Caloundra's Peter Daley concerned about the radiation of CT scans
Caloundra's Peter Daley concerned about the radiation of CT scans Brett Wortman

Imaging expert assures CT scans and x-rays are safe


IS computer expert Peter Daley a conspiracy theorist or are his concerns about the radiation in the environment genuine?

Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service Director Medical Imaging David Ward, has suggested some of Mr Daley's claims may be incorrect.

"Diagnostic imaging, such as CT scanning, is a safe diagnostic tool and there is no reason for patients to fear "radioactivity" from undergoing such tests," he said.

"Furthermore, no patients is radioactive, or capable of emitting harmful radiation, following a diagnostic test such as a general CT scan or x-ray.

"This would include nuclear medicine examinations, for example a PET-CT scan."

However, this doesn't mean there isn't risk, particularly associated with those who have been injected with radioisotypes before a scan such as the man who walked into Mr Daley's home.

"Some modalities used in diagnosis of medical conditions do involve small amounts of radio-isotopes, given in safe quantities and always with full patient consent," Mr Ward said.

"The type of radioactivity that is used within the nuclear medicine field has a short duration thus being eliminated from the body in a short time after it has been injected.

"As a precautionary measure however, patients are routinely advised to keep their distance from children and pregnant women after injection."


A MAN who walked into a computer club in Caloundra sparked fears of "a major nuclear event" occurring after he set off all the on-site Geiger counter alarms.

It turned out the man had just come out of a CT scan and was blissfully unaware he was a radioactive minefield.

Peter Daley from the Sunshine Coast Computer Club has called for medical services to encourage their clients to stay away from pregnant women and children after the scan.

Mr Daley said standing close to the man, who could not be identified, would expose a person to the same amount of radiation as if they were having an x-ray.

The man had been dropping off equipment at the Club's local live radiation monitoring station equipment room.

"He set all the Geiger counter alarms off. At first I thought a major nuclear event was occurring," Mr Daley said.

"After the computer based Geiger counter also started to alarm, I picked up the GammaScout Geiger counter that also started to alarm and noted it was reading 2.67 uSv/hr.

"I was standing 2m away from him at this point," he said.

"A medical chest x-ray is approximately an instantaneous 100 uSv, but at half a metre, you're getting a full body x-ray every 10 seconds, while in the presence of this gentleman."

Mr Daley said the medical centre hadn't "told him squat about what they had injected him with, or given him any warnings or post procedural advice".

"I was shocked at the levels and pointed out they should have warned him to stay clear of people, including his wife and particularly children for at least 24 hours, plus drink plenty of water for 24 hours to flush it out of his system."

Mr Daley said the medical profession had become "far too complacent" in its handling of radioactive materials and was placing patients and the public at risk.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, which promotes the safe use of nuclear technologies, warns on its website it is not "desirable" for a person who has had a scan to come close to a pregnant woman or children.

"Although the radiation dose from the person undergoing a scan is fairly low, it is desirable to keep the radiation exposure to the foetus as low as reasonably achievable," it warns.

An article in the West Australian published on May 11 said health experts wanted doctors to consider the CT scan radiation risks.

It said an estimated 430 Australians died each year from cancer caused by exposure to x-rays and experts were particularly concerned about the higher doses of ionising radiation from CT scans.

The man who walked into the shop could not be reached for comment.

The Daily has approached the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service for comment.