suggested course of action is that the student  
> participate in all of the labs experiments (using all of the PPE at  

> all times that is recommended for all students.)  We rarely use  
> chemical hoods in this particular course since most of the chemicals  

> we use present no significant inhalation risk.  (We use hoods when  
> there is an inhalation risk.)
> If there is some chemical that is, or is suspected to be, a  
> teratogen, I would advise the student to skip that lab (and have the  

> instructor determine how to do this without any penalty to the  
> student).
> The pathway suggested above seems reasonable and prudent to me.   
> However, since we live in a world where the consideration of worst- 
> case scenarios is wise and legally prudent, it seems to me that  
> having the student consult with her physician (with a complete list  

> of chemicals =93in hand=94) and having the physician and/or student  

> =93sign off=94 on some reasonable statement in advance seems smart.   

> Since I would not expect a physician to be familiar with the  
> teratogenic effects of =93all chemicals=94, I would also present the  

> physician with a detailed list of the known or suspected effects of  

> each chemical (extracted from TOXNET) with regard to being handled  
> while pregnant.
> The advice and experience of the D-CHAS group is welcome.
> Dave
> David C. Finster
> Professor of Chemistry
> University Chemical Hygiene Officer
> Department of Chemistry
> Wittenberg University
> dfinster**At_Symbol_Here**

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