Working With X Ray Technology: The Dangers

Is A Radiology Career Dangerous?

Radiology is a tempting career for many looking for stable long-term work that pays well. One thing that often scares people away from a career in Radiology is studies that show an increased risk for certain cancers in those who work with X-ray technology.

While eliminating the risk associated with radiation exposure entirely isn’t possible, current safety measures make the field safer than it appears to be. Understanding the actual risks associated with a career in Radiology makes making a good personal decision easier.

When X-ray technology started to see widespread use in the 1920s, there was no regulation in place for those who used X-ray equipment. During this time and leading into the 1950s, radiology workers were exposed to enough radiation to lead to significant increases in skin cancer, breast cancer, and cervical cancer. As technology advanced, regulations were slowly put in place to limit radiation exposure for both technicians and patients.

Most studies about radiology danger cite increased risk for certain cancers. These studies were generally conducted over many decades, some of which had little to no regulation or concept of the cancer danger that radiation presented. Modern X-ray technicians participate in a heavily regulated industry where the danger is kept to a minimum through protection, tracking, and strict rules.

How Do Modern Regulations Help?

Modern regulations in the radiology industry make it much less likely that X-ray technicians will be exposed to unhealthy levels of radiation over time. Here are some of the things the industry does to regulate radiation exposure and protect those in the industry:

  • Monitor short and long-term exposure levels – Modern radiation tracking for people in the Radiology field includes both short-term exposure monitoring and long-term low-level exposure monitoring. Current medical understanding of how long-term low-level radiation exposure works makes keeping cancer risk low a much simpler process.
  • Check protective equipment – Protective equipment used to limit radiation exposure is both more complete and more widely used than it was in the early days of X-ray technology. Modern protective equipment is designed to provide complete protection to all areas of the body where cancer risk is significant. Modern regulations make changing equipment regularly and checking equipment for problems mandatory.
  • Track records through job changes – Unlike the early days of X-ray technology, modern regulations recognize the need for long-term radiation exposure for radiology workers through multiple job changes. Workers in the radiology industry are required to keep tracking sheets through job changes in order to make sure exposure stays within required limits for safety.

There is still some small risk that a career in radiology will eventually lead to cancer, but the risk is easily manageable through the use of safe work practices that encourage minimal exposure and heavy protection. At this point, working with X-ray technology is no more dangerous than most other career options in medicine. For people interested in a career in radiology, the potential risks are relatively minor.

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