In the US, each state has several organizations and multiple regulations pertaining to radiation safety and a department dedicated to enforcing those regulations. There are many more throughout the world including international organizations. To attempt to list all of the radiation agencies, policies, and laws in the US would fill volumes much larger then this book. Although the web of regulations is tangled, they are an important part of administrative controls.
Ionizing radiation can not be directly detected with the human senses. So we have developed many ways to detect it. Some devices work best for specific types of sources and purposes. Many dosimeters are now classified as self-reading and/or alarming devices. These instruments allow the user to select early warning and alarms for the amount of exposure that they receive and also to be warned of significantly higher than expected radiation levels. They also have digital read outs for instant access to the exposure monitoring data. These devices can also be linked electronically to a database or software program to maintain records and configure the devices.
Radiation detector PM1904 for iPhone. A new type of pocket dosimeter. When preset radiation thresholds are exceeded, device provides LED light alarm. All measurements are recorded in non-volatile memory. Courtesy Polimaster Inc.
To try and give some perspective of stochastic health effects, think of it as getting struck by lightning, or winning the lottery. Getting struck by lightning is a stochastic effect of being outdoors. Flying a kite during a lightning storm will increase your probability of being struck, but even then it cannot be predicted for certain that this will happen. Occasionally, lightning strikes when there is no storm. The national weather service reported 28 lightning fatalities in 2012 in the US. According to the National Lightning Safety Institute, your chances of being struck by lightning are 1 in 280,000. Winning the lottery is a stochastic effect of playing the lottery. According to lottery officials, the odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are about 1 in 176 million, making winning the lottery very unlikely for an individual.
Zippy Vonier of Thomasville, Georgia bought a quick pick ticket years ago. Then he kept playing those numbers over and over again, week after week, year after year. On November 27, 2012, Zippy’s numbers matched the winning numbers for the Mega Millions jackpot. He won $50 million.
Radiologic Technologists often hear these terms when radiation is described. The concept of Linear energy transfer (LET), can be difficult to understand unless it is carefully explained. The definition is that LET is a measure of the conservative force acting on a charged ionizing particle travelling through matter. So we aren’t actually talking only about the radiation, we are actually talking about the stuff hit by the radiation too. Linear, meaning the radiation travels in a line. And energy transfer, meaning how much of the radiation’s energy is transferred into the material it’s going through. This concept is relevant to X-ray as compared to other radiation types.
In general, pediatric radiography should always use as short exposure times as possible to minimize image blurring that may result from patient motion. However, even with short exposure times, preventing motion during exposures is a constant challenge in pediatric radiography. Good techniques and effective methods of immobilization are essential. Immobilization can improve image quality by minimizing patient motion. It can decrease the risk of repeat exposure and missed diagnosis from sub optimal exam. It can decrease the overall time of the procedure. And because of all these factors, it can lower the patient, parent, and staff radiation dose.
The step lightly campaign is an offshoot of the image gently campaign. Where image gently focused primarily on radiation protection for pediatric CT and later general pediatric radiography, step lightly focuses on pediatric interventional radiology. However the same principles apply for adult procedures. The American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) has published a checklist of best practices for practitioners to follow during interventional procedures.
Step Lightly Checklist Review steps below before starting the procedure.
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