ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences
RADIATION - NON-IONISING
This type of radiation is related to
ultraviolet and visible light (including lasers), infra-red lasers,
acoustic and ultrasonic energy.112
Sources of Non-Ionising Radiation include
the following examples:
- Low pressure mercury or Xenon gas
discharge lamp - as used in fluorescence microscopy.
- Germicidal lamps (see also Ozone).
- High pressure mercury or sodium lamps.
- Tungsten Halogen lamps.
- Heated objects - all objects emit
infra red radiation but this is only a hazard when the object
becomes luminous. At this point considerable heat is generated
within the object. Likely effects to eyes are corneal pain
whilst outer surfaces of the body may suffer burns and
vasodilation of the arteriolar system. Damage to the male
testicles and sperm production have been reported.113 114
- Lasers may emit in the infra-red or
ultra violet range depending upon their class and construction.
Powerful lasers produce radiation that can severely damage the
cornea of the eye and produce burns to the skin similar in
appearance and intensity to deep electrical burns. Others
utilise toxic substances in their construction which can be a
health hazard (carbon monoxide and hydrogen fluoride).115-117
- Microwave ovens - an increase in the
incidence of cancer in staff exposed to microwave radiation has
been reported.118 Blood forming organs are the
target. Microwave cataract and loss of hearing have also been
reported after severe exposure.
- Ultrasonic cleaning devices.
Principles of protection
Adequate protection fundamentally relies upon
recognising potential hazards from using various pieces of
equipment, ensuring correct use, minimising potential hazards,
protecting from irradiation and reporting incidents should they
occur. Non-authorised personnel should be excluded from the area and
equipment must be adequately shielded to prevent direct or indirect
exposure. The distance between source and operator should be
maximised and only the minimum exposure used. Appropriate protective
clothing and equipment must be provided and used.
All equipment in these categories must be
checked before being commissioned and at regular intervals to ensure
compliance with local regulations. If shielding is provided it must
be used at all times.
The first sign of any problem, skin burn,
'welders flash' or loss of hearing must be reported to the
Responsible Safety Officer for immediate action.
BACK to the top
of the Glossary Contents List
BACK to the top of the Chemical