Radiation Safety And Protection Standards

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X-rays were first discovered in 1895, and from that moment on, the use of x-rays as a diagnostic tool has been instrumental in diagnosing disease. Although commonly called x-rays, or simply radiation, scientists have more specifically termed the form of radiation, “ionizing radiation.” The World Health Organization defines ionizing radiation as “radiation with enough energy, so that during an interaction with an atom, it can remove tightly bound electrons from the orbit of an atom, causing the atom to become charged or ionized” (2014). Because the human body is made up of atoms, ionizing radiation has the ability to alter the composition of atoms in the body, by targeting electrons. This effect can alter DNA structure and function, which…show more content…
Ionizing radiation is used worldwide in medicine to help physicians diagnose and treat a multitude of health problems. According to the World Health Organization, “annually, worldwide, more than 3,600 million X-ray examinations are performed, 37 million nuclear medicine procedures are carried out, and 7.5 million radiotherapy treatments are given” (2014). With so many patients exposed to ionizing radiation in medicine, strict global safety regulations must be enforced to ensure patient exposure is kept as low as possible. Using the basic principle of ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable), global organizations analyze patient exposures to ensure their radiation dose levels are kept as low as possible, without compromising the integrity of examinations. These organizations also ensure that radiation workers are not receiving unnecessary occupational exposure. Certain cells and tissues are more susceptible to radiation damage than others. Those cells considered most radiosensitive can include those of the “the basal epidermis, bone marrow, thymus, gonads, and lens,” meaning they can be affected even by small doses of radiation (Goodman, 2010). In contrast, “Muscle, bones, and nervous system tissues have a relative low radiosensitivity,” meaning they require larger amounts of radiation exposure to show damaging effects (Goodman, 2010). Patient exposure is determined by dosimeters,
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