Date: Tue, 10 Aug 2010 12:47:03 -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: Ben Ruekberg <bruekberg**At_Symbol_Here**CHM.URI.EDU>
Subject: Re: 2 Re: [DCHAS-L] pregnant student in chemistry lab
In-Reply-To: <4C19C8025CB83F45ACC64989E065E0D9264A5DD818**At_Symbol_Here**>

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I do not want to enter a prolonged argument.  Let me leave it at this.  Aspirin is an example of a well-known compound that is safe for most people but not for pregnant women.  It was the first example that came to mind.  The problem is teratogenicity, but bleeding and placental problems should not be discounted.  There may be many other examples.  The FDA did not issue a warning until 1990 (I believe) and you will admit that ASA has been around since long before that.

Pregnancy is only one example of a metabolic idiosyncrasy in the human population. It is, however, a particularly sensitive one, societally.  Considering that the safety standards are passed on permissible exposure to a normal healthy adult, I don’t think they can be applied to a fetus.  If you want to get technical, we have been ignoring the possibility of synergistic effects.  I just don’t think that the issue is so clear cut as to justify excessive confidence.

This all began with a question about a student wanting to take a chemistry lab while pregnant rather than postponing the lab.  Consider it in terms of Risk and Benefit.  I will accept that we can disagree on the magnitude of those concerns.


From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU] On Behalf Of Amell, Diane (DLI)
Sent: Tuesday, August 10, 2010 2:40 PM
To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] 2 Re: [DCHAS-L] pregnant student in chemistry lab

Isn't the issue with taking aspirin during the third trimester of pregnancy involve the risk of the mother experiencing excessive bleeding during and after childbirth?

 < /o:p>

- Diane Amell, MNOSHA

 < /o:p>

From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**] On Behalf Of Ben Ruekberg
Sent: Tuesday, August 10, 2010 9:11 AM
To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] 2 Re: [DCHAS-L] pregnant student in chemistry lab

With respect, your question is not entirely relevant.  I merely pointed out an example of a substance which may safely be ingested by most people except pregnant women: unsafe for pregnant women but not unsafe for everyone.  The fact that it is the product of an experiment was included merely to put the fact in a laboratory context.

It is unsafe for women in the third trimester of pregnancy to ingest aspirin.  I doubt any of the women whose children’s birth defects led to this discovery were exposed to aspirin by any route other than oral.  Thus, I cannot speak to other routes, but again this is of limited relevance.  Aspirin, which could be present as a powder for authentic sample or mixed melting point purposes, could become airborne during operations. 

While the experiments in question would intend to preclude exposure, students often behave in such a way as to circumvent normal precautions.  For instance, one person spills a solution of aspirin on a bench top.  Another student puts a writing implement on this bench top and, later, into their mouth.  Many students find the habit of putting writing implements in their mouths very difficult to break during lab, even after repeated warnings.  If you feel that such an occurrence is unlikely, consider how the sweetness of most artificial sweeteners was discovered.  (Admittedly, that was cigarettes, but the principle applies, particularly considering that these discoverers were professional chemists who should have known better.)  Also admittedly, this would never be a safe practice, but unsafe practices are what lead to accidents and, like it or not, humans will have accidents.  The difference is the degree of severity of the accident, which for the fetus can be catastrophic.


From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU] On Behalf Of Harrington, Rachel
Sent: Tuesday, August 10, 2010 11:58 AM
To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] 2 Re: [DCHAS-L] pregnant student in chemistry lab

Do you mean that it is not safe for a pregnant woman to ingest aspirin or,  that it is unsafe for the pw to be in the presence of aspirin or chemicals reacted to make aspirin?  I would expect that any procedures designed for the aspirin-making experiment would eliminate ingestion,  as well as skin absorption and inhalation,  as routes of exposure.


From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**] On Behalf Of List Moderator
Sent: Tuesday, August 10, 2010 10:08 AM
To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU
Subject: [DCHAS-L] 2 Re: [DCHAS-L] pregnant student in chemistry lab

From: "Ben Ruekberg" <bruekberg**At_Symbol_Here**>< /o:p>

Date: August 10, 2010 8:02:39 AM EDT

Subject: RE: [DCHAS-L] pregnant student in chemistry lab

I must take exception to the generalization that it a lab is not safe for a

pregnant person, it is not safe for anyone.  Consider the relatively common

lab experiment of making aspirin.  Aspirin is safe for most people, but not

pregnant women.

Ben Ruekberg


From: melissa.ballard**At_Symbol_Here**us.michel

Date: August 10, 2010 11:00:18 AM EDT

Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] pregnant student in chemistry lab

I work as an Industrial Hygiene Chemist so protecting employees from exposure & over exposure is my main purpose. I had a baby last year and continued to work in the lab while pregnant & while breast-feeding. I avoided the use of certain known teratogens (specifically CS2) and double-gloved when I used anything else. All of my work was performed in a fume hood. I too took MSDSs to my OB and talked to him & my manager candidly about the risk of exposing the fetus to anything that could cause damage. 

I used common sense & did what I felt comfortable with. I think offering the student choices would be the best route. I'm sure the student can meet the learning objectives of the labs through other means. 

Good luck! Glad to see that you are being proactive & taking the concern seriously.

Melissa Ballard 

Industrial Hygiene & Environmental Chemist 

Michelin North America 

1401 Antioch Church Road 

Greenville, SC 29605 



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