Information to help your family reduce their environmental exposures

Work Matters: Step 3 - Know How You and Your Baby Can Be Exposed to Chemicals


It is impossible to control the types of toxic chemicals used in your workplace, but you can educate yourself on the most common routes of exposure. This knowledge will help you better protect yourself from harmful exposures.

You can be exposed to chemicals at work if you:

  • Inhale chemical vapors, dusts, or fumes from workplace air.
  • Absorb chemicals through your skin or eyes.
  • Ingest chemicals when you eat, drink, or smoke in the workplace or when you do not wash up before eating.

Don’t bring your work home with you! In addition to being exposed at work, chemical residues can be carried into the home on your clothes or skin if you are not careful. For example, you and your family can be exposed to workplace chemicals at home if:

  • You wear contaminated work clothes or shoes in your car or at home.
  • Contaminated work clothes are washed with family laundry.
  • Contaminated skin comes into contact with household items.

Whether at work or home your fetus can be exposed to the chemicals that get into your body if the chemicals are able to cross the placenta.  Examples of these types of chemicals include solvents that are used to remove grease and other chemicals that dissolve in fat or oil, such as some pesticides. These types of chemicals can also contaminate breast milk and may thus affect infants as well.


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