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An Introduction to Radiation Safety 2014. Ian Williamson / Steve Clipstone. Alle Ding' sind Gift, und nichts ohn ' Gift; allein die Dosis macht , daß ein Ding kein Gift ist .

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an introduction to radiation safety 2014

An Introduction to Radiation Safety2014

Ian Williamson / Steve Clipstone

restricting exposure
Alle Ding' sind Gift, und nichtsohn' Gift; allein die Dosismacht, daßein Ding kein Gift ist.

"All things are poison and nothing is without poison, only the dose permits something not to be poisonous."

(Paracelsus, 1493 - 1541)

Restricting Exposure
this course will cover
This course will cover
  • Main requirements of legislation
  • Types of radiation
  • Health effects
  • Management arrangements
  • Risk control measures

The aim of the session is to

  • Introduce you to some basic radiation principles
  • Inform you of the arrangements and control measures in place to keep you safe when working with radiation
  • Not to make you an expert!
early uses of radioactivity
Early uses of radioactivity
  • Radium and thorium
radiation injuries
Radiation Injuries
  • 1896 - first injuries due to radiation recorded
  • 1902 - first skin cancers seen
  • 1911 – 94 cases of skin carcinomas and sarcomas reported
  • H&S Legislation needed?
  • Ionising Radiation Regulations 1999 (IRRs)

General and specific duties & rules about safe working practices, control measures, assessments, roles and responsibilities;

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) enforcement

  • Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010

Regulates the holding, storage, accumulation and disposal of radioactive material;

Environment Agency (EA) Enforcement

Replaced the RSA93 Act

the ionising radiation regulations
The Ionising Radiation Regulations
  • Risk assessments
  • Control of exposure to ALARP
  • Maintenance of control measures
  • Dose limitation
  • Contingency Plans and Local Rules
  • RPA and RPS defined roles
  • Information. Instruction and Training
  • Co-operation between employers
  • Designation of areas
dose limits for workers
Dose Limits – For Workers
  • 1934 2 mSv per day or 730 mSv per year
  • 1937 2 mSv per day or 10 mSv per week
  • 1950 3 mSv per week or 150 mSv per year
  • 1956 1 mSv per week or 50 mSv per year
  • 1977 50 mSv per year
  • 2000 20 mSv per year
Annual Dose Limits – UK (IRRs)

Women of reproductive capacity - exposure of abdomen limited to 13 mSv in any consecutive 3 month period. Women are legally obliged to inform their employer

basic radiological safety rules
Basic Radiological Safety Rules
  • All work must be risk assessed
  • You MUST work within the Local Rules and follow instructions
  • You MUST be a registered radiation worker
  • You MUST understand the instructions and comply with them – if in doubt ask
the alarp principle
The ALARP Principle
  • Minimise the time you spend near a source
  • Maximise the distance between you and a source of radiation
  • Maximise the shielding between you and a source of radiation
  • Before the work make sure you know and plan what you are going to do! Minimise the time
  • Practice the task beforehand
  • Do not linger in high dose rate areas
  • Avoid working or standing in high dose rate areas, whenever possible by moving away from the source of radiation
  • Use remote handling equipment
  • Observe from a separate area
  • Use minimal amounts / samples
inverse square law
Inverse Square Law

DistanceRadiation Dose rate

Double Reduced to ¼

Treble Reduced to 1/9

Quadruple Reduced to 1/16

  • Use shielding provided where possible
  • Do not tamper with equipment or defeat interlocks
  • View behind protective screening
  • Make sure sealed sources are in good repair
  • PPE
radiation units
Radiation Units


  • Number disintegrations per second (Becquerel) – one Bq means one atom/nucleus decays and emits radiation every second
  • Characterised by the half life

Absorbed dose

  • Mean energy per unit mass absorbed by any medium by any type of ionising radiation (Gray – Gy(or joules/kg))

Equivalent Dose

  • Dose allowing for type of radiation and effective biological damage (Sievert - Sv)- absorbed dose by weighting factor
old us units
Old/US Units
  • Rad 100 Rads = 1 Gray
  • Rem 100 Rem = 1 Sievert
  • Ci 1 Curie = 3.7 x 1010Bq (dps)
  • 2 protons + 2 neutrons tightly bound together

- Helium nucleus

  • High energy but low penetrating power
  • Range in air only a few cm
  • Internal hazard
  • Smaller than alpha
  • An electron (emitted from the nucleus)
  • Variable energy
  • Internal and external hazard
gamma and x rays
Gamma and x-rays
  • Electromagnetic radiation
  • Variable energy with shorter wavelengths
  • External hazard
  • Penetrating – range in air m to km
  • Gamma rays emitted from the nucleus
  • X-rays emitted from electron orbital shells
Radioactive Half-Life

Not all of the atoms of a radioisotope decay at the same time, but they decay at a rate that is characteristic to the isotope. The rate of decay is a fixed rate called a half-life.

The half-life of a radioisotope describes how long it takes for half of the atoms in a given mass to decay. Some isotopes decay very rapidly and, therefore, have a high specific activity. Others decay at a much slower rate– so decay at an “average rate”

After two half-lives, there will be one quarter the original sample, after three half-lives one eighth the original sample, and so forth.

It is an exponential decay process

= radioactive

= stable, although not a precise figure

After 1 half life half have decayed. There are 8 remaining


At start there are 16radioisotopes


After 2 half lives another half have decayed. There are 4 remaining


After 3 half lives another 2 have decayed. There are 2 remaining


1 Half-Life

2 Half-Lives

How can we work out the half-life of a radioisotope?

We can plot a graph of activity against time

routes of exposure
Routes of exposure

Eye dose



Skin dose

Whole body dose

Abdomen/Foetal Dose

Extremity dose


routes of entry
Routes of Entry
  • Ingestion
  • Inhalation
  • Puncture wounds or cuts
  • Absorption through the skin
Absorption of Nuclear Radiations

The most massive of the radioactive emissions – alpha particles – have the shortest range. Due to their size they interact strongly with matter (lots of collisions with atoms) causing large amounts of ionization. This makes them very harmful to living tissue.

absorption of radiation
Absorption of Radiation

Beta particles being smaller have a weaker interaction but can still cause ionization as they interact with the electrons surrounding atoms.

Since gamma radiation is electromagnetic waves it is the most penetrating and least ionizing. However the deep penetration makes it dangerous to living tissue.

biological effects of ionising radiation
Biological Effects of Ionising Radiation
  • Health Effects are determined by the type and intensity of the radiation and the period of exposure.
Biological Effects
  • The occurrence of particular health effects from exposure to ionizing radiation is a complicated function of numerous factors including:
  • Type of radiation involved. All kinds of ionizing radiation can produce health effects. The main difference in the ability of alpha and beta particles and Gamma and X-rays to cause health effects is the amount of energy they have. Their energy determines how far they can penetrate into tissue and how much energy they are able to transmit directly or indirectly to tissues.  
  • Size of dose received. The higher the dose of radiation received, the higher the likelihood of health effects.
  • Rate the dose is received. Tissue can receive larger dosages over a period of time. If the dosage occurs over a number of days or weeks, the results are often not as serious if a similar dose was received in a matter of minutes.
Part of the body exposed. Extremities such as the hands or feet are able to receive a greater amount of radiation with less resulting damage than blood forming organs housed in the torso.
  • The age of the individual. As a person ages, cell division slows and the body is less sensitive to the effects of ionizing radiation. Once cell division has slowed, the effects of radiation are somewhat less damaging than when cells were rapidly dividing.
  • Biological differences. Some individuals are more sensitive to the effects of radiation than others. Studies have not been able to conclusively determine the differences.
radiation effects
Radiation Effects
  • Direct ionisation
    • Structural cell damage, weakens links between atoms
    • Affects cellular function
    • DNA mutations
  • Indirect ionisation
    • Damage to chemical constituents, e.g. water
    • Formation of free radicals
Examples of various tissues and their relative radiosensitivities:

High Radiosensitivity - Lymphoid organs, bone marrow, blood, testes, ovaries, intestines

Fairly High Radiosensitivity- Skin and other organs with epithelial cell lining (cornea, oral cavity, esophagus, rectum, bladder, vagina, uterine cervix, ureters)

Moderate Radiosensitivity - Optic lens, stomach, growing cartilage, fine vasculature, growing bone (note optic lens may move up to high radiosensitivity)

Fairly Low Radiosensitivity - Mature cartilage or bones, salivary glands, respiratory organs, kidneys, liver, pancreas, thyroid, adrenal and pituitary glands

Low Radiosensitivity - Muscle, brain, spinal cord

Effects can take between 5 – 30 years

radiation effects1
Radiation effects
  • Stochastic effects – somatic and hereditary effects
  • No safe dose or threshold – governed by chance
  • Deterministic effects – loss of function
  • There is no such thing as a safe level of radiation. A single electron could damage a cell irreversibly and initiate cancer However the likelihood of damage and the severity of damage increases with the amount of radiation.
types of exposure
Types of exposure
  • Acute exposure

Takes place over a short period of time

Usually high exposures

  • Chronic exposure

Takes place over a long period of time

Usually low level exposures

stochastic effects
Stochastic effects


Effect, e.g. malignancy and hereditary effects

Not immediately observable


probability increase as dose received increases

deterministic effects
Deterministic Effects



Effect, e.g. cataracts, fetal damage, skin effects

Large dose can be fatal


Degree of cells killed increases with dose impairing organ function

deterministic effects1
Deterministic Effects
  • 50 mSv body repairs itself
  • 1 Sv nausea and vomiting
  • 3 Sv Erythema, blistering and ulceration
  • 6 Sv LD50 depletion white blood cells, 50% population exposed die of infection death
  • 10 Sv severe depletion of cells lining intestine, death due to secondary infections
radiation detectors
Radiation Detectors
  • Geiger counters, scintillation counters, ionisation chambers;
  • Count and sensitivity of the detector to interpret the readings
  • Use portable radiation detectors to monitor laboratory or facility radiation levels
  • Use film badges or TLDs for retrospective personal dose monitoring
  • Calibrated contamination monitors are only valid for a particular type of radiation – there is no universal monitor
work areas
Work Areas
  • Controlled areas
  • Supervised Areas
  • In controlled areas radiation dose is measured using dose meters or badges – you must wear them every time you enter a controlled area
  • You will be given specific instructions by your RPS
restricting exposure1
Restricting Exposure
  • All doses are kept to the ALARP principle

Design – fail to safety and cannot be bypassed

Engineered – shielded, fail to safety (interlocked), warning lights

Administrative – Local Rules, supervision, disposal

PPE – gloves , lab coats

  • Dose limits should not be exceeded
risk assessment
Risk Assessment

All work requires a risk assessment where the risk is significant and foreseeable.IRRs require:

Nature and source of ionising radiation to be used

Estimated dose rates to anyone exposed

Likelihood of contamination arising and being spread

Results of previous monitoring if relevant

Control measures and design features

Requirement to designate areas and personnel

Planned systems of work

          Estimated levels of airborne or surface contamination likely to be encountered

  • Requirement for PPE

Possible accident situations, potential severity

Consequences of failure of control measures

Steps to limit consequences of accident situations

local rules
Local Rules
  • Brief and concise describing nature of work in the designated area
  • Identify key work instructions to restrict exposure
  • Covers normal circumstances and contingency plans
  • Contains realistic and achievable work instructions
  • Reviewed periodically to ensure effectiveness
  • Summary of arrangements for access restriction
  • Name / contact details of RPS should be in the local rules
w aste
  • Consult with your RPS regarding waste issues
roles and responsibilities
Roles and responsibilities
  • Keele University – VC and the Committee Structure
  • Radiation Protection Advisor
  • University Radiation Protection Officer
  • Radiation Protection Supervisor
  • Registered Radiation Worker
  • Agencies / Regulatory bodies
radiation protection advisor
Radiation Protection Advisor
  • Legal requirement
  • Specialist role and appointed in writing
  • Accredited
  • Currently Radman Associates
radiation protection advisor1
Radiation Protection Advisor

Consulted on

  • Prior examination of plans for new facilities
  • Critical examination of equipment
  • Setting up of controlled or supervised areas
  • Calibration of monitoring equipment
  • Periodic examination and testing of control measures
  • Investigations
  • Compliance with IRRs
radiation protection supervisor
Radiation Protection Supervisor
  • Legal requirement
  • Training and development of staff / students in correct working procedures
  • Some supervisory duties
  • Crucial role to ensure compliance with Local Rules, Contingency Plans and general arrangements etc
  • Familiar with work in their area
  • Regular checks and record keeping
key contacts
Key Contacts
  • Radiation Protection Supervisors – list available
  • University Radiation Protection Adviser (RPA)- Radman Associates
  • University Radiation Protection Officer – Steve Clipstone
  • Head of Occupational Health and Safety – Ian Williamson
further information
Further information
  • Keele webpages
  • HSE