Pregnancy Information

Advice to students regarding pregnancy and first year chemistry laboratory classes


All information will be treated as confidential and only released on a need-to-know basis with permission of the affected student.

Scope of document

This document is relevant to students who may be, planning to be or are pregnant, are breast feeding, or have given birth in the last 6 months.

The information is provided to highlight the particular risks of some chemicals and to give students who fall within the scope of this document the opportunity to use the most effective risk control option, elimination of the hazard from their use. All chemicals in use within teaching and research laboratories are used within a risk management framework. Chemical exposure risks are managed to as low as reasonably achievable using the hierarchy of risk control, including, isolation using glove boxes, ventilation using fume cupboards, procedures, supervision and training as well as personal protective equipment and clothing.

Advice regarding chemical safety

Students have access to hazard classifications for all chemicals they will be using in their chemistry laboratories, and are required to be familiar with the hazards of all chemicals used in an experiment before they are allowed to start the experiment. Chemicals which fall into these hazard classes carry a risk specific to women who are pregnant or are breast feeding:

  • H360 - May damage fertility or the unborn child.
  • H361 - Suspected of damaging fertility or the unborn child.
  • H362 - May cause harm to breast-fed children.

It is recommended that students who fall within the scope of this document do not carry out any experiment which involves substances which fall into the above categories. In first year courses, experiments are designed to have a very low level of residual risk so there will be few chemicals used in the first year laboratory which fall into the above hazard classes. In higher year labs, there may be a greater potential for chemicals from the above hazard categories to be present in laboratories. Either way, it is important for each student to check the classification of every single chemical planned for their coursework, and to discuss their potential risk of exposure with their laboratory manager.

In addition to the hazard classes above, substances in the following hazard classes may be of concern to pregnant and/or breast-feeding students:

  • H340 - May cause genetic defects.
  • H341 - Suspected of causing genetic defects.
  • H350 - May cause cancer.
  • H351 - Suspected of causing cancer.

Students within the scope of this document should consult with their gynaecologist or health care professional to assess whether they wish to not carry out experiments, or parts of experiments, involving these substances and advise the School of Chemistry of their decision. Once again, whilst there are few substances used in the first year chemistry laboratories which fall into these categories, higher year laboratories may contain a greater number and/or concentration of these compounds.

Educational Adjustments

Students within the scope of this document may require specific educational adjustments to remain safe whilst in laboratory classes and continue to maintain an equitable learning environment. To be eligible for such adjustments, students must formally apply for Special Consideration via myUNSW. However, it is recommended that all students first contact their Chemistry Course Coordinator and/or the Chemistry Student Services Manager as early as possible to discuss the most appropriate course of action given their specific circumstances.

General recommendations

In addition to the recommendations above, it is also strongly recommended that any student within the scope of this document consult with their gynaecologist or health care professional to seek general advice about undertaking laboratory classes, in particular with regard to ergonomics, duration of classes, access to toilets etc. This is encouraged whether you plan to discuss your circumstances with School of Chemistry staff or not.