Non-Ionizing Radiation

Non-Ionizing Radiation

Hazard Overview

Hazard Overview

What is non-ionizing radiation?

A series of energy waves composed of oscillating electric and magnetic fields traveling at the speed of light. Non-ionizing radiation includes ultraviolet (UV), visible light, infrared (IR), microwave (MW), radio frequency (RF), and extremely low frequency (ELF). Non-ionizing radiation does not have enough energy to remove an electron from an atom or molecule.

What are the hazards associated with non-ionizing radiation?

Non-ionizing radiation is found in a wide range of occupational settings and can pose a considerable health risk to potentially exposed workers if not properly controlled. The type of health effects depends upon the frequency and intensity of the emitting source.

The issue of health effects associated with exposure to extremely low frequency and very controversial and no definitive cause and effect has been identified. Radiofrequency and microwave radiation at high enough intensities can cause skin damage through heating. The skin and eyes absorb infrared radiation as heat. Ultraviolet radiation has a high photon energy and may not result in immediate effects. Lasers, which commonly operate in the UV, visible and IR frequency ranges, are a primary skin and eye hazard.

Solutions

Solutions

What can I do to protect myself?

Workers should become aware of the type of non-ionizing radiation that they may be using and/or to which they may be exposed and wear the appropriate type of personal protective clothing and equipment (e.g., eye protection with appropriate tint) or take the necessary precautions.

What resources are available to assist employers?

The NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC). The education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request.

Regulations

Regulations

Which standards apply?

OSH has adopted the following standards for non-ionizing radiation in North Carolina:

General Industry

  • 29 CFR 1910.97 - nonionizing radiation - covers radiofrequency region, including microwaves, but does not cover ultraviolet radiation or infrared radiation

Construction Industry

  • 29 CFR 1926.54 - nonionizing radiation - primary focuses on the use of laser equipment

  • 13 NCAC 07F .0203- nonionizing radiation - removes Class I lasers from 29 CFR 1926.54

Other OSH standards associated with exposure to non-ionizing radiation include:

 

Learn More

Learn More

Where can I learn more?

If you would like to receive interpretive guidance on this or any other OSH standard or topic, you can submit your questions using the Ask OSH web form, by e-mail to ask.osh@labor.nc.gov or by calling 919-807-2875.