EVERYONE has inborn fears of the unknown, and, to many, one of these unknowns is ionizing radiation. Thus, radiation issues continue to be a matter of great public concern. In this context we, as physicians, have responsibilities in radiation matters to protect, insofar as possible, the physical and emotional health of our patients by preventing and/or minimizing the illnesses and injury that might be caused by radiation. To accomplish this goal, certain basic concepts need to be understood (Table 1). These concepts serve as the basis of this presentation. They have been considered in detail in various publications1-13 and can only be highlighted here.
Sources of Radiation Exposure
Ionizing radiations used in the practice of medicine come from radioactive materials and from x-ray machines. Radiation to which we are exposed also comes from natural sources, such as cosmic radiation and radioactivity in building materials and soil. On the average,