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Health Physics

Health Physics

Health Physics is a field of science concerned with radiation physics and radiation biology with the goal of informing the safe use of ionizing radiation, and increasingly of non-ionizing radiation too. It is about managing the beneficial use of radiation, in medicine and health care, industry and manufacturing, teaching and research, consumer products, communication, security, etc., while controlling the potential hazard.

There are many sub-specialties in the field of health physics, such as


  • Operational radiation protection
  • Dosimetry - external and internal
  • Nuclear instrumentation and measurements
  • Radiation shielding design and calculations
  • Radioactive waste management
  • Transport of radioactive materials
  • Natural radiation sources and environmental radioactivity
  • Radiological emergency response and consequence assessment
  • Radiation effects and epidemiological studies
  • Radiation metrology and calibration services (Ref. Document - by Mr. S.K. Lee) 
  • Occupational dose monitoring and registry


Health physicists principally work at facilities where ionizing radiation and/or radionuclides are used or produced, such as national laboratories, hospitals and other medical institutions, nuclear power plants, accelerator and reactor facilities for research or for radioisotope production, nuclear instrumentation manufacturers, regulatory agencies, etc.

Health physics practiced in Medical physics is mainly concerned about the evaluation and protection of human health – workers, patients, and members of the public, and increasingly also of the environment, in the use of both ionizing and non-ionizing radiation in medicine, for diagnosis, treatment, or palliation of diseases.

References and Resources on the Internet:

A. Information on health physics

  • IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) website on Radiation Protection of Patients (RPoP): Information to help health professionals achieve safer use of radiation in medicine for the benefit of patients. This site contains very useful and updated information on the topic. With increasing use of ionizing radiation in imaging patients, in particular the rapidly increasing use of CT and PET/CT, the potential consequences are causing concern of many international organizations (e.g. WHO, IAEA, etc.) as well as national authorities with responsibilities on regulating the use of ionising radiation, in medicine or otherwise.

    The material offered on the website caters not only to health professionals, but also to patients, and to special groups such as pregnant women and children.

    There are also very useful training materials available for free download: the topics ranging from Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, Radiotherapy, Nuclear Medicine, to Cardiology and PET/CT.





  • Ask the Experts (Health Physics Society):


  • Health physics internet resources (Oak Ridge Associated Universities):


  • Health Physics Topics (University of Michigan):


  • Radiation Event Medical Management Information (US Department of Health & Human Services):



B. Interesting readings



C. Tools for health physicists



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