Thursday, May 05, 2011

How Harmful are X-rays?

I have been dealing with a severe foot injury for a little over a month. A head-on collision resulted in my right foot being broken. An orthopedist diagnosed it as a lisfranc fracture, one of the most severe types of foot fractures. Needless to say, it has been a seemingly endless string of X-rays since that diagnosis. I just had my third one last week and will have another in about 4  weeks. My foot will also get X-rayed each time my cast is changed.

I am usually not hyper-aware about these kinds of things but up until now, the only X-rays I've had to get were periodic ones at my dentist. Naturally, I have started to wonder how harmful are X-rays? I am not an expert so by doing a quick internet search, I discovered that

  • We are constantly exposed to radiation from the natural enviroment around us.
  • Radon gas accounts for about half of our natural radiation exposure.
  • Tests like CT Scans and MRIs have a higher dose of radiation than X-rays. A chest CT Scan gives off 70 times the amount of radiation as an X-ray. This is troubling to me because I also had both of these tests done since my diagnosis.
It appears that we face more of a risk from everyday sources of radiation than we do from tests that should be performed occasionally. The question then becomes how can we limit our exposure to every day radiation since that poses a higher risk?

  • Remove shoes before entering the home to avoid tracing in toxic chemicals such as pesticides
  • Filter tap water
  • Microwave food in ceramic or glass instead of plastic containers
  • Check radon levels in and around your home.
  • Use stainless steel, glass or BPA-free plastic water bottles.

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