1. The Importance of X-ray in Industrial Inspection
Be it electronics, welding, or automotive sector! Every step in their production sector should be done carefully to prevent the flaws or discontinuities in the final products. Despite following strict regulations, small issues can arise unexpectedly. Hence, the products should undergo detailed inspection for quality control at every stage of production. When visual inspection is short of intellect, objectivity, and reliability, it’s the industrial X-ray testing, a type of non-destructive test, that proves effective. The X-ray test takes the radiological images of both external and internal structure of the test object and predominantly quantify the defects like misalignments, cracks, porosity, missing components, etc., that go undetected by the naked eye. At the same time, this test does not modify the object properties while taking the radiographic image. Hence, this X-ray based quick and precise quality control test saves the industrialists from manufacturing low-quality products.
Just knowing the application of X-ray in the inspection of industrial products is not enough. Before buying the X-ray equipment for quality check, the manufacturers should be well aware of the significance and guidelines of protection from ionizing radiation while using the X-ray device for inspection. Let us dig deep into the significance of radiation protection.
2. Why is protection from radiation mandatory?
2.1 The Hazards of Ionizing Radiation
The higher the dose, the more the risk. Exposure to low levels of ionizing radiation does not affect the health immediately, but can gradually increase the risk of cancer. Similarly, exposure to high levels of ionizing radiation causes acute health hazards like skin burns and acute radiation syndrome (‘radiation sickness’). Acute radiation syndrome leads to nausea and vomiting within hours of exposure and may result in death over the following weeks. This increased radiation can also cause cardiovascular disease as well as cancer in long term.
Hence, the right radiation dose plays a vital role, which is commonly expressed in millisieverts. The Environmental Protection Agency sets appropriate regulatory limits and strictly recommends the quantity well below 100 millisieverts (10 rem) to protect the people from overall radiation dose over the lifetime followed by the rising risk of cancer.
2.2 The International Standards in Radiation Protection
Radiation safety is a significant part of industrial radiography. Hence the X-ray instruments should follow international standards in terms of radiation protection.
International standards are a set of worldwide agreed requirements, based on the biological effects of radiation and protection from radiation. These Standards have been developed to establish requirements for the protection of people and the environment from harmful effects of ionizing radiation and for the safety of radiation sources. The findings of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) and the recommendations of international bodies, especially the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), are involved in developing the IAEA safety standards.
Radiation effects: The Standards include information from extensive research and development work by scientific and engineering organizations, at national and international levels, on the health effects of radiation as well as the techniques for the safe design and operation of radiation sources. They also include the experience of many countries in the use of radiation techniques. UNSCEAR, a body set up by the United Nations in 1955, collects, evaluates, and circulates information on the health effects of radiation and on levels of radiation exposure
The IAEA safety standards: reflect an international consensus on what constitutes a high level of safety for protecting people and the environment from harmful effects of ionizing radiation. They are issued in the IAEA Safety Standards Series, which has three categories: Safety Fundamentals, Safety Requirements, and Safety Guides.
Radiation Protection and Safety of Radiation Sources: International Basic Safety Standards (IAEA Safety Standards Series No. GSR Part 3) was published in 2014. It was jointly sponsored by the European Commission (EC), the IAEA, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (OECD/NEA), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the World Health Organization (WHO).
2.3 The Apparatus and Instruments in Radiation Protection
There are four radiation monitoring instruments to check the radiation doses and ensure protection.
- Personal dosimeters – They are passive dose assessing instruments. Thermoluminescent dosimeter (TLD) and optically stimulated luminescence dosimeter (OSLD) are the most commonly used personal dosimeters.
- Direct reading dosimeter (DRD) / gas-charged dosimeter – It is a real-time dosimeter which helps in monitoring the absorbed dose to the worker, and is assessed regularly by the radiographer during the shift, to confirm doses received while performing radiography work.
- Alarming dosimeter – It emits a loud warning signal when it exceeds the dose rate alarm set point.
- Radiation survey meter (such as a Geiger/Mueller counter) – It measures the rate of radiation dose which should be calibrated every 12 months for future use. This device confirms the proper positioning of radiation warning signs and barriers around the radiography work area. It assures the integrity of the exposure device shielding before use. Furthermore, it checks the return of the source into the shielded position following each exposure.
2.4 How to protect against radiation?
Three factors such as time, distance, and shielding can protect people from radiation exposure.
- Limit time – Reduce the exposure time to minimize the dose from the radiation
- Increase Distance – Increase the distance from the source to reduce the dose of radiation dramatically
- Use shielding – Shielding with lead, concrete, or water can protect from the penetration of ionizing radiation. Hence, instruments like X-ray devices are stored in lead lined rooms or in concrete to reduce the dose dramatically you receive. The thicker the shield between the person and the radiation source, the lesser the radiation quantity a person will receive.
- In the case of emergencies, stay protected by following three actions: – Get inside, stay inside, and stay tuned. The emergency officials can manage the disaster by taking appropriate safety actions.
The general public or the other industrial personnel should check the hazardous level of ionizing radiation by looking at the symbols.
- A trefoil sign on a yellow background shows that the level of radiation is significantly higher.
- The red ionizing radiation warning symbol can be seen in the industrial radiography units. It denotes the IAEA Category 1, 2, and 3 as per the danger level.
There are few more safety instructions to be followed while using the X-ray machine for inspections:
- Always ensure that you are wearing the proper personal protective equipments (PPE) kits including lead aprons, lead shields, lead glasses, lead gloves, and lead masks before working on the X-ray machine
- Lead aprons should be maintained in the lead apron racks only for easy access.
- Always wear proper protective gear and clean and recycle all radioactive remnants if any. Never dispose of these products in general garbage or throw away in trash.
- Remember that only one person should remain in the X-ray room, if the room is in small or medium size. Basically, the level of radiation exposure should be limited. Even the occupancy rate of surrounding areas should be restricted.
- Keep an account on the radiation dose rates produced in the X-ray room.
- Try to adjust the workload considering the duration of working hours
- Check for any human presence prior to working on X-ray system.
- Don’t forget to limit the position as well as the direction of the source within the installation.
3. How to choose a safe X-ray machine?
3.1 What are the characteristics of a safe X-ray machine?
Despite having a great image quality, automation facility, and reasonable price, safety plays a mandatory role before selecting an X-ray machine. The X-ray machine should not only abide by the standards but also involve the submission of safety and efficacy data. Safety data includes data about all its components, their source, and efficiency. It also includes additional data about whether the equipment is safe for use by inspectors and workers without exposing them to excessive risks. Hence, clearance would be subject to data.
Similarly, one should remember to notify the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) before using the X-ray machine. The list of rules and procedures for use should be created under the supervision of radiation protection supervisors. The industrial radiographers including Certified Exposure Device Operators (CEDOs) should ensure the safe conduct of their work and comply with all regulatory requirements.
Moreover, the device supplier should be able to recommend proper advice regarding the radiation safety guidelines of the X-ray machines. Proper labelling should be sealed in the equipment to alert the users. The support team should perform an annual quality check on the X-ray system to detect any failure modes or radiation leakage. The power supplies, cables, and connectors should be replaced in time.
3.2 Why choose us?
Industrial X-ray equipment can cause significant risks to the health and safety of the inspector and other people working nearby. Hence, regulatory requirements are in place to confirm that the inspection work in industries can be done safely and reduce the risk to everyone involved. All the above listed safety procedures following effective radiation protection principles, and recommending others to follow likewise will confirm that the workplace where the industrial X-ray device is placed remains safe at all times.
Here comes our Uni X-ray’s X-ray machine as one of the safest choices you can make as it ensures utmost safety. It is because we manufacture it with a complete set of lead protection systems which in turn ensures low radiation making it the safest choice for human use.