Answer to Question #8093 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Radiation Workers

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:


Hello, I hope this is not a stupid question for you. In case age is relevant to the topic, I'm 18. I applied for a dental assistant course where the method for teaching us how to take x rays on a patient consisted of us pretending to be the patient. This repeated exposure is supposed to be extended throughout the period of about a month. We are supposed to take x rays of both sides of the mouth in the same day. I'm sure panoramic x rays are also going to be repetitive until the class masters it. I read in the assigned book the effects that chronic radiation might have and wondered if I should be concerned about my safety and what precautions I should take if I continue the course. I'm also concerned about the inexperience of my classmates who could perhaps mishandle the direction of the tube head and cause secondary or scattered radiation. May I ask your opinion of this?


Thank you for your question. Just so you are aware, this practice is illegal in the United States. The use of actual radiation exposure for education or training is prohibited by regulation.

With that being said, this is a practice that should not continue regardless of the country in which you reside, but especially if you're in the United States. If you are outside of the United States, check your local regulations on this practice.

To check your state regulations for their rule on this issue, you can look up your state's regulations by searching on something similar to [name of the state] radiation rules. The actual statement might be buried, but is generally under a heading like "Prohibited Uses of Radiation."

The statement generally states that, except as authorized by other parts of this regulation, the following procedures are unauthorized: The use of radiation for demonstrations or training.

You can also visit the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors website to obtain information about your local radiation control program.

Kelly Classic
Certified Medical Health Physicist

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Answer posted on 13 March 2009. The information posted on this web page is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may affect the applicability of concepts, materials, and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice. To the best of our knowledge, answers are correct at the time they are posted. Be advised that over time, requirements could change, new data could be made available, and Internet links could change, affecting the correctness of the answers. Answers are the professional opinions of the expert responding to each question; they do not necessarily represent the position of the Health Physics Society.