Pregnancy and Planned Pregnancy

Working with or near certain laboratory hazards may present different or additional risks for an otherwise healthy individual who is planning pregnancy or is pregnant. Individuals planning on conceiving, who are pregnant or who are breastfeeding should be aware that the fetus and infant may be more sensitive to hazardous exposures than the adult body. Some hazards may also affect the reproductive health of adults.

For laboratory workers or students who may be pregant or planning pregancy, Environmental Health & Research Safety advises you to seek medical advice by consulting with a physician and providing Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for relevant chemicals you are using or to which you may be exposed.

Prior to becoming pregnant or once a pregnancy is confirmed, an individual must carry out a risk assessment in collaboration with their Supervisor. The risk assessment is done on a case by case basis and takes into account the hazards the individual may be exposed to, the routes of exposure, the estimated amount of exposure, the expected frequency of use and the circumstances of use.

Hazards may include, but are not limited to:

  • Biohazardous materials (e.g., listeria);
  • Chemicals (e.g., chloroform, toluene, isofluorane anesthetic);
  • Ionizing radiation (e.g., P32, gamma rays); and
  • Non-ionizing radiation (e.g., electromagnetic radiation).

In the case of working with ionizing radiation, the individual must inform the University in writing in order to comply with CNSC regulations and to assess the requirements for dosimetry.

Concerned individuals can consult Environmental Health & Research Safety (ehrs_sfu@sfu.ca) for assistance in assessing risks.