Is RADIATION a dirty word?



Radiation is often seen as a “dirty” word.

The word is often thrown around in society with very little understanding and often creates a sense of fear in people from lack of knowledge. However, for those who are within the industry, the majority of us understand that this is not the case. Radiation may have potential risks but it can be a great and powerful tool.

Through my experience within the radiation field, I have begun to notice a distinct trend in the community. People have become either complacent or terrified to the concept and dangers of radiation.

Those who have become complacent no longer see or fear the danger with radiation. This may be due to lack of education, unsafe habits or perhaps human hubris.  Where they believe they are the exception to the rule and any potential harm won’t occur to them.

I have come across a doctor who refused to wear a complete vest and skirt apron because they deemed it unnecessary. Apparently only the pelvic region required shielding as that was the only “important part” of their body. I have come across people who seem to unknowingly, place their hands in the x-ray beam even though they have worked around radiation for years.

You probably haven’t seen anything as extreme, however you may have come across the people who frequently stand in the x-ray room doorway while a procedure is being performed. The ones who believe that if they don’t pass the doorway line then they are completely safe. You may be able to recall your behaviour and ask whether you have the best attitude and habits when it comes to radiation.

Unfortunately radiation isn’t something we can see. We don’t often see immediate repercussions from exposure.  This makes it very difficult to highlight the potential dangers to the forefront of our mind and ensure that we are acting safe in appropriate measures. Although the effects may not be apparent now, they may someday and as such you do need to ensure that you have the best practises in place at all times?

But how can you consciously make an effort and limit exposure?

The first step is to develop good habits. With good protective habits, you are able to ensure that when your mind does begin to be unconscious about the dangers, you are able to rely on the safety net of your habits to ensure that you aren’t doing anything to potentially place you in danger. These can be as simple as ensuring that you are always wearing radiation protective garments in particular areas, or methodology when performing certain procedures.

Another option is to use constant tools to make sure you are alerted to any hazard. This has become very easy to accomplish through the use of real-time dosimeters. Through the use of the tools you are able to see and visualise the current exposure you are receiving and create alerts or warnings when you are receiving a certain amount. Simply by being conscious of the radiation around you will automatically alert to your bad habits or current situation and make slight adjustments in order to limit exposure.

Of course we don’t want you to be scared of radiation and fall in the other category of people. Those who become scared of radiation face different issues to those who have become complacent. There needs to be a balance. You have to be aware of the hazard and potential dangers without being scared of radiation. After all, it is around us a lot more than we realise.  

- Bronte Hoban - InMed's Medical Physics Product Specialist

Take a look at InMed’s radiation and Detection Range here Radiation Detection and Protection

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