Radiation protection, otherwise referred to as radiological protection, is the science and practice of protecting people and the environment from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation, which is widely used in industry and medicine, and can present significant health hazard. The technology and methodology of radiation protection is still evolving for the better. This article prepared by Dr. M. Dinesh & Dr. Ram Madhav of AIMS, Kochi is an analytical overview of radiation hazards and protection systems.
In the beginning, the dangers of radioactivity and radiation were not immediately recognised. The discovery of X-rays in 1895 led to widespread experimentation by scientists, and incidence of burns, hair loss and worse began to appear in technical journals as early as 1896. In 1902, William
Herbert Rollins made public his warnings about the dangers involved in careless use of X-rays. By this time, Rollins had proved that X-rays could kill experimental animals, could cause a pregnant guinea pig to abort, and that they could kill a foetus.
Meanwhile, many physicians and corporations began marketing radioactive substances as patent medicine. Marie Curie protested against this sort of treatment, warning that the effects of radiation on the human body were not understood well. Curie later died from aplastic anaemia, likely caused by exposure to ionizing radiation. By the 1930s, after a number of cases of bone necrosis occurred and many radium treatment enthusiasts died, radium-containing medicinal products had been largely removed from the market.
Now it has been widely accepted that ionized radiation causes microscopic damage to living tissue, which can result in skin burns and radiation
sickness at high exposures, and statistically elevated risks of cancer at low exposures. Fundamental to radiation or radiological protection are the reduction of expected dose and the measurement of human dose uptake, thereby protecting people and the environment from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation.
(Read the full article from the May issue of Safety Messenger Magazine 2015)