The journal Chemical Research in Toxicology recently honored a paper written by researchers at the Center, “What to Expect When Expecting in Lab: A Review of Unique Risks and Resources for Pregnant Researchers in the Chemical Laboratory,” in a special edited issue Women in Toxicology. “What to Expect When Expecting” was selected among a cohort of papers in recognition of International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
The review article explores the inherent risks faced by pregnant researchers in the laboratory setting, assessing what is currently understood about these risks and what needs to be done to further protect pregnant researchers. Evaluating risk as a function of hazard, exposure, and vulnerability, the authors explored the varied risks associated with being pregnant in the lab. The laboratory poses unique risks to pregnant researchers, and there are many unknowns that amplify the difficulty of understanding the full dimensions of lab safety for pregnant researchers. Certain dangerous substances pose risks to both the health of the pregnant research and the development of the fetus. Additionally, the effects of hazards may change throughout the phases of pregnancy, and may vary based on external factors or exposure factors within the lab. Ultimately, the authors determined that more research is needed to better understand and protect the impacts on pregnancy from the lab. Ultimately, this powerful review is a necessary addition to the literature, and a chance for the field of chemistry to turn the analytical lens on itself for the betterment of its practitioners.
“What to Expect When Expecting” writer and PhD candidate at the Center, Mary Kate Mitchell Lane, spoke to Chemical Research in Toxicology about her specific hope for the impact of the paper: “I would love to see safety prioritized over all aspects of chemistry and green chemistry and engineering implemented system-wide…[M]y hope is that my Review empowers pregnant researchers with the information they need to assess their risks of working in a chemical lab and make decisions that they feel confident in.” (“A Virtual Issue of Chemical Research in Toxicology in Celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science,” Chem. Res. Toxicol. 2023, 36, 126)
Read the interview with Mary Kate here: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.chemrestox.3c00026
Read “What to Expect When Expecting” here: https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.chemrestox.1c00380