Understanding the basics of radiation safety starts by recognizing that radioactivity is around us all of the time. Unfortunately, our human senses cannot detect radiation without assistance.Similar to carbon monoxide, we need something to alert us. Radiationsafety.com provides dosimeter and radiation detection badges that can be worn discreetly and can detection ionizing radiation.
Even Digital X-rays Emit Radiation.
Basics of Radiation Safety
All around us radioactive particles. Radioactive isotopes are found in natural minerals. Dosimeter badges help us monitor the scatter radiation emitted. It is prudent to be prepared in case you, your coworkers and/or your employees come in contact with ionizing radiation. Remember, you cannot see radiation but it can have the potential to cause life-altering and painful damage. Detecting the radiation, monitoring the time you spend around it and having proper shielding can help protect you.
In order to build a step-by-step guide, it is essential to first understand how radiation protection works. With reference to exposure to radiation from the sun and the measures you take to protect yourself from solar radiation, radiation protection consists of time, distance, and shielding. These three principles are effective individually but most effectively work in tandem. With that understanding of time, distance and shielding you can help you protect yourself and others from the negative affects of ionizing radiation.
Time: Limit or minimize the length of time you are exposed to radiation. The dose of radiation is linearly correlated to the length of time you are exposed to radiation. The longer the exposure, the more damage. Just like a sunburn can occur within 30 minutes, radiation burns from x-rays, alpha rays or gamma rays can occur quickly and cause painful damage.
Distance: Limit or minimize the proximity to the source of radiation. The closer the exposure, the more damage. The severity of damage due to radiation exposure exponentially decreases comparatively to the distance to the source. Even though earth is 93 million miles from the Sun, we still experience damage from solar radiation.
Shielding: Devices can provide protection from radioactivity. Shielding works because of the principle of attenuation, the gradual decrease of energy’s intensity through a medium, by absorbing radiation between the source of radioactivity and the location to be protected.
Just like applying sunscreen with a high SPF when you are in direct sunlight. The sunscreen should provide protection from the sun. Lead, concrete, and water are mediums that are high in density which can be used to shield you from penetrating gamma rays and x-rays. Practically, doctors place lead blankets or thyroid collars on their patients during routine x-rays which helps limit the exposure.
What to Do in a Nuclear Disaster?
in the event of a large or catastrophic radiation crisis such as a nuclear powerplant accident, a terrorist attack, or a weapon of war.
If you are outside, locate the nearest building and go inside quickly to minimize the time and distance of exposure to the source of radioactivity.
If you are already inside, go to the center of your room and stay away from doors and windows. The walls, especially if they are concrete will provide shielding from radioactivity. Gather your family, coworkers, and employees with you. Be sure to bring inside any pets or animals.
It may be the case that you need to shelter indoors for an extended period of time. Keep calm and stay indoors until you have been given permission that it is safe to go outside.
While you are inside, keep doors and windows closed. If you were exposed to radiation, take a shower and wash the parts of your body that were not protected with soap and water. Drink and eat only items that are sealed.
Your local emergency responders will provide updates on if and when it is safe to venture outside. They have been trained to respond in these types of situations. Use radio, TV, or your phones to watch for updates and receive instructions on where to get tested for contamination.
These three steps – Take Shelter, Stay Indoors, and Keep Alert – utilizing the principles of time, distance and shielding, are effective on how to protect yourself from radiation in a large-scale radioactive event. To limit everyday exposure to radiation, wearable devices can be worn for detection like those from RadiationSafety.com.
In an emergency situation or for more information on the basics of radiation safety contact the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can provide more helpful information.
What is a dosimeter or radiation detection badge? A radiation dosimeter badge is also known as an x-ray badge. A dosimeter badge is a device that measures your radiation exposure from scatter radiation. It identifies different radiation types, such as high-energy gamma, beta, or X-ray radiation. However, it cannot pick up on low-energy radiation from isotopes such as carbon-14, sulfur-35, or tritium1.
Radiation detection badges do not protect you from radiation. Instead, they calculate your total occupational radiation exposure so that your exposure stays within safe limits. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) outlines radiation thresholds above which radiation can become dangerous. These guidelines recommend radiation not exceeding 100 millisieverts (10 rem)2. Badges can help to ensure that your exposure does not exceed this amount.
This article will discuss the benefits of knowing your radiation exposure and how such information can help keep you safe at work.
Why should you wear a radiation detection badge?
There are several benefits associated with wearing a radiation detection badge. These benefits are detailed below.
Protection from the hidden dangers of radiation
Radiation can harm our tissues, primarily affecting our genetic material known as DNA. It damages DNA by breaking important bonds and water molecules in and around our DNA. When this occurs, free radicals are released. Free radicals are substances that can seriously injure your cells and organs3.
Radiation is particularly harmful at higher doses. Though we receive low doses of radiation from our natural environment, we can also expose ourselves to radiation on the job. When exposed to radiation on the job, it is essential to track your radiation dose to ensure that it is within safe limits. High radiation doses increase your likelihood of radiation-associated health risks. For example, high radiation exposure has been linked to:
Peace of mind
Wearing a radiation detection badge can also give you peace of mind that you are not putting yourself at risk while at work. For example, if you operate fluoroscopy units or X-ray machines, you may be exposed to high-energy radiation. Likewise, you may be worried about the risks associated with your job and how your work may affect your risk of cancer or other complications.
By wearing a radiation detection badge, you can know the exact amount of radiation exposure. By monitoring your radiation exposure, you can understand that you are protecting yourself from excessive amounts of radiation and putting your health first.
Radiation detection badges do not just give peace of mind to employees who work around radiation but also to their employers. By utilizing badges and monitoring radiation appropriately, the likelihood of illness due to radiation exposure is low. When radiation is within safe limits, employees will be less likely to develop complications due to their work. Therefore, they will be less likely to sue their employer for a hazardous workplace. Additionally, having employees wear radiation detection badges ensures that the employer does their due diligence to keep their workers safe.
Are Radiation Detection Badges Important? Wearing radiation detection badges can protect you, your employees and your practice from potential lawsuits. Recently I (Paul) was at a vet conference when I met a vet tech. As we talked she mentioned that she is the one that typically does the x-ray’s in her office. She mentioned that she had worked in the office for over 20 years and seldom wears anything to shield her from the radiation. When asked about dosimeter or radiation badges to measure the scatter ionizing radiation, she laughed. Often, I think about the conversation, the potential impact the cumulative radiation will have on her body and how wearing a radiation detection badge is critical to her safety.
Why are dosimeter or radiation detection badges important to wear for medical workers? The field of radiology has inarguably revolutionized the diagnostic measures in medicine. From the accidental discovery of X-rays by Wilhelm in 1895 to the present day, radiology has excelled a great deal. Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Radiology has now created new arenas for diagnostic medicine. While these advancements have improved efficiency and increased diagnostic capacity, we still may be making compromises with the health of individuals such as radiologists, lab operators, and other staff exposed to ionizing radiation.
Several pieces of equipment such as X-ray and CT scan machines serve as sources of external radiation in clinical settings. However, the amount of external radiation exposure depends on the distance from the source, the energy levels of radiation emitted, the radiation count present, and the duration of exposure. To limit radiation exposure, radiation workers can benefit from time, distance, and shielding factors.
Basic Interventions for Reducing Radiation Exposure
Time-Duration Of the Procedure
Duration of the procedure is crucial, reducing time will decrease the exposure of the patient and the radiation workers. Radiation exposure is proportional to the time the individual is exposed, so the greater the time spent near the source, the greater will be the dose of radiation received. Limiting the time is critical to monitor. The most basic way to reduce the duration of exposure without compromising the quality is by taking the history of the patient and briefing the procedure to the patient before entering the lab. All questions and concerns should be asked before or should be kept for after the procedure to minimize exposure.
The closer to the radiation source, the higher the exposure to the radiation will be to those around it. The exposure rate from the source of radiation drops by the inverse of the distance squared. The rule is to position the patient and the operator away from the source of radiation. The farther an individual is from the source of the radiation the better it is.
Shielding has proven to be a successful way of controlling radiation exposure. Shielding can be anything from PPE to a room with protective lining, or even an object or a material that causes hindrance or neutralizes radiation, for example, a lead apron, gloves, thyroid shield, and eye goggles. There are several materials used for this shielding equipment, Plexiglas for Beta particles, and lead for X-rays and Gamma rays are some examples. These days, non-lead options are also being manufactured due to their non-hazardous disposal and recyclable nature, for example, lead-free aprons are a widely used way of shielding. These are made from a blend of heavy metals other than lead, making them non-toxic and lighter, hence also easier to carry.
Additionally, there should be specific protective protocols in place for individuals that are at a higher risk of the adverse effects of radiation exposure such as pregnant females. A developing fetus should not be exposed to radiation of more than 1 mSv. It poses a threat to the developing fetus’s well-being if radiation exceeds 5mSv.
Children are also high-risk individuals who should only be exposed to low-dose radiation when no other option is available.
Radiation Exposure Protocols Ensured by The Hospital
Radiation exposure protocols should be strictly observed by the service-providing facility. Several factors should be considered when it comes to ensuring safety protocols are being followed.
Appropriate Infrastructure: The facility should have a radiation-containing infrastructure. There should be solid concrete walls in the rooms with radiation exposure. Many operatories have been built with lead walls which contains the atoms from scattering. Emphasis on a strict assessment and routine maintenance of the equipment and the infrastructure should be implemented.
Trained Team: All personnel involved in radiology (the radiologist, nurse, lab technician, etc.) should be trained and educated. They should be aware of all the adverse effects in case of negligence. All preventive measures should be explained, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), lead suits, and radiation detection badges should be worn at all times. Direct exposure to the radiation must be avoided. Compliance the radiation safety protocols should be strictly enforced. Check with your RSO on any guidelines including why the use of wearing a radiation detection badge is important.
Radiology has transformed the field of medicine, but with every change comes a new set of challenges. The challenges regarding radiation exposure can be mitigated by following ALARA guidelines and connecting with the radiation safety officer (RSO). The use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and following all safety guidelines should be reviewed.
Beta, gamma, and X-ray exposure can be significantly reduced by:
Keeping the duration of exposure as minimum as possible.
Maintaining as much distance from the source as practically feasible.
Putting a shield between the source and the radiation workers when possible.
Using PPE to limit the dose of the radiation.
Monitoring your radiation doses by wearing a radiation detection or dosimeter badge.