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California State University, Long Beach
College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Reproductive Health Policy

Male or female, you should never work with a chemical or radioactive material without knowing how it may affect the reproductive system, and the length of time the material could remain in your body if ingested, inhaled or absorbed. The use of some agents should be stopped well in advance of conception. The following website from the International Labor Association provides information regarding when and how reproductive damage occurs, what kinds of reproductive health problems can occur, how a worker can tell if a chemical/work situation is hazardous to reproductive health, how workers are protected etc.:

If you are concerned about reproductive health, or you become pregnant, you should consult your physician regarding the evaluation of workplace hazards with respect to fetal health/fertility etc. You would be able to better discuss these issues with your physician if you provide her/him with specific information regarding your work e.g. details regarding specific chemical/radioactive identities of any hazardous substances to which you may be exposed, potential radiation exposures, etc. Your physician might find it helpful to also be informed of your standard operating procedures; for example, if you use chemicals you could discuss your use of personal protective equipment (gloves, no exposed skin, labcoat, goggles), engineering controls (fume hood use, local/supplemental ventilation etc.), frequency of exposure, average length of exposure, etc.

If working with radioactive and/or other hazardous materials, you may find the following documents helpful, all available from CNSM Safety and on the web:

Please feel free to contact your supervisor, CNSM Safety or Campus Environmental Health and Safety with any further requests for information required by you or your physician regarding reproductive hazards in the workplace.

With respect to a dose by radioactive material to a fetus:

In compliance with 10 CFR part 20, section 20.1208, "Dose to an embryo/fetus", every effort shall be made to ensure that the dose to an embryo/fetus during the entire pregnancy of a declared pregnant woman does not exceed 0.5 rem (5 mSv)1.

It is the responsibility of each Authorized Radioisotope User to:

  1. Distribute this policy to all students and employees in your group.
  2. Obtain signed confirmation on your radiation training record (see Radiation Notebook) that this policy has been read by each person under your supervision.
  3. Encourage early disclosure (intent, fact, or suspicion) of pregnancy to the Authorized Radioisotope User and/or Radiation Safety Office personnel. Assure the student/employee that this disclosure will remain confidential.
  4. Notify the Radiation Safety Office immediately upon receiving information regarding a student/employee's declared intent, suspicion or confirmation of pregnancy. Pregnancy must be declared in writing for occupational exposure limits to be in force.
  5. Advise students/employees of their personal responsibilities with regard to limiting their exposure to radiation while pregnant (see below).
  6. Review student/employee work assignments in order to reduce the potential of radiation exposures where possible.
  7. Ensure that pregnant students/employees receive a monthly film badge if she uses radioactive materials or works near radioactive materials. The student/employee must wear the badge at waist level.

It is the responsibility of the Radiation Safety Office to:

  1. Monitor the dose accumulated by the student/employee and the fetus. The dose to an embryo/fetus shall be determined according to 10 CFR part 20, section 20.12081, and the NRC Regulatory Guide 8.36, "Radiation Dose to the Embryo/Fetus"2.
  2. Work with the student/employee and the Authorized Radioisotope User to endeavor to reduce radiation exposure to background readings if any monthly dose exceeds 50 mR (0.5 mSv). If the accumulated dose approaches a total of 500 mR (5 mSv), or exceeds 300 mR (3 mSv) within six months, transfer or leave from the area of exposure is mandatory.

It is the responsibility of each female employee to:

Inform the Authorized Radioisotope User, HEERA Manager and/or the Radiation Safety Office of your intent, suspicion or confirmation of pregnancy. RSO personnel will determine whether radiation levels in your working areas are such that you might receive 0.5 rem (5 mSv) or more over the gestational period. You must decide whether the exposure you are receiving is sufficiently low to protect the fetus; you are welcome to review the literature the Radiation Safety Office has available on this topic. If you decide to continue working in these areas, you must work with your supervisor and RSO personnel to reduce your exposure by increasing your use of shielding, and by decreasing both your distance from the radiation source and the amount of time you spend in the radiation area.

The alternatives that you might want to consider are:

  1. You could decide not to accept or continue assignments in these areas at this time. According to the Memoranda of Understanding for both staff and faculty, the CSU shall endeavor to ensure that employees will not be required to work in unsafe conditions or to perform tasks that endanger their health or safety. An employee may request a temporary reassignment when she/he believes in good faith that the present assignment presents a clear danger to her/his health and safety; the appropriate administrator shall promptly respond to such a request4,5. Similarly, the Foundation will attempt to do everything within its control to assure a safe environment and compliance with federal, state, and local safety regulations6.
  2. You could consider delaying conception.

Please consider the following:

The National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP) recommends a total dose equivalent limit of 0.5 rem (5 mSv) for the fetus. Once a pregnancy becomes known, exposure of the embryo/fetus shall be not greater than 50 mR (0.5 mSv) in any month. The total dose equivalent limit for the whole period of pregnancy is important for the limitation of the risk of cancer induction and of developmental anomalies, while the monthly limit is important to ensure that exposures of the embryo-fetus during particularly critical periods of organogenesis and development are adequately restricted. The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) indicates that for doses smaller than 2 rem (0.02Sv) over the gestation period, the risk for defects is relatively small in relation to the natural incidence or probability, which is assumed to be of the order of 6 x 10-2 for anomalies of all kinds that may seriously affect health and viability of newborn children (NCRP Report No. 91; June 1987.)3

1 Federal Register, Nuclear Regulatory Commission. 10 CFR Part 20, "Standards for Protection Against Radiation". January 1993.

2 U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Regulatory Guide 8.36, "Radiation Dose to the Embryo/Fetus". July 1992.

3 National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements. NCRP Report No. 91, "Recommendations on Limits for Exposure to Ionizing Radiation". June 1, 1987.

4 Agreement Between the Board of Trustees of The California State University And The California Faculty Association. July 1, 1991 - June 30, 1993. Article 37, "Safety".

5 Collective Bargaining Agreement Between the California State Employees Association and The Board of Trustee of The California State University. May 19, 1993 - June 30, 1995. Article 23, "Health and Safety".

6 California State University, Long Beach Foundation Employee Handbook. June 1, 1991. Section 501, "Safety".