Occupational Exposure Reviews for Radiation Workers at
Radiation is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. Radiation causes DNA single and DNA double stand breaks and will destroy healthy cells in our bodies. Radiation is a very useful medicine in the realm of medical imaging and to combat cancer. The inherent risks and benefits of radiation is a serious balancing act for radiation workers in occupationally exposed jobs.
Radiation workers in the United States adhere to ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) work practices: to be aware of their time, distance, and shielding. The effects of radiation in low doses have been greatly researched in recent decades, but the results have been subject to debate.
The law on occupational exposure limits in North Carolina was adopted from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which in turn was adopted from ICRP 60. ICRP 60 recommends that annual occupational exposure should not exceed 5 rem (50mSv), to the body, for an individual worker. Additional exposure limits apply for other regions of the body.
At North Carolina State University, the Radiation Safety Office has set a lower threshold for occupational exposure review for radiation workers. Historically, ALARA reviews occurred at 125 mR per monitoring period (usually one quarter). Per newly adopted regulations, exposures of 100 mR per quarter elicit a review. In the event that a radiation worker exceeds 100 mR in a given quarter, Radiation Safety staff will review occupational activities, test any x-ray device(s) for leakage and review best practice strategies that can impact total exposure to the person.