Answer to Question #9532 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"
Category: Radiation Workers
The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:
I work with radioactive sources in the oil rig industry. This month I got a dose of 6 mSv. The maximum exposure that I have ever had in a month was 1.5 mSv.
I have been barred from doing any radioactive source work now, but I am just concerned whether there will be any side effects for me because of this dosage. Is there any probability of getting cancer?
Thank you for your question. The dose you received won't cause any harmful effects.
Without knowing your company's procedures, my guess would be that they have temporarily removed you from radioactive source work to make sure you don't exceed any regulatory dose limits, not because of worries about harmful effects.
Regulatory dose limits are set well below levels of radiation dose that cause harmful effects. Generally, a person needs to receive about 500 mSv whole body to begin to see clinical biological symptoms which, in the case of 500 mSv, would be a decrease in blood cell counts.
In the United States, the annual radiation dose limit for a radiation worker is 50 mSv. In some areas of Europe, and perhaps where you work, it is 20 mSv. Both limits are below levels that cause harmful effects.
You didn't receive too much radiation—just enough, though, to cause your company to make sure they (and you) stay in compliance with regulations. This is a perfect example of what should happen to help keep workers safe.
Certified Medical Health Physicist