Answer to Question #7270 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Medical and Dental Equipment/Shielding — Equipment

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

I work at a facility when on any given day I could do 20 to 45 portable x rays. What is the safe number of portable x rays to be done on a seven-hour shift by one technologist? Is there a governing body on these rules and regulations?


In general, all x rays are different with regard to the amount of radiation received by the operator, so it is not easy to come up with a number of x rays that you can "safely" take compared to a number that would be "unsafe." If you follow a facility policy/procedure as an x-ray technologist, you are probably wearing a lead apron, standing as far away from the x-ray unit as possible (at least 1.82 meters and using an exposure switch on a cord or one that is wireless), and wearing a personnel dosimeter (often known as a film badge). These practices will maximize your protection and should lead to radiation doses to you that are considerably lower than dose limits.

Instead of a "safe" number of x rays that you can take, your risk from radiation is measured by your personnel dosimeter, which indicates how much radiation dose you receive during your work. The amount of radiation that you are permitted to receive is regulated by the state you are in and is typically 50 millisieverts per year for whole-body exposure. Your facility should have a radiation safety officer who can give you access to your dosimetry results and be able to explain them to you. Typically, for x-ray technologists who perform only radiographic procedures, radiation doses are below 10 percent of the dose limits, which indicates that you are well below the amount of radiation exposure that would be of any concern.

Kennith "Duke" Lovins, 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 19 February 2008. 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.