Cat. No.: H46-3/2-1993E
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* Safety Code 29 supersedes Safety Code 21. Recommended safety procedures for the selection, installation and use of baggage inspection x-ray equipment (78-ehd-20)
A baggage x-ray inspection system is a machine that is specifically designed to generate x-rays in the low-to-medium keV energy region for use in security screening operations. This Safety Code provides requirements and guidance necessary to ensure that the radiation risks associated with baggage x-ray systems remain negli-gibly low (i.e., the same as the risks from unavoidable, natural background radiation levels). This approach is in accordance with the 1990 International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) objectivesReference 1 to prevent the occurrence of deterministic effects (those for which the severity of a biological effect increases with dose and for which a threshold may occur) and to reduce the incidence of stochastic (random) biological effects to acceptable levels.
This Safety Code is prepared under authority of Treasury Board StandardsReference 2, is referenced in Canada Labour Code Part IIReference 3, and is directed to personnel in facilities under federal jurisdiction. This publication is aimed at four target groups:
This publication is intended to reduce and possibly eliminate any adverse biological health effects of radiation exposure that may arise from baggage x-ray inspection systems. This Safety Code outlines specific responsibilities for the system owner, operator and maintenance personnel, and provides information on safe guidelines and procedures. This publication supersedes Safety Code 21 "Recommended safety procedures for the selection, installation and use of baggage inspection x-ray equipment"Reference 4.
This document may be adopted for use elsewhere. Facilities under provincial jurisdiction should consult the appropriate regulatory authority provided in the Appendix because of differences in provincial statutes and requirements.
This publication was prepared by H.P. Maharaj in accordance with the Bureau of Radiation and Medical Devices internal and external review, and approval criteria. All organizations, agencies and individuals whose comments and suggestions helped in the preparation of this publication, are gratefully acknowledged.
Interpretation or elaboration on any point in this Safety Code may be obtained from the Bureau of Radiation and Medical Devices, X-Ray Section, 775 Brookfield Road, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1C1.
The physical interactions of x-rays with materials yield data which can be analyzed and processed to provide useful information on them. Consequently, machines have been specifically designed to generate x-rays over a wide energy range for use in security screening operations. Machines that generate x-rays in the low-to-medium keV energy range are used for the examination of carry-on baggage, personal items, sealed mail, etc. They are by convention called baggage x-ray systems to which this Safety Code applies. Specialized systems generating x-rays in the MeV range for use on cargo containers are not addressed in this Safety Code.
X-rays are ionizing radiation that can cause cancer in exposed individuals and possibly harmful genetic mutations in their progeny. However, ionizing radiations continue to be utilized in a variety of applications in medicine, industry, research and consumer products because of known or perceived benefits. In recognition of the widespread applications of ionizing radiation worldwide, and the potential adverse human health effects, the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) has recommended a system of radiological protectionReference 1 which, when followed, would ensure that the risks from ionizing radiations remain low. In this context, baggage x-ray inspection systems must be designed and constructed to conform with regulatory standards, and persons who install, use and maintain them must know the x-ray hazards inherent with such systems and adhere to recommended procedures.
This Safety Code provides requirements and guidance intended to ensure that the radiation risks from baggage x-ray systems remain negligibly low (i.e., the same as the risks from unavoidable, natural background radiation levels). Specific responsibilities for the owner of the system, operator and maintenance personnel are outlined. Information on safety procedures, standards, surveillance and monitoring is provided.
This Safety Code also applies to cabinet x-ray systems used in similiar screening applications. X-ray systems operating at MeV energies and neutron-based systems are not covered by this Code.
If radiation risks are to remain low, in conformity with the ICRP objectives, personnel in every facility where baggage x-ray systems are installed must maintain strict adherence to the responsibilities charged to them. The responsibilities affecting the system ownership, operation and maintenance are indicated below.
The ultimate responsibility for the radiation safety of a baggage x-ray inspection system rests with the owner. The system owner must ensure that the baggage x-ray system(s) meets all applicable radiation safety standards. For some applications, this responsibility may be delegated to staff (e.g., a senior operator or a senior maintenance worker or the facility health and safety officer, henceforth, called the system owner or designee).
In every facility where a baggage x-ray inspection system is in use, the system owner or designee is responsible for:
All operators of baggage x-ray inspection systems must:
All personnel responsible for the maintenance of baggage x-ray inspection systems must:
Within the scope of the ICRP system of radiological protection including the As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) principle, the collective equivalent doseReference 1 associated with the use of baggage x-ray inspection systems must be minimized. This use involves a large number of individuals and, therefore, the x-ray inspection systems and human factors must be considered.
All baggage x-ray inspection systems sold in Canada must conform to the Radiation Emitting Devices (RED) Regulations (Schedule II, Part IV), at the time of sale. These regulations are promulgated under the RED Act, and it is the responsibility of the manufacturer or distributor to ensure that the x-ray system conforms to the regulatory requirements. Since the regulations are subject to amendments in order to reflect changes in technology, information on their current applicability may be obtained by contacting the X-Ray Section, Bureau of Radiation and Medical Devices, Health Protection Branch, National Health and Welfare, Ottawa, K1A 1C1. Any violation of the RED Act is a criminal offence.
When selecting or procuring a baggage x-ray inspection system, the owner (or designated representative) is advised to obtain a copy of the most recent regulations to become familiar with those requirements, and to enquire of the intended manufacturer or importer if the product complies with those current regulations. (These actions may eliminate or minimize the need for modifications to the system. Such modifications may be costly and cause considerable inconvenience because of disruption in service.)
Baggage x-ray inspection systems must be used in a manner that will minimize the number of people in close proximity, so as to lower the possibility of external x-ray exposure. The following requirements apply to all facilities:
The reliability and safety of any physical system decreases with age and use because of component wear. Consequently, to ensure safe and reliable operation after baggage x-ray inspection systems are installed, the system owner or designee must establish and enforce a suitable maintenance program that accounts for the age and frequency of use of that system.
Subsequent to the commissioning tests indicated in section 4.1.2Reference 2 and before any baggage x-ray inspection system is used, trained personnel (maintenance worker or senior operator) must undertake the following procedures:
It is not possible to provide guidance in this Safety Code for all scenarios that could cause unsafe events. When such events occur, the procedures indicated in paragraphs 3.1.8 and 3.3.6 apply.
Note: If problems arise during the field situations indicated in Reference 1 and Reference 2 above or in other circumstances, maintenance personnel must maintain detailed and complete records, inform the system owner or designee of such problems, and take appropriate corrective actions. If problems persist, contact the appropriate radiation protection regulatory authority. (Facilities under federal jurisdiction may contact the X-Ray Section of the Bureau of Radiation and Medical Devices. Other facilities should contact their provincial regulatory authority as per Appendix.) If there are no problems, the x-ray inspection systems may be returned into operation.
A radiation protection survey is intended to establish that the x-ray inspection system functions according to applicable performance standards, and that it is used and maintained to provide maximum x-ray safety to all individuals. To achieve this objective, the following requirements apply:
Even though operational baggage x-ray inspection systems may conform to the requirements set out in the RED Regulations (Schedule II, Part IV) and preventive maintenance programs ensure safety and reliability, improper use may lead to unnecessary external x-ray exposures and accidents. To reduce this possibility, the following minimum guidelines apply to all facilities utilizing baggage x-ray inspection systems:
Personal dosimeters are intended to monitor occupational doses, thereby, providing a mechanism for restricting future radiation exposures to an individual so that the recommended maximum permissible limits are not exceeded. The results o f extensive radiation surveys performed by the Bureau of Radiation and Medical Devices have shown that when baggage x-ray systems comply with the RED Regulations (Schedule II, Part IV) and are maintained and operated by competent personnel, there is no detectable radiation exposure above natural background to the operator. In addition, an analysis of stray radiation survey data that spanned an 8-year period (1978-1985) revealed that the estimated exposure at the positions occupied by baggage x-ray system operators were indistinguishable from background radiation levelsReference 5. There is no evidence of increased cancer risk at natural background levelsReference 6. Hence, personal monitors are neither required nor recommended.
In 1990, the ICRP recommended average annual whole-body dose equivalent limits of 20 mSv y-1 (2 rem y-1) and 1 mSv y-1 (100 mrem y-1) for a radiation worker and a member of the public, respectively (ICRP 1990Reference 1). These limits do not include medical and natural background radiation exposure contributions since they are judged to be beneficial and unavoidable, respectively. The surveys and analysis results mentioned above are not inconsistent with the recently ICRP revised maximum permissible dose equivalent limits for members of the public.
International Commission on Radiological Protection. 1990 Recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection. Oxford: Pergamon Press; ICRP Publications 60; 1991.
Treasury Board of Canada. Handbook of Occupational Safety and Health. Ottawa: Government Publishing Centre. 1989.
Department of Labour. Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations. Ottawa: Canada Gazette; Revised Statutes of Canada, Chapter L-1; (SOR/86-304); 1984.
Department of National Health and Welfare. Recommended Safety Procedures for the Selection, Installation and Use of Baggage Inspection X-ray Equipment. Ottawa, Ontario: Environmental Health Directorate; Safety Code-21; 78-EHD-20; 1978.
Maharaj, H.P. Stray radiation from baggage x-ray equipment: Results and Implications. Health Physics. 54:141-148; 1989.
National Research Council. Health effects of exposure to low levels of ionizing radiation. Washington: National Academy Press; BEIR V; 1990.
Alberta Radiation Health Service
Occupational Health and Safety
4th Floor, Donsdale Place
10709 Jasper Avenue
Tel: (403) 427-2691
FAX: (403) 427-5698
Worker's Compensation Board of British Columbia
P.O. Box 5350
Vancouver, British Columbia
Tel: (604) 231-8374 (toll free within BC 1-888-621-7233)
FAX: (604) 279-7410
Radiation Protection Service
Department of Medical Physics
Manitoba Cancer Foundation
100 Olivia Street
Tel: (204) 787-2211
FAX: (204) 775-1684
Radiation Protection Services
Department of Health and Community Services
2nd Floor, Carleton Place
P.O. Box 5100
Fredericton, New Brunswick
Tel: (506) 453-2360
FAX: (506) 453-2726
Medical and Hygiene Services
Employment and Labour Relations
Fall River Plaza
P.O. Box 8700
St. John's, Newfoundland
Tel: (709) 729-2644
FAX: (709) 729-2142
Occupational Health and Safety Division
Safety and Public Services
Government of the Northwest Territories
P.O. Box 1320
Tel: (403) 920-8616
FAX: (403) 873-7706
Department of Health and Fitness
P.O. Box 488,
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Tel: (902) 424-4077
FAX: (902) 424-0558
Radiation Protection Service
Ontario Ministry of Labour
81 Resources Road
Tel: (416) 235-5922
FAX: (416) 235-5926
Prince Edward Island
Division of Environmental Health
Department of Health and Social Services
P.O. Box 2000
Tel: (902) 368-4970
FAX: (902) 368-4969
Service de Radioprotection
Ministère de l'Environnement Gouvernement du Québec
6072 est, rue Sherbrooke
Tel: (514) 873-1978
FAX: (514) 873-8953
Radiation Safety Unit
Occupational Health and Safety Division
Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety
300 - 1870 Albert Street
Tel: (306) 787-4496
FAX: (306) 787-2208
Consumer, Corporate and Labour Affairs Branch
Department of Justice
P.O. Box 2703
Tel: (403) 667-5450
FAX: (403) 667-3609
A radiation accident is an unintentional exposure of humans to ionizing radiation that could result in adverse health effects.
An unsafe event is any action that could result in the unnecessary exposure of humans to x-rays due to improper procedure or improper installation or of the x-ray inspection system.