Radiological Health | Health and Human Services

The mission of the Bureau of Radiological Health programs is to protect Iowans from excessive radiation exposure. Each year, Iowans are exposed to an average of 300 millirems of natural radiation and 60 millirems of artificial radiation. The Bureau operates under legislative mandates found in Iowa Code Chapters 136B, C, and D.

Program activities include:

  • licensing of facilities using radioactive materials;
  • registration of facilities using radiation-producing machinery or operating tanning plants;
  • inspection of facilities using radioactive materials;
  • authentication of persons using radioactive materials or working with machinery emitting radiation;
  • approval of training courses and continuing education; and
  • emergency response as it relates to incidents involving radioactive materials and nuclear power plants.

Iowa Rules

Note: Click here for methods to view policy changes.

The Iowa Administrative Code updates the use of gonadal screening

The Bureau of Radiological Health recently changed rules specific to requirements related to technical chart content and shielding of the reproductive organs (gonads) during diagnostic abdominal imaging. These changes come into effect on 21 July 2021 and can be reviewed in Chapter 41. We provide the following fact sheets for diagnostic radiology and dental applications as additional guidance.

Dental Radiology Fact Sheet

Diagnostic Radiology Fact Sheet

Information about a radiation incident

The Iowa HHS Bureau of Radiological Health is responsible for all dose assessments and technical advice for radiological incidents or emergencies in Iowa.

To report a radiation incident or emergency call (515) 725-4160.

Important information to provide when reporting a radiological incident or emergency includes:

  • Your name.
  • Phone number and contact information.
  • Date, time and place of the incident.
  • What happened or what is happening?
  • Radioactive materials and quantity involved in the incident.
  • Responsible party or incident (property or business owner name, trucking company name, etc.).
  • Have local officials (fire, police, sheriff) been notified of the incident?

The Iowa HHS Bureau of Radiological Health will coordinate dose assessment and technical advice through:

  • Analysis of the risks of radiological incidents.
  • Collection and mapping of field measurements and data using field surveys and sampling teams from Iowa State University, the State Hygiene Laboratory at the University of Iowa, and the 71st Civil Support Team.
  • Review incident-specific information to recommend appropriate guidance for responders, and
  • Advising on recommendations for protective actions based on radiological risks to protect the population and emergency workers.

In the event of a catastrophic emergency, Iowa HHS may also request and coordinate with assets from federal or neighboring state partners depending on the size and scope of the event.

What is a radiological emergency?

Radiation accidents can be deliberate actions intended to harm others, or they can result from accidents occurring during the normal use of radioactive material. An accident at a nuclear power plant, a nuclear explosion, or a radiological dispersal device (RDD, dirty bomb) are examples of radiation accidents.

What is a radiological incident?

Radioactive materials are transported and used safely in everyday industry. Types of uses include: commercial power generation, medical procedures, teaching and research in colleges, measuring the density or thickness of materials, and non-destructive testing of materials, to name a few. Although these are regulated activities, a wide range of accidents can occur, and it is important that trained Iowa HHS personnel participate in the response to accidents involving radioactive materials to protect public health and safety.

What should I do to protect myself?

An accident at a nuclear power plant, a nuclear explosion or a dirty bomb are examples of radiation accidents. During a radiation emergency, the goal is to keep your radiation exposure as low as possible. It is important to listen for guidance on how to respond to protect yourself and your family.

Come inside – During a radiation emergency, you may be asked to enter a building and take shelter for a period of time instead of leaving. Building walls can block much of the harmful radiation. Because radioactive materials become weaker over time, staying inside for 24 hours can protect you and your family until it is safe to leave the area.

stay inside – Stay inside until the police, fire department or government official tells you to leave. While you are inside, you can take simple steps to remove any radioactive material that may be on your body. Removing the outer layer of clothing (such as jackets and pants), washing the skin with water, and putting on clean clothes will remove the radioactive material.

Stay on the line – It will be important to stay tuned once you are inside for updated instructions from emergency response officials. As officials learn more about the emergency, they will provide the latest information to the public. Television, radio and social media are some examples of ways you can get important safety information.

Where can I get more information about radiation emergencies?

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