Hi Dave - Here is our pregnancy statement. Approved by our university attorney 5+ years ago. We have this in all our manuals and lab syllabi. According to the attorney, the rights of the mother to participate in lab take precedence. In other words, we cannot tell them to stay out for the baby's safety. We do just what you said - send them to their doctor with the SDSs. Some opt to drop lab. For those who don't, we have dry labs established for the experiments where there might really be an elevated risk - FPD with p-xylene, MW by Vapor - to name a few.
Allergies we handle on a case by case basis, but we did just come up with a statement this semester.
"Be aware that some individuals might be sensitive or allergic to chemicals used in lab. If you have a known allergy and would like to know if you should take precautions for this, please speak with your instructor at a convenient time."
We then mention some of the common things we have seen - nickel, sulfur, salicylic acid.
Department of Chemistry Pregnancy Policy
Pregnancy introduces a special set of variables into the consideration of hazards in laboratory. While the exposure levels to chemicals commonly encountered in a university laboratory setting pose no or low risk to an adult, they can pose a significantly higher level of hazard to the unborn fetus. Many of these hazards are not well studied, and it is not known what exposure level is safe for an unborn child. It is therefore prudent for pregnant women to limit the unnecessary exposure of a fetus to any chemicals. This is especially true if the chemicals are mutagenic (causes damage to chromosomes) or teratogenic (causes birth defects and/or fetal death).
If you have recently become pregnant or you are anticipating becoming pregnant while you are taking laboratory courses, you should discuss the possible ramifications that working in a chemistry laboratory might have on the fetus with your instructor and your physician. Your instructor can inform you of the specific chemicals that you will be using that are known or suspected to be reproductive toxins and your discussions will be held in strict confidence.
I recently got an email from a colleague asking:
“Our department is looking for model policies for students with medical conditions which might limit their participation in the laboratory (such as asthma, pregnancy, allergies, etc.). We’re getting a suggestion from “on high” to have a caveat emptor policy where we just refer students to the SDS’s and tell them that they have to make their own decisions in consultation with their physician.
Do you know of any models we might look at for review, consideration, and/or adoption?”
David C. Finster
Professor, Department of Chemistry
University Chemical Hygiene Officer
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