[Histonet] Pregnant in histo lab. Am I safe?

Valerie Laughlin histology400 at gmail.com
Sat Jan 18 06:21:07 CST 2020

Hello everyone. I am currently in the last weeks of my first trimester of
my pregnancy.

I have asked this question to my Ob-Gyn, family and general pregnancy
forums but I wanted to ask people who understand the field of
Histotechnology better.

I have been very concerned about the side effects of the chemicals that
might have on my baby.  The lab works with the typical stuff (formaldehyde,
xylene, alcohol of different percentages, glacial acetic acid, stains etc)
They make the fixative from scratch.

I had to inform my supervisor and manager. I didn’t get the most positive
reaction from them but I don’t care as this is my personal business and I
have rights like everybody else.

I gave them a letter from my doctor informing my pregnancy and that I
should be kept away from the chemicals for my own safety.

They acknowledged the letter but still decided to buy a respirator mask for
me which is fine. It’s good to have protective equipment no matter the

I told them that I can do the same tasks I do every day such as grossing
but with a mask, embedding, cutting and filing but that I don’t feel
comfortable changing the chemicals of the tissue processor and slide
stainer, and mixing chemicals. Also that I can’t dump the chemicals in the
biohazard room as there is not enough ventilation.

Literally an hour after I informed this a nurse who was working in a rojom
close to the biohazard room had a negative reaction and had to be sent to
the ER where she was there for days. She blamed the chemicals  from the
biohazard room. Other nurses who work close to that room had reported
negative side effects as well. This situation made me more uncomfortable
specially when my coworkers think the nurses are over reacting and it has
to be some other cause because they don’t get the same reactions.

My biggest concern is that despite the letter of my doctor and what ocurred
in the past weeks with the nurse I am still feeling pressured by my
coworkers to work with the chemicals as they feel that a mask, a lab coat
and gloves is enough protection. I am unsure about this.

I didn’t get a proper fit test for my respirator by the way. I have worked
for another corporation where they did that right after getting hired.

I have read that chemicals can be absorbed through the skin too.

I just want to know the opinion of pregnant  lab techs and supervisors who
have worked with them.

I have read older threads about this in this forum before and everybody had
positive and negative experiences. Some workers were completely removed
from the lab while others kept performing the same tasks. Some say their
babies turned out healthy while others blame the job for causing short and
long term

health issues  for the babies.

Most of the employers protected the pregnant worker from the chemicals to
avoid any risks which I feel that’s the direction my employer should take.
There are 3 other histotechs in the lab and they don’t seem happy to have
that extra task in their hands, despite being the one who changed the
processor most of the time this past year besides the supervisor.

Thank you for your help. This has caused a lot of distress in me and I just
want to be safe.

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