Lab safety

Laboratory safety programs apply across many, if not all, campus laboratories. They are developed to ensure the health and safety of university members and to ensure regulatory compliance. The programs also set out the university's program-specific requirements as well as support education and training. The SFU Laboratory safety manual assembles key information from the SFU Laboratory safety program in a single document.


Working with certain laboratory hazards may present risks for an otherwise healthy individual who is planning pregnancy or who is currently pregnant. These individuals, along with women who are breastfeeding, should be aware that the fetus and infant may be more sensitive to hazardous materials including reproductive toxins, teratogens, or germ cell mutagens. Some hazardous materials may also affect the reproductive health of adults.

In addition to these reproductive-specific hazards, developing fetuses are especially susceptible to toxic materials. 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)

Risk assessment

If you are planning a pregnancy or are pregnant, speak with your supervisor. Together you will carry out a risk assessment to identify all of the potential hazards you could encounter during the course of your pregnancy. During the assessment, take into account the nature of the hazard, the routes of exposure, the quantity of material you are working with, and the estimated frequency of exposure. Once you have completed an assessment of hazard exposure, discuss the types of controls that should be put in place to eliminate your exposure which may include modifying your job tasks.

Lastly, Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) 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.

Ionizing radiation regulations

When working with ionizing radiation, it is strongly encouraged to inform the Radiation Safety officer (RSO) in writing in order to comply with CNSC and WorkSafeBC regulations. For more information, visit the radiation safety website, or contact the RSO at

Contact EHS ( for assistance at any time.