14.2 Potential Hazards14.2 Potential Hazards
Like any form of energy, ionizing radiation can be harmful if a person is exposed to an excessive amount. Exposure to ionizing radiation causes chemical damage to body tissues and can be harmful. Just as with exposure to any toxic chemical, the human body can tolerate exposure to ionizing radiation up to a point without producing any immediate injury. However, just as with toxic chemicals, high levels of exposure can cause serious injuries including skin burns, hair loss, internal bleeding, anemia and immune system suppression. In addition, exposure to high levels of ionizing radiation has been proven to cause an increased lifetime risk of cancer.
14.2.1 How to Protect Yourself14.2.1 How to Protect Yourself
Responsibility for protecting themselves, co-workers and others from exposure to ionizing radiation is delegated by the Radiation Safety Committee to the Principal Investigator or area supervisor and to each of the individual users. Appropriate safety requirements, that are specific to each use and location, are written into each approval granted by the Committee. Every user is trained in radiation safety principles and on the specific safety requirements of their operations before they are allowed to begin working with radioactive material.
Other individuals in these areas, who are not trained to use radioactive material or radiation producing equipment, need to follow the safety procedures established for those working with ionizing radiation. Primarily this means:
- Never operate equipment that produces ionizing radiation.
- Never handle items or containers that are labeled with radioactive material warnings or that are within areas marked as storage or use areas for radioactive material.