About X-rays & Radioactive Devices

X-rays are used in many industries in ways that benefit the community health, such as diagnostic or dental X-rays, mammograms, computerized tomography (CT), and radiation therapy. Radioactive materials are used in nuclear medicine imaging, devices for industrial use, and nuclear reactors. Radioactive materials must be properly controlled to protect the public from unnecessary radiation exposure.

Radiation Management works under contract with the California Department of Public Health Radiologic Health Branch to enforce regulatory compliance within L.A. County Radiation Management works to:

  • Ensure users of X-ray equipment and radioactive materials are licensed
  • Investigate complaints and incidents involving radiation
  • Inspect mammography facilities to determine compliance with regulations
  • Provide information for licensees, registrants, and the public
  • Review shielding plans for X-ray machines
  • Respond to radiological incidents
  • Provide radiation protection expertise and training to responders

Radiation Management oversees the radiation protection throughout Los Angeles County, including Long Beach, Pasadena and Vernon. Radiation Management is contracted by California Department of Public Health and the Food and Drug Administration.

Electromagnetic Spectrum

Radiation is energy, in the form of rays and particles. Radiation exists all around us. People are exposed to varying amounts of radiation from rocks, soil, food, water, outer space, airline travel, medical procedures and X-ray machines. There are two kinds of radiation: non-ionizing radiation and ionizing radiation.

Non-ionizing radiation* is electromagnetic radiation that does not have enough energy to remove electrons from atoms but has enough energy to cause excitation or the movement of an electron to a higher energy state. Examples of this kind of radiation are visible light, microwaves and radio waves, including cellular phones.
*Radiation Management does not regulate non-ionizing radiation.

Ionizing radiation has enough energy to knock electrons out of atoms. Ionizing radiation can affect the atoms in living things, and poses a health risk by damaging tissue and DNA in genes. Ionizing radiation comes from X-ray machines and radioactive materials.

Absorbed dose is the amount of energy deposited by Ionizing Radiation in a unit mass of tissue.

Background radiation is Ionizing Radiation from natural sources such as rocks, soil, food, water, and outer space.

Contamination (radioactive) is the deposition of unwanted Radioactive Material on the surfaces of structures, areas, objects, or people. Contamination may be External or Internal.

Exposure (radiation) is a measure of Ionization in air caused by X-rays or Gamma Rays. The unit of exposure most often used is the Roentgen (R).

Radioactive decay is the emission of energy in the form of Ionizing Radiation. Radiation with so much energy it can knock electrons out of atoms. Ionizing radiation can affect the atoms in living things, so it poses a health risk by damaging tissue and DNA in genes. Radioactive decay occurs in unstable atoms called Radionuclides.

Radionuclide is an unstable Nuclide.

Radon (Rn) is a naturally occurring radioactive gas found in soil, rock, and water.

X-ray is a stream of high energy photons, used for its penetrating power in imaging.

X-ray Contact List of Radiation Management staff contact information.

X-ray Inspections On-site visits or inspections of facilities that possess any type of X-ray machine to verify compliance with Federal, State and local regulations.

Diagnostic Imaging Technique and process used to create images of the human body (or parts and function) for clinical purposes (medical procedures seeking to reveal, diagnose or examine disease) or medical science (including the study of normal anatomy and physiology).

Radiation Certification Certification or permit as required by the State Radiologic Health Branch for who is allowed to supervise and operate an X-ray machine.

Radiation Control Means and ways to limit unnecessary radiation exposure to the operator and the public.

Radiation Licensing Users of radioactive material and persons possessing generally licensed devices containing radioactive material are required to be licensed and registered with the State Radiologic Health Branch.

Radiation Safety The science of protecting people and the environment from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation, which includes both particle radiation and high energy electromagnetic radiation.

Radiation Shielding Reduction of radiation by interposing a shield of absorbing material between any radioactive source and a person, work area, or radiation-sensitive device.

Radioactive Material that emits radiation energy in the form of alpha, beta, or gamma particles or rays.

Radioactive Material is any solid, liquid, or gas, which emits radiation spontaneously.

Radioactive Materials Inspection On-site visits or inspections of facilities that possess any type of radioactive material to verify compliance with Federal, State and local regulations.

Radioisotopes An unstable element that releases radiation as it breaks down. Also used in imaging tests or as a treatment.

Radiological Emergency An emergency where radioactive materials in significant concentrations escape into the environment. If the concentrations of the materials are high enough, they could be dangerous to health.

Radiology Regulations State regulations that includes licensing of radioactive materials, registration of X-ray-producing machines, certification of medical and industrial X-ray and radioactive material users, inspection of facilities using radiation, investigation of radiation incidents, and surveillance of radioactive contamination in the environment.

RHB (Radiologic Health Branch) Primary State agency that is responsible for enforcing the laws and regulations designed to protect the public, radiation workers, and the environment.

Report a Problem

For Questions or Concerns, Contact the Radiation Management Office at (213) 351-7897.

Contact Us

Monday - Friday
8:00am - 5:00pm

Tel: (213) 351-7897
Fax: (213) 351-2718

County of Los Angeles Public Health
Environmental Health
Radiation Management
3530 Wilshire Blvd. 9th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90010