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HealthWiki > Workers' Guide to Health and Safety > APPENDIX B: Common chemicals and materials > Radiation

Radiation is a form of energy that travels as invisible waves through air away from the radiation source. Radiation used in electronics includes radiofrequency (RF) radiation, ultraviolet (UV) light, and x-rays. A lot of radiation comes from the sun or elements in the earth around us. This type of radiation is called natural radiation. Other radiation is man-made, such as that used in manufacturing.

Some types of radiation are more dangerous than others. The higher the amount of energy, the more dangerous the radiation. X-rays are more dangerous than UV light, but UV light is more dangerous than RF radiation.

You can be exposed to a large amount of radiation all at once or to smaller amounts over a long period of time. Whole-body exposure to radiation is more damaging than if only a small part of your body comes in contact with radiation.

Prevent or reduce exposure:

  • Distance, time and shielding are the main ways to reduce radiation exposure. Placing yourself far away from the radiation source, spending less time near the source, and shielding yourself behind a radiation-proof barrier will help control exposure to harmful radiation.
  • Enclose machines with a radiation-proof shield.
  • Avoid contact with machines. Use a remote control to operate them.
  • Avoid looking directly at a radiation source.
  • Wear protective equipment and clothing (see Chapter 18: Personal protective equipment).
  • Always turn off a machine that could give off radiation when it is not in use. Turn off, tag out, and lock out the machine for repairs.
  • Warning signs and radiation level monitors should be posted around work areas. Workers in the area should wear radiation monitoring badges.

Radiofrequency radiation (RF)

Harms reproductive health

Ultraviolet light (UV)

Known to cause cancer


Harms reproductive health

Known to cause cancer

Radiation is an invisible form of energy. You need special equipment to detect and measure radiation. If you are close to an RF radiation heater and feel that your skin is getting warmer and your body temperature increases, you are being exposed to harmful RF radiation. But even if you don’t feel warm, radiation can go through your skin and cause harm.
Radiation is mostly found in the electronics industry. RF radiation is used in heaters for dry etching and for dopant deposits on wafers. X-rays are produced from dopant deposits on wafers. UV light is used during the photolithography process in chip production. In the shoe industry, RF radiation is used to heat or melt rubber and glue, and in the garment industry to dry textile webs.

They severely burn your skin. UV light causes reddening and darkening of the skin.


They severely burn your eyes. UV light causes photokeratitis and conjunctivitis. Signs of photokeratitis are pain, watery eyes, and blurred vision. It feels like you have sand in your eyes. Signs of conjunctivitis are watery eyes and discomfort. High levels of RF radiation and UV light causes eye cataracts. Signs of cataracts are clouded and blurred vision, sensitivity to light, difficulty seeing at night, and fading of colors. If exposed to large amounts of RF radiation and UV light, you may become blind.


Inhaling the dust of a material exposed to radiation damages your respiratory tract and causes harm over time.

Ingesting the dust of a material exposed to radiation may damage your digestive tract and cause more harm over time.

All radiation can harm your organs and damage your immune system.

RF radiation may harm your nervous system and affect your reflexes and heart rate. It can cause miscarriages, affect the menstrual cycle, and decrease breastmilk in nursing women. It may reduce fertility in men. It can harm a baby in the womb.

UV light can cause skin cancer.

X-rays can cause all types of cancer. X-rays can reduce fertility in men and women. They are also very damaging to the baby in the womb.

Use radiation-proof suits, gloves, and goggles. When working with UV lights use nitrile gloves and wear a long-sleeved shirt. For RF radiation, electrically insulating gloves can protect against RF burns. For X-ray radiation, use lead-lined gloves.

Wear a radiation monitoring badge.