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||Occupational exposures and reproductive health: 2003 Teratology Society Meeting Symposium summary.
||Grajewski B, Coble JB, Frazier LM, McDiarmid MA
||Birth Defects Res B Dev Reprod Toxicol
||Assuring reproductive health in the workplace challenges researchers, occupational safety and health practitioners, and clinicians. Most chemicals in the workplace have not been evaluated for reproductive toxicity. Although occupational exposure limits are established to protect 'nearly all' workers, there is little research that characterizes reproductive hazards. For researchers, improvements in epidemiologic design and exposure assessment methods are needed to conduct adequate reproductive studies. Occupational safety and health programs' qualitative and quantitative evaluations of the workplace for reproductive hazards may differ from standardized approaches used for other occupational hazards in that estimates of exposure intensity must be considered in the context of the time-dependent windows of reproductive susceptibility. Clinicians and counselors should place the risk estimate into context by emphasizing the limitations of the available knowledge and the qualitative nature of the exposure estimates, as well as what is known about other non-occupational risk factors for adverse outcomes. This will allow informed decision-making about the need for added protections or alternative duty assignment when a hazard cannot be eliminated. These policies should preserve a worker's income, benefits, and seniority. Applying hazard control technologies and hazard communication training can minimize a worker's risk. Chemical reproductive hazard training is required for workers by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Hazard Communication Standard. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has formed a National Occupational Research Agenda Team to promote communication and partnering among reproductive toxicologists, clinicians and epidemiologists, to improve reproductive hazard exposure assessment and management, and to encourage needed research.