Radiological Safety Hazards in the Workplace

Radiation and radioactive materials are naturally part of our environment. Radiation is energy that moves in a very high speed. It can move through space or through matter. It is common knowledge that radiation can cause adverse effects to humans. Radiological safety hazards are potential harmful threats to human health that must be regulated by safety controls and precautions.

There are several health problems radiation pose to humans. It starts by breaking chemical bonds that hold molecules together. This then starts the cells of the body to change. The adverse effects of radiation depend upon the dosage and time of exposure of the person to radiation. The most dangerous will probably be getting large doses of radiation in a shorter period of time. A cell can instantaneously die at high radiation doses; therefore, a person can instantaneously die. On lower doses, the cells can repair themselves first and the person will recuperate. However, if the person has a pre-existing disease that causes malfunctions with the cell repairs, the person can be in grave danger.

Threshold effects are those immediate noticeable effects due to radiation exposure. These include radiation sickness, cataracts, sterility and fetal effects. Signs of radiation sickness are nausea, vomiting, headache and loss of white blood cells. If the person does not receive medical treatment, there is a chance that he or she will die within 60 days. Hair loss can also be a sign of radiation sickness.

Radiation is highly beneficial in the medical, research, industrial fields and can even be used in communications as well. Different types of radiation are used in different applications. The two main classifications of radiation are the ionizing and non-ionizing radiations.

Radiological safety hazards are much more evident in the ionizing type of radiation. This is because it carries more amount of energy than the non-ionizing radiation. This type of radiation exists in two forms: the electromagnetic rays or the particles. X-rays, gamma rays, alpha and beta particles are just a few examples of ionizing radiation.

Non-ionizing radiation, on the other hand, refers to two main regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. These are the optical radiation and electromagnetic fields. This type of radiation is used extensively in the manufacturing and telecommunications industry. There also have been no significant related health problems. Despite this, the ultra-violet light, which can be natural or man-made, can still cause health problems like the cancer of the skin.

Radiological safety hazards call for different precautions and safety measures. Different types of radiation call for different types of shielding protection. The amount and intensity of radiation also matters in this. For example, one can be shielded from alpha particles with just a sheet of paper while aluminium sheets can protect you from beta particles. Also, the thicker the shielding protection is, the lesser the intensity of the radiation becomes.

There are three types of radiation protection: occupational radiation protection, medical radiation protection, and public radiation protection. Occupational radiation protection specifically deals with the workers in the different industries that make use of radiation. Medical radiation protection is the protection of the patients and the radiographer. For example, when a patient undergoes an x-ray testing, both the patient and the radiologist take preliminary precautions. Lastly, the public radiation protection is directed towards the public, the population.