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Genetic Monitoring and Screening in the Workplace

Genetic Monitoring and Screening in the Workplace

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Published by Chris Nash
During the past three decades, our understanding of genetics has advanced remarkably as new methods for identifying, manipulating, and analyzing deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) have developed. Less well understood, however, is the interaction between the environment and heredity, and the roles each plays in sickness and health. It has long been recognized that genetic risks are associated with certain workplace environments, such as exposure to radiation or certain chemicals. Recognition of genetic factors in disease presents new opportunities for detection, prevention, and treatment. This concept has provoked debate in recent years about whether genetic monitoring and screening of workers to identify outwardly healthy individuals (or populations) at risk for or susceptible to a variety of work-related conditions is appropriate or even feasible.

Genetic monitoring and screening have the potential to significantly change the workplace by detecting both occupational and nonoccupational diseases. They can identify genetic abnormalities which may be associated with inherited diseases, susceptibilities, and traits in otherwise healthy, asymptomatic individuals. The ability to diagnose latent conditions (both occupationally and nonoccupationally related) through genetic monitoring and screening raises policy questions about the proper use of such technologies.
During the past three decades, our understanding of genetics has advanced remarkably as new methods for identifying, manipulating, and analyzing deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) have developed. Less well understood, however, is the interaction between the environment and heredity, and the roles each plays in sickness and health. It has long been recognized that genetic risks are associated with certain workplace environments, such as exposure to radiation or certain chemicals. Recognition of genetic factors in disease presents new opportunities for detection, prevention, and treatment. This concept has provoked debate in recent years about whether genetic monitoring and screening of workers to identify outwardly healthy individuals (or populations) at risk for or susceptible to a variety of work-related conditions is appropriate or even feasible.

Genetic monitoring and screening have the potential to significantly change the workplace by detecting both occupational and nonoccupational diseases. They can identify genetic abnormalities which may be associated with inherited diseases, susceptibilities, and traits in otherwise healthy, asymptomatic individuals. The ability to diagnose latent conditions (both occupationally and nonoccupationally related) through genetic monitoring and screening raises policy questions about the proper use of such technologies.

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Categories:Types, School Work
Published by: Chris Nash on Jul 26, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/06/2012

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Genetic Monitoring and Screening in theWorkplace
October 1990
OTA-BA-455NTIS order #PB91-105940
 
Recommended Citation:
U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment,
Genetic Monitoring and Screening in the
Workplace, OTA-BA-455
(Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, October
1990).
For sale by the Superintendent of DocumentsU.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402-9325(order form can be found in the back of this report)
 
Foreword
Genetic monitoring and screening have the potential to significantly change theworkplace by detecting both occupational and nonoccupational diseases. These tests can
identify genetic abnormalities that maybe associated with inherited diseases, susceptibilities,
and traits in otherwise healthy, asymptomatic individuals. The ability to diagnose latentconditions (both occupational and nonoccupational) through genetic monitoring andscreening raises policy questions about the proper use of such technologies. This report
describes the issues associated with genetic monitoring and screening in the workplace. It
examines the technologies used, analyzes the legal framework for the use of such tests,
assesses the ethical issues inherent in the use of these tools in the workplace setting, describes
how genetic information is conveyed by a genetic counselor, and, based on an OTA survey
of 1,500 U.S. companies and the largest unions, evaluates the current and future use of genetic
monitoring and screening in the workplace.
Genetic Monitoring and Screening in the Workplace
was requested by the SenateCommittee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; House Committee on Energy andCommerce; and the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. It was also
endorsed by the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources. It illustrates a range of options for action by the U.S. Congress on two central issues:
. the appropriate role of the Federal Government in the regulation, oversight, or
promotion of genetic monitoring and screening; and. the adequacy of federally sponsored research on the relationships between genes and
the environment.
OTA was assisted in preparing this study by a panel of advisors and reviewers selected
for their expertise and diverse points of view on the issues covered in the assessment. Advisory
panelists and reviewers were drawn from industry, academia, labor organizations, legalexperts, scientific and professional organizations, research organizations, and Federal
agencies.OTA gratefully acknowledges the contribution of each of these individuals. As with allOTA assessments, however, responsibility for the content is OTA’s alone.
u
JO~T
H. GIBBONS
 Director 
iii

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