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Selected Category: Women

N95 Respirator Use During Pregnancy – Findings from Recent NIOSH Research

Categories: Personal Protective Equipment, Reproductive Health, Respirators, Respiratory Health, Women

 

Recent NIOSH research has shed some light on the topic of the safety of N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFR) use by pregnant workers. Women make up approximately one-half of the US work force. At any given time, about 10% of those female workers of child-bearing age (15–44 years of age) will be pregnant. Because many women are employed in occupations that require the use of protective facemasks, such as medical/surgical masks and FFR, NIOSH conducted research into the safety of FFR use while pregnant. The most frequently used FFR in the US is the N95 FFR (commonly referred to as “N95 mask”), but little information was previously available about the safety of N95 FFR use during pregnancy. Some individuals complain of difficulty breathing when wearing an N95 FFR or other protective facemasks, and many pregnant women find that they become somewhat shorter of breath as their pregnancy progresses, causing concern that use of N95 FFRs during pregnancy might make breathing even more difficult and possibly harm the woman and her fetus. Beyond the issue of use by pregnant working women on the job, the question also has implications for pregnant women outside the workplace. People sometimes use N95 FFRs as a matter of personal choice during infectious disease outbreaks, during environmental disasters that pollute the air, and even in more common recreational activities that may expose them to airborne allergens, such as gardening and woodworking.

Workplace Secondhand Smoke Exposure During Pregnancy: Who is protected?

Categories: Reproductive Health, Smoking, Women

 

shsphotoThere is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and avoiding this preventable health hazard is particularly important for the health of pregnant women and their unborn babies. Secondhand smoke exposure is associated with chronic diseases such as lung cancer, coronary heart disease, and stroke and with adverse reproductive effects, including low birth weight, when mothers are exposed during pregnancy. However, some women cannot avoid secondhand smoke during pregnancy because many workplaces still allow smoking. Although a lot of progress has been made in making U.S. workplaces smoke-free, only 26 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring all private workplaces, restaurants, and bars to be smoke-free. In the other 24 states, pregnant women may be unable to avoid secondhand smoke if smoking is allowed in their workplace.

Protecting Nail Salon Workers

Categories: Chemicals, Ergonomics, Service Sector, Women

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Last week, the New York Times published a two-part series highlighting what it characterized as exploitative employment practices and unsafe working conditions for nail salon workers, including exposures to hazardous chemicals. On the heels of the reports, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on May 11 ordered emergency measures in the state “to prevent unlawful practices and unsafe working conditions in the nail salon industry.”

NIOSH Study Evaluates Risks for Pregnant Flight Attendants

Categories: Reproductive Health, Women

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Some job hazards for flight attendants have changed greatly over the years. For example, while U.S. flight attendants are no longer exposed to second hand smoke at work, today there are heightened safety concerns due to terrorism , but some hazards have been present on the job since the first flight attendants started working. Flight attendants often travel across time zones, working when others normally sleep, and are exposed to cosmic radiation from the sun and space. A NIOSH study published earlier this year examined the risks of cosmic radiation, circadian disruption (from working during normal sleep hours), and other work exposures on pregnancy outcomes for flight attendants.

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