If you are pregnant and work with or near radioactive materials, or near radiation producing machines such as x-ray machines, you may have questions about the amount of radiation dose the baby may receive and whether this radiation exposure presents a prenatal hazard. This page provides answers to the most common questions and outlines OSU policy for pregnant radiation workers. You are invited to contact the Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) for more information. The RSO will handle your inquiries confidentially. Through the Oregon Health Authority, Oregon law sets limits on radiation exposure for all radiation workers. The Oregon Health Authority has also established regulations that provide the pregnant radiation worker with the option to reduce her occupational dose limit. These regulations establish the Declaration of Pregnancy, a voluntary written notification of pregnancy submitted to Radiation Safety. With the Declaration of Pregnancy, the worker grants consent to her employer to limit the dose to 0.5 rem (5 mSv) throughout the pregnancy. If no declaration is submitted, then the dose limits for the worker remain unchanged (whole body dose limit = 5rem/yr (50mSv/yr)).
What is a Declaration of Pregnancy and a Declared Pregnant Worker?
The fetal dose limit regulations apply only if you have voluntarily informed Oregon State University, in writing, of your pregnancy and the estimated date of conception. This notice is called a Declaration of Pregnancy. If you submit this notice, you are classified as a Declared Pregnant Worker. You are not required to submit this Declaration of Pregnancy, and you may withdraw your Declaration at any time and for any reason.
Declaration of Pregnancy Form (PDF)
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Can I tell my employer orally or via email that I am pregnant?
A: No, the declaration must be in writing for legal documentation reasons. The declaration must include an estimated conception date. The declaration only needs to be sent to Radiation Safety. Radiation Safety treats all radiation exposure information, including pregnancy declarations, as confidential information. If the RSO determines your work schedule should be modified, you will be consulted before Radiation Safety contacts your supervisor.
Q: If I have not declared my pregnancy in writing, but my employer notices that I am pregnant, do the lower dose limits apply?
A: No. By Oregon law, the lower dose limits only apply if you have declared your pregnancy in writing.
Q: If I have declared my pregnancy in writing, can I revoke my declaration of pregnancy even if I am still pregnant?
A: Yes, it is your right to declare or revoke your pregnancy declaration at any time.
Q: What effect will formally declaring my pregnancy have on my job status?
A: You and your employer must make this decision. The vast majority of radiation work performed at Oregon State University can continue without modification during pregnancy, because most of the radiation exposure is far below the dose limit under normal working conditions. Generally, radiation workers at OSU receive no detectable reading on their radiation dosimeters. The exception would be certain personnel working around potentially elevated radiation fields such as animal radiography, which occasionally record doses slightly above this low level detection limit.
If you submit a Declaration of Pregnancy, OSU Radiation Safety will evaluation your potential for radiation exposure, and the existing program for monitoring your radiation exposure. The RSO may provide you with a radiation monitoring badge to measure fetal dose, exchanged on a monthly basis. A declared pregnant women may request a fetal radiation monitor. All personnel radiation monitors, including fetal monitors, are provided free of charge by OSU Radiation Safety.
Declaration of Pregnancy form
For more information contact the OSU Radiation Safety officer
Dan Harlan, 541-737-7082