77 per cent X-Ray facilities in Karnataka unlicensed; Directorate of Radiation safety to be set up

Following a Supreme Court judgement, it is mandatory for every state to establish a directorate of radiation safety (DRS) to support the AERB in governing radiation safety.
Representational image
Representational image

BENGALURU: There are at least 20,000 X-ray centres in Karnataka (both government and private health facilities), but only 4,500 have licences from Atomic Energy Regulation Board (AERB), Mumbai. On Saturday, Karnataka signed an MoU with AERB to set up a Directorate of Radiation Safety. Through registration, site approval and licensing in such facilities, AERB’s mandate is to ensure that the use of ionising radiation and nuclear energy does not cause undue risk to the health of people and the environment.

A Supreme Court judgment mandated every state to establish a directorate of radiation safety (DRS) to support the AERB in governing radiation safety. Dr Swatantra Banakar, state nodal officer, radiation safety, said, “In our state, we have no licensing authority for imaging centres of any kind. The only licensing authority is in Mumbai, which is the AERB. Only 4,500 are registered with them. The remaining 15,500 are unlicensed, which is 77 per cent. So we have signed an MoU with AERB to have a radiation safety division in Karnataka. The office will be operational in one-and-a-half months.”

Once the division is operational, the radiation safety officers will check whether nursing homes, clinics and diagnostic centres have licences and whether they are following AERB norms. Henceforth, whenever new centres are set up, they will be required to take permission from the AERB and DRS.

“For a CT scan, the walls of the MRI room have to be at least nine inches thick. The personnel have to wear aprons and there should be boards outside alerting pregnant women. There should also be boards informing the patients on the amount of radiation in the room. The windows should be closed. These are the norms to be followed from the AERB,” he added.  

Atomic Energy (Radiation Protection) Rules, 2004, provides the legal framework for the safe handling of radiation generating equipment. As per rule 3, it is mandatory for all users of X-ray equipment to obtain requisite licence from AERB.

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