This guide provides a comprehensive introduction to epigenetics, the emerging science of biological mechanisms in the DNA which can change our genetic activity without changing the genetic code itself. The knowledge of epigenetics is important for workers as it could lead to retrospective proof of past exposure to (adverse) chemicals and early identification of dangerous chemicals at the workplace.
The authors try to answer several workplace-related questions such as:
- How fast will this emerging scientific field lead to the first practical results for workers? (E.g. in the form of biomarkers for work-related disease)
- To what extent are epigenetic effects reversible?
- Can epigenetic marks be transferred to children of workers (reprotoxicity)?
- Are there special groups of chemicals which are more likely to have adverse epigenetic effects than the average chemical? (e.g. Nanoparticles and Hormone disrupting chemicals like Bisphenol A).
- How should the ETUI and other societal actors play a role in using the emerging knowledge for the protection of workers?
In addition this report summarizes the outcome of a workshop that was organised by the ETUI and which brought together top scientists from the epigenetics field, EU Commission members, EU Parliament members (STOA), representatives from societal organisations and EU trade union participants.