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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Medical Radiation Safety

Radiation exists as part of the natural world. The food we eat, the water we drink, and even the air we breathe all contain some level of radiation.

Radiation has been used for many years in medical tests and procedures. It can be used for both diagnostic and treatment purposes and has saved countless lives. Like many beneficial things, however, radiation also carries with it a risk for harm. When contemplating whether to undergo a medical test or procedure that involves radiation, weigh the risks and benefits. Ask your doctor any questions you may have. You can learn more by exploring the resources listed below.

Internet Resources

Health Physics Society: Radiation Answers
This Web site created by the Health Physics Society provides factual, easy-to-read information about radiation. Subjects of this site include general information about radiation, the sources and uses of radiation, and a consumer friendly Q and A section.

RSNA: Radiology Information
The Radiological Society of North America has created this site as a resource for information about specific medical procedures that use radiation. This Web site offers detailed information such as common uses for the procedure, how to prepare for the procedure, how the procedure works, and much more.

FDA: Radiation Emitting Products
This site provided by the Food and Drug Administration describes their agency’s responsibility and commitment to safety related to radiation.

UCSF: Radiation Safety in the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging
Site explains both benefits and risks of ionizing radiation and puts the risks into context.

American College of Radiology
Includes information on imaging quality as well as patient safety.


  • Essentials of radiation, biology and protection. Forshier S. 2009.
  • An introduction to radiation protection in medicine. Trapp JV. 2008.

Journal Articles

  • “Mayo Clinic office visit. CT scans and radiation." An interview with Richard Vetter, PhD. Mayo Clinic Women’s Healthsource. 12(5):6. May 2008.

Contact Us

For more information, please contact the  Health Learning Center  at 312.926.5465 or HLC@nmh.org.

Last UpdateDecember 2, 2011