Radiation is a potential hazard in many occupations, especially in the healthcare, nondestructive testing, and research industries. Exposure to radiation can cause serious health problems, including cancer and radiation sickness. Therefore, it is important to monitor the radiation dose of the workers who are frequently exposed to radiation. This is where radiation badges come in.
In this article, we will explore what radiation badges are, how they work, why they are important, and the different types of radiation badges available.
What is a Radiation Badge?
A radiation badge, also known as a dosimeter or an X-ray badge, is a device that measures the amount of ionizing radiation to which an individual has been exposed. These badges are worn by people who work in areas where they are likely to be exposed to radiation, such as medical imaging facilities, veterinary and dental clinics, fluoroscopy and oncology departments, nuclear power plants, research facilities, and nondestructive testing or construction sites.
Radiation badges consist of two main components: a dosimeter and a badge. The dosimeter is a small device located inside the badge that measures the amount of radiation that the wearer is exposed to, while the badge is a holder that is worn on the body and contains the dosimeter. Sometimes the badge is encased in a clear pouch with a clip for attaching to clothing or PPE.
How Does a Radiation Badge Work?
The dosimeter inside the radiation badge is made of materials that are sensitive to ionizing radiation. When the dosimeter is exposed, the material absorbs the radiation. If the badge is being worn at the time, the dosimeter would be absorbing the same amount as the person wearing it.
To read the radiation dose, the dosimeter is processed at a laboratory. The process causes the dosimeter to emit light, which is measured. The amount of light emitted is proportional to the amount of radiation to which the dosimeter was exposed.
The badge holder is designed to protect the dosimeter from physical damage and to hold it in a position that accurately reflects the wearer's exposure. If the holder is compromised, this may affect the accuracy or functioning of the dosimeter inside.
Why are Radiation Badges Important?
Radiation badges are important because they allow employers to monitor the exposure levels of workers who are frequently exposed to radiation. In many fields, badges are required for employees who work with ionizing radiation from devices like X-ray machines, moisture density gauges, and LINAC machines.
This information helps to ensure that workers are not exposed to levels of radiation that are higher than their radiation protection plan, or ALARA. It also helps to identify areas where exposure levels are higher than expected, which can lead to improvements in safety procedures and equipment.
Want to learn more about radiation safety and dosimetry? Watch this webinar to dig a little deeper into the why’s and how’s of radiation monitoring. Click to open in another window.
Different Types of Radiation Badges
There are several different types of radiation badges, including:
- Thermoluminescent dosimeters (TLDs): These badges use materials that emit light when the dosimeter is heated. The amount of light emitted is proportional to the amount of radiation to which the badge was exposed. TLDs cannot be re-read after they have been heated to release the stored energy, so we do not recommend their use as a whole-body monitor. TLD badges are also very sensitive to heat, which will render them useless. LANDAUER TLD dosimeters include the SATURN Ring and VISION Eye of Lens.
- Optically stimulated luminescence dosimeters (OSLs): These dosimeters use materials that emit light when stimulated by a laser. The amount of light emitted is proportional to the amount of radiation to which the badge was exposed. OSL badges can be re-read multiple times, which is useful in situations where the dose is called into question. OSL dosimeters are able to withstand very high and low temperature extremes without affecting their use. LANDAUER OSL dosimeters include Luxel+ and InLight.
- Electronic digital dosimeters: These are the most advanced type of radiation badge. They use electronic components to measure the amount of radiation to which the wearer has been exposed. Some digital dosimeters are able to transmit data wirelessly, eliminating the need for regular badge exchanges. Some also have alarms on them to warn the wearer of high levels of radiation.
- Film badges: These are the oldest type of radiation badge and not used by most organizations due to their fragility and the fact that the exposure dose fades over time, making their long-term accuracy unreliable. They consist of a small piece of photographic film inside a light-tight holder. When exposed to radiation, the film darkens. The degree of darkening is proportional to the amount of radiation to which the badge was exposed.
Legal Dose of Record
If you are required to use radiation badges to provide a legal dose of record for your employees, you will receive regular reports from your dosimetry vendor. Be sure to clarify that the radiation badges you’re purchasing are approved for use as legal dose of record, and the vendor is an NVLAP accredited laboratory.
Radiation badges are an important tool for monitoring the exposure levels of workers who are frequently exposed to radiation. They allow employers to ensure that workers do not receive doses that are higher than the legal limits. By understanding the different types of radiation badges available, organizations can choose the best option for their needs.