So we’re working with an industrial CT-Scanner which uses “harmful” X-rays. Harmful because X-rays belong to the spectrum of electromagnetic waves that have ionizing effects, which have devastating consequences on organic tissue. Logically at first we weren’t too comfortable around all those radiation hazard signs. But we took some time to educate ourselves.
After an object is scanned there is no residual radiation left within the object or the source. Applied to daily life: our irradiated food or scanned luggage at the airport/metro hold no risk of any health dangers due to radiation.
Induction of radiation in materials is possible but requires a high critical threshold that is only reached when exposed to very high levels of X- or gamma rays. On top of that, induced radiation usually has a very short decay half-life.
Food and objects from the area around the Fukushima power plant disaster are potentially dangerous because they could be contaminated with airborne radioactive particles that originated from the plant site.
Irradiated food is a controversial topic, but this is mainly due to the discussion of creating ‘free radicals’ and killing the naturally present ‘healthy’ bacteria within foodstuffs. ( If you want more information on why food irradiation is applied please read the text on this page [Dutch] : http://www.gezondheid.be/index.cfm?fuseaction=art&art_id=16733 ).
The active sources in these machines do however hold radiation poisoning risks, but it’s ‘easy’ to protect the machine operators by placing thick (lead) shields around the testing chamber that absorb all emitted waves and placing sensors or ‘dosimeters’ around the operational area and on the staff. There’s even development going on to create dosimeters that can be attached to your smartphone
Scanners used for medical purposes and ‘body scanners’ used in some airports do hold some controversial radiation health dangers, but that’s a topic for a next blog.
So after reading all this, what’s your take on non-medical uses of X-rays? Still weary of touching your bag after passing customs in the airport? And afraid your apple might grow some legs after irradiation? Post your thoughts.