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

Steven Mello steve8438 at gmail.com
Sat Jan 18 13:13:28 CST 2020

It is clearly not, I repeat NOT acceptable to have you exposed to xylene, any powdered chemicals while you are pregnant.  Changing of processors, stainers, dehydration or rehydration stations is an absolute No!  Anytime one of my staff notified me that they were pregnant the most I let them do was cut, file. 
Sounds, like a severe OSHA compliance issue!
Steven Mello, HT(ASCP)

Sent from my iPhone

> On Jan 18, 2020, at 1:15 PM, Val L via Histonet <histonet at lists.utsouthwestern.edu> wrote:
> 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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