Radiation Exposure During Pregnancy

There are additional health and safety considerations for employees who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy to minimize exposure of their unborn child.

While an employee is not required to stop working with radiation during pregnancy, there are radiation dose limits that must be observed to ensure the safety of the fetus.

EH&S offers services to pregnant UW employees to help them manage the risks of radiation exposure while pregnant and to keep radiation doses as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA).

What you need to know

An employee who is pregnant can choose to declare their pregnancy. This will start a process to monitor the dose to the embryo/fetus to verify that the dose received is uniform throughout the pregnancy (not all received in a short period of time) and that appropriate action can be taken before reaching the regulatory fetal dose limit of 500 mrem during the pregnancy.

There is no requirement or obligation to declare a pregnancy, and an employee may choose to rescind their declaration at any time. Declared pregnancies will be handled as confidential. Supervisors and Area Dosimetry Coordinators (ADCs) will not be informed unless necessary.

A fetal monitor will be issued by EH&S upon request and may be cancelled by the requestor at any time. The fetal dose will be monitored according to state and federal requirements. Occupational exposure may need to be reduced as needed based on the fetal monitor readings to limit the risk to the developing fetus.

An employee who would like to monitor their fetal exposure should declare their pregnancy as early in the pregnancy as possible. Any actions deemed necessary to limit risk to the fetus will be based on the estimated dose to the fetus since the conception month.

An employee who currently works with radiation, but does not have a dosimeter, may still declare their pregnancy. They will be issued a personal dosimeter in addition to a fetal monitor. Additional information on personal dosimeters is provide on the Dosimetry webpage

What you can do to stay safe

Practice the 3 key principles for keeping radiation doses ALARA.

  • Minimize your time in a radiation field
  • Maximize your distance from a source of radiation
  • Utilize shielding that is available

An employee who is pregnant can choose to declare their pregnancy to EH&S by completing a Request for Fetal Monitoring. Radiation Safety will monitor your exposure closely and will inform you of any unexpected results.

EH&S services

EH&S will provide the following services to all UW employees:

  • Provide information on the risks associated with radiation exposure.
  • Issue personal dosimetry when necessary to monitor individuals exposed to ionizing radiation.

EH&S will provide the following services to a UW employee who has declared a pregnancy:

  • Issue a fetal monitor to the employee.
  • Provide monthly fetal dosimetry results to the employee.
  • Review fetal dosimetry results to ensure they fall below the state and federal voluntary gestational limit of 500 mrem from the time the fetal monitor was issued.

More information

Frequently asked questions