Term Paper: Radiation Safety in Industrial

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[. . .] By changing the wire configuration, or the phasing or other line characteristics to lower the resultant magnetic field will cause minor changes in the limited economic costs for the utilities or ratepayers. The Commission did this so that limited cost increments would cut down the warranted potential hazard of magnetic field exposures.

Those areas with the highest magnetic fields, receive large doses of radiation from the electric power transmission line. This implies that the greater the magnetic field the greater the risk, however controlling the electric power transmission lines will restrict the exposure for those exposed to the highest fields, and also at greatest risk. The Commission recognizes that this way the population will become a small number of those exposed, and form that part of the society that is not affected by the health hazards. It is known that there are other short-term, controllable, everyday exposures from electric power transmission lines, found in appliances, but radiation emission is not so lethal from them.

Ionizing Radiation

Radiation is defined as the movement of energy in free space. Radioactivity is the activity of some unstable elements to decay and release radiation. Ionizing radiation contains enough energy to release electrons from atoms causing certain chemical properties of the substance it interacts with to change. Ionizing radiation is found in alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays, x-rays and cosmic rays.

In chemistry it is known that when a nuclide decays, the left over substance will never possess the same chemical element as the original element had. After a certain point, the decay product will not be able to decay further due to stability. But if the decay product is still unstable it can undergo another radioactive decay later on. This is called half-life, which is defined as the time taken for half of a given amount of a nuclide to undergone radioactive decay.


If contact is made with radioactive substances, it leads to contamination and the spread of radioactive material, however it is also true that simply contact with radioactive material will not make non-active substances radioactive.

Materials become 'radioactive' when they are contaminated by radioactive material by keeping them in close contact with such substances. An example of this is when a patient irradiated in the beam of an X-ray machine does not come out of the x-ray room being radioactive. However, a worker in the same room, in close contact with radioactive dust may have clothes or skin that has been contaminated or in the danger of inhaling radioactive material. This is why the person needs to undergo decontamination to lessen his radiation inhalation and consequently protect others from radiation.

The risks involved in radiation have been studied in depth by the study of groups of people exposed to known amounts of radiation using their own personal experiences, such as, atomic bomb survivors or radiotherapy patients, and also by the study of biological and cellular experiments. Radiation can cause two sorts of harmful effects on health because of radiation damage to tissues.

Stochastic Effects

These effects simply increase the risk of cancers and hereditary diseases over many years or decades after the first radiation dose. The risk is primarily proportional to the dose. To illustrate this, the best case is of radioiodine, which causes radiation exposure in a particular pattern of cancer in children its papillary thyroid carcinoma, which is very different from the natural incidence pattern. Despite the information available, the truth is that cancers caused by radiation cannot be differentiated from those caused by natural means.

The long-term cancer risk is estimated to be 5% per Sievert of whole body effective dose. This means that an additional radiation dose of 5 mSv would add an additional 0.025% to a person's 25% risk of dying from cancer. This would make their total cancer death risk 25.025%. Risk factors for non-fatal cancer and hereditary effects have also been estimated and are used for the purposes of radiological protection. Overall the risks of hereditary effects are judged to be substantially less than those of cancer. [LONDON HEALTH OBSERVATORY - Health In London, published: 18 November 2003]

Deterministic Effects

These effects take place when a threshold dose is reached but they really show the effects when very high doses of radiation are taken causing radiation sickness and radiation burns. The symptoms start after exposure and the greater the radiation dose is, the more severe the symptoms are.

Symptom Whole Body or Localized Exposure Minimum Dose for Detection

Detectable Chromosome Damage Without Symptoms Whole Body 0.1 Gy

Radiation Sickness Whole Body 1 Gy

Death From Radiation Sickness Whole Body 3 Gy (without medical treatment) & 5 Gy (with medical treatment)

Skin Reddening Localized 5 Gy

Skin Burn Localised 10 Gy

Source: LONDON HEALTH OBSERVATORY - Health In London, published: 18 November 2003]

Other than direct effects on the body, psychological effects may also take place in the person exposed to severe radiation and it has nothing to do with the radiation dose. The causes can be due to the way an incident is taken care of affecting the person's psychological side in an incident.

Radiation Exposure

Monitoring Radiation Exposure number of different organizations are making wide environmental measurements around the world, including local authorities and Government regulatory bodies. They research includes air measurements to look for radioactive plumes and regular monitoring of ionizing radiation in food crops as contained in the FSA report on radioactivity in food and the environment under Food standards.

Industries using radioactive materials are strictly monitored by the HSE, Nuclear Installations Inspectorate and, in also by the local authorities. Workers at risk of high exposure to radiation are required to undergo personal monitoring of radiation dose. The Central Index of Dose Information is the Health & Safety Executive's national database of occupational exposures to ionizing radiation. Radioactive sources and discharges into the environment have to be allowed under the Radioactive Substances Act (1993) by the Environment Agency. Heath and safety bodies from the department of health take care of and control medical radiation in the patient exposed. Businesses using radioactive resources must have a 'radiation protection adviser' such as a physicist, who keeps a check on the equipment and procedures.

Radiation Accidents

On an average, there is one major radiation accident every year in some part of the world. What is more common in England is accidents associated with lost source's. Lost sources are found in the scrap metal industry. Scrap metal yards have radiation monitors to detect any unknown radiation in the delivery received.

The nuclear industry and many other resources of radioactive sources are used in an enormous range of industrial processes such as, industrial radiography, thickness gauges, smoke alarms, medical diagnosis and treatment. This is why the number of accidents related to radiation is relatively high in the UK. The UK National Arrangements for Incidents involving Radioactivity scheme, employs a system that sends a response to the police in the UK if they suspect an uncontrolled radiation source.

Types Of Radiation Accident

There are 4 types of possible accident.

Criticality accidents. This is where a nuclear chain reaction occurs when not intended and radiation is released to the environment. An example is the accident in Tokai-Mura, Japan in 1999. A mixture of enriched uranium in nitric acid, which exceeded the critical mass, was created by mistake and a nuclear chain reaction occurred in a research laboratory giving very large doses to two people. A detonated nuclear weapon spreads fission products over a wide area because of a nuclear chain reaction.

Reactor accidents. A working reactor allows a nuclear chain reaction to occur in controlled circumstances. If the structure that contains the reactor is breached, or the nuclear reaction goes out of control, then fission products can be released into the environment. The accident at Chernobyl in 1986 is the best recent example.

Fires dispersing a plume of radioactive material. Here there is no nuclear chain reaction, but a plume disperses the radioactivity from a fire. If a nuclear weapon were involved in an accidental fire or conventional explosion, then plutonium from the weapon would disperse in this way. This happened in Palomares, Spain in 1966 when a B52 plane, carrying nuclear missiles crashed. This is not the same as detonation of the weapon.

Lost sources. The most harmful known lost source accident to date occurred in Goiania, Brazil in 1987. A radiotherapy source was broken open and radioactivity scattered widely within a city by hand-to-hand contact and cross contamination of the environment. Thousands of people were contaminated.

Source: LONDON HEALTH OBSERVATORY - Health In London, published: 18 November 2003]

Environmental health effects are similar on workers in the industry and public from ionizing radiation and perhaps from air pollution. Ionizing radiation has been under the limelight after the testing of nuclear weapons. This has been able to create compelling awareness in the nuclear power industry concerning radiation hazards. Radioactivity is measurable and its effects are understood better than… [END OF PREVIEW]

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