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Potential risks
Significant exposure to ionising radiation can be harmful to the foetus and this is recognised by placing limits on the external radiation dose to the abdomen of the expectant mother for the declared term of her pregnancy.

If a nursing mother works with radioactive liquids or dusts, these can cause exposure of the child, particularly through contamination of the mother’s skin.

Also, there may be a risk to the foetus from significant amounts of radioactive contamination breathed in or ingested by the mother and transferred across the placenta.     

Control measures
Work procedures must be reviewed to ensure that exposure of the pregnant woman is as low as is reasonably practicable and certainly below the statutory dose limit for pregnant women.

Special attention should be paid to the possibility of nursing mothers receiving radioactive contamination and they should not be employed in work where the risk of such contamination is high.

The working conditions should be such as to make it unlikely that a pregnant woman might receive high accidental exposures to radioactive contamination.

Any woman who is concerned about working with radiation can either consult with their School Radiation Protection Supervisor, the University’s Radiation Protection Adviser, or Occupational Health.