Histology, Organic Solvents, and Reproductive Health


Histology, Organic Solvents, and Reproductive Health

Dear Histonetters,
     Today I was made aware of a very distressing study demonstrating the 
negative impact of occupational exposure to organic solvents on reproductive 
health.  The study, which used admirable and meticulously planned methods, 
evaluated the effects of occupational exposure of pregnant women to organic 
solvents including aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons, phenols, 
trichloroethylene, xylene, vinyl chloride, acetone, and related compounds.  
Many of these substances are commonly found in standard histology 
     The investigation found that in a group of 250 pregnant women (125 women 
occupationally exposed to solvents and a control group of 125 women unexposed 
to solvents), the women exposed to solvents were 13 times more likely to give 
birth to babies with major malformations than the women in the control group 
who were not exposed to solvents.  The percentage of women who reported prior 
miscarriages contemporaneous to occupational solvent exposure was 46.2% in 
contrast to 19.2% reporting prior miscarriages in the non-solvent exposed 
     Among exposed women, the number of infants born in distress was 17, as 
opposed to only 6 in the control group.  In the study, "Fetal distress was 
defined as the presence of meconium and/or abnormal fetal heart rate 
monitoring during delivery or the requirement of resuscitation or a neonatal 
intensive care unit." (Khattak et al.,1999).
     The solvent-exposed women also had higher rates of premature births, 
miscarriages, minor birth defects, and low birth weight than did the women in 
the control group.
     I believe this investigation deserves attention from all histotechs.  
Even if you are not a woman or are not planning to become pregnant, the field 
of histology is predominantly female.  We have a responsibility to protect 
our own health, the health of our children, and the health of our potentially 
childbearing colleagues.
     For a limited time, the aforementioned study:

Khattak, S, G K-Moghtader,K McMartin, M Barrera, D Kennedy, G Koren. 1999. 
Pregnancy outcome following gestational exposure to organic solvents. J Amer 
Med Assoc 281:1106-1109 (March 24/31).

     May be accessed at JAMA's website (http://www.ama-assn.org/special/womh/ 
) at:


     Anatech Ltd. has a wonderful article about the investigation.  They 
relate the information of the study to specific histology issues, offer 
helpful solutions, and promote their associated products.  I strongly urge 
you to examine it for yourself.  The article may be accessed by going to: 


Selecting:   Product Literature

Selecting:   Anatech's Newsletter: The Innovator

Selecting:   "Xylene Confirmed as a Reproductive Hazard" Volume 4, Number 1, 

     I hope that you will invest in your health and take the time to read 
these articles.  I wish all of you the very best.


Kimberly Atkin - HT (ASCP)

<< Previous Message | Next Message >>