Category: Radiation Safety Officer

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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25 Feb 2022
CT radiation medical event

What are Radiation Medical Events and How to Prevent Them

The use of radiation in medicine via radiology, nuclear medicine, and radiotherapy helps detect and treat a variety of medical conditions in humans. It is a commonly used practice, with over 10 million procedures performed in the United States each year and thousands of lives saved as a result.

When radiation is administered improperly it is classified as a radiation medical event. A radiation medical event can occur when certain forms of radioactive sources are applied differently from what was intended or prescribed.

Although a radiation medical event does not necessarily result in harm to the patient, it does indicate that there is a potential problem in the medical facility’s use of radioactive sources (materials or equipment). An investigation into the event is required as soon as a medical event is suspected, typically by a clinical health physicist, as well as a written report documenting their findings.

What is a Radiation Medical Event?

The NRC defines an incident as a radiation medical event when (10 CFR 35.3045) the administration of byproduct material or radiation from byproduct material for, except permanent implant brachytherapy, results in—

  1. A dose that differs from the prescribed dose or dose that would have resulted from the prescribed dosage by more than 0.05 Sv (5 rem) effective dose equivalent, 0.5 Sv (50 rem) to an organ or tissue, or 0.5 Sv (50 rem) shallow dose equivalent to the skin; and
    1. The total dose delivered differs from the prescribed dose by 20 percent or more; or
    1. The total dosage delivered differs from the prescribed dosage by 20 percent or more or falls outside the prescribed dosage range; or
    1. The fractionated dose delivered differs from the prescribed dose for a single fraction, by 50 percent or more.
  2. A dose that exceeds 0.05 Sv (5 rem) effective dose equivalent, 0.5 Sv (50 rem) to an organ or tissue, or 0.5 Sv (50 rem) shallow dose equivalent to the skin from any of the following—
    1. An administration of a wrong radioactive drug containing byproduct material or the wrong radionuclide for a brachytherapy procedure;
    1. An administration of a radioactive drug containing byproduct material by the wrong route of administration;
    1.  An administration of a dose or dosage to the wrong individual or human research subject;
    1. An administration of a dose or dosage delivered by the wrong mode of treatment; or
    1. A leaking sealed source.
  3. A dose to the skin or an organ or tissue other than the treatment site that exceeds by:
    1. 0.5 Sv (50 rem) or more the expected dose to that site from the procedure if the administration had been given in accordance with the written directive prepared or revised before administration; and
    1. 50 percent or more the expected dose to that site from the procedure if the administration had been given in accordance with the written directive prepared or revised before administration.
  4. For permanent implant brachytherapy, the administration of byproduct material or radiation from byproduct material (excluding sources that were implanted in the correct site but migrated outside the treatment site) that results in—
    1. The total source strength administered differing by 20 percent or more from the total source strength documented in the post-implantation portion of the written directive;
    1. The total source strength administered outside of the treatment site exceeding 20 percent of the total source strength documented in the post-implantation portion of the written directive; or
    1. An administration that includes any of the following:
      1. The wrong radionuclide;
      1. The wrong individual or human research subject;
      1. Sealed source(s) implanted directly into a location discontiguous from the treatment site, as documented in the post-implantation portion of the written directive; or
      1. A leaking sealed source resulting in a dose that exceeds 0.5 Sv (50 rem) to an organ or tissue.
  5. Intervention of a patient or human research subject in which the administration of byproduct material or radiation from byproduct material results or will result in unintended permanent functional damage to an organ or a physiological system, as determined by a physician.

Radiation Medical Event Reports

Any of these medical events must be reported by telephone to the appropriate regulatory agency (i.e., Nuclear Regulatory Commission or Agreement State agency) no later than the next calendar day after discovery. A detailed written report, as described in 10 CFR 35.3045, must be submitted within 15 days after the discovery of the event. Such reports do not include information that could identify the affected patient as these reports are made available to the public.

medical event report

While medical events are accidental, it should be noted that a radiation medical event and a radiation accident are not the same things. Radiation accidents are defined as an event that “has led to significant consequences to people, the environment, or the facility,” such as a nuclear reactor core melt.

The purpose of medical event reporting is to initiate a process that will: (i) determine the root cause(s) and contributing cause(s); (ii) implement immediate corrective actions as may be necessary; (iii) identify preventative actions necessary to prevent a reoccurrence, and (iv) ensure appropriate notification of the patient and referring physician has occurred.  Additionally, the event may trigger the regulatory agency to alert other licensees to a potential problem that should be addressed.   

A medical event may indicate that there are problems within a facility that needs to be addressed. Communication problems, improper labeling, lack of training, and basic human error are all possible explanations.

An investigation into the technical aspects of the procedure, overall quality assurance practices (i.e., audits), and treatment delivery are required. A physician may also need to provide a separate analysis of potential injury or inadequate treatment to determine if any harm came to the patient because of the medical event.

Other medical event reports include:

  1. Report and notification of a dose to an embryo/fetus or a nursing child (10 CFR 35.3047) This includes an unintended dose to an embryo/fetus or a nursing child greater than 5 rem resulting from administration of a byproduct material to the mother/breast feeding individual. No report is required if the dose to the embryo/fetus was approved by the authorized user; or
  2. Report of a leaking sealed source (10 CFR 35.3067). The written report should include the model number, serial number, the radionuclide and its estimated activity, the date and results of the leak test, and the action taken.

How Are Patients Notified of a Medical Event?

NRC regulations state that it is the licensee’s responsibility to notify the exposed individual and their referring physician of the medical event within 24 hours of its discovery. If the notice is made verbally, the patient can request a written notification as well as access to the full report.

Severe events are rare, and harm is unlikely to befall a patient involved with a radiation medical event. However, it is important that the individual receive the appropriate medical care as soon as possible if needed.

Radiation Medical Events Can Be Prevented

With proper continuing education training, regular machine and technology upkeep, a working standard operating procedure, and efficient reporting systems, radiation medical events can be prevented.

It also helps to have a third-party consultant who can identify potential problems in your radiation safety program.

The team at Versant Physics is trained and equipped to help radiology departments and medical facilities prevent radiation medical events. Our board-certified medical and health physicists can help by performing acceptance testing of radiation-producing machines, conducting regulatory compliance audits, performing shielding evaluation and design calculations, and leading training opportunities.

Contact our regulatory team to discuss your radiation safety program needs.

Further Reading:

12 Aug 2021

A Step-by-Step Guide to Implementing a Radiation Safety Program

Implementing a radiation safety program is the best way to protect radiation workers and maintain safe radiological conditions in your clinic or university. If you are a new facility starting from scratch, implementing a radiation safety program can be an overwhelming task. We have put together a step-by-step guide to help clarify areas you will need to address.

Who Regulates What?

It is important for any new radiation safety program to understand which regulations to follow. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is responsible for regulating radioactive materials in the United States. However, they do not regulate radioactive material in any of the 37 Agreement States. These Agreement States have signed agreements with the state’s governor and the chair of the NRC that declare they take responsibility for all radioactive material regulation within the state. Agreement States can set their own rules for how radiation is monitored, handled, and used if they are at least as strict as the NRC.

Each state regulates the use of ionizing radiation generating equipment within the state. It is very important to research your individual state regulations.

For a list of individual state radiation control programs and their specific rules and regulations, we recommend visiting the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors (CRCPD) website.

Step 1: Identify a Radiation Safety Officer

A Radiation Safety Officer is a required element of a radiation safety program.

According to AAPM Report 160, the RSO in a radiation safety program “is responsible for the implementation, coordination, and day-to-day oversight of the radiation protection program.” An RSO enforces policies and procedures regarding radiation safety and ensures the facility’s use of ionizing radiation is compliant with regulatory requirements, whether that be state or federal. These individuals are required to meet certain education, training, and experience requirements to assume the role.

The responsibilities of the RSO are many. In addition to managing the radiation safety program, this person will:

  • Provide advice and assistance on radiological safety matters,
  • Ensure safe use of radioactive materials,
  • Ensure compliance with regulatory and license requirements,
  • Identify radiation safety problems and correct them,
  • Ensure ALARA practices are enforced,
  • Perform audits and surveys of work areas as necessary,
  • Dose monitoring,
  • Instrument calibration,
  • And more.

Step 2: Get Copies of State and Federal Regulations

Federal regulations can be found on the NRC website. As mentioned above, most states have their own regulatory body. This may also be a good time to contact your state regulator and introduce yourself.

Step 3: Set-up Administrative Documents & QA Program

You will want to lay out the various roles in your radiation safety program in an organization chart. This includes management, IT, radiation safety resources, and additional radiation modalities and departments.

It will also be helpful to create a Standard Operating Procedure Manual on radiation protection that describes emergency procedures, training policies, and credentialing all radiation workers should be familiar with.

Step 4: Establish a Radiation Safety Committee

A radiation safety committee is typically made up of:

  • The RSO,
  • An authorized user of each type of use permitted by the license,
  • A nursing representative, and
  • A representative who is neither an authorized user nor the RSO.

Many universities and larger clinics find an RSC helpful for efficient radiation safety program management. However, they are not always mandatory depending on your use of radiation. You may find a radiation safety committee is not necessary for your facility.

Step 5: X-ray Room Shielding

Radiation Worker Behind Shielding

Facilities that utilize radiation are required to have a shielding plan developed by a qualified expert, such as a medical physicist. Most states also require the shielding plan to be submitted to the state before the equipment can be used.  

When setting up a radiation safety program, it will be necessary to contact an appropriate QE to put together the shielding plan. You will work with them to implement the appropriate materials and signage throughout your facility. Afterward, integrity and regulatory surveys must be performed to ensure compliance with area dose limits.

Step 6: Registration of Radiation Machines & RAM License Application

A new facility with new X-ray equipment must register each unit with the state, typically within 30 days of acquiring the unit. The use of X-ray-producing equipment is regulated on a state-by-state basis. The appropriate forms and required supporting documentation can be found on your state’s regulatory website or by contacting your regulator.

A new facility intending to use radioactive material must apply to either their Agreement State or the NRC for approval. In preparation for submitting the application, all the previous steps should be completed. Many of the items above will be reviewed along with the license application to determine approval status.

Note that some states may require radiation-producing machines to be inspected regularly by state-approved qualified experts to maintain a registration.

Step 7: Set-up a Personnel Monitoring Program

Licensees/Registrants are required to monitor radiation exposure of radiation workers to remain in compliance with occupational dose limits.

Instadose+ Dosimeter

It is important to set up a personnel monitoring program for radiation workers who regularly work with or could encounter radiation while on the job. These programs require personnel to wear a dosimeter badge which measures their total received exposure. RSO’s periodically review the personnel exposures.

There are a variety of dosimeter options available including TLDs, ring badges, and badges that provide on-demand dose reads.

Step 8: Recordkeeping

Implementing a radiation safety program means there will not be existing inspection reports, previous audits, or correspondence with regulators on file to familiarize yourself with. However, as the RSO, you will be responsible for maintaining all records regarding personnel exposure, exposure levels to the public, surveys, calibrations, and any maintenance completed on the facility’s X-ray equipment moving forward. Consult your state regulations to determine how long individual records need to be kept.

Conclusion

While there are many moving parts to setting up a radiation safety program, it is an important aspect of a safe workplace. Following these steps will have you well on your way to leading a successful program.

Our experienced radiation safety officers, health physicists, and medical physicists can help you implement a radiation safety program. Contact sales@versantphysics.com to be connected with a physicist or visit our regulatory page for more information.

Interested in becoming a Radiation Safety Officer yourself? Versant Physics offers a 20-hour online Medical Radiation Safety Officer course that teaches how to implement a successful, compliant radiation safety program. It will help you gain a practical understanding of regulations governing the safe use of radiation-emitting machines and radioactive materials, as well as responsibilities for managing radiation safety in a medical setting.

21 Jul 2021
online radiation safety course

The Mobile Radiation Safety Software Solution for the Modern RSO

Fieldwork is an essential component of radiation safety programs. From inventorying radioactive materials, machines, and equipment, to performing audits and inspections, there exists a need to capture real-time information while on the go.

Historically, this information would be recorded on paper forms and later transcribed to an electronic record or placed in a binder. Such methods are both outdated and time-consuming. Their very nature prohibits RSOs from accessing the most up-to-date records while traveling or on-site, and keeps them from streamlining effective administrative processes within their radiation safety programs.

But with the advent of mobile-optimized radiation safety software, performing these tasks and recording the results is more efficient than ever before.

In response to the growing awareness and need for such a software solution in radiation safety, Versant Physics has developed the cloud-based software Odyssey, with mobile optimization as a core focus. Users of the software can access Odyssey on their desktop or laptop computers, tablets, and mobile phones anywhere they have an internet connection.

odyssey screenshot of sealed sources

Versant Physics’ implementation analyst, Katelyn Waters, has seen multiple Odyssey clients incorporate the software into their fieldwork.

“Clients frequently use Odyssey to perform on-site inventories of RAM, sealed sources, radioactive waste, machines, and equipment. They use tablets and cell phones to quickly pull up inventory records by location. From there, individual profiles can be viewed and edited on the go as needed.”

These inventory records are displayed as a table with a simple and searchable format convenient for reviewing information on the smaller screens of mobile devices. Tables contain links to individual profiles with buttons to easily adjust the activity of radioactive materials, update survey, inspection, or calibration due dates, or edit other profile information.

Each profile also has the option to print out a physical label for the inventory. The label can include a logo, information from the profile, free text, and a unique QR code. The QR code can be scanned to take a user directly to a profile to increase speed and accuracy during an inventory.

“The biggest benefit of the QR code system that I see is the ability to perform cradle-to-grave tracking of RAM, sealed sources, and waste containers,” says Waters. “Users can scan the QR code attached to the material throughout its lifetime to view location, activity, and ownership changes to ensure that they are always accessing accurate, up-to-date information.”

odyssey qr code

These QR codes are available to be printed for RAM, sealed sources, waste containers, machines, equipment, and laboratories in Odyssey. Utilizing the labeling tools not only helps radiation safety staff quickly access information, but also complies with FDA and NRC labeling requirements for radioactive materials, machines, and laboratory doors.

“In addition to completing inventories, we also see our clients utilize the Forms module of Odyssey for audits, inspections, and surveys,” says Waters. “Customizable forms can be created which include images like floor plans. These forms can be filled out and the images marked up using mobile devices during the inspection itself.”

odyssey customizable form screenshot

The forms utilized during these inspections are custom forms set up during the implementation process by the Versant Physics team, or by an administrator. The same form can be filled out repeatedly for consistency and to track changes in responses over time. This standardization of forms is an essential aspect of radiation safety for quality control.

Another important consideration for data capture is efficiency. Odyssey aims to accomplish efficient data collection by prefilling data from its other modules into the form where applicable. This reduces the amount of time spent filling out the form and helps minimize the potential for human error as existing data does not need to be copied over.

Utilizing cloud-based software has become increasingly relevant as radiation safety programs move from paper-based methods to electronic solutions. Performing work in the field itself on mobile devices aids in getting records more efficiently into this desired electronic format. Odyssey is engineered to assist with this transition to increase data accessibility, efficiency, and accuracy for radiation safety programs.

Interactive demos are now available! Click here to try out the personnel dosimetry and inventory tracking modules for free!

You can also schedule a live demo with our software specialists to learn more about individual Odyssey modules, mobile features, and software usability.

08 Apr 2021
Radiation Worker Behind Shielding

ALARA: The Gold Standard of Radiation Protection

The ALARA principle is a relatively simple safety protocol designed to limit ionizing radiation exposure to workers from external sources.

This principle was established by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) in 1954 in response to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the increased interest in nuclear energy and weaponry post-WWII. The philosophy has been refined over the years by different regulatory agencies such as the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) as more knowledge about radiation and its effects on living tissue has come to light. In its current form, ALARA stands for “as low as reasonably achievable” and is considered the gold standard for radiation protection.

ALARA is based on the idea that any amount of radiation exposure, big or small, can increase negative health effects, such as cancer, for an individual. It is also based on the principle that the probability of occurrence of negative effects of exposure increases with cumulative lifetime dose. As such, the ALARA principle is considered a regulatory requirement for all radiation programs licensed with the NRC and any activity that involves the use of radiation or radioactive materials.

Check out VersantCast Episode 3: Linear No Threshold with Dr. Alan Fellman

To successfully implement ALARA principles in your radiation safety program, “it is important that every reasonable effort be made to maintain exposures to radiation as far below the dose limits in this part as is practical consistent with the purpose for which the licensed activity is undertaken, taking into account the state of technology, the economics of improvements in relation to state of technology, the economics of improvements in relation to benefits to the public health and safety, and other societal and socioeconomic considerations, and in relation to utilization of nuclear energy and licensed materials in the public interest.” (10 CFR 20.1003)

Time, Distance, and Shielding


There are three factors to the ALARA philosophy which, when executed correctly, can reduce and even prevent unnecessary exposure: time, distance, and shielding.

Time

Limit the amount of time spent near a radiation source. If you must work near a radioactive source, you should work as quickly as possible and then leave the area to avoid spending more time around the source than necessary.

Distance

Increase the distance between yourself and a radiation dose. The farther away you are, the lower the dose you will receive. In many cases, the dose rate decreases as the inverse square of the distance – when the distance is doubled, the dose rate goes down by a factor of four.

Shielding

Put a barrier between you and the radiation source. The type of barrier will depend on what kind of radiation source is being emitted but should be made of a material that absorbs radiation such as lead, concrete, or water. This can also include PPE such as thyroid shields and lead vests.

medical professionals implementing time, distance, and shielding principles

Conclusion


The ALARA principle has successfully limited exposures to workers—and patients undergoing medical procedures involving radiation—for several decades. Adhering to this principle as well as your state’s radiation safety regulations will result in keeping workers healthy and protected.

Visit our website for more information on how Versant Physics’ board-certified health physicists, medical physicists, and radiation safety officers can help you implement safe practices in your radiation safety program.

Sources

  1. https://nucleus.iaea.org/sites/orpnet/resources/frquentlyaskedquestions/Shared%20Documents/faq-list-en.pdf
  2. https://hps.org/publicinformation/ate/q8375.html
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/radiation/alara.html#shielding
  4. https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/basic-ref/glossary/alara.html
  5. http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2015/ph241/baumer2/
Versant Physics logo

Forum Article "Radiopharmaceutical Extravasation: Pragmatic Radiation Protection" published ahead of print

An article written by Versant team members Dr. Darrell R. Fisher, Ph.D. and Misty Liverett, M.S., CNMT was recently published ahead of print in Health Physics. The article provides an unbiased, scientific assessment of pragmatic and reasonable health physics actions that should be taken in response to inadvertent extravasation events. Click the link below to view the article.

Permits

THE PERMISSION SYSTEM FOR INVENTORY TRACKING, MACHINE MANAGEMENT & EQUIPMENT CATALOG MODULES

Permit Profile

Each permit has a dedicated profile of information that includes authorized personnel, radioactive material, machines, and devices. Permit conditions, completed audits, and forms are also found on this profile.

Authorized Condition Database

Create and view authorized conditions included on permits. Previously created authorized conditions are listed with their code, category, and description.

Permit Enforcement

Information specified on a permit not only serves as a record of that permit, but also controls what can be added to other modules. The location, owner and type of radioactive materials, machines, and equipment can be enforced by permits.

Permit Audits

Perform permit audits, mail the results to relevant personnel, and track responses to non-compliances.