Answer to Question #10450 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"
Category: Security Screening — Airport Screening
The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:
I work at an airport x raying luggage. My personal radiation detector reads around 0.3 µSv h-1 and sometimes it goes up to 2.4 µSv h-1 when a bag goes through the machine. When the machine is not x raying it is 0. I am concerned about radiation exposure. What are the health effects of this exposure to radiation? Can this damage my reproductive system?
Thank you for your question. There are no documented health effects from radiation exposures at these low levels.
The regulatory limit for staff who are occupationally exposed to radiation is 50,000 µSv y-1. This is a level of radiation that is considered safe and is well below the risk of harmful effects.
You are receiving between 600 and 4,000 µSv y-1 based on the information you provided.
The exposure you receive on the job each hour (the 0.3 µSv y-1), is equivalent to the amount of radiation exposure you receive from natural background radiation sources (about 0.34 µSv y-1). Your total annual dose from natural background radiation is just over 3 µSv.
The radiation doses where we begin to see clinical biological changes (blood cell changes) are on the order of 250,000 to 500,000 µSv.
The level of exposure you are receiving will not damage your reproductive system.
Certified Medical Health Physicist