I didn't see any responses to Julie's question on the list but she may have been contacted back channel. The problem is that anecdotal information is just that, and I would suspect that in the absence of formal scientific study, individuals reporting birth effects resulting from lab exposures would fall more into the realm of supposition rather than hard data.
To some degree the answer to your question lies in the exposure monitoring levels in your lab. If they have not been tested recently, request that testing be conducted.
I'm not certain anyone can comment with certainty regarding risk probabilities.
The link below will lead you to an interesting scientific study regarding xylene toxicity that appears comprehensive and specifically mentions histology labs. It may be of interest to others on the list.
the following quote comes from this document.
"The possibility of fetotoxic effects from concentrations to which humans would be exposed in the workplace seems slight (Brown-Woodman et al., 1991; 1994)."
They further state that xylene is not mutagenic or teratogenic.
I recommend that you read the entire document however.
Vinnie Della Speranza
Manager for Anatomic Pathology Services
165 Ashley Avenue Suite 309
Charleston, South Carolina 29425
Tel: (843) 792-6353
Fax: (843) 792-8974
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Julie Trejo
Sent: Wednesday, August 27, 2008 3:41 PM
Subject: [Histonet] Histotech to be pregnant with questions
Hi. I'm a histotech about to start on getting pregnant to start our family,
yet concerned on the birth defects that come from the xylene fumes. My
great co-workers have decided to change processors etc to keep me away from
chemicals, which is great for me, just still concerned about the fumes. I
would only be embedding and cutting for the most part and we do have alot of
automation ie: H&E stainer, Artisian (special stains), and immuno's
(BondMax). Automation will keep my hands out of xylene which is wonderful,
just worried. I've read some things about histotechs that were pregnant,
some ok and some bad (over 20 years ago). Just haven't found out about the
recent ones and how their child was. I asked one of our pathologists if it
was okay to work in this enviorment but she thinks its okay. I've worked
with alot of women whom had children but they never were working in
histology when they were pregnant.
Basically, I do enjoy my job and don't want to leave where I am, but worry
about being pregnant in the histo lab. Is it okay to stay or should I get
out or what can I do to stay without harming/risking my baby?
I would love to hear from past pregnant mom's in histo lab and let me know
if it worked etc.
Julie Trejo, HT(ASCP)cm
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