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Lines of defense against radiation contamination

August 2011

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Personal protective equipment (PPE).

Workers in industrial settings have to adhere to a variety of safety guidelines designed to protect them from exposure to possibly dangerous conditions in their workplace. One of these is ionizing radiation.

Instruments such as the Fluke 481 Radiation Detection Meter can detect radiation, but cannot provide protection from its harmful effects.

Personal protective gear

In an effort to eliminate exposure, governmental agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), OSHA and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) have clothing guidelines for workers in settings where radiation is present - personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE is a combination of protective clothing, helmets, goggles, or other garments or equipment to protect eyes, head, breathing, and the full body from splashes, vapors, loose objects, and chemical penetration through personal clothing. The level of protection depends on the level of exposure in the working environment. Here are the types of protection:

  • Eye protection - safety spectacles, goggles, face shields, and visors
  • Head protection - variety of helmets and bump caps
  • Breathing equipment - disposable filtering face piece, respirator or breathing apparatus
  • Full-body protection - regular or disposable overalls, boiler suits, and specialist protective clothing (for example, chain-mail aprons or high-visibility clothing)
Fluke 481 Radiation Detection Meter

Fluke 481 Radiation Detection Meter.

Potential health effects

Not “arming” yourself with the right detection equipment and protective gear can cause serious health effects, some of which can be permanent. The severity of the effects of radiation on health depend on the length of exposure. The two effects are stochastic and non-stochastic. Stochastic effects occur as the result of long-term, low-level (chronic) exposure. The most common stochastic health effect from radiation exposure is cancer. Typically, the body naturally controls the rate at which cells grow and replace themselves. The cells then regulate the body’s process for replacing and repairing damaged tissue. Damage at the cellular or molecular level can interfere with the control processes, which allows the growth of cancer cells.

Mutation is also a stochastic effect from radiation. Mutation occurs when radiation changes cell DNA. DNA ensures cell repair and replacement by producing a copy of the original cell. When DNA is affected by radiation, the body will either not repair the mutations or possibly create mutations during repair.

Burns and radiation sickness are examples of non-stochastic effects. Radiation sickness, also known as radiation poisoning, can cause premature aging or even death. Symptoms include hair loss, skin burns, weakness, or diminished organ function. These effects are associated with short, high-level exposure to radiation and can appear quickly.

Understanding radiation and its effects is important in making sure you have the first line of defense in place. To learn more, visit: EPA, US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Radiation Emergency Medical Management.

How the Fluke 481 Radiation Detection Meter works

The highly sensitive Fluke 481 is ideal for detecting radiation on goods, equipment, surfaces, or environments in industrial settings to ensure worker safety. The meter's ion chamber, preferred over other devices for its precision accuracy, provides quick, accurate readings of skin dose (beta), deep dose (gamma) and x-ray radiation with simple two-button operation. If radiation is found, a clear and quantifiable result allows managers to comply with federal guidelines while avoiding unnecessary steps that might halt operations, impact productivity, or lead to lost revenue.

The Fluke 481 works reliably indoors and outdoors thanks to its rugged sealed case and provides more than one week of continuous operation on two easily-replaceable 9-volt batteries. Its automated backlight keeps the meter visible inside truck trailers and other low-light conditions. Proven in use by state and local governmental emergency response professionals, state inspectors, HAZMAT teams, and nuclear power workers, the Fluke 481 is the simple solution for industrial professionals to maintain a safe and operational work environment for their employees.

Beyond the most obvious areas where a radiation detection meter would be important, such as in a plant manufacturing X-ray machines or at a hospital where X-rays are taken, the meters are especially useful at docks and warehouses and in food processing plants. The meter can detect irradiated goods (even inside packaging), irradiated equipment, surfaces, and environments.

Learn more about the Fluke 481 Radiation Detection Meter »