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Pregnant at the workbench


hello fellow jewelers. I have recently discovered that I am
pregnant. I work in a small studio that is not well ventilated, upon
my news I have done my best with what I’ve got. (fans and an open
window, and have ordered a vapor mask through stuller). I am still
concerned about the safely of me and my unborn child, does anyone
have any suggestions? Also, completely stopping is not an option, it
is how I make my money!—paranoid at the bench


Dear Emily,

Your safety and that of your baby really depends on what substances
you are handling. Gold and Silver are non-toxic but the rubber
abrasives used on flex shaft mandrels can be. But you’d have to be
huffing the dust to have it really harm you, so a good dust filtering
mask should do the trick.

I would avoid the vapors from melting plastic, the off-gassing of
solvents, avoid handling acetone, paint thinner, and oil, lead-based
or acrylic paint. I would avoid pewter, even though the new pewter’s
are lead free you can’t always tell if that’s what your handling.
Avoid using fluxes that contain fluorides, but I do that as a
general practice for my own health.

Avoid using Mapp gases for soldering and if you are using acetylene
gas, I would switch to propane. Mapp gas and Acetylene gas flames
off-gas carcinogenic chemicals and without proper ventilation have
been linked to some reproductive problems / birth defects by the
state of California. Check the Hazardous Materials Data Sheets that
should accompany those gas tanks, for more “google” the
Hazardous Materials Data Sheets for info on those gases.

I worked straight through my pregnancy using propane gas and boric
acid in alcohol as flux until in my 9th month when my fingers swelled
up so I couldn’t grip small jewelry tools or parts. My friend Lulu
Smith who works in silver with colored resins is comfortable
continuing to mix and pour her resins during her pregnancy. And our
children are health kids, heck my son weighed 10lbs, at birth. As
long as you are handling non-toxic materials there should be no risk
for you or your baby. Congratulations!

Nanz Aalund
Associate Editor / Art Jewelry magazine
21027 Crossroads Circle / Waukesha WI 53187-1612
262.796.8776 ext.228


Hi there,

Yes, you should be concerned about you & your baby…Not knowing what
you have in your studio, you might take a moment & review all
chemicals the you work with…Definitely increasing air circulation
by possibly adding a ventilation system-even using a hood for over
the stove will help. This can have a filter system thta can be
cleaned out…You can see if you can run a hose out through the window
etc. In the meantime, keep a lid always on your pickle pot. Wear
adequate gloves, especially when working with investment if you are
casting. Keep your bench top clean and again, lids on any containers
that hold caustic/harsh chemicals. I’m sure there are other memebers
who can add to this list…If our studio, the fire dept. requires that
we have a chemical cabinet for all products that are not ivory
soap(meaning light cleaning/biodegradeable soap)…Since, stopping is
not an option, take care of your surroundings, even after the birth…
I have taught casting at an adult eart center for over 27 years & I
always remind the female students about this issue in
particular…Alot of stuff can enter your body by air & absorption
through the skin…Congrats on the upcoming event!!!

Jo-Ann Maggiora Donivan
Cheers from sunny SF and ciao…


Hi Emily, I recently had a baby too and had the same concern. My
doctor said it was o.k. to keep on working. But I unlimately decided
not to work because I have an older son who is Autistic, and I
always wonder if there isn’t an environmental factor which has led
to the increasing number of Autistic kids. I realized that if
something should go wrong with my newborn’s development(who is just
fine) I would always wonder if exposure to chemicals, vapors, metal
particals related to jewelry making during my pregnancy was the
cause and would forever be tortured by the doubt. Don’t work for a
while. This is just my opinion but one worth considering.

Best wishes


Hi Emily,

A couple things you can do are:

Do not heat your pickle pot. It will work fine at room temp but will
take a little longer.

Use cadmium free solder. All metals heated to melting points are not
very healthy but cadmiun free is better.

Get a gable fan for the open window you have and have the fan blow
out the window…Have your bench set so you face the window and the
fumes always travel away from you. (For a fan to work well you need
to have an open door for air to enter the room freely and exit the

Forget doing any plating for a while.

Be careful with the denatured alchohol also…I think the methanol
can be absorbed through the skin.

I hope that helps…If I think of anything else I’ll let you know.

Best wishes for you and the new family.



Hello Emily,

You’ll be fine with the precautions you’ve taken. Just don’t eat the
tripoli. I have been pregnant at the bench, and all my kids have
been healthy and happy. A woman’s body is a fabulous design for
protecting growing babies.

Susannah Page-Garcia, mother of two