Protecting Workers from Exposure to Ionizing and Non-ionizing Radiation Sources
The American Board of Industrial Hygiene® (ABIH®) reminds workers and industry of the need to protect employees from occupational exposure to harmful radiation sources.
Lansing, MI, July 25th, 2018 -- For over forty years the reactors located at the Hanford site in Washington produced plutonium for the country’s defense programs. Production of plutonium ended at the facility in the late 1980s, shortly before an agreement was signed between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Washington State, to bring the Hanford site into compliance with federal and state environmental regulations. These efforts included the demolition of a number of former industrial plants and processing facilities.
Earlier this year, U.S. News & World Report, along with several other publications, reported that there was a temporary halt to the demolition of a plutonium finishing plant at the Hanford site. According to the report, this occurred after dozens of workers were found to have inhaled or ingested radioactive particles with some having even carried radiation into their cars. Unfortunately, this is just one example of how workers can be exposed to radiation.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that radiation may be defined as energy traveling through space. Non-ionizing radiation is essential to life, but excessive exposures will cause tissue damage. All forms of ionizing radiation have sufficient energy to ionize atoms that may destabilize molecules within cells and lead to tissue damage.
“Radiation sources can be found in a wide range of occupational settings, not just at current or former nuclear weapon processing, demolition, and cleanup sites,” said Dirk Yamamato, CIH® and Chair-elect of ABIH®. “Some of the other ionizing radiation sources that could impact workers that are specifically mentioned by OSHA include those found at health care facilities, research institutions, nuclear reactors and their support facilities, and other settings. Ionizing radiation is addressed in specific OSHA standards because if this radiation is not properly controlled, it can be a serious hazard to the health of workers.”
Protecting workers from all types of occupational exposure risks, including ionizing and non-ionizing radiation, are dedicated professionals known as Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIHs). CIHs are uniquely qualified to monitor radiation exposure and educate workers about protecting themselves. Their comprehensive knowledge of radiation, health risk analysis and hazard communication, work environments and industrial processes, engineering controls and ventilation, air sampling and instrumentational analysis, community exposure, and other core competencies inherent in the industrial hygiene profession are instrumental for protecting workers from radiation exposure dangers and other occupational hazards.
To learn more about the American Board of Industrial Hygiene®, the Certified Industrial Hygienist® credential, or to locate a CIH® to perform industrial hygiene services, please visit www.ABIH.org, email abih@ABIH.org, or call (517) 321-2638.
About the American Board of Industrial Hygiene®
Since 1960, ABIH®, a not-for-profit corporation, has been the world's largest organization for certifying professionals in the practice of industrial hygiene. ABIH® is the premier credentialing body responsible for ensuring high-quality certification including education, experience, examination, certification maintenance, and ethics enforcement. Currently, more than 6900 people in 32 countries are certified to use the CIH® credential. ABIH® also administers the Qualified Environmental Professional (QEP®) credential for established environmental practitioners and the Environmental Professional In-Training (EPI) designation for early-career practitioners.