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Thread: Help: chemistry lab work and bf safety

  1. #1
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    May 2011
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    Exclamation Help: chemistry lab work and bf safety

    Hello, I just started my new job and discovered I have to work with toxic substances in the chemistry lab. Are there here mums who work in chemistry labs who could help me understand if it is safe to bf, how to reduce risk, etc? I will work under hood of course but I don't know how I shouldproceed to assess if it is safe for bfing dd ( 7.5 mo) and giving her my expressed milk. Help, I am so worried!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Help: chemistry lab work and bf safe

    What kind of hazards are they? I don't work in a chem lab right now, but I do have a MA in chemistry and am a high school science teacher. My concern would be transfer of materials. If I were you, I would always wear a lab coat in lab and take it off and wash my hands well before going to pump, perhaps once in lab and once outside of lab. Right off of the top of my head I can't think of any hazards where it would be safe for you, but not for your breast milk. It would be a different issue if you were pregnant, however.

    When I get home tonight I will run your question by DH, who has a PhD in chemistry and has done a lot more research using hazardous chemicals. He's obviously not BFing () but he might have some ideas of possible risks/safety issues.
    I am Erin--happily married to the nerd of my dreams for 15 years
    High School Science Teacher
    Mother to: Thing 1 9/23/01, bf 15 mo, diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma 1/29/02, officially cancer free for ten years in August 2012
    Thing 2 6/6/05, bf 12 mo, obsessed with dynamite
    Glowworm 2/18/11, bf 15 months and counting

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Help: chemistry lab work and bf safe

    What substances will be involved? Maybe someone will have specific knowledge about one or more of the chemicals you will be working with, or will be able to give you a relevant link.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Help: chemistry lab work and bf safe

    No chem lab experience since college, but my work helped with a local oil spill clean up last year when my DD was around 3 months old. I was kept as far away from the actual oil as possible (they put me in the vet hospital blow-drying the cleaned little ducklings and goslings to warm them up!), but the toxic chemicals that were off-gassing were bad enough that our vet recommended I pump and dump for a couple of days, just to be safe. That was just from the fumes in the vet hospital where all the birds were kept after being cleaned! I was in a surgical mask, doubled gloves, and long sleeves. The rest of my coworkers had to wear masks and those waterproof disposable HAZMAT suits since they were in contact with the oil itself.
    Obviously these were less than ideal working conditions; we made do with what we had. The cleaning was done outside, and we had several large fans blowing in the hospital to increase the ventilation inside. The hoods in your lab would minimize any risk.
    Have you asked your doc about it? Does your employer have anyone on staff that would be familiar with the risks these chemicals pose and how well they're absorbed under normal work conditions? Wish I could be more help. Good luck!
    Last edited by @llli*faeln; November 16th, 2011 at 11:53 AM.
    Mamma to: DD (02.2010) and DS (08.2011)
    We cloth diaper and are new to baby-wearing.
    Learning to trust my instincts and turn off my scientifically-trained brain!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Help: chemistry lab work and bf safe

    You should be able to get your hands on the material safety data sheets for the substances you will use at work. That way you can get the low down on the specific substances.
    “We are not put on earth for ourselves, but are placed here for each other. If you are there always for others, then in time of need, someone will be there for you.”
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Help: chemistry lab work and bf safe

    Thanks for all your replies and your help, these are some of the substances. From the msds some of them look pretty nasty but there is no info on breastfeeding safety

    Tetramethyl ammonium hydroxide
    Tetrapropyl ammonium hydroxide
    Tetrabutyl ammonium hydroxide
    Hexadecyltrimethyl ammonium hydroxide
    Tetraoctyl ammonium hydroxide

    Also if you know any specific source for breastfeeding safety of chemicals please let me know...

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Help: chemistry lab work and bf safe

    Do you have a safety organization at your place of employment? I assume that you will be using proper PPE when using these chemicals, you won't be breathing them because they'll be in a hood and you shouldn't have any skin contact, so it is unlikely that you will have any exposure to the chemicals that would get into your breastmilk.

    However, at my job I can get a risk assessment done by an Industrial Hygienist for a pregnant person. I would assume that if a pregnant person can't be exposed to something in the way that my work would be done, I wouldn't want to get exposed to it while nursing either.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Help: chemistry lab work and bf safe

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*mommy2lilah View Post
    Do you have a safety organization at your place of employment? I assume that you will be using proper PPE when using these chemicals, you won't be breathing them because they'll be in a hood and you shouldn't have any skin contact, so it is unlikely that you will have any exposure to the chemicals that would get into your breastmilk.

    However, at my job I can get a risk assessment done by an Industrial Hygienist for a pregnant person. I would assume that if a pregnant person can't be exposed to something in the way that my work would be done, I wouldn't want to get exposed to it while nursing either.
    Susan
    Mama to my all-natural boys: Ian, 9-4-04, 11.5 lbs; Colton, 11-7-06, 9 lbs, in the water; Logan, 12-8-08, 9 lbs; Gavin, 1-18-11, 9 lbs; and an angel 1-15-06
    18+ months and for Gavin, born with an incomplete cleft lip and incomplete posterior cleft palate
    Sealed for time and eternity, 7-7-93
    Always babywearing, cosleeping and cloth diapering. Living with oppositional defiant disorder and ADHD. Ask me about cloth diapering and sewing your own diapers!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Help: chemistry lab work and bf safe

    I was looking up the MSDS information on some of them. On the Sigma site, it gave the list of possible risk codes and there was one specifically for the breastfed child. That risk code was not listed for the two reagents I looked at.

    Looking at the risks of the chemicals, it seems to me that if you got enough exposure for there to be a risk to your baby, you would probably be in the hospital yourself. If you were using volatile organics or heavy metal compounds I would be more concerned.

    That being said, please be careful. Those are hard core corrosive compounds.
    I am Erin--happily married to the nerd of my dreams for 15 years
    High School Science Teacher
    Mother to: Thing 1 9/23/01, bf 15 mo, diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma 1/29/02, officially cancer free for ten years in August 2012
    Thing 2 6/6/05, bf 12 mo, obsessed with dynamite
    Glowworm 2/18/11, bf 15 months and counting

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Help: chemistry lab work and bf safe

    I have become chemically sensitized after contact with isocyanates. Using a mask with activated carbon helps to remove gasses when air quality is an issue. On amazon.com I found ones that resemble medical masks and one made out of silicone that even has earplugs.

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