Pregnancy in a Radioisotope Lab

If you are pregnant and work with radioactive materials or near areas where radioactive materials are used, you may be concerned about the amount of radiation dose the baby might receive and whether radiation exposure presents a prenatal hazard. You are encouraged to contact the Radiation Safety Officer (RSO). The RSO will handle your inquiries confidentially, if you request it.

The RSO can:

  • provide you with informational material about the risks of prenatal radiation exposure
  • assess your potential for radiation exposure
  • provide you with isotope-specific guidelines for minimizing radiation exposure
  • provide an opportunity for you to submit a Declaration of Pregnancy
  • provide radiation monitoring badges to measure fetal dose during your pregnancy (if you have submitted a Declaration of Pregnancy).

What is a Declaration of Pregnancy and a Declared Pregnant Worker?

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has established regulations that limit fetal radiation dose under certain conditions.

  • The fetal dose regulations apply only if you have voluntarily informed Princeton University, in writing, of your pregnancy and the estimated date of conception. This notice is called a Declaration of Pregnancy. If you submit a notice, you are known as a Declared Pregnant Worker. You are not required to submit a Declaration of Pregnancy, and you may withdraw your Declaration at any time.
  • The dose to the fetus resulting from occupational exposure of a declared pregnant woman may not exceed 500 millirems for the entire pregnancy.
  • If you perform work that has a high potential for the fetal dose to exceed 500 millirems, it might be necessary to modify your duties.  Fortunately, for the type of radiation work performed at Princeton University, it is rarely necessary to recommend reassignment or changes to job duties.
  • If you choose not to submit a written Declaration of Pregnancy, then your dose continues to be controlled under the normal dose limits for radiation workers (the whole body dose limit is 5000 millirems per year).

If you submit a Declaration of Pregnancy, EHS will provide you with a radiation monitoring badge, exchanged on a monthly basis, to measure the fetal dose.