Is it safe to use a photocopier for more than a few minutes when I'm pregnant?

Is it safe to use a photocopier for more than a few minutes when I'm pregnant?

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Yes, it's safe to use a photocopier while you're pregnant, but it's a good idea to take some basic safety precautions.

There are no studies pointing to dangers from photocopying during pregnancy. Pregnancy can make you more sensitive to chemical irritants like those used in photocopiers, though, and it doesn't hurt to minimize your exposure to substances that might have a negative effect.

Any chemical at a high enough exposure can be toxic, and photocopiers do use chemicals in their toner and copier drums. Fortunately, only minute amounts are emitted from modern copiers.

Still, it's a good idea to place the copier in a well-ventilated area and make sure it's well maintained (that the filter is replaced regularly, for example) to minimize exposure. If the copier is used frequently, it's preferable to place it in a designated room with good ventilation.

To prevent spilling toner – very fine powder that can irritate your respiratory system – carefully follow the manufacturer's directions for refilling. (Maybe someone else in the office can take on this job?) If toner does get spilled, ask someone to vacuum it up and wipe the area with a damp cloth.

Another concern is exposure to ozone, a gas produced by copy machines. Ozone can cause headaches and breathing problems in people with respiratory sensitivities. The ozone produced by copy machines is minimal, but again, good ventilation and regular maintenance can minimize ozone buildup.

If you're concerned about your exposure to very frequent photocopier use or find yourself extra sensitive to the noise or smell, talk with your employer about alternative arrangements. Maybe your desk can be moved farther from the copier, for example, or your job description can be tweaked temporarily to take you off primary photocopy duty.

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