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Pregnancy presents a unique risk to chemical researchers due to their occupational exposures to chemical, equipment, and physical hazards in chemical research laboratories across science, engineering, and technology disciplines. Understanding "risk" as a function of hazard, exposure, and vulnerability, this review aims to critically examine the state of the science for the risks and associated recommendations (or lack thereof) for pregnant researchers in chemical laboratories (labs). Commonly encountered hazards for pregnant lab workers include chemical hazards (organic solvents, heavy metals, engineered nanomaterials, and endocrine disruptors), radiation hazards (ionizing radiation producing equipment and materials and nonionizing radiation producing equipment), and other hazards related to the lab environment (excessive noise, excessive heat, psychosocial stress, strenuous physical work, and/or abnormal working hours). Lab relevant doses and routes of exposure in the chemical lab environment along with literature and governmental recommendations or resources for exposure mitigation are critically assessed. The specific windows of vulnerability based on stage of pregnancy are described for each hazard, if available. Finally, policy gaps for further scientific research are detailed to enhance future guidance to protect pregnant lab workers.

Citation

Mary Kate M Lane, Mahlet Garedew, Emma C Deary, Cherish N Coleman, Melissa M Ahrens-Víquez, Hanno C Erythropel, Julie B Zimmerman, Paul T Anastas. What to Expect When Expecting in Lab: A Review of Unique Risks and Resources for Pregnant Researchers in the Chemical Laboratory. Chemical research in toxicology. 2022 Feb 21;35(2):163-198

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PMID: 35130693

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