Radiation Hygiene


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Hygiene, Radiation

 

a branch of hygiene that studies the influence of ionizing radiation on human health and develops measures of radiation protection.

Radiation hygiene as a scientific discipline arose in the USSR and the USA at approximately the same time, after massive US tests of nuclear weapons in the region of Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean (1946). In the USSR in 1946 a biophysics division under the directorship of A. A. Letavet was created at the Institute of Occupational Hygiene and Diseases. This division occupied itself with problems of radiation hygiene; in 1951 the first radiation hygiene laboratory was established here. In 1957 the first subdepartment at the Central Institute for Advanced Medical Training was established under the supervision of F. G. Krotkov.

Radiation hygiene works out problems of dosimetry of premises, equipment, and territory of enterprises or establishments that have sources of ionizing radiation at their disposal and problems of individual dosimetric control of workers in enterprises or institutions that use radioisotopes, X-ray apparatus, and gamma-ray devices for industrial or medical purposes. It also studies the problems of occupational hygiene and radiation safety in enterprises of the atomic industry and at atomic power plants, in mining, in extracting uranium and thorium, in processing ores and hauling ore concentrates, in enterprises of ferrous and nonferrous metallurgy, and in machine manufacturing and chemical industries. That is, wherever sources of ionizing radiation exist, this branch of hygiene develops methods of protecting personnel and patients during the use of all types of ionizing radiation for diagnosis and treatment and develops antiradiation measures for radiation accidents.

Radiation hygiene studies the processes of radioactive contamination of the external environment (air, soil, water, plant cover) caused by global precipitation and local discharge; it is also concerned with the influence of increased radioactive background on the health of the population and on genetic changes. It accumulates and systematizes data for scientific grounding of hygienic standards (maximum permissible content of radioactive substances in the air, water, and food products). It works out methods of sanitary certification of food products in the event of their contamination with radioactive substances and performs sanitary surveillance of removal of radioactive wastes.

In the USSR legislation has been enacted to determine the hygienic requirements in the selection of the site, the design, construction, and use of enterprises and institutions that work with sources of ionizing radiation. The functions of hygienic control of the use of sources of ionizing radiation and radioactive isotopes in the national economy are carried out by radiological groups from sanitary-epidemiological stations. They also perform systematic observations on all changes in radiation conditions on the territory of the USSR.

In the USSR radiation-hygiene specialists are trained in hygiene departments of medical institutes and in departments of radiation hygiene at the Central Institute for Advanced Medical Training in Moscow and at institutes for advanced medical training in Leningrad and Kiev. Scientific research on problems of radiation hygiene is conducted at institutes of biophysics (Moscow), radiation hygiene (Leningrad), and medical radiology (Obninsk). A number of institutes of labor hygiene and occupational diseases, nutrition, and general and community hygiene also do research in the field.

Scientific works on radiation hygiene are published in the USSR in the journals Gigiena i sanitariia (Hygiene and Sanitation; 1936—); Gigiena truda i professional’nye zabolevaniia (Labor Hygiene and Occupational Diseases; 1957—), and Meditsinskaia radiologiia (Medical Radiology; 1956—). Abroad the best-known journal is the official organ of the International Association of Biophysicists, Health Physics (London-New York; since 1958). Occasional works on radiation hygiene are printed in hygiene journals in such countries as the USA, Canada, Great Britain, France, and the Federal Republic of Germany.

REFERENCES

Radiatsionnaia gigiena. Moscow, 1962.
Problemy radiatsionnoi gigieny (collection of translated articles). Moscow, 1963.
Breastrap, K., and G. Wickoff. Rukovodstvo po radiatsionnoi zashchite. Moscow, 1962. (Translated from English.)

F. G. KROTKOV