REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND THE WORKPLACE

Radiation – Nonionizing

If you are pregnant, exposure to nonionizing radiation is usually not hazardous to you or your unborn baby. However, there are some specific workplaces using nonionizing radiation that could increase your chances of having a baby with a birth defect or other reproductive problems. Here, you can learn more about nonionizing radiation and what you can do to reduce your exposure for a healthier pregnancy.

What is nonionizing radiation?

  • Radiation that has enough energy to move atoms around or cause them to vibrate, but not enough to remove electrons, is referred to as “nonionizing radiation.”
  • Examples of this kind of radiation are radio waves, visible light, and microwaves.

Why should I be concerned about nonionizing radiation?

  • If you are pregnant, most common exposures to nonionizing radiation are not considered hazardous to you or your unborn baby. However, in some work situations, you may need help to find out if your work with nonionizing radiation is safe during pregnancy. Nonionizing radiation can cause internal body heating, which can be hazardous to a developing baby.

Who is exposed to nonionizing radiation at work?

  • Many workers are exposed to common sources of nonionizing radiation at work. Microwave ovens, computer screens, and cell phones use nonionizing radiation at exposure levels that are considered safe.
  • Some healthcare workers (diathermy operators) and certain industries use nonionizing radiation at higher levels.

What is not known?

  • We don’t know what causes most birth defects and other reproductive problems. If you are exposed to high levels of nonionizing radiation at work and have a baby with a birth defect or other reproductive problems, we can’t tell if it was caused by nonionizing radiation or if it was caused by something else.
  • We don’t know what level of nonionizing radiation is safe for every person. For workers exposed to higher levels of nonionizing radiation, detailed information may be needed to estimate exposure levels. Follow your workplace guidelines and recommendations to reduce your excess ionizing radiation exposure as much as possible.

What can I do to reduce or eliminate exposure?

  • For industry and diathermy applications, nonionizing radiation levels can be high or low depending on where the radiation source is and other properties of the radiation source. Detailed information may be needed to estimate exposure levels. For more information, consult your workplace safety officer or contact us.
  • Nonionizing radiation from cell phones, computer screens, and microwavesExternal in good condition is not a risk to pregnancy.
Page last reviewed: April 20, 2017