Ionactive Radiation Protection Blog

Our radiation protection blog is predominately written by Mark Ramsay, Radiation Protection Adviser (RPA) for Ionactive Consulting. It contains a mixture of content including day to day descriptions of RPA work, advice and comment on current radiation protection issues, comment on regulator (HSE etc) inspections (suitably sanitised),  historic content (i.e. the Co-60 drop and run story, Alexander Litvinenko Po-210, Fukushima nuclear accident, industrial radiography accidents), radiation safety legislation updates and practical radiation protection in the workplace.  

For formal radiation safety advice. please see our Radiation Protection Adviser (RPA) service pages. 

  • Potential occupational, non-occupational and accidental radiation exposures in industrial radiography using radioactive sources

    Published: Dec 12, 2023

    • Industrial Radiography
    • NDT
    • Open site radiography
    • Enclosure radiography
    • Radiation Protection
    • Radiation safety
    • TVT
    • HVT
    • Ir-192
    • Iridium-192
    • Co-60
    • Cobalt-60
    • Se-75
    • Selenium-75
    • Collimator
    • Controlled Area
    • Small Controlled Area Radiography
    • SCAR
    • Lead shielding blanket
    • Tungsten shielding blanket
    • Bismuth shielding blanket
    • Instantaneous Dose Rate
    • Time average dose rate
    • Instantaneous dose rate (IDR)
    • Flash dose rate
    • Skyshine
    • Radiation scatter
    • Radiation incident
    • Radiation accident
    • Occupational radiation exposure
    • Nonoccupational radiation exposure

    Our previous blog article looked at the radiation safety aspects of high specification shielded x-ray room (active signage, search and lockup, interlocked doors etc) and argued that what you do in the room determines if a registration or consent is required from HSE (UK Health & Safety Executive). This was despite the fact that the actual radiation risks in the room were similar. However, the most significant radiation exposure risks during industrial radiography, and what most certainly pushes such work into the consent level category, is the use of radioactive sources. X-ray systems are easy to turn on and off, and locking off removes the radiation risk completely. Not so with radioactive sources which come with far more complicated radiation protection challenges – you can shield them, but the radiation hazard remains, they cannot be ‘switched off’ in the same way that x-rays can. So let us look at the potential occupational, non-occupational and accidental radiation exposures in industrial radiography using radioactive sources.

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  • When is an 'industrial radiography walk-in enclosure' not an industrial radiography enclosure (and therefore does not require an HSE consent)?

    Published: Oct 04, 2023

    • IRR17
    • Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017
    • Industrial Radiography
    • Non Destructive Testing (NDT)
    • x-ray rooms
    • Consent
    • Registration
    • Certain practices
    • Specified practices
    • x-ray screening
    • X-ray radiography
    • x-ray imaging
    • Veterinary X-ray
    • Radiology
    • Diagnostic radiology
    • PCN
    • RT - Radiographic Testing

    The title of our latest blog article might appear cryptic upon first reading - this is deliberately so. This article considers a room which at first glance might appear to be an industrial radiography facility, complete with x-ray tube, active signage, last person out buttons, e-stops and an interlocked shielding door. If it is what it appears to be, then a consent from HSE is required. However, as far as the Ionising Radiations Regulations IRR17 (IRR17) are concerned, what the facility looks like (or what features it contains), does not necessarily determine if a registration or consent is required - it's use determines this (or more precisely the practice being undertaken).

    This article will show that whilst the facility may have a certain level of radiation risk (influenced by how it might be operated and the type of x-ray tube and dose rates present ), its use may require a registration and not a consent. A quirk of the regulations perhaps? Whatever the case, over regulation is neither desirable or needed, but there might be cases where certain uses lead to under regulation.

    The article will extend the discussion to consider diagnostic x-ray (medical exposures), veterinary use of x-rays, uses of portable x-ray systems and similar.

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  • A banana smoothie or a glass of tritiated wastewater from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant?

    Published: Aug 23, 2023

    • Fukushima Daiichi
    • Tritium
    • H-3
    • Radioactive
    • Radiation dose
    • Potassium-40
    • K-40
    • effective dose
    • micro Sv
    • banana
    • BED (Banana Equivalent Dose)

    You have a lush Ionactive banana smoothie filling a 1L (1000 ml) drinking glass. You also have a drinking glass with 1L of Fukushima Daiichi aqueous tritiated (H-3) waste water (at the maximum radioactive concentration of 1500 Bq/L). Which delivers the highest ionising radiation dose, and why? This article contains a short summary statement and a longer explanation (reader choice!). It shows that comparing radioactivity (Bq) between the two choices does not provide the full (or correct) picture (much of the media has got this wrong). Instead we need to compare radiation dose uptake - this is what matters!

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  • New UK Registration process for users of Ionising Radiation (as of August 2023)

    Published: Aug 04, 2023

    • Registration
    • IRR17
    • Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017
    • HSE
    • radiation generators
    • x-ray systems
    • Medical x-rays
    • Dental x-rays

    An article outlining the new registration system for users of ionising radiation in the UK. Thoughts from Ionactive plus a summary of the main points from the 'The New Consent and Registration Processes (HSE RPA Workshop 13th June 2023)'. This blog entry brings these up and coming changes to the widest audience possible and reveals that it is not only consent holders that will have to supply more information to the UK regulator (HSE). The changes to the registration process are for radiation generators (x-ray systems), and not radioactive substances. The substantive changes are that the regulator will require details of total number of generators, number of premises where they are used, whether they are mobile, and their purpose (e.g. security, quality assurance etc). For medical purposes the changes go further, if generators are used for non-dental purposes then additional details of the modality are required (e.g. numbers of CT systems, mammography, DEXA and so on). None of this information is available to HSE at the moment under the current registration system - the changes will provide the HSE with data to undertake targeted sector specific inspections since they will now know the scale of the work, the locations, and the purpose of the work.

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  • You have a UK IRR17 Consent. Do you also need a registration for ionising radiation sources?

    Published: Jul 31, 2023

    • IRR17
    • Consent
    • Registration
    • Ionising Radiation
    • HSE
    • HASS
    • Accelerator
    • Linac
    • Industrial Radiography
    • Industrial Irradiation
    • x-rays
    • artificial radioactivity
    • Radiotherapy
    • Brachytherapy
    • Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

    You may have a consent from HSE (a requirement of the Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017) for specified practices in order to work with ionising radiation in the UK (e.g accelerators). You may have multiple uses of ionising radiation which may also require a registration for 'certain practices' (e.g. use of artificial radioactive materials). So everything appears to be in order - or is it? Not all sectors working with ionising radiation are likely to be affected by the subject matter of this article, but perhaps more so by 'default' rather than a conscious decision in some cases. For others, the examples given in this article might encourage you to review what you are working with - just to make sure!

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  • Radon gas in schools (and other workplaces)

    Published: Jul 23, 2023

    • Radon
    • Schools
    • HSE
    • Radiation exposure
    • Risk assessment
    • Radon assessment
    • Exposure estimate
    • Dose Limits
    • IRR17
    • Bq/m3 Radon to dose
    • Bq/m3 Radon to Sv

    Recently a private school was prosecuted and fined by HSE for exposure to radon gas : "Boarding school fined £50,000 after pupils overexposed to radon radioactive gas". There is a lot of information online regarding radon exposure, so this article does not intend to describe radon from start to finish. Instead we take a look at what we know from the HSE statement and information found in the press, and undertake some exposure / radon concentration estimations. Furthermore, we highlight some particular issues that schools and other workplaces should consider - one is that even where you have a radon potential of < 1% (lowest category), depending on your specific circumstances you could still have a radon exposure problem and you may need to carry out a risk assessment and radon monitoring.

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There are children playing in the street who could solve some of my top problems in physics, because they have modes of sensory perception that I lost long ago.

– J. Robert Oppenheimer -