Nukewatch Quarterly Summer 2016
A new study published April 9 further documents the radiation health risks to healthcare workers, particularly those working in a “cath lab,” in which X-rays guide heart procedures. The study compared the rates of cataracts, skin lesions, bone disorders and cancer in interventional cardiologists, electrophysiologists, nurses, and technicians to the rates in other healthcare workers who are not regularly exposed to these X-rays.
The rate of cancer in cath lab workers (almost 3 percent) is over 3 times higher than other healthcare workers (less than 1 percent). According to Reuters, the study authored by Maria Grazia Andreassi of the CNR Institute of Clinical Physiology concluded that “eight percent of lab workers had experienced skin lesions, 30 percent had an orthopedic illness and five percent had cataracts, compared to two percent, five percent and less than one percent of the unexposed group, respectively.”
While protective measures such as leaded aprons and radiation shields are available, they are not required, they do not provide complete protection and they can cause orthopedic problems. Effects of radiation on radiologists have been observed as far back as 1902 when they were associated with high rates of radiation-induced skin cancer. In the 1940s and ‘50s high mortality rates due to leukemia were found among radiologists. Many more studies have affirmed the high rates of radiation-induced disorders in exposed healthcare workers; however, there is currently no alternative to X-rays available on a mass scale.
—Reuters, April 12, 2016; Radiological Society of North America Radiology, Nov. 2004