Working with the Invisible Radiation: 5 Radioactive Careers

Flying a plane is a dangerous job, not just because a pilot has to ensure a safe landing and takes this huge responsibility for more or less 100 passengers. What most of us don’t know is the extra risk they face from the extra dose of radiation they get on a single flight. 

Like them, all of us are exposed to radiation, too. Every day we get it from the sun, from the ground, x-rays, our trips to the dentist. But for radiation workers like pilots and flight attendants, occupational exposure awaits the minute they clock in. 

It might sound alarming but all careers that work with and around radiation sources are very careful. There are regulations on dose limits and radiation workers strictly follow them.

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) lists down the different fields with occupational exposure. This includes workers in nuclear power plants, airlines, mines, space, and medicine.

1. Nuclear Power Plant Workers

Nuclear power plant (NPP) workers might be on top of your mind when talking about occupational exposure but just like any other radioactive job, the industry makes sure to abide by the ALARA principle – As Low as Reasonably Achievable. 

Except in unusual accidents, NPP workers receive minimal doses of radiation.

2. Airline Workers – Pilots and Flight Attendants

According to NASA researchers, a pilot with routine long-haul flights might even be more exposed to radiation than nuclear power plant workers. That’s because the higher you go, the more you are exposed to cosmic rays. Rotating staff frequently is recommended, especially for pregnant airline workers who need to limit their trips.

3. Mine Workers

Workers in coal and uranium mines are exposed to higher doses of radon, which is linked to lung cancer risks. Over the years, regulations, testing, and ventilation have greatly improved so miners’ exposure is way lesser than in the past.

4. Astronauts

Astronauts get the highest radiation dose especially with long stays at the International Space Station. Added protection from dangerous levels of cosmic radiation comes from a special shielding on the space station and space capsules. Scientists also recommend setting a universal career-long radiation dose limit of ~600 millisieverts (mSv) for astronauts.

5. Radiology Technicians

Radiology technicians operate medical imaging equipment like X-rays to detect and diagnose diseases. These are widely used both in hospitals and dental offices, contributing 95% of overall artificial radiation exposure. Even with this high percentage, good practice keeps the health risks associated with it low.

Radiation Safety in the Workplace

Occupational exposure, as long as it’s properly monitored and controlled, won’t affect an organisation’s operations. 

With real-time and understandable radiation data from monitors, the staff will feel safe and assured in their workplace. Whether it’s a mining facility, hospital or a nuclear power plant, a radiation monitoring and management plan is a responsibility. 

SensaWeb provides real-time radiation monitoring in real simple data visualisation. Connect with us here or through our email address: info@sensaweb.com.au. You can also call us at +61 415 409 467.

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