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Page last reviewed: 10/02/2008
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Ionizing Radiation

Ionizing radiation sources may be found in a wide range of occupational settings, including health care facilities, research institutions, nuclear reactors and their support facilities, nuclear weapon production facilities, and other various manufacturing settings, just to name a few. These radiation sources can pose a considerable health risk to affected workers if not properly controlled. This page provides a starting point for technical and regulatory information regarding the recognition, evaluation, and control of occupational health hazards associated with ionizing radiation.

This page is maintained as a product of OSHA's Alliance with the American Biological Safety Association (ABSA).

Ionizing radiation is addressed in specific standards for the general industry, shipyard employment, and the construction industry.

Standards

This section highlights OSHA standards, Federal Registers (rules, proposed rules, and notices), directives (instructions for compliance officers), standard interpretations (official letters of interpretation of the standards), and other federal standards related to ionizing radiation.

OSHA

Note: Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these States adopt standards that are identical to Federal OSHA. However, some States have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or may have different enforcement policies.

General Industry (29 CFR 1910)

Shipyard Employment (29 CFR 1915)

  • 1915.57, Uses of fissionable material in ship repairing and shipbuilding

Construction Industry (29 CFR 1926)

  • 1926.53, Ionizing radiation

  • 1926.65, Hazardous waste operations and emergency response

Federal Registers

Directives

Standard Interpretations

Other Federal

Note: These are NOT OSHA regulations. However, they do provide guidance from their originating organizations related to worker protection.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)

US Department of Energy (DOE)

Health Effects

General

Pregnant Workers

Note: These are NOT OSHA regulations. However, they do provide guidance from their originating organizations related to worker protection.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)

  • 10 CFR 20, Standards for Protection Against Radiation. The NRC requires licensees to maintain exposure to the fetus of an occupationally exposed individual to 500 mrem (5 mSv) or less during the gestation period.

International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP)

  • 1990 Recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection. Report 60. Recommends a limit of radiation exposure to a member of the general public as 100 mrem/y (1 mSv/y) and the limit for the fetus of an occupationally exposed individual to 200 mrem (2 mSv) during the gestation period.

National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP)

  • Limitation of Exposure to Ionizing Radiation. Report 116. Recommends a limit of radiation exposure to a member of the general public as 100 mrem/y (1 mSv/y) and the limit for the fetus of an occupationally exposed individual to 50 mrem (0.5 mSv) per month during the gestation period.

Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors (CRCPD)

  • Radiation Protection. Suggests state regulations for radiation protection. In Subpart D, the suggested regulations state that the limit on exposure to the fetus of an occupationally exposed worker be kept below 500 mrem (5 mSv) during the gestation period.

US Department of Energy (DOE)

  • Radiation Protection Policy. Develops and issues the Department of Energy's occupational radiation protection policy, requirements and guidance.

Medical Doses

  • UNSCEAR 2000 Report Vol. 1: Sources and Effects of Ionizing Radiation. United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR). Contains medical radiation doses in Annex D.

  • Exposure of the US population from diagnostic medical radiation. National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP) Report 100. Contains information on various sources of radiation exposure for the public and the associated radiation doses.

  • Sources and magnitude of occupational and public exposures from nuclear medicine procedures. National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP) Report 124. Contains information on sources of radiation exposure and associated doses from medical nuclear medicine procedures.

  • Doses to the embryo and fetus from intakes of radionuclides by the mother. International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) Report 88. Contains information on radiation doses from maternal intake of radioactive materials and potential biological effects.

  • Patient Information. The Royal College of Radiologists. A variety of patient information leaflets on Diagnostic Radiology, Intervention Radiology, and Oncology.

Health Effects of Radiation Exposure during Pregnancy

  • OSHA Technical Manual. OSHA Directive TED 01-00-015 [TED 1-0.15A], (1999, January 20).
    • Physical Agents. Contains general exposure and health effect information for ionizing radiation sources in health care facilities.
  • Instruction Concerning Prenatal Radiation Exposure [48 KB PDF, 12 pages]. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Regulatory Guide 8.13, (1999, June), . Provides information to pregnant women, and other personnel, to help them make decisions regarding radiation exposure during pregnancy. Supplements Regulatory Guide 8.29, Instruction Concerning Risks from Occupational Radiation Exposure, which contains a broad discussion of the risks from exposure to ionizing radiation.

  • Radiation Protection. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • Radiation and Pregnancy: A Fact Sheet for the Public. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Discusses possible health effects to unborn babies from exposure to radiation.

  • Pregnancy and medical radiation. International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) Report 84. Contains information regarding the potential biological effects of medical procedures involving radiation for the pregnant patient.

  • Biological effects after prenatal irradiation (embryo and fetus). International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) Report 90. Discusses pregnancy, radiation during pregnancy, health effects and radiation protection.

  • Radionuclide exposure of the embryo/fetus: Recommendations of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements. International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) Report 128. Contains information on the effects of radiation exposure during pregnancy.

Examples Programs for Pregnant Radiation Workers

Hazards and Solutions

Measuring Exposure

Safety and Health Programs

  • Radiation Control Manuals from Department of Energy (DOE) Laboratories:
    • Fermilab Radiological Control Manual (FRCM). (2010, February).
    • Environment Safety and Health Manual - Chapter 9: Radiological Safety. Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), (2010). Describes the engineering and administrative controls required to maintain personal radiation doses ALARA, to prevent uncontrolled or accidental exposure to ionizing radiation, and to prevent release of radioactive material into the environment.
      • Radiological Control Manual [2 MB PDF, 232 pages]. (2010, July 9). Summarizes the elements of the Radiological Health and Safety Policy and is intended to guide the actions of every person involved in radiological work at SLAC.
    • Radiation Safety. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) Health and Safety Manual, PUB-3000, Chapter 21, (2012, April).
  • Radiation Protection Policy. US Department of Energy (DOE). Develops and issues the Department of Energy's occupational radiation protection policy, requirements and guidance. Key regulatory topics covered in 10 CFR 835 include:
    • monitoring individual internal and external radiation dose,
    • radiation safety training,
    • workplace monitoring,
    • As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) programs,
    • radiation detection instrumentation,
    • posting and control of radioactive material,
    • radiation dose reporting.
  • For additional information on safety and health programs, see OSHA's Injury and Illness Prevention Programs Safety and Health Topics Page.

Additional Information

Related Safety and Health Topics Pages

Other Resources


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