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(Date of issue: June 2011, Version: 1)

This is a UKTIS monograph for use by health care professionals. For case-specific advice please contact UKTIS on 0344 892 0909. To report an exposure please download and complete a pregnancy reporting form. Please encourage all women to complete an online reporting form.


There are limited published data available on the potential toxic effects in human pregnancy for the majority of chemicals used in the photographic/printing industry.  Chemicals involved may include hydrocarbon solvents, bleaches, acids and glycol ethers.  Traditional black and white film photography utilises paper with a light sensitive silver-based emulsion which requires a developer (may contain hydroquinone), an acid bath to stop further reaction, and a fixing agent (usually sodium thiosulfate).

As with all chemicals, unnecessary exposure should be avoided.  However, where occupational exposure is unavoidable, precautions should be taken to ensure that exposure is well within the recommended exposure limits and not associated with toxic symptoms.

Data following acute exposure are lacking.  Prolonged maternal exposure to hydrocarbon solvents during pregnancy may increase the risk of spontaneous abortion and low birth weight, and environmental studies have demonstrated an increased incidence of preterm deliveries and low birth weight following exposure to water chlorination by-products (including hypochlorites), however data is inconclusive and relevance to photographic chemical exposure is uncertain.  Inadvertent exposure to photographic chemicals would not usually be regarded as medical grounds for termination of pregnancy or additional prenatal diagnostic tests.

Where available, please consult specific monographs for the chemicals involved for more relevant information.

This document is regularly reviewed and updated. Only use full UKTIS monographs downloaded directly from TOXBASE.org to be sure you are using the most up-to-date version. The summaries of these monographs are openly available on UKTIS.org.

This is a summary of the full UKTIS monograph for health care professionals and should not be used in isolation. The full UKTIS monograph and access to any hyperlinked related documents is available to health care professionals at www.toxbase.org.

If you have a patient with exposure to a drug or chemical and require assistance in making a patient-specific risk assessment, please telephone UKTIS on 0344 892 0909 to discuss the case with a teratology specialist.

If you would like to report a pregnancy to UKTIS please click here to download our pregnancy reporting form. Please encourage all women to complete an online reporting form.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that this monograph was accurate and up-to-date at the time of writing, however it cannot cover every eventuality and the information providers cannot be held responsible for any adverse outcomes of the measures recommended. The final decision regarding which treatment is used for an individual patient remains the clinical responsibility of the prescriber. This material may be freely reproduced for education and not for profit purposes within the UK National Health Service, however no linking to this website or reproduction by or for commercial organisations is permitted without the express written permission of this service. This document is regularly reviewed and updated. Only use UKTIS monographs downloaded directly from TOXBASE.org or UKTIS.org to ensure you are using the most up-to-date version.