Radiological Health | Health and Human Services

The mission of the Bureau of Radiological Health program is to protect Iowans from excessive radiation exposure. Iowa is exposed to an average of 300 millirem of natural radiation and 60 millirem of man-made radiation each year. The Bureau functions under the legislative authority found in Iowa Code Chapters 136B, C, and D.

Planned activities include:

  • Licensing of facilities using radioactive materials;
  • Registration of facilities that use radiation-generating machines or operate tanning equipment;
  • Inspect facilities where radioactive materials are used;
  • Qualification of personnel who work with radioactive materials or operate radiation machines;
  • Approve training courses and continuing education; and
  • Emergency response related to radioactive materials and nuclear power plant accidents.

Iowa Rules

notes: Click here to see how to view rule changes.

Iowa Administrative Code Updates Use of Gonadal Shields

The Bureau of Radiological Health recently revised rules specifically addressing requirements related to technical chart content and shielding of reproductive organs (gonads) during diagnostic abdominal imaging. The changes will come into effect on July 21, 2021, and will be available for review in Chapter 41. We provide the following fact sheets on diagnostic radiology and dental applications as further guidance.

Dental Radiology Fact Sheet

Diagnostic Radiology Fact Sheet

Radiation accident information

The Iowa HHS Bureau of Radiological Health is responsible for all dose assessments and technical recommendations for radiological events 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.
  • The date, time and location of the incident.
  • What happened or is happening?
  • The radioactive materials and quantities involved in the incident.
  • Responsible party or event (name of property or business owner, name of transportation company, etc.).
  • Were local officials (fire, police, sheriff) notified of the incident?

The Iowa HHS Bureau of Radiological Health will coordinate dose assessments and technical recommendations through:

  • Radioactive incident risk analysis.
  • Field measurements and data were collected and mapped using field investigation and sampling teams from Iowa State University, the University of Iowa National Hygiene Laboratory, and the 71st Civilian Support Group.
  • Review incident-specific information and recommend appropriate guidance to responders, and
  • Recommend protective actions based on radiological risks to protect the public and emergency personnel.

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

What is a radiological emergency?

Radiation emergencies can result from intentional acts of harm to others or from accidents that occur during normal use of radioactive materials. A nuclear power plant accident, a nuclear explosion, or a radioactive dispersion device (RDD, dirty bomb) are examples of radiation emergencies.

What is a radiological event?

Radioactive materials are transported and used safely in everyday industry. Types of use include: commercial power production, medical procedures, university teaching and research, measuring the density or thickness of materials, and non-destructive testing of materials. Although these are regulated activities, a wide variety of accidents can occur, so it is important that Iowa HHS trained staff participate in responses to incidents involving radioactive materials to protect the public Health and Safety.

What should I do to protect myself?

Nuclear power plant accidents, nuclear explosions, or dirty bombs are all examples of radiation emergencies. During a radiation emergency, our goal is to minimize your exposure to radiation. It’s important to listen to guidance on what to do to keep you and your family safe.

Go in – During a radiation emergency, you may be asked to enter a building and take shelter for a period of time rather than leaving. Building walls block most harmful radiation. Because radioactive materials weaken over time, staying indoors for 24 hours can protect you and your family until it is safe to leave the area.

stay inside – Stay indoors until police, fire department or government officials tell you to leave. While you are indoors, you can take simple steps to remove any radioactive materials that may be present in your body. Radioactive materials can be removed by taking off outer layers of clothing (such as jackets and pants), washing your skin with water, and putting on clean clothes.

stay tuned – Once you are inside, be sure to continue to monitor the latest instructions from emergency response officials. As officials learn more about the emergency, they will communicate updated information to the public. Television, radio and social media are some of the ways you can receive important safety information.

Where can I get more information about radiation emergencies?

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