What is radiation?
Radiation is best described as energy moving through space, and it can take many forms, including visible light, x-rays, gamma-rays, microwaves, and radio waves. Radiological Technologists use low dose radiation in the form of x-rays to create images of different parts of your body.
High doses of radiation can also be used to treat certain types of cancer.
Where does radiation come from?
Radiation is all around us. The two main sources of ionizing radiation are from natural background radiation and medical exposure (CT scans and x-rays). Natural background radiation comes from the Sun (cosmic radiation), the Earth (mostly Radon gas), and from naturally radioactive substances in our body. Natural background radiation exposure accounts for an average of 1.8 mSv/yr with variations depending on where you live. The average radiation exposure to individuals in Canada is 4.2 mSv/yr which includes natural background and medical imaging.
What are x-rays?
X-rays are a type of radiation used in medical imaging much like a camera uses visible light to create an image. X-rays pass through the body and create an image based on how many x-rays get absorbed and how many pass through. These images are commonly referred to as “x-rays,” but x-rays are actually the type of radiation that is used to produce the image. Studies that use x-rays include plain films, fluoroscopy, and computed tomography (CT scans).
It is important to realize that in a properly performed individual exam, the potential health benefits almost always outweigh the potential risks of radiation exposure. Great effort has been made throughout the medical community to ensure patient safety while providing quality diagnostic images. However, there is data to suggest that high doses of radiation increase your future risk of cancer. The data is compiled from high dose exposures including survivors of atomic bombs and radiation spills. There is no proof that the low doses of radiation used with common x-rays or CT scans cause cancer, but we know enough to use this technology carefully and only when needed.
Typical Radiation Doses
Exam Dose (mSv)
|Natural Background||1.8 /year|
|Average Exposure Total||4.2/ year|
Our technologists are licensed to practice by The Alberta College of Medical Diagnostic and Therapeutic Technologists or The Alberta College of Combined Laboratory and X-ray Technologists