Category: Radiation Safety

13 Sep 2023

The Units to Measure Radiation: Explained

The history of radiation units ties closely to the development of our understanding about radiation and its effects. The discovery of x-rays and radioactivity in the late 19th century by scientists like Wilhelm Roentgen, Henri Becquerel, and Pierre Curie paved the way for the exploration of radiation measurement.

As our knowledge of radiation’s effects on living organisms grew, the need for standardized units became evident. The roentgen was one of the earliest units to measure ionization, followed by the introduction of the curie to measure radioactivity. Over time, advancements in our understanding of radiation’s biological effects led to the development of units like the rem and the sievert.

Creating Radiation Units

The development of the SI system (International System of Units) established a standardized set of units to provide a coherent and universal way to measure radiation. The gray and the sievert were introduced as the primary units for absorbed dose and equivalent dose, respectively, within the SI system.

Four distinct yet interconnected units quantify radioactivity, exposure, absorbed dose, and dose equivalent. The mnemonic R-E-A-D creates a simple way to recall these units, which consist of a combination of commonly used (British, e.g., Ci) and internationally recognized (metric, e.g., Bq) units.1 Below, we will detail the mnemonic and discuss the history of the radiation units along with their relevant scientists:

Radioactivity defines the release of ionizing radiation from a substance. Whether it emits alpha or beta particles, gamma rays, x-rays, or neutrons, the radioactivity of a material is a measure of how many atoms within it decay over a specific period of time. The curie (Ci) and becquerel (Bq) units quantify radioactivity.1


Antoine Henri Becquerel was a French physicist, engineer, and Nobel laureate who discovered evidence of radioactivity. Becquerel’s earliest works centered on the subject of his doctoral thesis: the plane polarization of light, with the phenomenon of phosphorescence and absorption of light by crystals. Early in his career, Becquerel also studied the Earth’s magnetic fields. In 1896, Becquerel discovered evidence of radioactivity while investigating phosphorescent materials such as some uranium salts. For his work in this field, he shared the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics with Marie Curie and Pierre Curie. The SI unit for radioactivity, becquerel (Bq), is named after him.2

The curie (Ci) unit was created in 1910 by the International Congress of Radiology to measure radioactivity. Pierre Curie, another French physicist, and his wife Marie Curie, who also sat on the committee that named the unit, were the inspirations for the name through their radioactive studies. The original definition of the curie was “the quantity or mass of radium emanation in equilibrium with one gram of radium (element)”.3 In 1975, the becquerel replaced the curie as the official radiation unit in the International System of Units (SI) where 1 Bq = 1 nuclear decay/second4. The relationship between the two units is 1 Ci = 37 GBq (giga becquerels).

Exposure quantifies the extent of radiation going through the atmosphere that reaches a person’s body or a material. Numerous radiation monitors gauge exposure, utilizing the units of roentgen (R) or coulomb/kilogram (C/kg).1

The roentgen is a legacy unit of measurement for the exposure of X-rays and gamma rays. This unit is defined as the electric charge freed by such radiation in a specified volume of air divided by the mass of that air and has the value 2.58 x 10-4 C/(kg air).5 It was named after Wilhelm Roentgen, a German physicist who discovered X-rays and was awarded the first Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery.

In 1928, the roentgen became the first international measurement quantity for ionizing radiation defined for radiation protection. This is because it was, at the time, the most easily replicated method of measuring air ionization by using ion chambers.6 However, although this was a major step forward in standardizing radiation measurement, the roentgen had a disadvantage: it was only a measure of air ionization rather than a direct measure of radiation absorption in other materials, such as different forms of human tissue. As a result, it did not take into account the type of radiation or the biological effects of the different types of radiation on biological tissue. Consequently, new radiometric units for radiation protection came to be which took these concerns into account.7

The SI unit for measuring exposure to ionizing radiation is coulomb per kilogram (C/kg). Interestingly, unlike other SI radiation units, this unit does not have a specific name. It officially replaced the previous unit, the roentgen, in 1975, with a transition period of at least ten years.8 The SI unit of electric charge, the coulomb, was named in honor of Charles-Augustin de Coulomb in 1880. Charles-Augustin de Coulomb was a French physicist whose best-known work is his formulation of Coulomb’s law. This law states that the force between two electrical charges is proportional to the product of the charges and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. He also made important contributions to the fields of electricity, magnetism, applied mechanics, friction studies, and torsion.9

Absorbed dose refers to the quantity of energy that is absorbed by an object or person where the energy is deposited by ionizing radiation as it passes through materials or the body. The units, radiation absorbed dose (rad) and gray (Gy), measure absorbed dose.1

In 1953, the International Commission on Radiation Units and Measurements (ICRU) adopted the unit rad at the Seventh International Congress of Radiology. This was the unit that replaced the rep, roentgen equivalent physical (detailed later in this blog). Although many believe that the rad is an abbreviation of “radiation absorbed dose”, the ICRU never identified it as such. This suggests that the term “rad” was as a standalone word to be a unit for absorbed dose. There was no documented discussion regarding the use of the rad prior to the Seventh International Congress of Radiology. The closest discussion was during the meeting in 1951 when they determined the need for this type of unit. In 1975, the gray (Gy) replaced the rad as the SI unit of absorbed dose where 1 Gy = 100 rad.10

Louis Harold Gray was a 20th century English physicist who worked mainly on the effects of radiation on biological systems. He was one of the earliest contributors to the field of radiobiology. He worked as a hospital physicist at Mount Vernon Hospital in London and developed the Bragg–Gray equation in collaboration with the father and son team of William Henry Bragg and William Lawrence Bragg. Bragg-Gray theory is the basis for the cavity ionization method of measuring energy absorption by materials exposed to ionizing radiation. Gray’s contributions to radiobiology were numerous. Amongst many other achievements, he developed the concept of RBE (Relative Biological Effectiveness) of doses of neutrons and initiated research into cells in hypoxic tumors and hyperbaric oxygen.11 Gray defined a unit of radiation dosage (absorbed dose) which was later named after him as an SI unit, the gray.

Dose equivalent, also known as effective dose, is a measurement that combines the amount of radiation absorbed and the impact it has on the human body. When it comes to beta and gamma radiation, the dose equivalent is equal to the absorbed dose. However, for alpha and neutron radiation, the dose equivalent surpasses the absorbed dose because these types of radiation have a greater biological impact resulting from their increased ability to damage tissue. To quantify dose equivalent, we use the units of roentgen equivalent man (rem) and sievert (Sv).1

Roentgen equivalent man, or “rem”, was first proposed for use in 1945, but under a different abbreviation. The roentgen was the only unit capable of expressing a radiation exposure at the time. However, it fell short being specifically measurable for photons. Workers came into contact with many other forms of radiation such as alpha particles, beta particles, and neutrons, so Herbert Parker, British-American physicist, created units that would be able to gauge exposures to many types of radiation. These were the roentgen equivalent physical (rep) and the roentgen equivalent biological (reb). Due to similarity in pronunciation between rep and reb, reb was eventually renamed to roentgen equivalent man or mammal (rem) to avoid confusion.

The first appearances of the rem unit in scientific literature were not until 1950.10 The rem related to the rad by multiplying the latter by a quality factor (QF) used to account for the varying biological effects of the different types of radiation. The rad in turn may be obtained from the roentgen by multiplying a dose conversion factor. In air, the dose conversion factor relationship between rad and roentgen is 1 R = 0.88 rad. The absorbed dose to a material is in turn found by multiplying 0.88 by the ratio of the mass energy absorption of the material to that of air.12

Rolf Maximilian Sievert was a Swedish medical physicist. He is best known for his work on the biological effects of ionizing radiation and his pioneering role in the measurement of doses of radiation, especially in its use in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.13 Sievert contributed significantly to medical physics, earning him the title of “Father of Radiation Protection”. The sievert (Sv), the SI unit representing the stochastic health risk of ionizing radiation, is named after him. The sievert officially replaced the rem as the international SI unit in 1979 with 1 Sv = 100 rem.14

Conclusion

In summary, the history of radiation units is a journey that reflects the progress in our understanding of radiation’s properties and its impact on living organisms. The development of these units has enabled safer and more accurate measurement and assessment of radiation exposure and its effects on human health. By understanding the intricate relationship between radiation and our bodies, we can now take proactive measures to mitigate its harmful effects and promote a safer environment for all.

Sources

  1. NRC: Measuring Radiation. Nrc.gov. Published 2017. https://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/radiation/health-effects/measuring-radiation.html
  2. The Nobel Prize. The Nobel Prize in Physics 1903. NobelPrize.org. Published 2019. https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/1903/becquerel/biographical/
  3. Curie – Unit of Radioactivity | nuclear-power.com. Nuclear Power. https://www.nuclear-power.com/nuclear-engineering/radiation-protection/units-of-radioactivity/curie-unit-of-radioactivity/
  4. ‌ Bell DJ. Becquerel (SI unit) | Radiology Reference Article | Radiopaedia.org. Radiopaedia. https://radiopaedia.org/articles/becquerel-si-unit
  5. ‌ Bashir U. Roentgen (unit) | Radiology Reference Article | Radiopaedia.org. Radiopaedia. Accessed August 29, 2023. https://radiopaedia.org/articles/roentgen-unit?lang=us
  6. ‌ Roentgen – Unit of Exposure | nuclear-power.com. Nuclear Power. Accessed August 29, 2023. https://www.nuclear-power.com/nuclear-engineering/radiation-protection/radiation-exposure/roentgen-unit-of-exposure/
  7. ‌ Roentgen (unit) explained. everything.explained.today. Accessed August 29, 2023. http://everything.explained.today/Roentgen_(unit)/
  8. ‌ Bell DJ. Coulomb per kilogram | Radiology Reference Article | Radiopaedia.org. Radiopaedia. Accessed August 29, 2023. https://radiopaedia.org/articles/coulomb-per-kilogram
  9. ‌ Laboratory NHMF. Charles-Augustin de Coulomb – Magnet Academy. nationalmaglab.org. https://nationalmaglab.org/magnet-academy/history-of-electricity-magnetism/pioneers/charles-augustin-de-coulomb/
  10. ‌ Why Did They Call It That? The Origin of Selected Radiological and Nuclear Terms. Museum of Radiation and Radioactivity. Accessed August 29, 2023. https://orau.org/health-physics-museum/articles/selected-radiological-nuclear-terms.html#rad
  11. ‌ LH Gray Memorial Trust: About L.H. Gray. www.lhgraytrust.org. Accessed August 29, 2023. http://www.lhgraytrust.org/lhgraybiography.html
  12. ‌Dosimetric Quantities and Units. U.S. NRC. Published October 25, 2010. Accessed September 11, 2023. https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1122/ML11229A688.pdf
  13. Aip.org. Published 2023. Accessed August 29, 2023. https://pubs.aip.org/physicstoday/Online/8433/Rolf-Sievert
  14. ‌ Bell DJ. Sievert (SI unit) | Radiology Reference Article | Radiopaedia.org. Radiopaedia. https://radiopaedia.org/articles/sievert-si-unit?lang=us
05 Jan 2023

A Year in Review & New Resolutions

Coming full circle to another new year invigorates millions. It is a time to reflect and develop goals for a better self, career, or quality of life. Versant Medical Physics & Radiation Safety also looks eagerly into 2023 and new opportunities of growth. We strive to provide our services to continuously benefit existing or future clients—even while appreciating our building-block actions of 2022. Even as our teams replace calendars in the office and spread poor puns about not seeing each other since last year, we shape our goals to provide exceptional support for healthcare providers to ensure safe workplaces and practices:

Remaining at the Forefront of Medical Physics and Radiation Safety

Sometimes the best resolution is to maintain healthy habits achieved from the year before. Versant Physics will continue its focus on sustaining its status as a trusted, knowledgeable business. Our consulting services demonstrate excellence within medical physics and radiation safety and will continue to in 2023. This involves keeping up with new discoveries in science, seeking value-add opportunities, and ensuring our provided support is top quality. It is with this idea that we strive to keep our competitive edge in all aspects.

Maintaining an edge means aligning ourselves with strong sources when the chances arise. In the past year, Versant acquired Radiological Physics Services, Inc (RPS) and completed a business merger with Grove Physics, Inc. We were excited to welcome Joseph Mahoney from Grove Physics as the new Vice President of Diagnostic Physics. Additionally, Versant brought in the talents of Ray Carlson and his team within RPS. The overall consolidation of these companies’ resources with Versant’s has increased services towards our clients. We are enthusiastic about efficiently using these combined assets to their full potential in 2023.

Another constituent to higher performance levels becoming achievable in the new year is that Versant Medical Physics achieved their ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification in 2022. This certification demonstrates our dedication to being a trusted source. Not only can we be sought for our expertise in the field, but now to maintain personal information and customer data through even better safeguards in 2023. Being certified for strict security and compliance standards allows for peace of mind to clients using our Odyssey software; the protection of which is performed by our own security management team.

Versant Medical Physics and Radiation Safety ISO/IEC 27001:2013 Certification

As a web-based, modern management system, Odyssey’s enhanced security is not its only feature that is being refined. Odyssey is kept as a radiation software suite that our clients can trust for the central administration of radiation safety programs. This is accomplished by our development team’s dedication to the software’s continuous improvement based off internal and external feedback. Radiation safety programs can quickly become complex and difficult to manage for healthcare companies, large or small. In addition to Versant’s experienced personnel, Odyssey provides clients an all-in-one platform to manage their program more easily and effectively. Within 2023, Versant’s development team will be focusing on projects to publish customizable reports. They will also revamp the centralized audit logging in Odyssey as part of software enhancement requests received through the feedback system.  

Radiation Safety Implementation and Maintenance

Radiation safety has an extensive list of requirements and regulations set through organizations such as the NRC. The necessity of radiation safety programs is unquestionable when working with radioactive substances or ionizing radiation generating equipment. However, the issue remains that implementation and maintenance of these programs can become complicated fast. In 2023, Versant Medical Physics will assist healthcare providers simplify program compliance, protecting their employees and overall business.

Versant provides a variety of services, from dosimetry management to the support of our physicists, Radiation Safety Officers, and specialists. These professionals’ collective years of experience range over key modalities of radiation safety:

  • Any company—regardless of size—can run their badge program through our dosimetry monitoring services. Doing so assures access to our competent technical support team that can accommodate any company’s needs. Dosimetry badge management is top priority for this team to make your program easier to handle. The support team provides technical and customer service to your employees, so they understand best practices for the dosimeters they wear and to simplify compliance. This lets your employees quickly get back to what they do best: providing healthcare to those who need it.
  • Versant Medical Physics has board-certified physicists that cover regulatory and diagnostic services across the board. Versant’s physicists are driven to provide top-tier assistance so that our clients meet regulatory guidelines and ALARA fundamentals easily to protect people: employees, patients, and the general population. We will continue to achieve this in 2023 through provision of full-service support for your company’s radiation safety program’s crucial areas. These services can include but are not limited to equipment testing, radiation shielding and design, and comprehensive audits.

Medical Physics and Radiation Safety Certification and Training Support

Another component of medical physics and radiation safety is requirement (depending on role) of being certified for one’s work. Certifications in this field surround topics such as radioactive material handling in a continually evolving medical field. Our online continuing education training courses are available at any time to earn certifications approved by CAMPEP, AAHP, and ASRT. Many professionals within the medical physics and radiation safety fields need continuing education credits; this can be for compliance purposes or to take on new responsibilities within their company. In addition to providing support for our clients, Versant provides certified courses such as

  • Medical Radiation Safety Officer (MRSO) Training – Compliance knowledge and lectures provided to learn day-to-day requirements for a new Medical RSO. This course has been complimented for its clarity and precision of material.
  • Medical X-Ray Radiation Safety Training – Designed for anyone managing a radiation safety program or working with radiative machines in a medical environment. This course is practical and informative to prepare for any inspection.
  • Fluoroscopy Courses – Safety training that details optimization of fluoroscopy techniques while maintaining ALARA practices. This course has been recognized by previous customers for being comprehensive with employable practices.
  • Department of Transportation (DOT) Training – A combination of safety training for radioactive material transport and general handling. Usable for anyone within the shipping process such as technologists.

Our board-certified physicists are available through online communication to assist with questions or understanding of the content. This ensures that students feel supported through the process. By the end, each student can walk away with an accredited certification for the betterment of their career. Versant Medical Physics will ensure this content reaches as many people as possible to deepen their knowledge base in 2023.

Connecting and Sharing Ideas

Over the last decades, social media became an increasingly significant channel of communication for businesses. As a platform to promote their services and generate brand, companies connect in fashions more popular with the public. Although Versant has seen increases in our reach through social media followings and to the visitors of our website, there are still opportunities to further connect with our fellow companies, clients, and acquaintances within the medical physics and radiation safety fields.

In 2023, Versant Physics will bring a stronger focus into revitalizing our most popular channels for engaging content: our blog and podcast. Versant’s blog is a space for informational posts about radiation in the world and its various practices/safe handling in healthcare, as well as general tutorials on our Odyssey software. With the VersantCast Podcast, hosted by our very own medical physicist, Dr. Eric Ramsay, we take our listeners through various topics surrounding radiation, physics, and healthcare with the expansive knowledge of special guests. We are excited to work back into periodic postings and create subject matter that informs, inspires, and educates both readers and listeners alike.

Versant will also strive to further our network through our most popular social media platforms, being LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Even as a small company in a niche field, social media gives us the opportunity to connect with other people and businesses within the medical physics and radiation safety industry. Creating spaces to share ideas and new discoveries in science are beneficial to us as well as our followers to further our security in the knowledge surrounding the many fields that handle radiation. To join Versant in our goal to be more connected within the industry, you can follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

A Leadership Team that Inspires

Our devoted leadership team’s optimistic goals have shaped the future of Versant Medical Physics since 2016 to bring today’s success. Closing out our list of resolutions, our members of leadership provided what they strive to see to fruition in 2023:

Marcie Ramsay – President, CEO

“As president, I hope to continue providing a positive and supportive workplace environment for our professionals. The new year will also bring the opportunity for me to encourage our team to explore new areas of personal interest and work-life balance through Versant Physics’ recent subscription to the online education platform, MasterClass. On a personal note, I intend to devote more time to daily meditation and reflection.”  

Eric Ramsay – Vice President, Commissioning

“Techniques for treatment in Radiation Therapy get more complex each year. Keeping up one’s knowledge base and gaining expertise in new modalities is challenging with a busy schedule. So, a suitable (and frankly, essential) resolution for the new year will be to focus on continuing education and professional development. This involves staying up to date with the latest research and techniques in the field, attending conferences and workshops, as well as seeking out opportunities for collaboration and networking with other professionals including the staff physicists at Versant. This resolution also includes taking steps to maintain a healthy work-life balance as burn out doesn’t help anyone.”

Ben Ramsay – Vice President, Technology & Finance

“Continue to develop a security mindset. With the increase in cyberattacks globally, and the risks internal and external to Versant, establishing a security-focused mindset is one of our goals in line with our ISO 27001 certification. I will also be focusing on improvement of Odyssey usability for existing clients and ways to bundle the software into our services with non-Odyssey customers that will provide enhanced value. Lastly, Versant will benefit from focuses on cross training staff in 2023 so that we are more flexible and capable of maintaining the highest levels of service possible.”

Joseph Mahoney – Vice President, Diagnostic Physics

“In 2023, I will be aiming for improved frequency and clarity of our client communication. Staying up to date and responsive towards the ever-changing regulatory environment will also allow for a strong start into the new year. Aligning with Versant’s desire for our teams to maintain work-life balances, there will be a strong focus in optimization of physical presence for our staff of physicists in geographic regions only where they are most needed so that they all can get back home more often.”  

Cheers to a productive and exciting 2023!

24 Aug 2022
dosimetry wearers

The 3 Best Personnel Dosimeters: Which Should You Choose?

Continual advances in medicine and medical technology have introduced a greater risk of exposure to ionizing radiation for occupational workers. This has increased the need for effective radiation monitoring services which are a key component of a compliant, well-run radiation safety program.

The problem for most new radiation safety officers is the sheer number of dosimeter types to choose from. How do you know which is the best personnel dosimeter for your radiation safety program? When should you consider phasing out your program’s existing dosimeters for something new?

To help you make your decision, we’ve put together this expert guide on the 3 best personnel dosimeters, their applications, and general specifications.

Instadose+ Wireless Dosimeter

The Instadose+ dosimeter badge is one of the best ways to effectively track cumulative dose for high-risk employees.

Instadose+ Dosimeter

These revolutionary electronic dosimeters utilize Bluetooth technology, Direct Ion Storage (DIS), and SmartMonitoring to wirelessly and remotely transmit on-demand dose data. Mobile devices, such as a smartphone or tablets, as well as PCs or hotspot stations, are used to transmit and record the readings to the wearer’s private account.

The Instadose+ is the best personnel dosimeter for occupational workers like:  

  • Healthcare workers
  • Nuclear medicine professionals
  • Chiropractors
  • Veterinarians
  • Power plant employees
  • Military personnel
  • Flight attendants
  • Lab assistants

Instadose+ badges have a useful dose range of 1 mrem – 500 rem (0.01 mSv – 5 Sv) and a minimum reportable dose of 3 mrem (0.03 mSv).

Energy response:

  • Photon 5 keV – 6 keV

Instadose+ badges are ideal for occupational workers who want access to their own data at the drop of a hat.  The digital read-outs are recorded on a regular basis in accordance with the needs of the radiation safety program. This means no off-site processing.

TLD/OSL Dosimeters

The Genesis Ultra TLD-BP is a lightweight, eco-friendly, thermoluminescent dosimeter. It consists of two parts: a sealed blister pack, which protects the TLD’s internal components, and a separate holder with a clip for attaching to the collar or waist. The TLD also comes with a unique serial number that makes reassigning and tracking an individual’s occupational dose easier.

This personal dosimeter is useful for occupational workers with potential exposure to gamma, beta, neutron, or X-ray radiation. It can be used in a wide range of applications, including:

  • Nuclear medicine facilities
  • Medical imaging centers
  • Diagnostic research facilities
  • Hospitals
  • Universities
  • Nuclear power plants
  • Industrial facilities

The Genesis Ultra TLD-BP has a minimum reportable dose of 1 mrem (0.01 mSv) and a useful dose range of 1 mrem – 1000 rad (0.01 mSv – 10 Gy).

Energy response:

  • Photon 5 keV – 6MeV
  • Beta 0.251 MeV – 5 MeV
  • Neutron (TLD): Thermal – 6 MeV

Unlike with the Instadose+ dosimeter, TLDs require off-site processing to obtain the dose information. This process requires an in-house staff person to collect the dosimeters from wearers, send them out for processing, and re-assign new badges on a regular basis.

Ring Dosimeters

Mirion’s durable extremity dosimeters, commonly referred to as ring dosimeters, are the best personnel dosimeter choice for individuals who perform interventional radiographic procedures or who regularly handle radioisotopes.

There are several different options to choose from, including:

These are ideal for measuring low or high energy beta, gamma, or X-ray radiation to the hands and fingers. These dosimeters pair well with the Instadose+, which measures radiation exposure to the whole body, particularly in research and surgical environments.

Depending on the ring badge, the wear period can last from one week up to six months. They also are comfortable to wear under surgical gloves.

So, Which Is the Right Dosimeter for Your Radiation Safety Program?

When choosing a dosimeter for your radiation safety program, we recommend considering the following:  

  • Functionality and scope of use. How will it be worn and by whom?

  • The information you need the dosimeter to record. Do you need to track full body dose, or the dose received to the extremities, like the hands and fingers?

  • Quality. A higher quality better made dosimeter might cost more up front, but it will withstand continual use and record accurate radiation dose.  

  • Processing Requirements. Do you have the administrative support to collect badges from employees, send them out for processing, and redistribute new badges on a regular basis? If not, you may require a digital dosimeter like the Instadose+ that does not require processing.

If you’re still unsure, you can reach out to our physicists for a personal consultation about the best personnel dosimeter for your program.

Personnel Dosimetry Management with Versant Physics

Here at Versant Physics, we are passionate about radiation safety, adhering to ALARA principles, and helping radiation workers feel confident their dose measurements are accurate.

Our team of experienced physicists and technical support specialists will work with you one-on-one to ensure every aspect of your badge program runs smoothly and efficiently. 

With Versant managing your badge program, you can expect:  

  • Unparalleled customer service and technical support. We take care of everything from the initialization of badges for new wearers to badge troubleshooting.
  • Quality badge administration. Our team manages high-dose reports, adding and removing wearers from the program, and communicates consistently with your RSO.

  • Effective compliance administration. Our effective badge management processes are proven to improve compliance, from read day reminders to comprehensive monthly reports.

Schedule a consultation with our dosimetry program management specialists to get started!

17 Aug 2022
Odyssey software on a laptop

Odyssey Software: How to Buy in 6 Easy Steps

If you’re struggling to effectively manage the complex, ever-shifting responsibilities of a radiation safety program, we have a solution. Odyssey is a proprietary SaaS product designed by radiation safety experts for radiation safety professionals. It has transformed the way RSOs, EHS specialists, medical physicists, and healthcare professionals manage their programs, with an emphasis on streamlined workflows and minimal costs.

But what is the buying process for software like Odyssey? Refer to this guide to help you understand the ins and outs of purchasing Odyssey and get a feel for what the buying process will be like.

What is Software as a Service (SaaS)?

Before diving into what the Odyssey buying process entails, it may be helpful to understand what exactly we mean when we say that Odyssey is a software as a service (or SaaS) product.

It sounds fancy, but all this means is that the software is accessible through the internet, with your individual account made available through a secure, private login. SaaS products like Odyssey are often referred to as web-based software or on-demand software. Whether you’re at your home office, traveling, or doing an on-site inspection, you have access to the software and your data whenever you need it.

The Benefits of SaaS

There are numerous benefits to using a SaaS product like Odyssey for your radiation safety management needs.

For starters, SaaS products are purchased on a subscription basis. The type of subscription can vary depending on the product and company pricing model. Odyssey, for example, is available for purchase on a monthly or annual basis, with discounts provided for yearly subscriptions. These subscriptions are based on what the end user needs rather than offering everything in a lump sum and forcing you to pay for aspects of the software you have no use for.

SaaS products like Odyssey also allow end users to avoid the hefty up-front cost of purchasing a physical software product. There is no hardware management or expensive software upgrades to contend with. Thanks to the software’s base infrastructure, which is common to all users, any updates are completed behind the scenes and integrated automatically into your account.

Because of this SaaS products are easy to customize to accommodate the individual needs of a client or group.

In summary, the major benefits of SaaS software include:

  • No software installation
  • No license management on your end
  • No equipment updates
  • Cloud-based storage
  • On-demand access

The Odyssey Buying Process

If you’ve never purchased a SaaS product like Odyssey before, the buying process may seem a little overwhelming. However, it is a simple process that can be broken down into six steps.

Step 1: Schedule a Demo

One of the benefits of using a SaaS product over traditional software is that you get to see how it works first. You can schedule an Odyssey demo with our team whenever works best for your schedule.

Once you’re on the calendar, our Sales and Software teams will reach out to introduce themselves and confirm your appointment. They may ask a few questions to narrow down your role, which Odyssey modules you’re interested in, and the size of your dosimetry or radiation safety program. These questions help our team prepare a demo that meets your specific program needs.

We will also send you a Microsoft Teams meeting link for the day of.

Step 2: Receive a Demo

On the appointed day and time, you will meet with our Director of Sales and our Odyssey Implementation Analyst for a virtual demo. The initial demo will last around 45-60 minutes.

During the demo, our team will walk you through what Odyssey is and its basic functionality. We will cover the aspects of Odyssey that you expressed interest in as well. This is an opportunity for you to see the software in action and ask any questions you may have about access, usability, or pricing.

Additional 60-minute follow-up demos can be scheduled as needed.  

Step 3: Review Your Quote

After your demo, our team will send you a custom quote for your Odyssey subscription. The quote will include the license type or modules you discussed during your demonstration, a one-time software implementation fee, and the breakdown of optional training costs.

Step 4: Sign an Agreement

Once you approve your quote, you will receive an End User License Agreement (EULA) for signature. Take your time reviewing this agreement before signing and send any clarifying questions you have directly to our Sales team.

SaaS Odyssey Software

Step 5: Implementation

Once we receive a signed agreement, the Implementation process begins immediately. During this phase, our team works with you 1-on-1 to set up accounts for all Odyssey users and upload your program data. This can include everything from your list of dosimetry wearers to the x-ray machines at your facility. This phase normally takes 2-3 weeks to complete.

Step 6: Additional Training

Odyssey is a user-friendly but comprehensive radiation safety management software. Because of its depth and the number of actions that can be performed throughout the 12 modules, we provide additional training for RSOs and other account holders. Our team of Odyssey experts will train you on each module you’ll use and go over specific workflows to get you started out on the right foot. This step is optional but highly recommended.

Odyssey Customer Support

Another perk of using Odyssey is the continual support you have access to. We don’t just train you and leave you to your own devices (unless that’s what you want!) As you work in the software, questions may arise. You can contact our team directly to submit a ticket to our Support Desk 24/7.  

The Takeaway

Odyssey is changing the way radiation safety officers, EHS specialists, and healthcare professionals manage their programs. It streamlines common administrative processes for more organized and efficient workflows, in addition to providing major cost savings.

If you’re considering making a move to a more efficient radiation safety management software, find out what Odyssey can offer by scheduling a demo today.


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29 Jul 2022
Female dial painter at the US Radium Corporation

What the Radium Girls Taught Us About Radiation Safety

The plight of the Radium Girls in the 1920s would teach us a great deal about the radioactive element radium and its effect on the human body. It brought to light the dangers of working with radium and created a universal understanding of the need for occupational and radiation safety measures.

What is radium?

Radium is a naturally occurring radioactive metal formed when uranium and thorium decay. In the environment, radium is present at low levels in groundwater, soil, rocks, and plants.

There are four radium isotopes, all of which are radioactive and have drastically different half-lives.

As radium decays it releases ionizing radiation in the form of alpha, beta, and gamma radiation. This radiation excites certain fluorescent chemicals in the metal and results in radioluminescence. It can also form other elements, such as radon.

Radium was discovered by Marie Sklodowska Curie and her husband Pierre Curie in 1898, although it would be more than a decade before the pair had isolated a sample large enough to work with.

Early Misinformation About Radium

Soon after the Curies discovered radium, medical professionals began using the radioactive substance as a cancer treatment. Before it could be properly studied, this initial use led to an explosion of interest from the American public and a host of false medical claims that radium was “healthful rather than medicinal.” 

Radium was initially considered a cure-all for a variety of health conditions, including arthritis, tuberculosis, rheumatism, gout, and high blood pressure. It was also thought to improve vitality in the elderly, treat skin conditions like eczema, and cure insomnia.

Because of its seemingly magical healing properties, major corporations began putting radium into their products and heavily promoting its use. Radium-infused toothpaste, pillows, facial creams, and tonic water were popular amongst the public, as were radium spas and clinics.

Radium-based cosmetics were trendy among women. They used these products to combat signs of aging in the form of wrinkles, crows-feet, and even unwanted body or facial hair.

The radium cosmetics gave the women’s skin a warm and cheerful glow and came to be known as “liquid sunshine.” This further cemented the idea that the products contained restorative properties that would revitalize the body and improve its overall health.

Who Were the Radium Girls?

In 1917, the United States entered World War I. There was a sudden demand for instruments and watches that could be read in the dark by U.S. soldiers. Thanks to a high-tech, glow-in-the-dark paint called UnDark, which was made with radium, this became possible.

With most of the country’s men on foreign battlefields, the United States Radium Corporation (USRC) in New Jersey began hiring young women to paint a variety of radium-lit instruments for use in the trenches. These women were called dial painters.

The dial painters would mix the radium-based paint in a crucible at their workstations and used fine, camel hair paint brushes to paint on the tiny, delicate numbers. The brushes quickly lost their shape after a couple of strokes. Management encouraged the women to use their lips to bring the brushes to a fine point for better precision. They were told repeatedly that radium was safe to ingest, and so continued with the “lip, dip, paint” process while they worked.

However, the dial painters didn’t just ingest the radium at their workstations. Due to its many reported health claims, workers would often paint their teeth or nails with radium-based paint before going out for the evening to impress their dates or amaze party guests. The dust from the hand-mixed paint coated the women’s hair and dresses, giving them a ghost-like glow that earned the women the nickname “ghost girls.”

For many dial painters, who were mostly between the ages of 14 and 20, this work was as desirable as it was glamorous. Radium’s luminous, sparkling appearance gave them a unique status. Furthermore, America’s obsession with its magical healing properties combined with the available compensation for the work had entire families flocking to the factory for a position.

Radiation Sickness

By the early 1920s, medical professionals throughout the area were noticing a frightening increase in the young worker’s health complaints. Many of their female patients complained of stiff and cracking joints, painful toothaches, oozing mouth sores, and listlessness, while others had broken out or developed severe anemia.

Dentists began pulling multiple teeth from young dial painters at a time. There were several instances where, during the tooth extraction, pieces of the woman’s decaying jawbone would come out with the tooth. In many cases, the tooth extractions wouldn’t heal.

Other symptoms of radium poisoning in the dial painters, which would later become understood as radiation sickness, were sterility, cataracts, leukopenia, eosinophilia, leukemia, anemia, and menstruation issues.

Mollie Maggia was the first dial painter to fall ill and die. She first developed increasingly painful toothaches that traveled from tooth to tooth. Severe pain in her limbs also prohibited her from walking.

Although dentists didn’t know it at the time, Mollie had developed “radium jaw.” This occupational disease involved necrosis of the upper and lower jawbones, bleeding gums, ulcers, and bone tumors. At the end of her life, Mollie’s dentists merely lifted her jaw from her mouth to remove it. Mollie died in 1922 just days before her 25th birthday.

Another 12 women who worked for the U.S. Radium Corporation as dial painters died the following year, with an additional 50 women falling severely ill.

Radium’s Effect on the Human Body

Radium has similar effects on the human body as calcium and strontium when inhaled or ingested. Once it enters the bloodstream, radium concentrates in the bones in high quantities. It emits alpha particles as it decays, which irradiates the cells on the bone’s surface. Over time radium will settle into the bone where it wreaks havoc on bone marrow and blood cell production.

If radium is ingested with food or water, over 80% of the element is excreted through urine or feces. The other 20% will travel throughout the body, settling in the bones and remaining there throughout the person’s life.

Historical Impact & Worker’s Rights

The surviving dial painters sued the U.S. Radium Corporation, although the road to doing so was not easy. The case was eventually settled out of court in 1928. The women were awarded $15,000 plus $600 per year for future medical expenses because of radium poisoning.

This landmark case was one of the first instances of workers receiving compensation for a disease developed because of their occupation. However, most of the women who received the money died within two years of the settlement.

At the time of the dial painters, there were no radiation safety measures put into place to prevent direct contact with the radioactive substance from occurring. The case of the Radium Girls opened people’s eyes to the dangers of radium and other radioactive substances. They were seen as an example of what could go wrong in an occupational setting and completely changed the course of occupational disease labor laws and regulations.

Their case had a direct impact on scientists’ approach to radiation safety during The Manhattan Project. It was also a leading cause for the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 1970.

Radium would continue to be used as a luminescent paint until the early 1960s when its toxicity and danger to human life could no longer be ignored.

29 Jun 2022
UV radiation protection

Ultraviolet Radiation: How to Protect Yourself

Summer is in full swing. As a result, many Michiganders are spending more time in the great outdoors taking advantage of the warmth and sunshine.

However, the more time a person spends outdoors the more their body is exposed to Ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV radiation, a form of non-ionizing radiation, is invisible to the human eye and cannot be felt. It can cause severe skin damage and lead to the development of skin cancer.

Here at Versant Physics, our focus is primarily on radiation safety in relation to ionizing radiation sources used in medical procedures and cancer treatments. However, it is just as important that you protect yourself from naturally occurring UV radiation and understand the potential health risks.  

In honor of UV Safety Month, we’ll explain what UV radiation is, the most common types of skin cancer and other health risks associated with UV radiation, and important protective measures you should take when out in the sun.

What is UV Radiation?

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a non-ionizing form of electromagnetic radiation that has both natural and artificial sources. Most of the UV radiation from sunlight gets absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere. What doesn’t get absorbed makes its way to the surface and interacts with our skin. UV rays are present even on cloudy days and also reflect off surfaces like snow, sand, and water.

There are three types of UV radiation rays:

  • Ultraviolet A (UVA)
  • Ultraviolet B (UVB)
  • Ultraviolet C (UVC)

UVA rays have the lowest wavelength of the different types of UV radiation; however, they make up over 95% of the rays that reach the Earth’s surface. These rays penetrate through the layers of skin, damaging the elastin and collagen. This results in tanned skin and skin aging, often in the form of wrinkles or age spots.  

UVB radiation is made up of high-energy UV rays that interact with the top layers of skin. UVB rays interact with skin cells and damage them, causing DNA mutations that show up later in the form of sunburns, skin cancer, or cataracts.

UVC rays are the strongest of the UV rays. Almost all of this UV radiation is absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere.

Unprotected, prolonged exposure to UV radiation from the sun is connected to a variety of health risks, including:

  • Premature aging
  • Skin damage
  • Cataracts
  • Immune system suppression
  • Skin cancer

UV Radiation Exposure and Skin Cancer

UV radiation causes melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers called basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).

Melanoma

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that forms in the melanocytes. These cells are located beneath the squamous and basal cells and are what produce melanin, the pigment that gives hair, eyes, and skin its color.   

Melanoma is less common than other types of skin cancer, however, it is more dangerous. This is because melanoma it more likely to spread to other parts of the body if left untreated. Melanoma often presents as a highly pigmented black or brown tumor on the torso, chest, neck, or face.

The “ABCDE” rule can help patients identify if their existing mole or new skin growth is a warning sign of melanoma:

  • Asymmetry. The two halves of the mole do not match.
  • Border. Normal moles have a clean, even border. Melanoma will present with uneven or ragged edges.
  • Color. Melanoma tumors can be black, brown, pink, red, or white.
  • Diameter. Melanoma is usually a growth larger than a pencil eraser, or ¼ inch in diameter.
  • Evolving. The existing mole or new growth is changing in size, shape, texture, or color. It also may begin to itch, bleed, or ooze.

People with light skin, eyes, and hair are considered more at risk of developing melanoma than people with darker skin. Age, gender, occupation, family history, and lifestyle choices also play a role in the level of risk associated with developing melanoma.

Nonmelanoma Skin Cancers

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer that begins in the basal cells. It shows up on areas of the body that are frequently exposed to UV radiation from sunlight, such as the head, face, or neck. It normally presents in the form of a skin lesion or shiny, skin-colored bump.

Squamous cell carcinoma is less common but just as serious. It presents as open sores, thick or wart-like skin, raised growths, or scaly red patches that may itch or bleed. SCC can show up anywhere on the body, although they are most often found on areas of the body that are frequently exposed to the sun.

Both BCC and SCC grow relatively slowly and are highly treatable. The sooner a new or strange-looking growth is looked at by a dermatologist and diagnosed, the better the odds are of treating the skin cancer. However, if left untreated, these skin cancers can spread to other areas of the body and become more dangerous.

UV Radiation Protection

There are many simple protective measures the average person can implement to help lessen the risks associated with UV radiation and its negative side effects.

  • Seek shade
  • Avoid prolonged sun exposure from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when the sun is strongest
  • Wear long sleeves or pants
  • Wear a hat and/or UV-blocking sunglasses
  • Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen

Sunscreen is a major protector against UV radiation. Broad-spectrum sunscreens protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Wearing a minimum of SPF 15 can reduce the risk of developing melanoma by 50% and SCC by 40%. Wearing a protective sunscreen daily can also help prevent premature skin aging.

Are There Any Health Benefits to UV Radiation?

Exposure to natural UV radiation from the sun has an important health benefit for the human body. UV radiation helps our bodies produce vitamin D, which is an essential vitamin that absorbs calcium in our stomachs, reduces inflammation, and is needed for healthy bone growth. Some food products contain vitamin D however most people get a portion of their vitamin D needs through sunlight.

There are no hard and fast numbers detailing how much sunlight exposure is needed for optimal vitamin D synthesis. The World Health Organization recommends no more than 15 minutes of direct sun exposure at least 3 times a week.

However, this does not negate the need for sun protection measures such as sunscreen and wearing protective clothing.

The Takeaway

It is important to protect yourself from UV radiation any time of the year. Although this non-ionizing source of radiation can help our bodies create vitamin D, it also interacts with our skin in a way that can lead to skin cancer. To prevent this, you should wear and apply sunscreen as directed, invest in UV-blocking glasses and clothes, and try to stay out of the sun as much as possible.

Learn more about UV and sun safety here.