Advice & assistance
Radiation is energy traveling as waves or particles, and can be divided into two classes:
- ionising radiation such as X-rays
- non-ionising radiation such as the radiation from power lines and lasers (see 'Non-ionising radiation regulation' below).
All Australians are exposed to radiation from a variety of natural (background) and artificial sources. Background radiation comes mainly from cosmic radiation and naturally occurring radioactive materials in the ground, air and in the food we eat. The main source of artificial radiation that we receive is from medical diagnosis and treatment.
The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) provides information and advice about radiation.
ARPANSA also has a ‘Talk to a Scientist’ service where the public can phone an expert with queries about radiation.
Naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM)
Naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) is the term used to describe materials containing radioactive materials that exist in the natural environment.
NORM is widespread. Sands, clays, soils, rocks and many ores and minerals can contain varying amounts of naturally occurring radionuclides. Uranium mined in South Australia is naturally occurring radioactive material.
Using a cosmetic tanning unit
Use of cosmetic tanning units increases the risk of skin cancer. Providing cosmetic tanning services for fee or reward is an offence under the Radiation Protection and Control Regulations 2022.
Using radiation in school
The use of radiation in schools allows hands-on experience with real radiation sources and can provide benefits from a science learning perspective.
The EPA has published a factsheet, Radiation in schools that contains practical advice and guidance on the safe use of radioactive sources used in schools.
Disposing of smoke detectors
Smoke detectors can contain small amounts of radioactive material. In normal quantities this does not present a risk – the radioactivity in a single domestic smoke alarm is less than 10% of the natural radioactive materials present in 1 m3 of garden soil.
Non-ionising radiation regulation
Radio communications equipment
Mobile phones, WIFI, radio and TV transmitters are regulated by Commonwealth Australian Communications and Media Authority
Power lines and ‘smart’ power meters
Regulated under electrical installation safety standards and is regulated by the Office of the Technical Regulator South Australia.
The EPA does not issue licences or specify standards relating to laser apparatus (medical, industrial, scientific and laser pointers). However it can take action in relation to a dangerous situation where there is actual or potential exposure to excessive radiation.
Lasers generally are under Regulation 223 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012, and administered by Safework SA.
Handheld laser pointers greater than 1milliWatt are prohibited imports under the Commonwealth Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956, regulated by Australian Border Force and are a ‘prohibited weapon’ under the Summary Offences (Dangerous Articles and Prohibited Weapons) Regulations 2000 administered by South Australia Police.
Beauty sector use of lasers and IPL hair removal (intense pulsed light)
The SA Hair and Beauty Association has prepared an industry specific guide which covers use of lasers and IPL.