Overview of Radiation Control
Ionizing radiation can be instrumental in the improvement of health, welfare and productivity if properly used. If improperly used, it may impair the public’s health, and the industrial and agriculture potentials of the state.
Radioactivity from natural sources is present throughout the world. People are continuously exposed to low-level radiation from radioactive materials in the earth and from cosmic rays from space. Exposure to natural radiation can be affected by geography as well as lifestyle. For example, radiation levels are higher in the mountains, and travel by airplane contributes additional exposure because of increased cosmic radiation at high altitudes. The use of x-rays and radioactive materials in medicine adds to our population exposure.
Radiation can be hazardous to people if they are exposed to it in significant amounts. The extent of the risk depends on the type and amount of radiation emitted, the distance between the source of the radiation and a person, and the length of time a person is exposed to the radiation. The risks can be lessened by reducing any or all of these factors. The hazard is less if there is a shielding material to block some of the radiation, if a person moves farther from the radiation source, or if the exposure time is reduced.
If radiation producing equipment and radioactive materials are properly handled and regulated, they do not pose a significant risk to the public or to workers. The Radiation Control Program establishes limits for radiation exposure to workers and the general public as a result of the various uses radiation producing equipment and of licensed radioactive materials. In addition, the Minnesota Department of Health requires users to take steps to keep exposures well below the limits.
Radiation Control staff review radiation safety programs and inspects all sources of ionizing radiation of our registrants and licensees to ensure the health and safety of all members of the public in Minnesota.