New Communication Tool for Radiation Emergencies

PUBLISHED: Feb 8, 2017

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a new tool for public health officials to communicate with the public in a radiation emergency. The Radiation Hazard Scale helps people better understand their risk for health effects from the emergency, and can encourage people to follow recommended protective actions if needed and reduce their risk.

The tool is a scale of hazard levels, similar to other scales people are familiar with, e.g., hurricane categories. It describes the immediate potential impact of the accident for people, and the hazard category depends on where people are located. The Radiation Hazard Scale is intended to communicate relative hazards to populations under emergency conditions when exact radiation exposure parameters for specific individuals are not available. Specifically the scale,

  • Provides a frame of reference for relative hazards of radiation.
  • Conveys meaning without using radiation measurements or units that are unfamiliar to people.
  • Is designed for use only in radiation emergencies (not medical exposures) and is applicable for short-term exposure durations, for example, over a period of several days.
  • Is best used when accompanied with protective action recommendations or instructions.
  • Has been audience tested with public information officers, emergency management and public health professionals, and members of the public

Environmental scientists and radiation safety experts are the individuals who will evaluate the data and assign the Radiation Hazard Categories in coordination with emergency management authorities, public health officials, and communication experts.

Hospitals should understand the scale and be prepared to communicate its meaning to staff, patients and the public at large.

Follow the link below to access the scale.

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