Answer to Question #8825 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Medical and Dental Equipment/Shielding — Shielding

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

Q
I work for an orthopedic surgeon and have a yearly exposure dose of 14.47 millisieverts during procedures where I am required to use my hands within a fluoroscopy field. I am having difficulty finding the linear no-threshold model to determine my risk associated with this level of exposure. Once I have found this information how do I present the risk information to my employer in order to be provided appropriate shielding?
A
Your question did not indicate if your annual dosimeter total was for whole body or extremity. If it is for whole body and you work with your hands in the primary beam, the radiation dose to your hands could be significantly higher. In either case, 14.47 millisievert (mSv) is a significant radiation dose; however, it is below the  typical state dose limits of 50 mSv/year for whole body and 500 mSv/year for extremities.

Since this dose is below what is considered an acceptable radiation dose for an occupational radiation worker, the concern is not the risk, but the statement that you work with your hands in the primary x-ray beam. State radiation safety regulations typically prohibit any part of the body from being in the primary x-ray beam unless it is properly shielded. In the case of the hands, that would mean wearing the heavy lead gloves. If you are working with your hands unprotected in the primary x-ray beam, you should stop this practice immediately.

If you are "required" to do this practice, you need to discuss this with your supervisor or the radiation safety officer for your facility. If you situation is still not resolved, you are free to contact the radiation control program for the state you are working in. Its regulations are in place to protect the patient, the worker, and the public and should also protect the individual expressing concerns over use of radiation in the workplace.

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 26 February 2010. 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.