To : Female employees who wear radiation badges
From: Louis Shuster, PhD., Chairman, Tufts Boston/Grafton Radiation Safety Committee, and
Harry Bernheim, Chairman, Medford Radiation Safety Committee
Re : Radiation Safety Guidelines for Pregnant Employees
It is the responsibility of the Tufts Radiation Safety Committee (RSC) to formulate, implement, and review radiation protection policies to assure that they comply with federal and state regulations. In keeping with the applicable state and federal guidelines, and in the interest of providing a safe and healthy environment for pregnant employees, the Control Group has developed the attached Radiation Safety Guidelines for Pregnant Employees.
This policy is intended to be conservative in many respects. For example, the use of the waist level badge (as required by the policy) as a measure of fetal exposure will overestimate the amount of fetal x ray exposure by as much as a factor of four, due to the protection to the fetus afforded by the maternal overlying tissue. For those involved with the use of diagnostic x-ray systems, aprons and other shielding devices can result in a ten fold decrease to fetal exposure as compared to the highest skin entry doses traditionally measured with Luxel body dosimeters. With diligent application of the policy to the already low exposures experienced in normal practice, the amount of radiation to which fetuses would be exposed should be less than 10% of the 500 mRem-maximum proscribed in the policy.
Given that the occupational exposures received by non-pregnant employees through normal work practices (as measured by Landauer brand Luxel dosimeter badges) already fall well within the more restrictive limits for pregnant employees, there should be little difficulty in complying with the applicable limits for pregnant radiation employees.
Any questions may be directed to Health Physics at ext. 6-6168 or the Radiation Safety Officer at 617-636-3450.
Policy regarding pregnant employees who are potentially exposed to ionizing radiation
Regulations of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health governing the occupational exposure to ionizing radiation requires that the radiation dose to the fetus of occupationally exposed pregnant women be held to 500 mRem or less during the pregnancy. The National Council of Radiation Protection (NCRP) has recommended that this dose be controlled such that no more than 50 mRem be delivered to the fetus in any month.
All radiation employees, especially women of childbearing age, are encouraged to carefully monitor their dosimeter badge readings and become familiar with their potential sources of exposure and means of minimizing it.
When an employee informs her supervisor, in writing, that she believes she is pregnant:
(1) The employee will be issued a second dosimeter to be worn during the gestation period at waist level (under her apron, if applicable) to serve as a measure of fetal exposure. The supervisor will take all reasonable steps to maintain the radiation exposure for this employee (as recorded by the waist level badge) to less than 50 mRem/month.
(2) Pregnant radiation employees should be particularly diligent in avoiding unnecessary exposure during their regular work assignment. Accordingly, employees should minimize their time of exposure, maximize their distance from the radiation source, and take advantage of available protective equipment such as lead aprons, shield barriers, and protective booths whenever practical.
(3) In keeping with state and federal recommendations to hold embryo/fetal exposures ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable), if the pregnant employee is currently assigned to duties whereby her potential for exposure is significantly increased (e.g. fluoroscopy or Nuclear Medicine), she may be reassigned to duties involving lower potential for exposure for the duration of her pregnancy, if such temporary reassignment is deemed administratively practical.
(4) After reassignment, if practical, the pregnant employee will be expected to perform all duties as assigned. The preceding procedures should be implemented in the new work area as well, in order to minimize potential radiation exposure to the fetus.
(5) A declared pregnant employee who is exposed to workplace radiation may be eligible to utilize leave time consistent with applicable Human Resources policies.
(6) A copy of this policy will be given to all female radiation employees at the beginning of their employment with Tufts University School of Medicine, Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, or the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. A second copy will be provided whenever a pregnant employee notifies her supervisor of her pregnancy, in writing. Pregnant employees are encouraged, although not required, to declare their pregnancies. The pregnant employee is encouraged to discuss the potential fetus exposure and methods of controlling it with her physician, supervisor, and/or the Radiation Safety Officer. The Radiation Safety Officer will notify the appropriate supervisor when a declared pregnant employee provides written notice of her pregnancy.