Expert Explains Possible Dangers to Prolonged X-Ray Exposure
MCALLEN – Concerns on potential dangers of working around x-ray machines are growing after the U.S. Border Patrol Union claimed equipment used by agents was the result of eight cancer cases.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS spoke with radiologic technologist Alex Martines who’s operated radiologic machinery for five years. She wasn’t able to comment on the equipment Border Patrol uses, but was able to talk about x-ray machines in general.
She said there are safety measures she takes to protect herself and her patients.
"The more you're exposed to it, the more probability of creating those cancer cells," she said.
Martines said the machines use x-rays to help see inside of people and objects. While useful in the medical field, she warned too much exposure to gamma rays or x-rays pose a danger.
Martines said clinics are regulated by the state to make sure they and their patients are safe.
"We have these badges, which are called dosimeters, that help us track ourselves, as technologists, to keep track of how much radiation we are getting exposed to," she said.
When it comes to the human body, Martines said there are areas which are more sensitive to the rays then others.
"Our thyroid on our neck, we will go ahead and shield them there and we'll shield them in their private area, especially the younger patients because they haven't fully developed yet,” she explained.
Martines said getting cancer from overexposure varies from person to person. She said fitness, age and how often you receive an x-ray are all factors.
The radiologic technologist said x-ray machines generally create specific types and amounts of radiation depending on what's getting scanned.
She added unprotected prolonged exposure to these machines increases cancer risk.
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