Radiation safety precautions

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Radiation safety

 

This topic “Radiation safety precautions” aims at highlighting the hazards associated with exposure to radiation (Specifically – Ionizing radiation), and also enumerates important safety precautions to stay safe when working around or within the radiation zone.

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It is estimated that a total of 23 million workers are exposed to artificial and natural radiation globally. This exposure can result in acute injuries like burns and long-term health problems such as cancer and hereditary diseases.

There are generally two (2) types of radiation:

  • Non-ionizing radiation: Example, Radio waves, Microwaves, Infrared, etc. Non-ionizing radiation do not have much energy; hence they are less harmful.
  • Ionization radiation: Example, X-rays, Gamma rays, etc. This type of radiation has high energy, hence can cause serious damage to cells and tissues of the body.

Note: All ionizing radiation are bad, but it’s resultant effect is directly proportional to the dose being exposed to and the duration of the exposure.

Exposure to high dose of ionizing radiation can result to serious health effects like skin burns, cancers, radiation sickness, and even death.

Workers exposed to radiation include:

  • Radiographers
  • Nuclear power plant workers
  • Doctors using radiotherapy, those in laboratories using radionuclides, and HAZMAT, etc

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How to manage exposure to ionization radiation (Radiation safety)

It may be impracticable to avoid exposure to radiation (ionizing radiation) because of the medical relevance of some, like the X-ray.

Our best option is to manage our exposure to them, to avoid over exposure which could be damaging to our system and health in general.

When we think of managing exposure to ionizing radiation (radiation safety), three (3) things should be considered:

  1. Time: The lesser the exposure time, the lower the dose exposed to and the lesser the probability of developing diseases associated with radiation.
  2. Distance: Keeping a safe distance from the source of the radiation is another way to stay safe from it. The dose of exposure is stronger at the source, hence the farther away you stay from the source, the better and safer.
  3. Shield: Using the radiation shield is recommended if you must work or stay close to the radiation source. This shield forms a barrier, thereby protecting you from the radiation. the choice of radiation shield is very important, you must discuss with a professional in order to get the best suited shield for the kind of radiation you are being exposed to.

These are the major areas we can ensure radiation safety.

Other radiation safety measures include.

  • Organizing safety inspections to help ensure that critical preventive measures are in place to reduce the risk of overexposure.
  • Put visible warning signs to warn people off the radiation zone.
  • Contamination surveys should be conducted at regular intervals.
  • Train affected workers on the hazards of radiation, how to limit exposure to radiation and how to use radiation shields.

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Radiation PPE

Though PPE has little to do when it comes to radiation safety, some can help in case of radiation emergencies. Some of these PPE are:

  • Respirators
  • SCBA – Self-contained breathing apparatus.
  • Chemical- Resistant Inner Suit
  • Level C Equivalent: Bunker Gear
  • Level B Equivalent – Non-gas-tight Encapsulating Suit.
  • Level A Equivalent – Totally Encapsulating Chemical – and Vapor Protective Suit, etc.

Radiation exposure limit

Radiation dose limit for a member of the general public is 100 mrem per year (not including exposure to natural background radiation). The whole body dose limit for a radiation worker is 5000 mrem per year. These limits are believed to be conservative and to represent very minimal risk for harmful effects. (SOURCE)

Personal radiation monitoring 

Use of radiation dosimeter:

Radiation dosimeter is an important personal dose measuring instrument. It is worn by the person being monitored and is used to estimate the radiation dose deposited in the individual wearing the device. It is used for high penetrating radiation.

Electronic dosimeters can give an alarm warning if a preset dose threshold has been reached, enabling safer working in potentially higher radiation levels, where the received dose must be continually monitored.

Common types of radiation dosimeter are:

  • Film badge dosimeter
  • Quartz fiber dosimeter
  • Solid state (MOSFET or silicon diode) dosimeter and
  • Thermoluminescent dosimeter

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