Rosaline Occupational Toxicology

What career path and training has led you to become an occupational toxicologist?

My interest in toxicology began during my degree when I completed a module on Drug Metabolism and Toxicology as part of a degree in Biomedical Sciences. During my degree I was fortunate to secure a placement in the Human Safety (Toxicology) department of Procter & Gamble and this experience as an industrial toxicologist made me decide that I wanted a career in toxicology. On completion of my degree, I studied for an MSc in Toxicology to specialise and improve my career prospects.

After graduating from my MSc, I worked as an occupational toxicologist for Ford Motor Company. Since working at Ford, I have gone on to work as an environmental toxicologist at the National Centre for Environmental Toxicology, and then to work as a regulatory toxicologist in the Chemical Risk Assessment Unit of the Food Standards Agency.

Why did you want to study Toxicology?

After doing one module on drug metabolism at university and learning about skin irritation and sensitisation during my placement, I wanted to know more about toxicology. I was fascinated about the range of different toxicological effects and the fact that you could predict the likelihood of adverse effects occurring. Because I’d decided that I wanted to work in toxicology, studying for an MSc seemed to be the next natural step.

What’s a typical day at work like?

The role is quite varied and includes reviewing the safety of any new products, responding to and investigating specific occupational concerns and keeping up to date with new research and legislation which may affect the use of products within the workplace. I not only had to understand the potential toxicity of products, but also advise workers on appropriate control measures for safe use of products. I was office based but made regular trips to all of the manufacturing plants in the UK and Europe.

What are the best things about being an occupational toxicologist?

I liked the fact that I was contributing to ensuring safe working conditions for people who are just doing their job. The work of an occupational toxicologist is key in avoiding ill health linked to working conditions.