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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2001




American Bar Association




The Environmental Genome Program intends to identify "susceptibility genes" that would indicate if a person is more vulnerable to cancer or other disease as a result of exposure to certain chemicals in the workplace, the environment, foods, or other products. Research findings and the capability to test persons for such genes are likely to impugn and challenge health policies and regulatory programs that do not take genetic susceptibility into account when conferring health benefits and restricting chemical exposures. This article focuses on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and discusses four options available to this agency for protecting genetically susceptible workers and the issues involved in designing and implementing each option. The options involve amending each workplace chemical standard to incorporate genetic testing in a medically supervised program akin to OSHA's Lead Standard, generic revision of all standards so they are sufficiently stringent to protect susceptible workers, requiring information dissemination to prompt management and workforce initiatives, and incorporating genetic susceptibility in holding employers accountable to OSHA's "general duty clause."

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