The short answer is YES! Keeping records of cumulative radiation exposure is crucial for several reasons, particularly for healthcare workers regularly exposed to radiation. By tracking and documenting the lifetime radiation dose, healthcare facilities can ensure their employees’ safety and well-being while complying with regulations set forth by organizations such as OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). One primary reason for keeping records is to monitor the level of radiation exposure over time. Cumulative radiation exposure refers to the total amount of radiation an individual has been exposed to throughout their lifetime. By maintaining accurate records, healthcare workers can assess their current level of radiation exposure and take necessary precautions to minimize any potential health risks associated with excessive radiation.
Can It Protect Me from Potential Lawsuits?
Additionally, keeping track of cumulative radiation exposure allows healthcare facilities to comply with OSHA regulations. OSHA sets specific guidelines and standards regarding occupational exposure to ionizing radiation. These guidelines protect workers from potential health hazards associated with prolonged or excessive exposure. We suggest that these records be kept safe for an indefinite amount of time. Providing you have followed the guidelines and have kept proper documentation; it could help protect you and your practice. Furthermore, comprehensive records enable healthcare professionals to make informed decisions about work assignments and scheduling. By understanding each worker’s cumulative dose, employers can ensure that individuals are within recommended limits and reaching potentially harmful levels.
We have seen firsthand where doctors’ offices do not keep track of the radiation exposure of their employees. At a vet show, a woman told us she never takes the precautions outlined and does not wear a dosimeter badge or ring when using the x-ray equipment. When asked how long she had been doing her job, she said, “About 15 years”. She further said that she is in the operatory holding the animal when X-rays are being done. As an office manager or owner of a practice, it is important that your employees wear personal dosimeter badges and you keep good records.
1. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). (n.d.). Ionizing Radiation.
Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/radiationionizing/index.html
2. National Council on Radiation Protection & Measurements (NCRP). (2019). NCRP Report No.
184: Medical Radiation Exposure of Patients in the United States.
Retrieved from https://ncrponline.org/shop/reports/report-no-185-evaluating-and-communicating-radiation-risks-for-studies-involving-human-subjects-guidance-for-researchers-and-institutional-review-boards-2020/
Radiation shielding utilized in medical offices is essential to ensuring the safety and well-being of patients and staff. With the growing use of X-rays, nuclear medicine, and other diagnostic imaging techniques, selecting suitable materials to block radiation and protect individuals from potential harm is crucial.
What is Radiation?
Radiation is a form of energy emitted by unstable atoms as they decay or transform into more stable forms. There are two main types of radiation: ionizing and non-ionizing. Ionizing radiation includes alpha, beta, gamma, and X-rays, while non-ionizing radiation comprises radio waves, microwaves, and visible light.
Ionizing radiation is particularly hazardous because it has enough energy to ionize atoms, potentially causing damage to DNA and other molecules within cells. This damage can lead to mutations, cancer, organ failure, and other severe health issues. As a result, it is crucial to protect individuals from excessive exposure to ionizing radiation.
Types of Radiation Shielding Materials
Traditional Lead (Pb) Shielding
Many medical offices utilize lead in their shielding with garments, shielding, and lead-lined walls. Lead is a dense, soft, and corrosion-resistant material widely used as a radiation shield for many years. Its high density makes it an effective barrier against X-rays and gamma rays. However, lead is not as effective in blocking alpha and beta radiation. Lead shielding materials are available in various forms, such as aprons, blankets, sheets, and bricks, and offer different levels of protection depending on the thickness.
Lead Composite Shielding
Lead composite materials combine lead and other lighter metals, such as tin, rubber, PVC vinyl, and proprietary attenuating metals (these materials may be reinforced with barriers). These materials are lighter (up to 25%) than traditional lead shielding and offer similar levels of protection. Lead composite shielding is available in garments such as aprons, vests, skirts, thyroid collars, and sheets. Always check with your RSO and contractor to ensure the correct materials are used.
Non-Lead (Pb) and Lead-Free Shielding
Non-lead and lead-free shielding materials are an environmentally friendly and recyclable alternative to traditional lead-based materials. These materials are composed of heavy metals, such as tin (Sn), antimony (Sb), tungsten (W), and bismuth (Bi), which absorb or block radiation. Non-lead shielding materials offer similar levels of protection as lead-based materials and are available in garments, sheets, bricks, and other forms.
Selecting the Right Radiation Shielding Material
Choosing the suitable radiation shielding material for the medical office depends on several factors, including the type of radiation present, the frequency and duration of exposure, and the specific procedures performed. Here are some tips to help make an informed decision:
Assess the Type and Level of Radiation Exposure
Determine the types of radiation in the medical office and the levels of exposure that staff and patients may experience. Then, consult a radiation safety officer or physicist to select the appropriate shielding material for specific needs.
Consider the Frequency and Duration of Procedures
The frequency and duration of ionizing radiation procedures will impact the type of shielding material needed. For example, if the medical office frequently performs X-rays or other diagnostic imaging procedures, it may require a more robust and durable shielding material.
Evaluate the Comfort and Ease of Use
Comfort and ease of use are critical factors when selecting radiation shielding materials, particularly for staff-worn garments. Lightweight materials, such as lead composite or non-lead shielding, can be more comfortable and easier to wear than lead-based materials.
Factor in Environmental and Disposal Concerns
Lead is a hazardous substance that requires special disposal precautions. If environmental concerns are a priority for the medical office, consider using non-lead or lead-free shielding materials, as they are recyclable and safe for non-hazardous disposal.
Radiation Shielding Applications in Medical Offices
Radiation shielding materials can be used in various applications within medical offices to protect staff and patients from ionizing radiation exposure. Some typical applications include:
X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, and other diagnostic imaging procedures often involve ionizing radiation. Therefore, ensuring that both patients and technicians have proper protection is essential. Lead aprons, vests, and thyroid collars can protect against direct and scatter radiation during imaging procedures.
Nuclear medicine involves the use of radioactive isotopes for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. Therefore, proper shielding is necessary to protect staff and patients from radiation exposure. Lead-lined storage containers, syringe shields, and waste disposal containers can minimize the risk of contamination.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy ionizing radiation to treat cancer and other diseases. Therefore, appropriate shielding is crucial to protect patients and staff from exposure. Lead shielding materials, including aprons and thyroid collars, can help protect individuals during treatment.
Dental offices often use X-rays for diagnostic purposes, requiring patient and staff protection. Lead aprons, thyroid collars, and lead-lined walls or partitions can help minimize radiation exposure in dental settings.
An RSO is a qualified expert, such as a health physicist, responsible for overseeing and managing a medical office’s radiation protection policies and procedures. And as always, for any specific questions about shielding or dosimeter badge use, always check with your RSO.
Establishment of a Radiation Safety Committee
A radiation safety committee should include the RSO, a management representative, and workers who work with radiation-producing equipment, radiation sources, or radioactive materials.
Equipment Registration and Licensing
Ensure radiation-producing equipment and radiation sources are registered and licensed according to federal and state regulatory requirements.
Implement a personal dosimetry program to monitor and record radiation exposure levels for staff working with ionizing radiation. Radiationsafety.com offers the best prices along with the most accurate technology.
Training and Education
Provide ongoing training and education for staff on radiation safety, physics, and best practices for protecting against radiation exposure.
Protecting medical office staff and patients from ionizing radiation is critical for maintaining a safe and healthy environment. By understanding the different types of radiation shielding materials available and assessing specific needs, you can select the best option for the medical office. Implementing a comprehensive radiation protection program will help ensure the safety of everyone involved and minimize the risks associated with ionizing radiation exposure. Check the FDA guidelines for the latest update on what is required, and consult with your RSO.
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Our radiation detection badges are shockproof and water resilient. Small and stay out of the way while you do your work. They are ready to use as soon as they arrive. To further simplify the process, we offer our state-of-the-art “mydosereport” to read reports, make changes to your account and monitor the next set of dosimeter badges. Unlike many competitors, we do not charge hidden or excessive fees. Our team is ready to help you! Call or email if we answer the phone or respond on the same business day. We will prove that our service is world-class and our team cares. So if you’re worried about dosimeter cost, we’re here to ease your worries away. Whatever your radiation detection needs, let us help you with the best service and the lowest dosimeter badge price. We guarantee! Call us today at 833-456-7233.
What is a dosimeter or radiation detection badge? A radiation dosimeter badge, also known as an x-ray badge, are used by hospitals, labs, govt facilities, dentist, and vets. The passive dosimeter badge measures your radiation exposure from scatter ionizing radiation. The dosimeter badge 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 dosimeter badges do not protect you from radiation. Passive dosimeters 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?
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, tracking your radiation dose to ensure that it is within safe limits is essential. High radiation doses increase your likelihood of radiation-associated health risks. For example, high radiation exposure has been linked to:
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, operating fluoroscopy units or X-ray machines may expose you to high-energy radiation. Likewise, you may be worried about the risks associated with your job and how your work may affect your cancer risk or other complications.
By wearing a radiation detection badge, you can know the amount of radiation you or your employees are exposed to while working. Having your employees wear badges helps minimize potential fraudulent lawsuits, as many healthcare workers who get cancer direct it back to radiation exposure in the workplace. 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 the employer does their due diligence to keep their workers safe.Order your x-ray badges today!
What is a TLD dosimeter? Dosimetry is the process of measuring radiation. Multiple instruments are available that detect and measure the presence of radiation in a laboratory, handheld or worn, like a dosimeter badge or ring from RadiationSafety.com.
When ionizing radiation loosens electrons, phosphor crystals in a dosimeter or dosimetry badge capture and store them. When those crystals are exposed to heat, they emit light as the electrons are released from the crystals, which illuminates a light on a dosimeter badge, band, or ring. That light is later measured and processed to provide a precise amount of radiation to which the dosimeter was exposed. When the dosimeter badge, band, or ring is worn over a period of time, anywhere from one to three months, the crystals can then be used to determine how much exposure the wearer has had over that period. This process is known as dosimetry.
A TLD dosimeter, or thermoluminescent dosimeter, is a passive radiation dosimeter that measures ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation is caused by X-rays, gamma rays, beta particles, alpha particles, and other radioactive isotopes that carry enough energy to free electrons from their orbit around normally stable molecules. While this can cause damage to cells in living tissue, it also can be captured and measured in a well-designed environment, like in a dosimetry badge. In addition, ionizing radiation causes damage over time, so monitoring, limiting, and controlling how much a person is exposed to is essential.
Invented by Professor Farringon Daniels of the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1954, the TLD dosimeter requires heat to function. They are most useful for situations where information about radiation amounts must be precise but not immediately required. TLD dosimeters can measure accumulated dosages to monitor potential health impacts.
A better alternative to TLD dosimeter badges is OSL XBG dosimeter badges.
Pros and Cons of TLD Dosimeters
TLD dosimeters measure a large range of doses over a period of time.
TLD dosimeters are typically the same price or even higher than OSL technology.
One of the largest manufacturers of TLD badges and readers quit servicing their machines.
TLD dosimeter badges tend to have a higher rate of “fade” than OSL badges.
RadationSafety.com provides radiation badges and rings that are affordable and unobtrusive. They utilize optically stimulated luminescence OSL technology, a more advanced technology than TLD dosimeters. OSL dosimeter badges are the industry standard used by the government, hospitals, labs, and companies worldwide. An OSL dosimeter works similarly to a TLD dosimeter, but an OSL dosimeter only requires optical stimulation, whereas a TLD dosimeter requires heat to function. These small and discrete radiation badges can be worn on your lapel and are designed to detect X-rays, gamma radiation, and beta particles, with neutron monitoring available for an additional fee.
You may have heard or seen ALARA and are unsure of its meaning. Regarding radiation doses, ALARA stands for “as low as reasonably achievable.” Radiationsafety.com is a radiation detection company that provides instruments for measuring radiation in the form of a radiation dosimetry badge and rings.
The ALARA principle is based on a linear-no-threshold dose model and is the foundation of a program to keep radiation exposure at a minimum. ALARA programs are required for all radiation protection programs by federal and state rules and regulations. ALARA is suggested to protect people from exposure to radiation and the environment from additional and unintended release of radioactive materials.
Three techniques in an ALARA program are time, distance, and shielding. These three principles are practical individually but most effectively work in tandem.
Time: Limit or minimize the time you are exposed to radiation. The radiation dose is linearly correlated to the length of time you are exposed to radiation. The longer the exposure, the more damage. Like sunburn can occur within 30 minutes, radiation burns from x-rays, alpha rays, or gamma rays can happen quickly and cause painful injury.
Distance: Limit or minimize the proximity to the source of radiation. The closer the exposure, the more damage. The severity of injury due to radiation exposure exponentially decreases comparatively to the distance to the source.
Shielding: Devices can protect 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. Radiation shielding comes in many forms, including the lead in aprons, glasses, walls, and shields.
Additionally, ALARA programs can incorporate techniques to limit internal radiation exposure, including controlling contamination, minimizing airborne hazards, proper hygiene, and using the correct PPE.
Controlling Contamination: If a spill or exposure to radioactive materials occurs, managing it quickly with absorbent papers and spill trays disposed of in a labeled waste container is essential. Radioactive materials should have proper labels and containers before a spill occurs to limit possible contamination.
Minimizing Airborne Hazards: During or after a spill or when working with gaseous substances, measures should be taken to reduce airborne contamination. Using ventilation hoods and avoiding aerosols minimizes the potential to breathe in radioactive particles.
Proper Hygiene: You reduce radiation hazards by exercising good hygiene and cleanliness at work and home. It is not advised to eat or drink when radioactive substances are present. Take caution not to put your hands near your mouth or nose or touch your eyes in the presence of radiation. These simple practices help reduce internal radiation exposure.
PPE: Personal protective equipment must be worn in all circumstances around radioactivity. Gloves, a lab coat, goggles, and any shielding devices should be worn, but it is ineffective if PPE is not worn correctly. In addition, an instrument for measuring radiation, like those sold at radiationsafety.com, must be included in PPE.
Implementing these ALARA techniques and educating staff to utilize them can minimize radiation exposure and keep radioactive doses as low as reasonably achievable. As always, check with your RSO.