Answer to Question #8103 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Historical Issues/Applications

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


I am researching historical photos of industrial hygiene and health physics cartoons used as posters for radiation safety and awareness. I have found the cartoon character "Ray Alert" used in the 1950s–1960s by General Electric at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory and described in an article by L.J. Cherubin in the American Industrial Hygiene Association Journal (Vol. 22, Issue 1, February 1961, pages 70–74). Do you know of "Ray Alert" or other similar posters used for radiation safety?


Another location where cartoon posters were used for radiation safety was at the Oak Ridge National Laboratories (ORNL). A collection of these posters can be found on the Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) website.

These posters were produced at ORNL in 1947. The purpose of the posters was to remind personnel of radiation safety practices and also to let them know what the term "health physics" meant, i.e., radiation protection. In 1947 the term was only four years old and no less confusing than today.

You might also be interested in the entire Health Physics Historical Instrumentation Museum Collection, which can be viewed on the ORAU website.

The article by L.J. Cherubin, "Communication Media Employed in Health Physics at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory," was very interesting. The author describes challenges in reaching employees, the community, and government agencies with radiation protection messages that are the same today as they were in 1961. Members of the Health Physics Society have voted that the number one challenge facing our profession today is communications.

Ray Johnson, MS, PE, FHPS, CHP

Ask the Experts is posting answers using only SI (the International System of Units) in accordance with international practice. To convert these to traditional units we have prepared a conversion table. You can also view a diagram to help put the radiation information presented in this question and answer in perspective. Explanations of radiation terms can be found here.
Answer posted on 17 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.