Radiation and its effects on human beings is one issue that has not been taken serious in Zimbabwe.
However, in our Science and Technology Feature today Mercy Makuwatsine explores the world of x-rays and its radiations effects.
Medical x-rays are an important diagnostic tools for a pregnant women, those involved in accidents or the ill ones. Chest X-ray, which can be used to identify lung diseases, or X-rays done on the brain or muscles, and those done on fractured bones are also essential.
Whilst medical x-rays are equally important, they can be a danger to the patient as they can harm the tissue in the bones which is called bone marrow. X-rays can cause loss of hair on the head, cancer and even birth defects. Medical X-rays are a significant source of manmade radiation exposure.
Radiation Scientist Sindiso Ncube says the effect of radiation will depend on its ability to penetrate, which in turn depends on the type of energy particle or wave released.
The part of the patient to be X-rayed is placed between the X-ray source and the image receptor to produce a shadow of the internal structure of that particular part of the body. The amount of absorbed radiation depends upon the type of X-ray test and the body part involved.
Radiation Protection Authority of Zimbabwe CEO Reward Severa says the risk of radiation is greater to unborn babies, so in pregnant patients, the benefits of having an X-ray should be balanced with the potential hazards to the unborn child.
Avoiding unnecessary X-rays (especially CT scans) will reduce radiation dose and any associated cancer risk. Radiation scientist Ngoni Katsidzira says there are other ways to control the amount of radiation that penetrates the human body.
Industry, airport securityÂ and even border security use radiation equipment and thus monitoring and controlling the effects is important.
In Zimbabwe statistics that reveal the effects of radiation have not been recorded for a long time. Radiation Protection Authority of Zimbabwe has thus been set up in order to monitor and control radiation and its effects in all organisations in Zimbabwe.