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ENG GEO
RADIATION SAFETY

Radiation

Radiation, or ionizing radiation is the emission of particles or electromagnetic waves by a radioactive material. Ionizing radiation has many practical uses in medicine, research and construction. There are natural (space, rock and soil, construction materials, radon, food) and non-natural (X-ray device, pharmacological and industrial isotopes, fuel) sources of ionized radiation, which are more and more used in our everyday life. However, people need to be protected from harmful effect of ionizing radiation, due to its great potential for biological damage (may result in an increased chance of cancer and genetic damage etc.).

What is naturally occurring radiation?

The Earth is constantly exposed to cosmic rays. Their intenseness depends on the latitude and altitude above sea level. Natural radioactive elements, contained in the earth surface play an important role in forming radioactive background. We encounter it every day through the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe. It is also in building materials and items we commonly use. Human dose of radiation depends on the environment he lives: e.g. radioactivity in wooden buildings is twice lower than that in brick and concrete buildings.  Living substance is permeated by the radiation from natural radioactive isotopes contained in his body. Potassium-40, concentrated mainly in muscles, is noteworthy out of these isotopes. Each organism is characterized by selective pursuit of a particular isotope (selective accumulation capacity). Current geological era is characterized by less radioactivity than the previous ones. Besides, living organisms have adapted to naturally occurring radiation. Flora and fauna species manifest different level of resistance to radiation: the most resistant are insects, and least resistant are mammals.
Naturally occurring radiation can also be regarded as a source of point mutation, which is the foundation of biodiversity. 

What shall we know?
 
  • We shall know that the human body has receptors for sensing the odor, taste, heat and cold, but has no special receptors for sensing ionizing radiation energy. Hence, it is dangerous and impermissible to touch, or investigate radioactivity sources or/and accidentally found metal objects of unknown origin (especially those producing heat or glowing in the dark. Thy may harm human health, skin, tissue etc.). Such items may be radiation hazardous.
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Radon

Radon is a gas that enters the buildings from cracks, the soil and rocks beneath homes, water (especially artesian well water), building materials, and combustion gas. Being a heavy gas, its concentration on down floors is higher than on upper floors. Radon can pose a danger if it concentrates to high levels once it gets in the house and, there is little outdoor air exchange. Respectively, increases the risk of lung cancer. To reduce that risk living space needs to be often aired-out, and have well-established venting systems.

Radioactive substances

In the past, dial plates and pointers of different devices were often covered with radioactive substances so that they glowed in the dark. Some of these devices are still in use and are dangerous to human health. If you happen to come across such a device inform immediately the regulatory body, which will neutralize it appropriately.

Patients’ radiological examination

One of the methods of medical visualization is application of Roentgen rays in such devices as X-ray unit (radiography, fluoroscopy, CAT, mammography, urography, and angiography). The following safety measures need to be observed: especially vulnerable to x-rays are eyes, thyroid, and genitals, which shall be appropriately protected during examination (by using glasses, collar, apron, etc.). Reduced, and specially designed radiation dose is used with children.
The use of X-rays during pregnancy involves certain risks. The procedure is especially harmful for the fetus at an early stage. So, it is advisable to do all x-ray examinations prior or after the pregnancy, provided there are no health reasons for such examination.
Monitoring of nuclear and radiation safety in Georgia is carried out by the Department of Nuclear and Radiation Safety of Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. The department’s key objective is protection of the environment and the population from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation.
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