The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

3344.0: Monday, November 17, 2003 - 5:15 PM

Abstract #71089

Risks and Promise of Toxicogenomic Research for Workplace Safety: The Role of Labor in Shaping a Future Research and Policy Agenda

Marc Weinstein, PhD, Steven Hecker, MSPH, and Marcus Widenor, MA. Labor Education Research Center, University of Oregon, 1289 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR OR

The current project to map the human genome represents a revolutionary opportunity for scientists to understand how individual genetic pre-disposition and exposure to environmental and workplace exposures relate to occupational illness and disease. This new field of inquiry, toxicogenomics, offers an opportunity to protect workers before they become ill, it also poses potential threats to those who may be discriminated against because of their genetic makeup. In the absence of regulation and ethical codes of conduct, employers might choose to screen out potential employees who may have a genetic predisposition to contract occupational illnesses rather than deal with the source of the illness. Comparable problems may emerge regarding the monitoring of current employers and the unfair dismissal of employees found to be adversely affected by toxins in the workplace. At the same time, toxicogenomic research holds tremendous potential for the identification of environmental hazards and for the treatment of environmentally contracted diseases. Traditional research on occupational and environmental hazards relied on laborious, costly, and imperfect longitudinal epidemiological studies. Those identified to be at risk were often already too ill to treat. Modern genetic research holds the promise of identifying in real time potentially hazardous affects of workplace toxins. Worker involvement is integral to the success of such research. In this paper, we discuss the extent to which current U.S. laws and regulations address the potential risks and promises of advances in toxicogenomic research as it relates workplace occupational health and safety and we propose how organized labor can shape the future course of this research and policy agenda.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Genetics, Workplace Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Innovative Topics: Biomonitoring and Toxicogenomics, finding the link between genes, the environment, and disease

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA