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

Val L histology400 at gmail.com
Sat Jan 18 12:01:49 CST 2020

Sadly I have already been exposed to xylene several times as I cannot avoid
the smell. It’s everywhere. There are not enough vents in the lab. I don’t
know if it’s ignorance or malice but my manager and coworkers are not quite
informed about the dangers that a pregnant woman face in a histology lab.
They feel that if the lab passed a xylene vapor tests and give me a general
purpose respirator then that’s enough for me to be safe and I can do the
same work as everybody else. There is a negligent attitude regarding safety
in this laboratory. Also there has been a negative attitude towards
pregnant women like if they were are a burden in the lab.  It makes me
nervous to work here. I don’t think is a healthy work environment.

On Saturday, January 18, 2020, Eck, Allison <aeck at dh.org> wrote:

> Valerie
> I have worked in histo with both of my pregnancies with my most recent one
> just three months ago. Embedding and cutting and even grossing are fine to
> do while pregnant. Under no condition, even with Ppe, should you be
> changing stainers or processors or dumping waste or mixing chemicals. A
> pregnant woman should not be near powder chemicals as they are inhalation
> hazards and xylene in general is an absolute no no. It is a reproductive
> toxin and you should have no contact with it.
> Please reach out if you have any other questions but your employer mst
> make accommodations for you while you are pregnant.
> Allison
> Allison Eck HTL(ASCP)cm, QLS
> ________________________________________
> From: Valerie Laughlin via Histonet [histonet at lists.utsouthwestern.edu]
> Sent: Saturday, January 18, 2020 7:21 AM
> To: histonet at lists.utsouthwestern.edu
> Subject: [Histonet] Pregnant in histo lab. Am I safe?
> 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
> circumstance.
> 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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