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Personal Radiation Protection Precautions

Radiation Protection

Radiation protection is vitally important to those who work where ionizing radiation is present. Whether the workplace is an active nuclear power plant, the radiology department of a hospital, a dentist’s office, or a variety of other locations, being protected from the hazards of radiation is a high priority.

Key Elements of Radiation Protection
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are 3 distinct aspects of proper radiation protection: Time, distance and shielding. The EPA uses these concepts in the development of their standards for workplaces where radioactive materials are present in any form. radiation protection

Time: How long a person is exposed to a source of ionizing radiation will impact the potential for harm done by the radiation. It is easy to control the time factor when the radiation is external, meaning outside the body. Gamma rays and x-rays are of chief concern here. When the exposure is internal, the time factor is determined by the half-life of the radionuclide and how quickly the body can eliminate the radiation. With internal exposure, it is alpha and beta particles that are the main concern in radiation protection because they can enter the body and remain there for many years.

Distance: According to the EPA, if you double the distance from the source of radiation, the exposure level is reduced by a factor of 4 and vice-versa. Alpha and beta particles do not travel very far but gamma rays do and so are of special concern when creating standards for radiation protection.

Shielding: Proper shielding reduces radiation exposure. Shielding consists of anything that will absorb the radiation being placed between its source and those working around it. Alpha particles are stopped by items as thin as an outer layer of dead skin cells or a piece of paper. Beta particles are absorbed by heavy clothing or stopped by eye protection. Gamma radiation protection requires dense shielding and lead is often used where x-ray machines are in use.

Personal Radiation Protection
If you work where radiation is present, taking the necessary precautions of time, distance and shielding are important steps in radiation protection. It may also be required that you also wear a detection device that measures and records the amount of radiation you have been exposed to. Devices such as a personal radiation dosimeter or a radiation protection dosimeter card are in wide use in work places where exposure to ionizing radiation is possible.

Even when EPA guidelines are met in the workplace, some radiation exposure may still be possible. Personal radiation protection provides assurance that you are not exposed to harmful levels of radiation on the job.