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Dosimeter Badge Guidelines

A dosimeter badge is a personal device used for monitoring and recording the cumulative dose of radiation.

Ernest O’Wollan first developed dosimeter badges while working on the controversial Manhattan Project during World War Two and on camera film. In fact, before the development of the dosimeter badges as we know them today and stock at Med-Pro, photography film was used as a very crude way of measuring exposure.

The film inside the dosimeter badge is sensitive to various forms of radiation, including gamma rays, beta particles, and X-Rays. It is incredibly sensitive and must be removed from the badge holder once a month and developed. The more radiation the film is exposed to, the darker it will be. 

The film does not give a real-time reading of the radiation levels but instead provides a picture of how much accumulated radiation the wearer is exposed to. They are ideal for field comparison and assessing the potential for long term adverse effects on health.

However, for them to work correctly and for those exposed to the radiation to understand the idea of how much radiation they have been around, specific guidelines must be followed. Here, we are going to look at some of those and how to get the very best out of your dosimeter badge.

Related: How to Wear a Radiation Badge

Who should be wearing a dosimeter badge?

pregnant belly

If you are expected or likely to receive a dosage of more than 10% of the following annual limits:

Part of the bodyDose  limit
Whole body5,000 mrem/yr
Skin50,000 mrem/yr
Extremities50,000 mrem/yr
Eye lens15,000 mrem/yr
  • If you are under the age of 18 and are likely to receive a radiation dose exceeding 1 percent of the exposure mentioned above limits.
  • If you work in radiation and are planning to get pregnant soon or are currently pregnant.
  • If you are entering an area of high radiation (more than 100 millirems in one hour)
  • Work with any analytical x-ray devices.
  • Meet any other special criteria laid out by the Radiation Safety Officer

The effectiveness of dosimeter badges is only guaranteed if they are worn and used correctly. Frequent exposure to radiation can have some severe effects on your health, so it’s essential that you follow the guidelines carefully.

Related: How Radiation Affects Pregnancy

Wearing Your Dosimeter Badge

Make sure you exchange it as indicated by the guidelines. This is usually on a monthly or bi-monthly basis unless you are pregnant, in which case it should be handed in every month. Whoever is in charge of the dosimeter badge at your workplace should facilitate the collection and distribution of new badges. 

Never share or swap your badge with anyone else. The data collected by the dosimeter badge is specific to you and is there to protect your long-term health. Swapping or sharing with someone else can skew the information and have a significant impact on your health.

Do not intentionally expose your dosimeter badge to radiation. Tampering with it, as above, can cause considerable discrepancies to data, and in most places can get you in trouble for disobeying the rules.

It might be tempting to wear your dosimeter badge from Med-Pro during a medical procedure like x ray, but please don’t do that. The presence of the badge is there to measure your exposure to occupational radiation, not medical.

Keep your dosimeter badge in a safe place, and avoid taking it home. Keep it away from any sources of radiation. If radioactive materials have likely contaminated your lab coat, then keep your badge away from it because that could cause issues to the reading.

Make sure that you wear your dosimeter badge in the correct place. Body badges are designed to be worn on the part of your body between your neck and waist that is most likely to be exposed to the radiation. Collar badges should be worn on your collar outside the lead, and the waist badges should be worn under the lead on your waist. Ring badges should be worn so that the label is facing out from the side of the hand most likely to be exposed. Wear your ring under your gloves, but be careful not to accidentally pull it off and throw it in the trash when removing your gloves. 

Reducing your exposure to radiation

Of course, the best way to avoid any long term adverse effects on your health is to prevent or minimize your exposure to radioactive materials. In many occupations, this is simply unavoidable, but there are measures that you can take to reduce it as far as possible.

  • Time: Reduce your time near sources of radiation
  • Distance: Increase your distance from sources of radiation

Reduce your exposure to radiation with a Med-Pro dosimeter badge

Radiation Facts:


Chances are if you are wearing a Med-Pro dosimeter badge, you know more than a little about radiation, but if you’ve just stumbled upon this article, here are some interesting facts and figures for you:

  • All of the American flags placed on the moon have now turned white thanks to the radiation from the sun.
  • The Manhattan Project secretly tested the effects of radiation on its own citizens, including injecting pregnant women radioactive mixtures and feeding children radioactive oatmeal.

Related: How Much Radiation Risk From Medical Imaging?

Bottom Line

Dosimeter badges are designed with your long-term safety in mind. Following the guidelines, wearing them correctly, and ensuring that you take any practical measures possible to reduce your exposure to cumulative radiation will help you to stay safe for as long as possible. 

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