The Radiation Post



Potassium Iodide, Your Thyroid & Radiation Protection

There are people all over the world who keep non-expired doses of potassium iodide on hand to protect themselves in the case of a nuclear fallout or related radioactive disaster. They do this as a proactive way of protecting themselves in case a nuclear emergency involves the presence of radioactive iodine – frequently released in a cloud or plume into the air, after which it settles on the ground, contaminating everything it touches – including food sources.

By taking potassium iodide, only if advised to do so by health and safety officials, you can “block” the thyroid’s ability to uptake the radioactive version, minimizing the after affects.

Why is the thyroid so important?

When you think of radiation poisoning or the eventual cancers and other diseases associated with former radiation exposure, it may seem strange that the thyroid is the gland healthcare officials focus on and protect. However, the thyroid gland – a two-inch, butterfly-shaped gland located at the front of the neck, below the Adam’s apple – is a powerhouse; the human body doesn’t fare well when thyroid function is below par.

The thyroid gland is responsible for hormone production and your body’s metabolism, so when it is negatively impacted, you can experience issues pertaining to:

  • Overall metabolic rate
  • Digestion
  • Heart function
  • Muscle control
  • Moods
  • Fertility
  • Bone maintenance
  • Brain development

Iodine – found in certain foods and added to “iodized salt,” is an essential nutrient to the thyroid. During normal life, and with a healthy diet, the minimum amount of iodine the thyroid requires is assimilated via the foods you eat. Any lack of iodine can result in thyroid issues.

The thyroid can’t distinguish between radioactive & non-radioactive iodine

Because the thyroid only requires a fairly minimal amount of iodine to thrive, it has a threshold of sorts. Once it has absorbed all the iodine it can from the bloodstream, it stops absorbing it. However, the thyroid doesn’t have the ability to distinguish between radioactive iodine and non-radioactive iodine.

In the event of a nuclear disaster that releases radioactive iodine, taking the recommended doses of potassium iodide (non-radioactive) saturates the thyroid gland, serving as a radiation “blocker” since the thyroid will leave the radioactive version that’s then excreted by the body.

Also important to note: good ol’ fashioned soap and warm water, combined with a thorough and vigorous scrub, are enough to eradicate radioactive iodine that has settled on the clothes (best to discard altogether or launder repeatedly), skin, hair, etc. Read, How do You Stop A Radioactive Spill, for more information on that. While the post is targeted to industrial and chemical industries, the basic tenets apply to anyone exposed to radioactive fallout.

When should you take potassium iodide (KI)?

Potassium Iodide (KI) is the same type of iodine used in table salt. That being said, KI is added in such micro-doses to table salt that ingesting copious amounts of iodide salt will not help to protect you from radioactive iodide. In fact, the World Health Organization warns, “…iodized salt should not be used as a substitute for KI since it will not provide protection against radioactive iodine, and eating excessive amounts of iodized salt will itself pose a significant health hazard.”

Potassium iodide can be purchased in supplement form without a prescription. KI should only be taken upon recommendation of health and safety officials immediately preceding or during a nuclear event – and should never be taken as a precautionary supplement as that can have adverse health effects.

It’s best to purchase KI from regulated and approved agencies. At this point, the US Government currently backs the quality of four different KI products:

  • iOSAT tablets, 130mg, from Anbex, Inc.
  • ThyroSafe tablets, 65mg, from Recipharm AB
  • ThyroShield oral solution, 65mg/mL, from Arco Pharmaceuticals, LLC
  • Potassium Iodide Oral Solution USP, 65mg/mL, from Mission Pharmacal Company

Visit the CDC’s website page on Bioterrorism and Drug Preparedness for information about dosage (based on age, weight and the measured level of radioactive iodide exposure), when you should begin taking KI and for how long, who should avoid taking the supplement, adverse side effects/risks, etc.

KI doesn’t provide comprehensive radiation protection

It’s important to note that KI isn’t a comprehensive radiation shielding product, it only protects us from radioactive events that release radioactive iodide. It does not protect you from:

  • Any other radioactive materials, such as radioactive caesium
  • Surface radiation (it doesn’t protect you from exposure to radiation on your skin, the ground, etc.
  • Ingesting or absorbing radiation, it simply protects the thyroid gland from absorbing it, which goes a long way toward protecting the body’s basic physiologic functions.

More comprehensive radiation protection and shielding products are required to protect your body, lungs, and external body from radiation exposure.

Are you concerned about radiation protection and the ability to protect yourself and your family in the event of nuclear fallout involving radioactive iodide? Contact Lancs Industries. We’ve provided radiation shielding products and solutions for more than 40 years.



Types of Radiation Protection via Shielding

The first step in providing radiation protection for the public, employees or those exposed via a specific, radioactive accident is to minimize exposure in terms of quantity of radiation and the length of time victims are exposed. In the case of nuclear fallout, this is easier said than done. However, if you work in a radioactive environment, or your job puts you in close, consistent proximity to radioactive materials, it’s up to your radiation safety officer to ensure the right types of radiation shielding are used.

types of radiation protection

There are a variety of different radiation shielding products on the market

There is a wide range of products design to shield and protect you from direct radiation exposure. These range from physical barriers and materials that contain radioactive materials or radiation in one specific space, to garments, blankets or physical shields that absorb radiation and prevent it from interacting with your cells and their precious DNA.

Ultimately, we recommend working directly with a company specializing in radiation shielding products so you are 100% confident you’re using the right materials for the job.

Three basic ways to shield yourself from radiation

Radiation comes in various forms; alpha radiation is very low-level radiation and has little to no effect on living tissue. Beta radiation is stronger, but is usually combatted via clothing or heavy, garment-like protection. This is important to wear since certain types of beta radiation will burn the skin if it comes in direct contact with it. Finally, the strongest forms of radiation – gamma and x-ray radiation – require the heaviest shielding of all. This type of shielding typically comes in the form of very thick products, like lead or lead-based composites – but are often designed and produced to be flexible, so they can be adapted to different work environments and project needs.

Once you’ve established the type(s) of radiation used, you can begin to create your radiation safety plan, including adequate shielding products.

Shielding for the operator or technician

One of the strongest lines of defenses against radiation exposure in manufacturing, technical or industrial applications is that of creating a barrier or container via radiation-proof materials. This can include the use of:

  • Lead wood blankets with inner and outer covers. Lead wool blankets are a preferred source of protection because they are flexible and effective. Plus, they can be ordered in a range of sizes and thickness, customized to the application. Different shapes are also available upon request.
  • Flexible tungsten, bismuth and/or iron shielding
  • Wheeled racks
  • Various supplies and accessories

For more portable or temporary scenarios, the Lancs QuickRack is an option, providing an inexpensive, lightweight, and alternative way to quickly hang shielding and protect workers from sources of ionizing radiation.

Containment and glove bags

Containment units and glove bags are a staple source of radiation containment in manufacturing and industrial workplaces. By enclosing a contaminated item – or small area – the risk of contamination considerably decreases the risk of contamination. Catch containments – also called containment bags or drip bags – are also available. Larger work areas are better protected via containment tents (see below), which can be designed to fit the size of the work area and its occupants.

Glove bags have a range of different designs – including options for single or multiple workers to be gloved, sleeved and shielded while working in the same, small containment area.

Work tents and containment areas with ventilation

For larger work spaces, radiation protection occurs via work tents or larger containment areas. Because people work inside them, they must have special ventilation systems that provide the tents with fresh air but without contaminating the outside environment.

These tents are highly customizable and range from single-chamber tents (the simplest) to chamber tents that span thousands of square feet. Tents can also be designed to client specifications – including highly-specific needs when it comes to features and project requirements.

In most cases, these units are made with Pacifitex 1800 in yellow or white, for durability and are also fire retardant to optimize worker safety. Doors and window designs are available. Containment tents and radiation protective work areas are designed to provide adequate light and ventilation, and can come with removable floors and roofs for decontamination and extended use.

Protective clothing

From wet suits and one-piece suits, to acid suits, welding jackets, hoods and more – radiation protective clothing is often the best line of defense when it comes to protecting yourself or your employees from radiation exposure. Over the course of the last 50-years, innovations in fabrication have allowed the design of flexible, protective clothing that is easy to get on and off, but provides top-notch shielding from beta and other forms of radiation.

Contact a radiation shielding supplier to customize radiation protection

Ultimately, the best protection from radiation exposure occurs when employers maintain a rigorous safety culture and customize their shielding and protective clothing projects and supplies for the job.

Contact Lancs Industries to learn more about your options or to begin the design of customized protective gear that’s specific to the task at hand. We’ve helped to create a radiation-free world for more than 40 years.



What is a Radiation Safety Officer

Any company or business requiring employees to work with or around radiation and/or radioactive materials should have a clear Radiation Safety Program in place, and that program is traditionally led by a designated (qualified) Radiation Safety Officer. If your company is registered with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), you are required to have a designated Radiation Safety Officer – and the designation must be in writing.

This designation requires both a certain level of education, knowledge, training and credentials. Different employers and HR department have different guidelines or requirements – with hospitals and universities typically requiring a college degree in a scientific or technical field as well as a number of years of radiation safety training.

Also, only regulatory agencies can “pronounce” you a radiation safety officer. So, no matter how great a job you may have done at your place of employment overseeing RSO-related duties, and even if your boss says you’re the RSO, you’ll need to write a letter to your state’s regulatory agency, requesting official designation. This letter should include and/or attach your diploma, qualifications/certifications, proof of any RSO training you’ve had, work experience/training, etc.

radiation safety officer

Who is the Radiation Safety Officer?

Depending on the size of your company, the radiation safety officer (RSO) may be a full-time position in and of itself; smaller companies may have a key management person or safety manager take on the responsibilities of an RSO, above and beyond their regular weekday duties and job responsibilities.

Optimally, medium- to large businesses have a radiation safety committee, and the RSO supports that committee in its duties and serves on the committee, often in the capacity of secretary and record keeper.

What Does the RSO Do?

As part of overseeing the company’s radiation safety program and training, a radiation safety officer is responsible for:

  • Performing an annual review of the company’s radiation safety program and adherence to ALARA for the year.
  • Compiling quarterly reports of occupational/personal worker exposure to radiation for the quarter.
  • Putting together a quarterly compilation of radiation levels in both restricted and unrestricted areas, comparing them with previous quarters and ensuring they were at ALARA levels.
  • Organize and schedule regular briefings, trainings and educational sessions that instruct employees about radiation safety and the ALARA program(s) put in place.
  • Investigate and report on any instances where radiation exposure was over and beyond the maximum acceptable levels.
  • Ensure that all actions and/or incidences related to radioactive materials and radiation exposure take place within and under regulatory guidelines at both the federal, state and local levels.

While many of these tasks can be delegated and overseen by the RSO and the Radiation Safety Committee and/or safety management team, the ultimate responsibility and liability rests on the RSO’s shoulders.

Training Required for RSOs

Again, requirements vary – with some companies requiring a PhD in nuclear physics, and others requiring a high school diploma and ample radiation safety training.

There are varying levels of coursework, education and training required to become an RSO. The most basic training and certification includes completing and passing a 40-Hour RSO Short Course. However, the size and complexity of your company’s interactions with radioactive materials dictates how much training and experience are required.

Ultimately, RSO’s lead the education and training (not to mention safety program) at their places of work, and that means having sufficient knowledge and experience to teach and train employees and staff regarding:

RSO’s do a tremendous amount of record keeping and safeguarding sensitive files so organizational skills as well as discretion are essential character traits.

How Much do RSO’s Make?

There is no once salary fits all answer to the question of how much RSOs make. The larger the employer, the greater your qualifications, the higher your salary. With that being said, work.chron.com cites that RSO’s with PhDs in nuclear engineering can make as much as $180,000 per year, with the average salary hovering right around the $134,000 mark. On the other hand, those with a master’s degree earn around $126,822, and those with a bachelor’s degree earn closer to $124,161.

Then again, if you work for a smaller company and/or your RSO duties are adjunct to your regular responsibilities, you may earn as low as $66,000 or so.

Are you an RSO looking to make your workplace and employees as safe as possible? Contact us here at Lancs Industries to learn more about radiation shielding and protective clothing products.



The Importance of Radiation Safety Training in the Workplace

Radiation Safety Training should be in integral part of any company whose work puts employees, the environment and/or others at risk for radiation contamination or exposure.

According to the 2017 Ionizing Regulations Act:

Every employer must ensure that those of its employees who are engaged in work with ionizing radiation are given appropriate training in the field of radiation protection and receive such information and instruction as is suitable and sufficient for them to know:

  • the risks to health created by exposure to ionizing radiation
  • the radiation protection procedures and precautions which should be taken
  • the importance of complying with the medical, technical and administrative requirements of these Regulations

Radioactive materials are used in a multitude of industries and sciences across the United States, and around the globe, including medical and pharmaceutical fields, physics and other scientific research, biology, mining, environmental clean-up and protection and other fields that benefit both our planet and human kind.

This puts millions of employees, researchers and those exposed to contaminated via proximity to radioactive materials, which is why radiation safety training is so important.

radiation safety training

What Does Radiation Safety Training Look Like in the Workplace?

The large majority of harmful exposure to radiation in the workplace occurs as the result of an accident, and/or the lack of a workplace safety culture. The less education and training managers and employees have in regards to:

  • The risk of radiation exposure
  • Radioactive materials or substances in the workplace
  • Protective materials available
  • What to do in case of a radioactive spill, contamination, accident, etc.

the more likely there is to be a serious and irreversible emergency. Radiation safety is all about education and proactive prevention – with a hearty dose of training in terms of what to do when the “worst case scenario” takes place.

ALARA Can Serve as Your First Line of Radiation Safety Defense

ALARA is an acronym, as well as a safety principle and regulatory requirement, for companies that work with radioactive materials. It stands for As Low As Reasonably Achievable, and quantifies the idea that at all times, companies should strive to keep radioactive exposure to the lowest amount possible.

This is done in a variety of ways, ranging from how materials are listed, registered, stored and handled, to the radiation containment, protection and shielding mechanisms put into place.

The EPA as well as organizations such as OSHA are dedicated to ensuring company owner and key management personnel have all the information they need to adhere to ALARA principles and create a safety-first environment for employees, customers and others.

Read, ALARA: What is It and What Can it Do For You, for more information on this topic.

Who’s Your Radiation Safety Officer?

The radiation safety officer (RSO) plays a very important role in the safety training paradigm. In larger companies, the RSO may hold a full-time position – wholly dedicated to overseeing the continuous training of personnel, that radioactive materials are ordered, stored, used and disposed of safely, that radiation protection at all levels is current, easily accessible by employees, free of defects and is replaced as needed, and so on.

Radiation safety officers may also hold this title adjunct with another job description – typically with an increase in pay. In addition to their regular duties, these RSOs also ensure their company complies with radiation safety-related regulations.

In most cases, RSOs host the bulk of the regular safety meetings and in-house trainings, in addition to ensuring managers and key personnel have access to off-site safety trainings and regulation updates as needed.

Read, How to Become a Radiation Safety Officer, to learn more about this invaluable part of a company’s radiation safety training program.

Benefits of Radiation Safety Training and Awareness

The benefits of a company safety culture are many. Most importantly, awareness and routine training saves lives. This can take many forms, including:

  • Maintaining current certifications and licensures
  • Observing federal, state and local radiation legislation to its fullest
  • Regular water cooler chats
  • Routine Friday (or whatever day of the week) safety meetings
  • Incentives for employees for following procedures
  • Rewards and reassurance for honestly reporting safety issues that need immediate attention, without fear of recrimination
  • Thorough training and testing in terms of skills and operating procedures

Safety training can be handled in-house and very informally, but should also include formal education and training (including the certification or licensure for certain employees) as needed.

Are you interested in learning more about the shielding, containment and radiation protection that can be incorporated into your company’s daily safety practices? Contact us here at Lancs Industries. We’ve served as a leader in radiation protection for more than forty-years and we’re happy to fabricate custom orders as needed.



Radiation Containment Types & Styles: Adequate Protection Requires the Right Choice

Your protection from radiation exposure is entirely dependent on the quality of the shielding products you use. Failure to choose the right type or style can lead to unnecessary exposure and long-term consequences.

radiation protection types and styles

Radiation Containment 101: Basic Types and Styles

If you’re working in a radioactive career or in a job environment, its essential that you and your co-workers are provided with adequate protection and shielding products. In most cases, your company’s radiation safety officer (RSO) will oversee these selection and modify them as needed, depending on the project. However, it’s still a good idea to know your options so you can bring any weak spots to the RSO’s attention.

Here are some examples of basic radiation containment types and styles:

Contain leaks and drips

Ultimately, any leaks or drips of radioactive material will be repaired. In the meantime, you need a good catchment system to contain the materials and prevent their spread or further contamination of the area, groundwater, etc.

Catch containments and accessories are designed to do just that, and come in various shapes and sizes to address the specifics of your situation.

Temporarily patch your containment shielding

Have a leak, puncture or tear in your shielding materials? Patch kits will do the trick until your containment or shields can be replaced. Patch kits are available for both containments as well as glove bags. The kits can also be used to modify existing containments or glove bags until custom versions can be made.

Filter pouches

Filter pouches will allow fresh air to be brought into to containment tents or glove bags, while trapping radioactive particulate matter so it doesn’t contaminate workers or spread to protected, exterior environments.

Flanged sleeves

Most sleeves and gloves are designed to fit custom measurements around the exposure field. Sometimes, the accessible field may need to be extended. If longer sleeves aren’t available, flanged sleeves can be used for additional penetration depths. These sleeves are affixed to tents or glove bags using glue or tape.

Flanged glove sleeves

These sleeves work similar to flanged sleeves, but they are specific to when a worker’s gloves will need to extended to provide further protection from the increased penetration into the containment site is needed.

What do I do if my company doesn’t provide adequate protection?

The good news is that organizations such as OSHA and radiation-specific safety programs – such as ALARA – have kept conscientious employers to task when it comes to providing employees with adequate protection and education regarding radiation exposure. That being said, it’s imperative that you check-in with management if you feel employees at your jobsite are inadequately protected.

If you feel afraid to do so, or worry your position with the company is in jeopardy if you sound the alarm, contact OSHA directly. They take employee safety very seriously, particularly when it comes to radioactive materials since radiation doesn’t just affect you and your fellow co-workers, but also the immediate and global environment at large. Plus, employees that report employer safety violations are protected by the Whistleblower Protection Act.

You can contact OHSA’s free and confidential on-site consultation program and discuss your concerns with an OSHA employee directly (1-800-321-OSHA). Your name will never be mentioned, but this important call will trigger the necessary inspections and/or investigations to ensure your health – and the health of your employees – is protected. The good news is that if your company is guilty, no fines or penalties will be issued as long as they immediately clean up the violation, comply with OSHA’s instructions and pass successive inspections.

Interested in learning more about job-related radiation containment and shielding products? Contact us here at Lancs Industries. In addition to providing custom protection when needed, we can also help you determine whether your company is violating radiation protection protocols, and to establish which shielding and containment products are right for you.



The History of X-Ray Technology

Professor Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen discovered x-ray radiation in his Wuerzburg University lab back in 1895. His discovery is said to have landed like a bomb-shell in the scientific community – and we can honestly say the world has not been the same since.

While working with a cathode-ray tube, the professor noticed crystals on a table near the tube were glowing. As he manipulated the materials in the tube (positive and negative electrodes), he realized a new type of ray was emitting from the tube – stimulating phosphorescent particles in the room. He also discovered this new ray could pass though most solid materials, including human skin. As it did so, it cast a shadow of the solid objects within. When paired with photograph images, you could preserve the process (a finding that led to the x-ray films used in medicine).

Bone was one of the materials that seemed to (mostly) block these rays, as was metal. You might be familiar with one of Roentgen’s first x-ray images, that of his wife’s left hand – with a clear image of her bones and a wedding ring. Once he shared the discovery, scientists around the world rapidly replicated the cathode tube experiments. While it’s true they were uncovering an incredibly powerful and useful “tool,” it is also true that they commended more than a half-century’s long, ignorant exploitation of harmful radiation.

History of X-Ray Technology

X-Rays were the first radioactive discovery

The combination of x-ray technology and photography immediately caught the attention of scientists of physics, who immediately began using x-rays to explore the structure of matter. X-rays were immediately embraced by the medical field, and within months of its discovery, WWI surgeons were using x-rays to locate bullets and metal shrapnel in their patients. Surgeons in both Europe and the United States were using x-rays to guide them as they worked – somewhat like how benign ultrasounds and scopes are used today. Dentists also saw the possibilities and began using x-rays in their practices.

It took roughly a decade before x-rays were used in the industrial fields because the amount of voltage required to produce a strong enough x-ray wound up breaking the cathode tubes. In 1913, William Coolidge invented a high-vacuum x-ray tube, which could withstand higher power voltage. This strengthening of materials – and refinement of the technology – as continued ever since.

Then Came the Second Source of Radiation

Henri Becquerel, a French scientist working along the same lines a Roentgen, discovered a natural radiation source in 1896. Also working with fluorescents, Becquerel noticed that uranium also gave off radiation. In his case, though, nobody really took notice in any notable way. Rather, Marie Curie – a polish scientist working in France – took interest and began working with her husband, Pierre, to find other radiation sources – including radium and polonium. Since then, scientists have identified multiple naturally occurring, radioactive materials (NORMS).

Things Moved Quickly from Radioactive Fun to Radioactive Dangerous

In the beginning, scientists performed experiments without any cause for concern about their own, or their test subjects’, safety. In fact, during the turn of the century, radioactive substances were treated akin to party tricks – and were sold in mainstream stores as home x-ray kits, health drinks, teeth whiteners and just about any other gimmick you can think of. Because the onset of most low- to mid-grade radiation exposure-based sickness is gradual – rather than acute – experts didn’t associate the injuries and side-effects they experienced as related to radiation.

While some early experimenters did associate their skin burns with their exposure to radioactive exposure, it took the eye irritation experienced by inventors such as Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla to wake the scientific community up. Between their complaints, and the work of the Manhattan Project, a tremendous amount of research has been done on radiation and its effect on living organisms.

Ultimately, we’ve learned that radiation protection is a must-have in all scenarios involving radioactive materials and radiation. This ranges from the lead aprons you wear at the dentist office to full-scale work tents and ventilation units. Also, companies and industries that expose employees to radiation have taken serious steps to ensure their workers are safe and that their companies are compliant with government regulations. A company safety culture is crucial to keeping everyone safe if you work in career that exposes you to radiation.

X-rays have changed the way we ‘do’ medicine – lives have been saved and countless injuries healed as a result of this powerful tool. In the industrial world, x-rays identify cracks and breaks inside of products, and physicists use them to explore outer space. In truth, x-rays have changed life as we know it.



Is Electromagnetic Radiation Dangerous?

There are different types of radiation – and some are more harmless than others. Ionizing radiation – the type that messes with your DNA and causes radiation sickness – is the “bad kind.” This is very different from electromagnetic radiation, which is considered non-ionizing (doesn’t break chemical bonds and/or damage your DNA).

Even so, experts worry that over-exposure to non-ionizing, electromagnetic radiation might be a problem in the long-term, depending on levels of exposure. And, their worries are not entirely unfounded. The reality is that this type of radiation has only been an issue for those of us living in the 20th- and 21st centuries, as technological advancement continues to introduce increasing numbers of wireless, electric gadgets and machines into our everyday life.

As a result, our continuous exposure to these instruments is relatively new, and it can take years – or even decades – of data before scientists can make concrete statements one way or the other.

Is Electromagnetic Radiation Dangerous

What Happens When Your Body is Exposed to Electromagnetic Fields?

The bulk of our bodies’ systems and processes rely on a combination of chemical interactions and electrical impulses. This includes everything from your heartbeat, to digestion to brain activity. Therefore, any electromagnetic forces that are powerful enough to disturb these natural, biological processes can potentially cause harm to your body. However, the bulk of the electromagnetic energy you’re exposed to each day (unless you work in a radioactive career) are very low-level forms of radiation and do not disrupt normal, biological processes enough to do any harm.

In fact, in almost all cases, elevated temperature levels (heat) are the only bi-product of exposure. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “The levels of radiofrequency fields to which people are normally exposed are very much lower than those needed to produce significant heating.” This is one of the reasons most experts aren’t overly concerned about the effects of our daily exposure to electromagnetic radiation sources; the amount of energy required to do biological harm far exceeds the limits set by national and international governing bodies.

That being said, scientists continue to study the effects of long-term, low-level exposure to radiofrequency or power frequency fields to monitor any adverse health effects that may arise.

Current Research Shows No Harmful Effects from Long-Term, Low-Level Exposure

In order to address the public’s concern, WHO launched a large, multidisciplinary research project called the Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Project. As a result, EMF researchers have published tens of thousands of articles summarizing their findings over the course of the past 30 years. Based on a recent, in-depth review of this enormous body of studies, the WHO concluded, “current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low level electromagnetic fields. However, some gaps in knowledge about biological effects exist and need further research.”

Some members of the public report a collection of side-effects related to EMFs – including headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, anxiety, depression, etc.. However, scientists reviewing the EMF Project’s findings conclude those side effects are more likely caused by individual’s stress levels as a result of technology. Perhaps this is simply more proof you should limit the amount of time spent on electronic devices, and increase the amount of time you spend outdoors, exercising, in nature!), environmental noise factors and/or other factors pertaining to the environment.

Don’t Cell Phones Cause Cancer, Infertility and other Health Problems?

Cell phones have given the public great cause for concern. Sources of electromagnetic fields, these small, handheld devices have been accused of causing everything from cancer and infertility to negative pregnancy outcomes and more.

It’s important to note that to date, researchers haven’t been able to connect any of those outcomes to electromagnetic radiation. However, the direct heat produced by EMFs can potentially do harm. For example, several studies have been able to link excessive male cellphone use and/or carrying cell phones in pockets with male infertility factors. For this reason, most scientists and medical professionals recommend using Bluetooth technology as much as possible, carrying cell phones away from the body whenever possible and limiting the amount of time spent in direct contact with cellphones that are charging and/or sending and receiving messages.

While the study of electromagnetic fields and their connection to cancer are ongoing, this type of research has significantly slowed since the 1990s. That being said, WHO’s reports state, “The long-term health effects of mobile telephone use is another topic of much current research. No obvious adverse effect of exposure to low level radiofrequency fields has been discovered. However, given public concerns regarding the safety of cellular telephones, further research aims to determine whether any less obvious effects might occur at very low exposure levels.”

How Can I Protect Myself From Electromagnetic Radiation?

In our line of work, we advocate that it’s never a bad idea to err on the side of caution. You can protect yourself from any potential, harmful effects of electromagnetic radiation by one or more of the following:

  • Limiting cell phone use and keep your phone away from your body as much as possible (use speakerphone and Bluetooth devices as much as possible).
  • Turn your phone off when not in use for long periods of time (i.e. while it’s charging at night).
  • Use cordless phones as close to the base station as possible and when it’s time to replace the cordless phone, do so with a lower radiation level.
  • If you’re worried about Wi-Fi signals (studies show children may be more sensitive to than adults) consider using an Ethernet connection whenever possible and turn the Wi-Fi router off when not in use.
  • Don’t forget that stress is toxic! Worrying about the effects of these devices might be more damaging to your health than the devices themselves so utilize stress-relieving practices as much as possible to keep your adrenal system healthy.

Key Points to Remember

A few key points to remember when reading/thinking/exploring the idea of electromagnetic radiation and your health are:

  1. In almost all instances, the small amount of electrical currents introduced to your body via EMFs are not harmful and are easily tended to by your body’s own regulatory mechanisms.
  2. The term “biological effect” does not mean “health hazard.”
  3. Heat is the main byproduct of EMFs related to electrical/tech gadgets, and it’s not enough to harm most biological systems.
  4. Extensive research has not been able to show that long-term, low-level exposure to EMFs is harmful to human health.
  5. The small steps you take here and there to reduce EMFs in your life add up to notable changes.

Think you need extra protection? Work in an industry with high-level EMF exposure? Contact us here at Lancs Industries and we’ll make sure you have the shielding you need.



The Most Radioactive Places on Earth

Radioactive isotopes have shockingly long half-lives – the amount of time it takes them to decay. As a result, radioactive accidents or emergencies potentially leave lifetimes of toxicity behind in their wake. If you’re a world traveler, it’s worth knowing about some of the most radioactive places on the planet so you can steer clear and prevent exposing yourself to unnecessary doses of direct radiation.

Take Care When Traveling to 5 of the Most Radioactive Places on Earth

Remember learning about half-lives of isotopes in earth science and chemistry? If not, we’ll refresh your memory with this list of commonly-used radioactive isotopes and their half-lives:

  • Uranium: 4.5 billion years
  • Plutonium 239: 24,300 years
  • Plutonium 238: 87.7 years
  • Cesium 137: 30.2 years
  • Strontium-90: 28-years

Depending on the spill or fall-out situation, and the isotopes involved, certain areas on the planet are off-limits for a generation or two, and others are permanently wiped off the map for all of life as we know it.

As of today’s date, 5 of the most radioactive places on earth are:

Fukishima, Japan

On Friday, March 11, 2011 the Pacific coast of Japan experienced an earthquake with a magnitude upwards of 9.0. This significant movement of the tectonic plates caused a tsunami that destroyed Fukushima, along with its Daiichi Nuclear Plant. Theoretically, the plant was supposed to shutdown in the case of a natural disaster. Instead the generator designated to cool the reactors failed to engage and this lead to a nuclear meltdown.

Ultimately, three active reactors leaked radioactive material, and this was followed by a succession of other nuclear emergencies, including a radioactive spill next to the contaminated wastewater storage pool. In addition to the ground around Fukushima, adjacent areas of the Pacific coast are also affected.

The power plant is completely shut down and experts believe it will take a full 40-years or more before the plant is completely decommissioned.

Chernobyl, Ukraine

Chernobyl was the nuclear event of the 1980s. On April 26, 1986 one of the world’s largest nuclear disasters occurred when Reactor 4 exploded, and it released radiation that was 100-times more powerful than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs combined. Very sadly, as a result, the immediate effects of radiation exposure affected six-million innocent people, and experts believe that when all is said and done, the death toll from Chernobyl will be as high as 93,000 people.

Belarus has been the most-affected area by the disaster, where the population experiences record numbers of thyroid and other types of cancers. Roughly 2,600 square km (almost 1004-square miles) is a designated Exclusion Zone (meaning public access and inhabitants are completely restricted) because of the high levels of radioactivity.

The Polygon

During the cold war, the Soviet Union used an area called The Polygon, which is now located in modern-day Kazakhstan. During that period of time, nuclear experts estimate that as many as 400 nuclear weapons were tested in that area.

As a result, it’s considered completely uninhabitable – a fact that has shamefully not been enforced upon the more than 500,000 people who have lived in the area throughout the past decades. It’s believe that more than 200,000 people are still suffering from radiation sickness at some level due to their exposure to radiation. Fortunately, the immediate area has been abandoned and is completely off-limits to visitors.

Hanford, Washington – USA

During WWII, the US manufactured plutonium for atom bombs in a quiet town called Hanford, Washington. The materials made there were eventually dropped on Nagasaki. Then, during the Cold War, Hanford’s plutonium manufacturing efforts ramped up again in order to produce 600,000 additional nuclear weapons.

The plutonium plant in Hanford is now decommissioned, but (see half-life numbers above) it currently contains roughly two-thirds of our nation’s highly radioactive waste – in both solid and liquid forms. Radioactive waste has contaminated an estimated 200 square miles of groundwater in the area as well, making Hanford the most radioactive place in the United States.

Goias, Brazil

Goias has one of the most interesting stories of them all because the radioactive waste was uncovered during a robbery attempt back in 1987. Two men broke into an abandoned hospital, hoping to steal scrap metal. While there, they noticed a cancer therapy device that contained a glowing, blue material the criminals couldn’t resist.

The robbers stole the machine and – oblivious to the fact that the glowing, blue material was radioactive – they started calling up friends, neighbors and family to come take a look at this amazing glowing object. Sadly, everyone who heeded the call was exposed to radiation. More than 250 people were admitted to the hospital, four of whom died. The Brazilian government was called in to clean up the area but the unprecedented event left radioactive particles spread across a large area.

Always Use Adequate Protection When Exposed to Radioactive Materials

The above places and stories are prime examples of what great respect medical and industrial professionals must have and hold for the materials they work with. Always protect yourself from any level of radiation exposure to err on the safe side.

Contact Lancs Industries to learn more about industry-specific radiation shielding.



What Materials Are Used in Radiation Shielding?

Radiation contamination is always a concern anywhere radioactive materials or tools are used, which is why radiation shielding products are essential to any ALARA program or a relevant company safety program. This includes nuclear power facilities and industrial complexes, to medical facilities where x-rays are used, and any other “radioactive workspaces.”

Containing the radiation and preventing it from harming employees, contaminating tools or contaminating the surrounding environment should be a Number One priority. This happens in a variety of ways – tents and ventilation systems, sleeving and bags, suiting up in protective clothing, etc. – but how does all that stuff work?

What is it about radiation shielding products that actually works to stop one of the deadliest contaminants in our environment?

Radiation Shielding Products Depend on the Type of Radiation in Question

There are two different “genres” of radiation: indirectly ionizing radiation and directly ionizing radiation.

  • Indirectly ionizing radiation. This type includes neutrons, gamma rays or x-rays, which are uncharged and require an intermediary in order to remove an electron and create free radicals.
  • Directly ionizing radiation. This type of radiation involves charged particles – such as electrons or alpha particles, that act directly on molecules or atoms without any intermediary step or element required.

As a result of these differences, the materials comprising the shielding products are key – ensuring specific particles are blocked by the elemental properties of the shielding material.

Shielding Products Rob Radioactive Particles of Their Energy

Ultimately, radiation shielding products are designed to facilitate attenuation. Attenuation means the gradual loss of intensity as a particular particle or substance flows or moves through a barrier. So, for example, sunglasses provide attenuation, diminishing the power of sunlight as it makes its way from the sun, through the dark tinted glasses, and into your eyes.

In the case of radiation shielding, we aim to attenuate the particles that would otherwise have the ability to interact with cellular material and destroy healthy DNA.

  • Charged particles: These are usually de-energized by barriers that contain electrons. The charged particles lose energy to the electrons in the barrier and are no longer threatening.
  • Neutrons: When we use a combination of elastic and inelastic scattering, we reduce the potential harm of neutrons.
  • X-Rays and Gamma Rays: These are attenuated in three ways – photoemission (the process of exposing certain metals to light in order to release electrons), scattering (using a material that causes the particles to scatter, significantly diminishing their trajectory and concentration) and pair production.

Depending on the scenario, your place of business might opt for one shielding material over another, depending on considerations such as:

  • Effectiveness
  • Resistance to damage in a particular environment/setting
  • Strength
  • Thermal properties
  • Financial efficiency

Gamma and X-Ray Shielding

When it comes to attenuating gamma and x-rays, density matters. This is one of the reasons why lead aprons and blankets are the most common shielding products wherever gamma-rays or x-rays are used. If you may recall from earth science or chemistry, lead (Pb) had a very high number or protons in each atom – 82, to be exact, along with a corresponding number of electrons. This makes it a very dense metal shield. The thickness of the shielding is adjustable according to the degree of protection required.

Even so, a small number of particles can still make it through so this needs to be taken into consideration is routine exposure is potential.

Alpha and Beta Shielding

In the case of alpha and beta shielding, we still place an emphasis on density but thickness is not as much of a concern as it is with x-rays and gamma rays. Alpha particles can be blocked by something as simple as a centimeter of plastic or an inch of paper. Since lead doesn’t always stop beta particles, we prefer to use plastic to block these particles as well, which is efficient in terms of economics as well as maneuverability.

Neutron Shielding

Neutrons have no charge, and so they can pass through dense materials – like lead – as quick as they please. Thus, we need elements with a low atomic number to stop neutron radiation. Hydrogen, the very lightest of the elements – becomes an ideal choice. When neutron radiation passes through the very un-dense hydrogen-based materials (water being a prime example) the low-density material forms a barrier, preventing neutron particles from passing through.

That being said, the act of blocking the neutrons can cause low-density materials to emit gamma-rays when blocking neutrons, so we typically combine both low- and high-density materials. The low-density materials create the elastic scattering of the neutrons, and then the high-density material blocks the resulting gamma rays via in-elastic scattering.

Want to make sure your company is using the right radiation shielding project for the job? Contact the team here at Lancs Industries. We’ll work with you to find the best product, at the right price. Don’t see what you need on our website? We are always happy to customize specific products to your needs.



How is Radiation Measured and Detected

Radiation is colorless, odorless, tasteless, soundless and lacks any type of tangible “feeling.” As a result, it’s nearly impossible – save an acute event resulting in immediate physical damage – for individuals to know they are exposed to radiation at all. If you work in a radioactive career, your company safety culture matters.

It’s your company’s – and the radiation safety officer’s (RSO) commitment to ALARA – including adequate detection and measurement technologies that will keep you and other employees safe.

How is Radiation Measured?

Radiation is present in our environment, the earth, outer space and even in our homes. This is because radiation is a natural phenomenon. As such, humans and other living organisms can withstand small doses, over time, with zero to minimal health risks. It’s only when those radiation doses creep up into the larger limits, are at closer proximity and/or exposure occurs over a long-period of time that radiation poses a serious risk.

For this reason, nuclear plants, industries that work with radioactive materials, and individuals who work or live within close proximity to radiation, should ensure proper measurement and detection protocols are put in place. Industry-respected, high-quality radiation instruments are the only means of telling whether or not there is a potential risk from radiation (over) exposure to yourself and others.

How to measure a radiation dose rate

The first thing to note is that not radiation detectors are not created equal. Some measure contamination, some only measure specific types of radiation, and others only tell you the type of radiation the instrument detects. If you’re worried about radiation sickness or being poisoned by radiation, you need an instrument that more specifically measures radiation dose rates, so you can respond accordingly.

Geiger Counter

The Geiger Counter is the first instrument laypersons think of when they hear radiation detection or measurement device because we learned about it back in earth science. However, it’s not always the best choice. The average Geiger counter will go haywire and yield an inaccurate high reading when hyper-responds to low-energy gamma rays that comprise the majority of natural background radiation, and it will give an alarmingly low reading if you’re attempting to measure radiation from high-energy gamma rays.

The best Geiger counter for measuring radiation dose rates is one that is what we call “energy compensated.” Energy-compensated Geiger counters are designed to make up for those differences. Even so, we don’t consider these to be the most effective way of accurately measuring specific radiation dose rates.

Ion Chamber

Ion chambers, or similar pressurized versions that can measure really low radiation dose rates, are basically chambers filled with gas. The electrical properties of the enclosed gas change whenever radiation passes through the chamber. By measuring these electrical changes, we can tell how much radiation the ion chamber is exposed to. Radiation dose rates are measured in milliRoentgen per hour, or mR/hr.

How to measure radioactive contamination

While you may breathe a sigh of relief when the ion chamber indicates a low radiation dose rate, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. There could be radioactive contamination that needs to be addressed. This is important to note because if and whenever possible, radiation contamination should be cleaned up.

For example, after a nuclear reactor accident, distant areas may have low radioactive dose rate measurements while still reading positive for nuclear contamination. Why leave radioactive materials in and around the earth if we don’t need to?

In this case, as touched on above, Geiger counters are the perfect instrument to use. More specifically, you can use a pancake GM, a specific type of Geiger counter to measure contamination – which is measured in counts per minute, or CPM.

How to Measure Different Types of Radiation

There are four different types of radiation: alpha, beta, gamma and neutron. Since each one has different properties, each one of them is measured a bit differently.

  • Alpha radiation is measured by a GM pancake probe or a zinc sulfide scintillator
  • Beta radiation is measure using a GM pancake probe, a beta scintillator or an ion chamber
  • Gamma radiation is measured by a GM pancake probe, a GM hot dog probe, a sodium iodide scintillator or an ion chamber.
  • Neutron radiation is most commonly measured using a scintillation detector and specialized detection software.

Do you work in a radioactive career or employ others who require specialized radiation protection? Contact us here at Lancs Industries. We design and manufacture leading radiation shielding and protection products, including glove bags and sleeving, to increase the safety of workers in potentially hazardous environments. We can also design custom equipment, clothing and products.