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AIHA J (Fairfax, Va). 2002 Jan-Feb;63(1):11-21.

Exposures and their determinants in radiographic film processing.

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School of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


Radiographers process X-ray films using developer and fixer solutions that contain chemicals known to cause or exacerbate asthma. In a study in British Columbia, Canada, radiographers' personal exposures to glutaraldehyde (a constituent of the developer chemistry), acetic acid (a constituent of the fixer chemistry), and sulfur dioxide (a byproduct of sulfites, present in both developer and fixer solutions) were measured. Average full-shift exposures to glutaraldehyde, acetic acid, and sulfur dioxide were 0.0009 mg/m3, 0.09 mg/m3, and 0.08 mg/m3, respectively, all more than one order of magnitude lower than current occupational exposure limits. Local exhaust ventilation of the processing machines and use of silver recovery units lowered exposures, whereas the number of films processed per machine and the time spent near the machines increased exposures. Personnel in clinic facilities had higher exposures than those in hospitals. Private clinics were less likely to have local exhaust ventilation and silver recovery units. Their radiographers spent more time in the processor areas and processed more films per machine. Although exposures were low compared with exposure standards, there are good reasons to continue practices to minimize or eliminate exposures: glutaraldehyde and hydroquinone (present in the developer) are sensitizers; the levels at which health effects occur are not yet clearly established, but appear to be lower than current standards; and health effects resulting from the mixture of chemicals are not understood. Developments in digital imaging technology are making available options that do not involve wet-processing of photographic film and therefore could eliminate the use of developer and fixer chemicals altogether.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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