Lab Safety

Reproductive toxins

A reproductive toxin is a substance or agent that can cause adverse effects on the reproductive system. The toxic effects may include alterations to the reproductive organs and/or the endocrine system (which includes the thyroid and adrenal glands). These effects can occur in both men and women.

 A number of reproductive toxins are chronic toxins that cause damage after repeated or long duration exposures and can have long latency periods. Women of childbearing potential should be especially careful when handling reproductive toxins. Pregnant women and women intending to become pregnant should seek the advice of their physician before working with known or suspected reproductive toxins.

 A list of some reproductive and acute toxins can be found here.

 Proposition 65 by the state of California also has a list of possible carcinogens and toxins

 The following precautions should be taken when working with potentially toxic materials:

  • Wear proper protective equipment including gloves, goggles and a lab coat that covers street clothes
  • Gloves should be selected based on the properties of the chemicals in use
  • Do not eat, drink, chew gum or apply cosmetics in the area toxic chemicals are being used
  • Keep accurate records of amounts of these substances used
  • Have a plan, proper equipment and materials ready to minimize exposure if an accident is to occur
  • Procedure should be done with the minimum amount of material needed to complete the task
  • All procedures should take place in a "controlled area" that is clearly labeled warning and restrictive access sign
  • Whenever possible, fume hoods, glove boxes and isolation cabinets should be used, if these are not feasible, proper respiratory protection must be worn
  • All work surfaces should be easily cleanable and covered in an impervious or disposable material
  • Wash hands, arms and decontaminate work surface and equipment thoroughly when done with the procedure
  • Protective apparel worn while working with toxic materials should not be worn outside the laboratory
  • Ensure that containers of contaminated waste are transferred from controlled area in a secondary container to avoid further contamination

Page last modified December 9, 2010