Answer to Question #11477 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Medical and Dental Equipment/Shielding — Equipment

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

Q

Is it possible that the electromagnetic pulses from a row of utility smart meters facing and just meters from an x-ray machine could interact with the radioactive ions from the x-ray machine, somehow interfering with or amplifying the radioactivity?

A

Electromagnetic compatibility is something that always concerns us when we consider equipment interference and safety. Fortunately, even with the proliferation of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cell phones, remote controls, and so on, we rarely see interference of one with another.

Utility smart meters and x-ray machines are electronic equipment that could generate electromagnetic waves and send the waves by air and through the wiring in the building. However, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), and other commissions regulate the amount of "noise" that a piece of equipment can generate or receive. Likely, your x-ray unit and the utility smart meters fall under these regulations and therefore are compatible and safe.

In an x-ray machine, the emission process occurs inside the x-ray tube, an evacuated space, where electrons hit a metal plate. When the electrons interact with atoms of this plate, x rays (photons) are generated. In the unlikely event that electronic equipment interfered with the x-ray emission process, that interference could only change the electron voltage minimally—something on the order of volts in a range of kilovolts. This change in the electron voltage would be insignificant, and it would not alter the x-ray beam quality or quantity.

Flávio Augusto P. Soares, Professor

Answer posted on 1 March 2016. 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.