EPA issues guidance on medical radiation protection

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued new guidance on radiation protection during diagnostic and interventional x-ray procedures.

The guidelines provide recommendations for all radiation-bearing imaging modalities, including radiography, CT, nuclear medicine, and dental imaging. The document can be accessed in its entirety on the EPA website.

The guidance offers recommendations for federal facilities that use diagnostic and interventional x-ray equipment to keep patient doses as low as reasonably achievable without compromising the quality of patient care. Referred to as Federal Guidance Report No. 14: Radiation Protection Guidance for Diagnostic and Interventional X-Ray Procedures (EPA 402-R-10003, November 2014), the new guidelines update the 1976 x-ray guidance in Federal Guidance Report No. 9.

The draft guidelines were developed by medical and radiation protection professionals from the EPA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense (Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. They were initially published in the Federal Register in April 2013.

The new recommendations are not binding; rather, they are a guide to be used at an agency's discretion and to be incorporated into standard operating procedures as needed, the agency wrote. The EPA said it hopes that states and private-sector healthcare providers will find them useful for improving the safety of diagnostic and interventional imaging.

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