Personal Monitoring Device, Radiation Badge, Dosimeter, TLD and OSL

Friday, July 27, 2018


Devices for monitoring radiation exposure to personnel are called dosimeters. Radiation workers who are issued single badges for monitoring whole-body dose should wear them in the region of the collar with the label facing out. When a lead apron is worn, the dosimeter should be outside of the lead apron. Technologists who work with fluoroscopy may wear two badges, one on collar outside the lead apron and one at the waist that is under the apron. The two dosimeters should be distinguished by color or icons indicating their specific locations. Personnel who are issued dosimeters should wear them at all times when working in radiation areas, and should keep them in a safe place, away from radiation and heat, when off duty. In addition to wholebody badges, ring dosimeters may be worn by nuclear medicine technologists and others whose work results in more exposure to the hands than to the body.

Film Badges

Film badges were once the principal type of dosimeter. They are still in use today, but are much less common. They consist of one or two pieces of dental film, paper-wrapped and enclosed in a badgelike holder. Several filters are incorporated in the badge so that if the unfiltered exposure exceeds the capacity of the film, additional exposure can be measured in the filtered area. The disadvantage of this type of personal monitor is that the dental film is subject to fog when exposed to heat or fumes, and this exposure could result in a false reading. The film is also ruined if it is laundered! After a period of use, the film is returned to a laboratory that processes it and measures the OD of the film. The exposure is calculated and reported based on this measurement. Many radiographers still refer to their dosimeters as "film badges," but today they are more likely to be TLDs or OSLs.

Thermoluminescent Dosimeter (TLD)

TLD stands for thermoluminescent dosimeter. The roots of this term mean "dose-measuring device that gives off light when heated." The TLD is a type of personal monitor commonly used by radiographer 36). It consists of a plastic badge or ring containing one or more lithium fluoride crystals. These crystals (and several others with similar characteristics) absorb x-ray energy and, when heated, give off the energy again in the form of light. The TLD is more durable than the film badge insert and responds only to ionizing radiation exposure. At the end of the measurement period, the badge is sent to a laboratory where the crystals are placed in a special tray and inserted into the TLD analyzer. This instrument heats the crystals to the required temperature, measures the light emitted, and transmits the data to a computer.

Optical Stimulated Luminescence (OSL)

OSL stands for optically stimulated luminescence and refers to the most recently developed monitoring dosimeter. Aluminum oxide is the radiation detector in this device. The dosimeter is processed using a laser rather than heat as for TLDs. OSLs have several advantages over TLDs. They can measure very small doses more precisely and can be reanalyzed to confirm results. They are accurate over a wide dose range and have excellent long-term stability.

Radiation Monitor Badge Service Laboratories

Radiation monitor badge service laboratories provide dosimeters, processing services, and reports, and keep permanent records of the radiation exposure of each person monitored. Service may be arranged on a weekly, monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly basis. Personnel who receive relatively high doses of occupational exposure change their badges most frequently. With the exception of OSL badges, dosimeters cannot accurately measure total exposures of less than 5 mrem (0.05 mSv). For this reason, personnel who receive very small amounts of exposure will get more accurate measurements with less frequent badge changes. Personnel involved in diagnostic radiography who are always or nearly always in a control booth during exposures are usually best monitored with quarterly service. Monthly service is a better choice for those who work in fluoroscopy and those who perform bedside radiography.

Service companies provide an extra dosimeter in every batch that is marked "CONTROL." The purpose of this dosimeter is to measure any radiation exposure to the entire batch while in transit. Any amount of exposure measured from the control badge will be subtracted from the amounts measured from the other badges in the batch. The control badge should be kept in a safe place, away from any possibility of x-ray exposure. It should never be used to measure occupational dose or for any other purpose.

Radiation badge service companies will want to know the name, birth date, and Social Security number of all persons to be monitored so that all records can be accurately identified. If there has been a history of previous occupational radiation exposure and the dose is known, this information should also be provided so that the record will be complete and accurate. Exposure reports are sent to the subscriber for each batch, and an annual summary of personal exposure is also provided. Radiation workers should be advised of the radiation exposure reported from their badges and should be provided with copies of the annual reports for their own records. Employees exposed to ionizing radiation should not leave their employment without a complete record of their radiation exposure history. Employers are required to provide this information.

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