Editorial Column by Dr. Akashi


Since the discovery of X-rays in 1895 by Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen and of radioactivity by Antoine Henri Becquerel in 1896, radiation exposure has had an adverse effect on society. In the same year, an assistant to Thomas Alva Edison, an American inventor, developed radiation skin injury. A year after, Becquerel observed an erythema on his abdomen, and ascribed it to radioactive materials. Today, the threat is on the rise. Devices or locations whereby an individual could be exposed to radioactive materials are not rare. Potential sources of radiation exposure include industrial radiography, therapeutic devices, sterilizers, transportation accidents, nuclear power plants, and material chemistry. In the car tire production, for example, radiation is used primarily for its ability to crosslink certain polymers to provide strength. These may be sources of accidental exposure to radiation. Moreover, there are new concerns regarding the threat of radiation poisoning by malicious intent.

Radiation cannot be seen by the human eye, smelled, heard, or otherwise detected with our normal senses, nor are symptoms/signs visible soon after radiation exposure. Many people believe that radiation is dangerous regardless of the exposure dose. Therefore, radiation exposure is a wide-spread concern, and its psychological aspects also require attention. When someone is accidentally exposed to radiation and/or contaminated with radioactive materials combined with life-threatening physical and/or chemical insults, physicians as well as first responders may be involved in the immediate assessment and care. However, a lack of exact knowledge of radiation and its effects on these professionals prevent the healthcare and transportation system from functioning appropriately. Although we are always being exposed to natural radiation, exposure to radioactive materials is a unique event. Continue reading.