Cleaning fluid fumes

I am six weeks pregnant and the building beside where I work burnt down last week. There is smoke damage in our office with a strong smell. There are also workers cleaning with strong smelling cleaners. What effect will this have on my baby and should I even be there?


Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

I have two reproductive hazard texts, neither of which dealt with smoke odors so I will have to rely on my own feelings here. I generally tell my clients that they have a right to be informed about what products they are being exposed to and their employers have the responsibility to find out the facts. Your local OSHA office would be a good resource to find out exact statutes and recommendations in your state.

Basically, I do not feel that women should be exposed to prolonged odors of any kind, especially solvents and cleaning products and I would include smoke in this as well.

If you have the choice, I would not work under these conditions unless the air was well circulated and vents were employed. I realize that many women do not have choices about such things, they simply have to work to live. In that case, I would contact my union rep if you are unionized, my OSHA rep, or pollution control agency to monitor the air and make recommendations about safe levels or procedures for venting.

I wish you the best in this difficult situation.

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