Health Physics Service / Radiation Safety Office
Our mission is to provide Health Physics and Radiation Safety Support to the William Beaumont Army Medical Center and Fort Bliss Community. Our staff is a highly trained and professional organization, ready and capable of handling any and all radiation safety matters, from area monitoring to Weapons of Mass Destruction response. We use state of the art radiation monitoring and detection equipment to ensure all users of ionizing and nonionizing radiation sources are in compliance with Federal and Department of the Army radiation safety regulations.
To ensure that the radiation dose to the public and to Occupationally Exposed Individuals is below the federally mandated limit, the Health Physics staff is involved with planning, testing and measuring all radiation producing procedures in the hospital and industrial environments. From the medical x-rays needed to diagnose an injury or illness to therapeutic administration of radionuclides for the treatment of disease, the Health Physics staff works to ensure radiation exposures are kept to "As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA)" levels.
X-rays are essential in modern diagnostic medicine. Who checks the x-ray and fluoroscopy machines as well as the therapeutic procedures to ensure that you, the patient don’t receive an excessive dose of ionizing radiation? Health Physics and maintenance personnel work hand in hand to certify that the x-ray and fluoroscopy machines are properly functioning. Faulty x-ray and fluoroscopy machines can result in excessive radiation exposures to the patient. In addition, innovative diagnostic or therapeutic procedures must be evaluated, monitored, and measured to determine exposures to all persons involved in the examination or therapy.
Nuclear medicine is the clinical application of radioactive materials to patients either for diagnostic or therapeutic procedures. A short lived radioisotope is either injected or swallowed by the patient. The radioactive material migrates to the point of interest as selected by the physician; where large radiation detectors map the site where the radioactive material accumulates. This is an invaluable tool in determining many clinical conditions. The radioactive material is highly regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) who mandates and controls the use of all reactor derived radionuclides. In order for a hospital to use these radioisotopes, the hospital must apply for and receive a certification or license which is an agreement between the hospital and the NRC that all federal mandates will be followed regarding radiation exposures to the patient, staff and general public. Health Physics personnel act as the enforcing agent to ensure that the conditions of the NRC license are strictly followed.
Many research projects require the use of radioactive material in the research protocol. The use of licensable quantities of radioactive material requires an established radiation safety program. This program ensures the protocol does not result in the loss of the radioactive material, the contamination of the environment, or radiation exposure to members of the public.
Radiation producing devices are used every day in many industrial operations. The Department of the Army uses radioactive material to protect soldiers in the combat environment from chemical and biological weapons. Radioactive material has many other applications; it is present in lenses and mirrors to enhance optical characteristic. It increases the efficiency of microwave energy transmission. Watches, compasses, telescopes, and electronics possess radioactive material as well for illuminating dials and switches. Most importantly, Am-241, a radioactive isotope has saved countless lives because it is the main component in the smoke detector. All these applications require safety monitoring to ensure the safety of the public. Health Physics personnel are essential in safeguarding the public as well as disposing the equipment with radioactive material when it is no longer service able.