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Exposure to ionizing radiation at work could increase your chances of having reproductive problems, including having a baby with a birth defect. Here, you can learn more about ionizing radiation and what you can do to reduce your exposure for a healthier pregnancy.

What is ionizing radiation?

• Ionizing radiation is what people usually think of as ‘radiation.’ It is both naturally occurring and man-made.

• The most common types of ionizing radiation include alpha and beta particles, gamma rays, and x-rays.

• Ionizing radiation is used in many ways, including manufacturing processes, electric power production, and in medicine to kill cancer cells.

Why should I be concerned about ionizing radiation? Ionizing radiation is a known reproductive hazard. It has been linked to birth defects and other reproductive problems.

Who is exposed to ionizing radiation at work?

• Healthcare and veterinary workers who are: o Caring for patients who have been treated with Iodine-131 or other nuclear medicine radioactive materials o Assisting with fluoroscopy procedures o Working around portable X-ray machines in medical, dental, or veterinary offices.

• Certain industrial and laboratory Aircrew (flight attendants and pilots) What is not known?

• We don’t know what causes most miscarriages, birth defects, and other reproductive problems. If you are exposed to ionizing radiation at work and have a baby with a birth defect or other reproductive problems, we often can’t tell if it was caused by exposure to ionizing radiation or if it was caused by something else.

• We don’t know what level of ionizing radiation is safe for every person. 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?

• The best first step is to talk to your supervisor and the workplace radiation safety officer, or to your state’s department of radiation protection.

A radiation protection expert can give you guidance about radiation in your specific workplace, and what the regulations are.

• Aircrew are exposed to ionizing radiation at levels which may be of concern during pregnancy.

What is not known?
• We don’t know what causes most miscarriages, birth defects, and other reproductive problems. If you are exposed to ionizing radiation at work and have a baby with a birth defect or other reproductive problems, we often can’t tell if it was caused by exposure to ionizing radiation or if it was caused by something else.
• We don’t know what level of ionizing radiation is safe for every person. 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?
• The best first step is to talk to your supervisor and the workplace radiation safety officer, or to your state’s department of radiation protection. A radiation protection expert can give you guidance about radiation in your specific workplace, and what the regulations are.
• Aircrew are exposed to ionizing radiation at levels which may be of concern during pregnancy.

From CDC.gov/NIOH