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[Health] Pregnancy concern

I have an employee who is five months pregnant. We fabricate sterling
and 14kt. We use Batnerns(sp) flux. Sparex cleaning. Kelly does lots
of soldering. I do most of the polishing, Zam etc. Are there any
specific concerns I should alert Kelly to?

Thanks, Trey Carey @

Hello John:

The first three month of the pregnancy are considered the most
important when we talk about drugs. During that phase is when some
medicine and drugs can produce problems of congenital malformation. The
only chemistry product I know we can introduce in our body with
overdose is water. Not even we can breath deeply continuously during
one minute without being affected by the oxygen overdose in the brain.
Boric acid and sodium bisulfate are always dangerous if we breath
their fumes, manipulating them all the time, continuously in plain
contact with the skin or if we drink them by accident. The most
dangerous of both is boric acid, because of its cumulative effects
with systemic injuries to the central nervous system, brain, liver,
kidney, skin reactions.

It passes through the skin and 15 grams of oral does is lethal.
Remember: it passes trough the skin. But none of us drink acid boric
or sodium bisulfate, or put the hands into the containers of these
products. I suggest we must be careful all the time with everything
different that it is not water.

Tell your employee that she must be more careful with flux containing
boric acid and the Sparex must not boil to prevent fumes of sulfite
(SO3). Also she may feel some discomfort if she remain seated in the
same position for too many hours.

The same care we want for us is the care for your employee. I should
say a bit more for her and her baby. May be someone else can add
something more for you.

I have had this situation many times. I hope this can help you a

Regards from Daniel Mischelejis
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Hi Trey,

The best thing for Kelly to do is check with her doctor. During my
pregnancies with my daughters, I chose to take a hiatus from my
craft. However, I do know of other jewelers that kept on working. I
personally would not do anything that might risk the health of my
unborn child. If she does continue working for you, I would suggest
she wear a respirator if she is doing anything that creates toxic
fumes. Just my opinion. By the way I have two healthy children.


John, she or you, really need to ask her OBGYN and have a detailed
list of what she is exposed to as well as what is in it. Child birth
is a tricky business even if your in a completely sterile environment,
I cant even start to imagine what nitric acid, sodium bisulfate ,
solder fumes and the rest of the chemicals might do. We just had our
first child, a fine healthy baby girl now turning 6 months old. No, we
didn’t follow all the rules exactly, and everything came out fine.
Luck us. But it makes us wonder what might have happened. As I am sure
you might know, child birth is one of the most wonderful things that
can happen, so minimizing the chances of adversely effecting the
health of the child is really important to do. We were told the first
3 months are the most critical. They even told us that my wife
couldn’t be around any house hold cleaners, and those are usually
less toxic that a lot of the chemicals we use everyday. Ok, I’m done
there., just hope you call someone who really knows what the mother
can or can not do, the mothers doctor. play it safe for you , her,
and the future child… you don’t want to sit back in a year
thinking… Would have, Could have, Should have

Daniel H.
St. Louis Mo

Hi John: Just to be on the safe side, if nobody has input on this, I’d
switch from battern’s flux (since it has flourides) to something like
a borax cone and slate method like the old guys used. I used to use
a powdered flux (No. 2 flux seems to come to mind), which I mixed in
a tiny tin with water from a small shaker bottle. With the borax
cone and slate, you rub the cone on the slate dish to leave a powder
and add water. Flourides can’t be too good to breath. See if there
isn’t a safer alternative to the boric acid too, although I can’t
imagine what that is, perhaps some of the commercially prepared
anti-oxidizers. If you still have to use the boric acid/alcohol
mixture, and I’m almost certain you won’t get away from that one,
make sure you keep a lid on the jar at all times except when you’re
dipping or brushing it on the work. The stuff evaporates and
condenses all over the place. Keep the benches washed down every few
days, which isn’t hard if you can keep them fairly organized. You
should look into using a good fume collector at the bench. Usually
you can run duct work from a good dust collector to the individual
benches and have a hood right at each bench (I’m sure you’re already
familiar with that setup, if you don’t already have it that way).
Finally, if you can tolerate the difference in melting and flow
characteristics, switch from the cadmium containing solders to the
cadmium-free ones. That’s probably the highest priority right there.
Cadmium is probably the worst health hazzard we’re dealing with
here, pregnant or otherwise. And read those recent post about
copper, just in case you have occassion to use it, and by the way,
silver can be a bit hazzardous too if you’re near a lot of fumes from
melting it. All in all, the job’s probably not going to be more
toxic than a lot of home environments, with all the cleaning
supplies, out-gassing from building materials, radon in the basement,
botulism in the hamburger, lawn chemicals, teen-agers with their
Brittany Spears CD’s . . .

David L. Huffman

I have had two healthy children while working with metal. I agree
with the other posts that the first three months of pregnancy are the
most critical but the last four are also very important (didn’t you
say she was 5 months pregnant). I used only flouride free fluxes,
used extra precautions in ventilating everything, wore a dust mask
most of the time and a respirator with nitric, etc, used a good pair
of rubber gloves when handling any solvents or other fluids - avoided
working with copper (the oxides seem to be very toxic after soldering
and pickeling) - tried to stick with high k golds (18-22k) and fine
silver. I should add that I only work in my studio part time - nights
and week-ends primarily. There was an article in The Crafts Report
within the last two years about pregnancy and the workplace and there
are other publications relating to working in a metals studio and
pregnancy - primarily, as I recall it is flourides, acids, solvents,
lead, - simply avoid breathing and touching the offending substances.

Thanks for all the response. the one outstanding concern now is the
question of Baterns flux. my brother in law and son use a mixture of
Borax and water. They find it as effective as Batterns for clean
work. Would it be a safer flux?

Thanks, John A. Carey
Eden Northwest

The only flouride free fluxes of which I am aware are paste solders
(as opposed to the green liquid (Batterns) - one brand name is
Grifflux - there are some others but I do not know names, offhand.