The Radiation Post

Is Radiation Ever Good For You?

The majority of the time, we view ionizing forms of radiation as dangerous – and that’s a good premise to hold. In high doses, or in low exposure doses over an extended period of time, ionizing radiation damages DNA, which leads to defects, cancer, and other radiation-related illnesses.

The flip side of that story is medical radiation, which uses varying levels of radiation to treat cancer and other medical diagnoses, and radiation hormesis, a theory that states very low doses of ionizing radiation is not only good for you, the absence of any radiation may even be harmful. This article pertains solely to the concept of radiation hormesis, and how exposure to low doses of radiation may be helpful rather than harmful to human existence.

Is Radiation Ever Good For You

Radiation Hormesis Theory: Low-Dose Radiation May Be Good For You

NOTE: Please know that this concept is only a theory. The effects of low-level radiation are very difficult to observe and highly controversial. Science has yet to prove whether small doses of radiation are beneficial or not. Currently, there is no evidence for hormesis in humans and in the case of the National Research Council hormesis is outright rejected as a possibility.

The theory of radiation hormesis states, “low doses of ionizing radiation (within the region of and just above natural background levels) are beneficial, stimulating the activation of repair mechanisms that protect against disease…”

While evidence is clear that higher doses of radiation, or regular doses of radiation over long periods of time (think nuclear emergencies, the long term effects of the atomic bomb, or for employees regularly exposed to ionizing radiation in the workplace), it has difficult to prove whether the theory of radiation hormesis is legitimate.

As a company that manufactures radiation shielding products, and that has been dedicated to keeping people safe from harmful doses of radiation for nearly 50 years, we do not support any government policies that would diminish nuclear energy/weaponry regulations – or that would put humans at risk. What we can say is that there may be something to the idea that very low, everyday levels of radiation may be beneficial since they have been a regular part of human evolution.

In many ways, the radiation hormesis theory is similar to what we know about the human immune system. Just as the human immune system has evolved to respond and defend itself against bacterial, viral, and fungal invaders, the radiation hormesis theory states that the cells of humans and other living organisms may have inherent repair mechanisms that are the result of their constant, natural exposure to low-doses of ionizing radiation.

Thus, just as lack of exposure to bacteria leave an immune system weakened or ill-equipped, supporters of radiation hormesis theory propose that eliminating all sources of radiation exposure from humans could potentially diminish cellular capacity to repair and heal the body.

Perhaps normal daily doses of radiation are enough

What we mean by that is while we don’t support changes in public policy around known, harmful doses of radiation exposure, there is a common sense logic to the fact that humans and other living species on our planet may have evolved to build cellular defense/repair mechanisms in response to the daily doses of radiation we are exposed to all the time.

Visit our post, Radiation Doses in Our Daily Lives, to learn about these sources in more detail.

Some of the most common and natural sources of very low-grade, ionizing radiation include:

  • The sun
  • Drinking water
  • The soil (don’t forget that radiation occurs naturally via many of the earth’s elements)
  • Foods we eat since they pull radiation up from the soil beneath
  • Radon (a naturally occurring source of radiation that emerges from beneath the earth’s crust)
  • Cosmic rays that make their way into the earth’s atmosphere

Since these are a natural occurrence, the theory that our body’s cells created a system to monitor and repair any damage related to exposure to daily radiation sources seems logical. Again, this natural, evolutionary process would be similar to the way the immune system is able to respond to common bacterial or viral invasions.

Beware Higher-Levels of Radiation Doses

While the theory behind basic, radiation hormesis theory is logically sound – it has not been proven. And, the concept has gained the attention of the press lately as the Trump administration has been raising the question of whether radiation hormesis is true, and whether current legislation designed to prevent harmful radiation exposure leading to cancer, radiation poisoning or sickness, and other deficiencies should be reevaluated.

Those wary of the administration’s willingness to rethink federal standards for radiation doses received by the public and by workers cite the administration’s appointment of key radiation hormesis supporters to the Radiation Advisory Panel at the Environmental Protection Agency.

While we aren’t interested in using our company’s website or blog to promote political beliefs or opinions, we do think is is always important for the public to pay attention to any new policies proposed by the EPA’s Radiation Advisory Panel. Their findings, policies, and legal mandates are essential to American (and global!) health and safety with regards to radiation.

The Benefits of the 3 Principles of Radiation Protection Are Proven

Regardless of the EPAs fluctuating views on radiation exposure, and whether low doses are beneficial or not, the team here at Lancs Industries always adheres to the three principles of radiation protection:

  1. Limit the amount of time you’re exposed to radiation
  2. Limit radiation dosage
  3. Optimize your level of protection

These three principles will never lead you astray.

Interested in more ways to protect yourself from harmful doses of radiation in the workplace or at home? Contact us here at Lancs Industries.

UV Radiation: What You Need to Know

There is no way to avoid sources of radiation if you live on planet earth. From the ultra-violet (UV) radiation we’re exposed to from the sun to cosmic, micro- and other forms of radiation – we encounter small and manageable radioactive doses as a part of daily life.

Fortunately, a little education and some basic, routine precautions will protect you from any harmful effects of UV radiation – including cancer – so you can enjoy the health benefits of the great outdoors without worry or stress.

What is UV Radiation?

While sun beds and tanning salons produce manufactured UV light, the large majority of UV radiation we encounter comes to us via sunlight. While they make up only a very small amount of the sun’s rays, UV rays do the most damage to unprotected human skin. In fact, their radiation exposure is considered ionizing, meaning it negatively alters our skin cells’ DNA.

UV rays are divided into three main categories:

  1. UVA Rays: Typically, UVA rays are the ones that contribute most to skin cell damage that leads to aging – i.e. wrinkles and minor sun spotting. Experts also think that intense exposure – like the larger-than-sun-power doses of UVA encountered at tanning beds – put you at higher risk for skin cancer.
  2. UVB Rays: These rays have more energy than UVA rays. The damage the skin cells via direct contact, so you can blame the UVBs the next time you get a nasty sunburn. Overtime, repeat skin cell damage affects the DNA, which damages the genes that guide healthy cell regeneration, and this causes skin cancer. For some, just a few bad sunburns as a child can lead to skin cancer as an adult.
  3. UVC Rays: These are a non-entity for us because although they have more energy than the other two, they are a source of cosmic radiation that is filtered from our planet’s surface by the atmosphere.

Most medical professionals agree that there is no such thing as a “safe” UV ray. Therefore, it’s your job to take adequate precautions.

Use the Principles of Radiation Protection to Prevent Skin Cancer

Because UV rays are a form of radiation, the Principles of Radiation Protection are just as relevant to humans outdoors on a sunny day as they are for anyone who works in a radioactive career. The three principles are:

  • It should do more good than harm. Your skin should only be exposed to UV rays when it will do more good than harm. For example, you’re getting outdoors for some exercise and having a good time with yourself, family and friends. On the flip side, if you want to take a nap, you’re better off getting out of the chaise lounge and heading indoors to a couch or bed to minimize exposure.
  • You should limit the amount of time you’re exposed. In most cases, peak sun exposure (UV radiation exposure) is from 10 a.m. to about 4 p.m. Therefore, it’s best to spend time outdoors before or after these peak hours, and to limit the amount of time you’re exposed to the UV rays if you are outdoors during those hours.
  • Try to limit your radiation dose. If you are spending a fair amount of time in the sun, do your best to limit exposure to reasonable doses. While a dosimeter isn’t necessary, you can notably limit your UV radiation dose by covering up with long sleeves and pants, wearing a hat with an ample brim and trying to stay in the shade. Sunscreen and sunglasses are also protective layers against radiation.

Don’t forget that most UV rays can go right through cloud layers, and water and snow can reflect and magnify their effect. Interestingly, cancer isn’t the only problem UV rays cause. Studies show that UV rays increase your risk of developing cataracts and other vision problems, and they can also suppress the immune system.

The team here at Lancs Industries wishes your family a safe, happy and UV protected summer so you minimize your chances of developing skin cancer.

What You Need to Know About Backscatter X-Rays and Safety

The good news for most Americans is that X-ray backscatter scanners are no longer used in airports, and therefore, they are no longer a source of daily radiation for regular travelers. Whether these devices were a threat – and how much of a risk they posed – has yet to be determined. In the meantime, the majority of these questionably risky devices have been removed and replaced with a different type of body scanning technology, one that doesn’t rely on ionizing radiation, called Advanced Image Technology (AIT).

The good news for Americans and other travelers making their way through the security scans at more than 200 airports around the nation, these AIT body scanners are not only safer (they use benign, millimeter wave scanning technology), they are also far less intrusive than their backscatter x-ray counterparts. You can Click Here to view a recent list of all U.S. airports using full-body scanners as part of their security checkpoints.

Is Backscatter X-Ray Technology Harmful?

According to an article by the science gurus at How Stuff Works, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) explains that whole-body scanning devices are essential for airport and flight security because they are able to detect weapons, explosives and other threats potential terrorists are trying to hide on or inside their bodies to activate later on.

After September 11, 2001, Americans and other travelers were understandably concerned about the safety and wellbeing of themselves, other passengers and the nation. As a result, the feds quickly engaged the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, and TSA hurried to install x-ray backscatter machines in the security areas of major airports. The idea was that these units would use “Automated Target Recognition” software to replace the rather accurate anatomical images with more cartoon-like representations that would show any areas of concern (obvious weapons, non-anatomical pieces/parts, etc.), so security personnel could follow-up accordingly.

Instead, the public went up in arms – largely due to the fact most Americans and international travelers felt these images were still a large violation of privacy. More importantly, many were concerned there simply wasn’t enough data to support the risk/benefits of the operation – most notably because like other forms of x-ray technology, backscatter x-ray machines exposed humans to low-doses of ionizing radiation.

As Wikipedia points out:
“…the energy being emitted by a backscatter X-ray is a type of ionizing radiation that breaks chemical bonds. Ionizing radiation is considered carcinogenic even in very small doses but at the doses used in airport scanners this effect is believed to be negligible for an individual. If one-million people were exposed to 520 scans in one year, one study estimated that roughly four additional cancers would occur due to the scanner, in contrast to the 600 additional cancers that would occur from the higher levels of radiation during flight.”

As the result of widespread findings like these, and reports, speeches and letters written by scientists and medical experts in the field, backscatter x-ray machines came quickly under suspicion. They were banned by the European Union in 2012, which furthered resistance here in the U.S. In May of 2013, the original versions of backscatter x-ray machines were removed. Some have been replaced by AIT or millimeter wave scanning devices, but the 25 largest US airports still rely on newer, “more improved,” backscatter x-ray technology for some of their security scanners.

Difference Between Backscatter X-Ray Scanners and Millimeter Wave Scanners

AIT or millimeter waver scanners work slightly differently from x-rays in that the waves work similarly to microwaves. Unlike x-rays, which penetrate and move through the entire human body, millimeter wave (mmw) scanners use waves that are similar to microwaves, a non-iodizing source or radiation. These microwaves waves are larger than those emitted by x-ray backscatter machines, so they are less able to negatively impact smaller human proteins and DNA.

Here is a description from the folks at How Stuff Works on the difference between x-ray and mmw technology:

Backscatter x-ray machines:

“Backscatter machines use rotating collimators to generate X-rays, which pass through a slit and strike a passenger standing inside. The X-rays penetrate clothing, bounce off the person’s skin and return to detectors mounted on the machine’s surface. The radiation also bounces off weapons, explosives or other threats concealed in clothing or lying against the skin. By sensing and analyzing this so-called backscatter, the machine is able to create an image of a person, as well as any organic or inorganic items carried on that person.”

Millimeter wave scanning machine (AIT):

“Millimeter wave scanners use small, disc-like transmitters to make an image. Each transmitter emits a pulse of energy, which travels as a wave to a person standing in the machine, passes through the person’s clothes, reflects off the person’s skin or concealed solid and liquid objects and then travels back, where the transmitter, now acting like a receiver, detects the signal. One disc would only scan a small portion of the test subject, so a single machine contains two stacks of discs connected by a bar that pivots around a central point. Because there are several transmitter/receiver discs stacked vertically and because these stacks rotate around the person, the device can form a complete picture, from head to toe and front to back.”

In terms of safety, experts agree that AIT scanners are preferred. However, in terms of efficacy, backscatter x-ray machines are less likely to provide false results than their AIT, millimeter wave scanning counterparts. Even so, we feel false reports – which result in TSA personnel performing more in-depth body scans – are worth the risk.

You Have the Right to Refuse Full-Body Scanning in the US

If you aren’t convinced, or prefer not to take any risk, you have the right to refuse full-body scans at airports. If you choose to opt-out, we recommend adding another 10 to 15 minutes to your airport security process to accommodate the extra steps required. When you get to the security area and are ready to line up for the scan, let the TSA personnel know you’re opting out.

They will divert you from the line-up of those entering the scanner, and will call for a same-gendered TSA employee to provide a personal scan. You’ll walk through the standard metal detector, after which they’ll perform a respectful pat down of your entire body. The process takes no more than five- to 10-minutes (once the assigned TSA employee is able to perform the check), and then you can grab your bags and be on your way.

The team here at Lancs Industries wishes you a safe and healthy summer travel season. While our radiation shielding products aren’t allowed to be worn in x-ray backscatter or millimeter wave scanning machines, they are recommended for use in most industrial applications where radiation exposure is a risk. Contact us to learn more.

Scatter Radiation Safety and Protection

All humans experience radiation exposure daily due to sunlight, radio, and microwaves, our smartphones, and even the foods we eat. Fortunately, the minimal amounts of radiation absorbed via these sources pose no real threat to our wellbeing.

For those who work in the diagnostic and therapeutic fields, or for patients whose medical conditions require frequent radiation exposure via diagnostic/treatment tools (such as x-rays or cancer treatment radiation), there are increased health and safety risks.

Scatter Radiation Safety and Protection

What is Scatter Radiation?

Scatter radiation is a secondary form of radiation. Just as sunlight can bounce off walls and reflective surfaces, radioactive particles “bounce” or scatter when they run into physical objects, including patients. Thus, medical professionals, like radiologists using x-ray technology, as well as the patient who receives the x-ray, and others are at risk of absorbing scatter radiation that bounces off the walls, ceilings, chairs – or even within or on the patient’s body. In fact, in most hospital and dental practice environments, the patients themselves are the largest source of scatter radiation since the x-ray is directed right at their body.

This is why you are covered with a lead blanket of some kind, and why the medical technicians or physicians walk away from the space, and behind some type of radiation-resistant barrier, while capturing the image or during radiation treatments. These radiation shielding products are designed to absorb the radiation, minimizing the scatter radiation you and s/he are exposed to.

As with other forms of radiation, the negative effects of scatter radiation depend wholly on:

  • The time of exposure
  • The distance from the radiation source
  • Shielding from radiation

Hence, applying the principles of radiation protection in any setting where scatter radiation is present goes a long way in keeping everyone healthy and safe.

“Lead Glasses Are Not Enough…”

In a March 2019 article posted in MedPage Today, Reporter Nicole Lou posted an article about a recent study’s findings that, “Lead glasses may be providing a false sense of security to the interventionist (x-ray or fluoroscopic radiation technician),” because scattered radiation comes at the human body from all directions. Thus, the protective lead glasses offer direct shielding from a particular angle but leaves the exposed angles of the eye area, cheeks, and forehead vulnerable.

This example is one of many we can share from the medical world and demonstrates how important it is that each department evaluate its structural footprint, the furnishings in the room, the safety program currently in place and whether or not changes or improvements are possible to enhance the safety of patients, clients, and staff.

A continuing and developing awareness of which parts of the body are covered or shielded, and what is left exposed, poses important considerations to those in the medical environment and other careers that place employees and team members in direct contact with radiation or radioactive materials.

Pair Comfort and Safety for Employees and Patients

Lead blankets are heavy, and that makes them both cumbersome and less comfortable for both employees and patients. So, while full lead blankets are the cost-savings norm, companies and medical administrators may find that spending a bit more on lighter, more eco-friendly options increases patient and employee satisfaction, without compromising safety. Examples include TL light (20% lighter than full lead and 100% recyclable) or Non-leaded options (25% lighter than full lead, flexible, and environmentally friendly).

For those working in the emerging field of C-Arm fluoroscopy, studies show that the best equipment for protecting attending physicians include:

  • Being as far from the source of radiation as physically possible while still getting the job done
  • Implementing
  • Lead or similar shielding aprons
  • Thyroid shields
  • Lead glasses
  • Lead barriers

These same, mindful and thorough tenets of protection of should be provided for the patient and any family, medical personnel, or staff in the vicinity.

Is your medical practice or place of business doing all it can to educate your employees about scatter radiation and providing the necessary means of radiation shielding and protection?

Lancs Industries has decades of radiation shielding experience, and we’re happy to work with you to make sure you have everything you need for ALARA compliance and to keep your company Safe with a capital “S.” Contact us to learn more about our radiation shielding products, or to design custom products or equipment that meet the demands of your workplace.

Radiation Doses in Our Daily Lives

The good news is that the majority of us live with minimal contact to non-ionizing (meaning non-harmful radiation) on a daily basis as the result of filtered radio waves, UV light and solar activity as well as cosmic radiation that is mostly filtered by the atmosphere.

Unfortunately, everything from medical x-rays and radiation-based cancer treatment, to some mining procedures, weapons testing/manufacturing and other man-made (or man intervened) practices put some of us at higher risk for harmful radiation exposure than others.

radiation doses in our daily lives.

What is the Difference Between Harmful & Non-Harmful Radiation Exposure?

The first thing to know is that not all radiation is harmful. Some forms of radiation, such as power lines, low-frequency microwaves and infrared waves are everday sources of radiation, but in their low-frequency forms, they are harmless. Even your cell phone puts you at risk for low-frequency radiation exposure.

Other forms of radiation, such as x-rays, atomic weapons energy, and many radioactive elements are considered ionizing. These are harmful because they actually irreversibly alter the DNA blueprints in your cells. Ionizing radiation sources are kind you want to be wary of, especially if you have a job or career that puts you at risk for elevated radiation exposure.

Most of us don’t have to worry about ionizing forms of radiation in our everyday lives because we don’t work in outer space or closer to the boundaries of earth’s atmosphere. However, nuclear events such as the Fukishima nuclear meltdown, following the 2011 tsunami, do place these everyday risks closer to home. And then, there are lots of things that expose us to low doses – that can all add up to higher doses if you aren’t paying attention.

Most radiation doses in our daily lives are too low to worry about

The good news is that most of the radiation doses we get in our daily lives are too low to worry about. We’ve already written about radioactive exposure from some everyday products – like microwaves and cell phones.

Here are some other common sources of radiation:

Fukishima fallout

When a nuclear meltdown or war occurs, the resulting radiation exposure is referred to as nuclear or radioactive fallout. In the case of Fukushima and our west coast, nuclear fallout is a reality. Everything from wine to seafood has shown elevated levels of radiation as a result of that disaster. However, experts agree that the effect on U.S. residents is still minimal and nothing to worry about, “The radiation from Japan is equivalent to an increase of 0.1 millirem (mrem) per year in background radiation, Arizona officials estimate; that’s just a fraction of the 620 mrem the average American gets each year.”

Drinking water

Radioactive materials are ultimately sourced from the earth. So, it makes sense that most drinking water has very low-traces of radioactivity.

In rural areas, this is the result of fresh water picking up natural radioactive isotopes from the rocks and soil it passes by in streams and rivers; in urban environments, radioactive contamination may be higher if industrial plants aren’t taking careful precautions, and bodies of water near nuclear facilities are also at risk. Fortunately, the FDA monitors these locations carefully.


Those who love to spend time outside, especially famers and gardeners, may be surprised to learn that the soil they work with exposes them to 35 mrems of radiation per year (again, just a wee fraction of the total, average dose of mrems we’re exposed to each year).

Fruits & veggies (and other foods)

The next time someone tells you to eat more fruits and veggies, tell them, “are you kidding? Most of them are radioactive!” It’s true; check out this list of radioactive foods from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Committee (NRC), which lists bananas, carrots, white potatoes, lima beans, Brazil nuts, red meat and even beer.

The good news is that outside of fallout or other potential contamination, these radioactive doses are the result of Mother Nature. As the NRC states, “All organic matter (both plant and animal) contains some small amount of radiation from radioactive potassium-40 (40K), radium-226 (226Ra), and other isotopes. In addition, all water on Earth contains small amounts of dissolved uranium and thorium. As a result, the average person receives an average internal dose of about 30 millirem of these materials per year from the food and water that we eat and drink…”

So, you really should eat those fruits and veggies after all.

Radon in your home

Radon is considered a “creeper” because – like carbon monoxide – it’s odorless. Radon is a radioactive gas that can is sucked into your home through the soil via cracks, structural holes and decaying structural materials. Without proper ventilation, this gas gets trapped. Radon may also be present in water that you swallow or dust particles that you inhale.

Most people don’t know that after smoking, radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Some area of the countries have more radon than others. Click Here to view the CDC’s map of Radon Zones. Fortunately, there are things you can do to detect radon in your home, and to prevent your home from trapping radon gases. Read the CDC’s page, Radon in the Home, to learn more.

Being aware, staying on top of the news, and avoiding situations that put you at risk for elevated levels of radiation exposure are the best ways to keep you and your family safe. Interested in learning more about everyday protection from radiation exposure? Contact us here at Lancs and we can provide basic radiation protection for potential emergencies.

What Are the Three Principles of Radiation Protection

While the three principles of radiation protection grew largely out of the increased use of radioactive medical equipment, such as x-rays, CT and PET-CT scans, they are applicable to any career or industry in which employees or members of the public are exposed to radiation.

Multiple careers put employees at risk for radiation, such as industrial applications, mining, weapons manufacturing and the airline industry. However, radiation experts agree that, “…radiation doses from medical exposure are now the largest source of man-made radiation exposure.”

If you work in a career that poses a risk of radiation exposure, it’s essential that you learn and adhere to three, key principles.

The Three Principles of Radiation Protection

Also called the three principles of radiation safety, these three principles are a more specific implantation of a broader radiation safety paradigm referred to as ALARA – (As Low as Reasonably Achievable).

1. Justification

The first of these principles is that no human should be exposed to doses of radiation – in the workplace or otherwise – unless it is going to do more harm than good. This includes:

  • Any time a new source of radiation is discovered, used, or implemented
  • Any time a new activity arises that puts people at risk via their occupation (as is the case for pilots or astronauts)
  • The use of those sources are proven to be of reasonable benefit for the individual (as is the case where x-rays, CT and PET-CT equipment is used) or for society as a whole

It is also assumed that these sources or activities will be under continuous monitoring, studying, evaluation and analysis such that significant new findings could alter their course of progress or require the addition of new, revised and improved safety procedures and precautions.

1A. Time

For the medical industry, the first principle most employees will learn is Time of Exposure. Thus, we’re including it here as 1A. In every case of radiation exposure in the work place, the goal is to minimize the time an employee, patient or bystander is exposed to radiation. By minimizing the amount of time an individual is exposed to radiation, you simultaneously minimize the total radioactive dosage their bodies absorb.

2. Dose limitation

That’s a perfect segue to the second principle of radiation protection: limiting radiation dosage.

The good news about radiation is that it’s measurable via the assistance of a dosimeter. This allows Radiation Safety Officers and individual employees the ability to precisely monitor radiation exposure at any given time.

Ultimately, the goal is to keep doses to a minimum – and never, ever put yourself or others at risk for experiencing exposure limits that exceed federally governed occupational exposure levels.

Read, Know Your Radiation Exposure Limits, for more information on that topic.

Controlling and minimizing occupational radiation exposure is largely done via time constraints (setting specific time limitations on an employee’s ability to work in a certain space or in the field of a specific element or object) and by providing proper, industry recognized radiation protection and shielding.

3. Optimization of protection

Here, industry professionals are looking at how to create a comprehensive outlook on optimizing protection from exposure from every angle.

So, this principle looks at things from a more societal and global perspective, evaluating, “…the likelihood of incurring exposures, the number of people exposed, and the magnitude of their individual doses…” with the knowledge and practice that these should all be kept as low as reasonably achievable.

Need Help Keeping Your Company in Agreement With the 3 Principles of Radiation Protection?

Lancs Industries has helped companies and employees – just like yours – remain in alignment and compliance with current radiation protection policies. We design and manufacture radiation protection and shielding products of all types, and we’re also happy to create custom gear for virtually any application.

Contact us to learn more about what we do and to ensure your employees minimize their overall radiation risk via your company’s valuable safety policies.

Is Microwave Radiation Dangerous?

Microwaves have been around since the 1960s, but they have long-suffered from erroneous suspicions that their radioactive mechanisms are harmful.

This is understandable since the word radiation inspires caution and fear for many. However, microwaves operate using non-ionizing radiation. This means it doesn’t harm or scramble cellular DNA, nor does it leave any radioactive residue in your food or the immediate environment that could harm you.

Microwaves use safe, non-ionizing radiation

Microwaves to not use X-rays or gamma-rays to generate heat. Instead, they use a type of radiation (RF radiation) that is powerful enough to move the molecules in a cell around, but not so much that their DNA is altered. Specifically, microwaves move the water molecules around, causing friction. This friction causes water molecules in cells to rub and bang up against each other so fast and so frequently, that it generates heat.

Depending on the strength of the microwaves power setting, and the length of time you leave the food inside an operating microwave, food can be warmed gently, heated to boiling or will cook completely through. Just as you can overcook food, you can over-microwave it too – generating so much heat that the cells begin to break down, and the food can be ruined. Even so, this is not anything that would contribute to radiation sickness or poisoning.

So, the microwave itself isn’t harmful. What you put into the microwave, however, is a different story.

Mind the containers you use in the microwave

First and foremost, you should only use microwave-safe containers when heating or cooking food in a microwave. Anyone who’s ever cheated and put a gold-rimmed china plate in the microwave, or who thought they could save a dish by heating a can of soup inside the can, has learned the hard way after a shower of sparks emitted from the dish/can. This is because metallic ions reflect, rather than absorb, microwaves.

Similarly, many plastics or rubber-based containers that aren’t made for the microwave can warp or melt. This is because they’re made of materials that have a lower melting temperature than the food inside them. If pockets of food get ultra-hot, they can melt the container or plastic-wrapping on top if they aren’t designated as “microwave-safe” products.

Plastics can leach harmful chemicals into your foods and beverages

In fact, while the microwave is completely safe, the plastics you use to contain foods and beverages could be your worst enemy. According to Harvard, certain plastics used to house food and liquids or protect foods and liquids contain chemicals that are harmful – especially when they’re heated and migrate into your microwaved food.

“When food is wrapped in plastic or placed in a plastic container and microwaved, BPA and phthalates may leak into the food. Any migration is likely to be greater with fatty foods such as meats and cheeses than with other foods.”

BPAs and phthalates are known endocrine disruptors (they can alter natural hormone levels), and multiple studies have shown that their presence in humans increases the risk of several medical conditions, including cancer and infertility.

If you are worried about the quality, health and safety of microwaved food products, consider:

  • Using glass or bonafide “microwave safe” dishware in the microwave
  • Don’t allow plastic wrap to touch food in containers (even when it’ says microwave safe) to prevent the plastic from melting into the food.
  • Avoid heating foods in take-out or disposable containers. Instead, transfer it into a microwave-safe alternative.
  • Get rid of old, scratched or damaged “microwave safe” plastic containers as the damage may allow them to melt faster or leach chemicals into your food.
  • Always vent containers (by lifting the lid a bit or setting it off center) to prevent the food from becoming hot enough to melt the container/plastic wrap.

Microwaves may be good for you

Rather than worrying about microwaves and radiation, we feel you should celebrate the good news. Current studies indicate that microwaving food may actually be better for you than other heating methods because quicker cooking means better overall preservation of vitamins and nutrients.

“The cooking method that best retains nutrients is one that cooks quickly, heats food for the shortest amount of time, and uses as little liquid as possible. Microwaving meets those criteria…That keeps in more vitamins and minerals than almost any other cooking method and shows microwave food can indeed be healthy.”

So, use your microwave with confidence and know that to date, there is no evidence that microwave radiation is dangerous for you as long as you use the appliance as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Continue to visit the Lancs Industries Blog to learn more about radiation and your health, along with the radiation shielding products that will protect you when and if you’re exposed to harmful, ionizing radiation or radioactive materials.

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, 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.