October 11, 2010
Is your job hazardous to your pregnancy? It might be if you work as a cashier. One more thing has now been added to a pregnant woman’s list of concerns. Recent articles have reported that pregnant women who work as cashiers have an increased risk of exposure to a hazardous chemical called bisphenol A or BPA.
BPA is a chemical that is found in plastic products including drink containers, plastic utensils, the lining of canned foods and in cash register receipts. It has caused prostate and breast tumors in animals and has been associated with heart disease and diabetes in humans. According to medical reports, more than 90 percent of pregnant women had BPA detected in their urine and 87 percent was found in the urine of their babies at birth. High levels of BPA in pregnancy have been linked to an increased risk of obese children and aggressive behavior in girls. A few years ago, concerned mothers successfully advocated for BPA-free baby bottles out of concern for their babies. However, the exposure that the unborn baby receives during pregnancy appears to pose an even greater threat.
Who is at risk for BPA exposure? Pregnant women who work as cashiers and handle cash register receipts as well as pregnant women who eat canned foods on a daily basis. Pregnant women, who are exposed to cigarette smoke, handle vinyl flooring and plastic containers are also at risk. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is mandated to protect workers from a hazardous work environment by setting standards that employers must follow. Every employer is required to have a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) that contains important information on the chemical properties and health effects of materials used in the work place. It would not be unreasonable to ask your employer for a copy.
Ideally, BPA should be banned from consumer products but until that happens here are some helpful tips for pregnant working moms:
- Ask permission from your supervisor or Human Resource department to wear gloves if you are a cashier, if they give you a difficult time; show them this link and then mention the regulatory agencies such as OSHA and the EPA
- Eliminate or reduce eating canned foods
- Microwave food in glass only
- Lobby your local politicians to have BPA removed from cash register receipts and cans
By being proactive, you are improving your chances of having a healthy baby. Remember, a healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen. It takes a smart mother who knows what to do.