Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



The utilitarian and research value of radioisotopes, x-ray and fluoroscopic devices, cyclotrons and other particle accelerators, nuclear reactors, and other materials or devices emitting ionizing radiation is unquestioned. Ionizing radiation, however, can prove harmful as well as beneficial depending upon the care which is exercised in its use. Numerous cases of x-ray and radium injuries are reported in the literature, such injuries dating from 1896 when Roentgen first announced the discovery of x-rays. The most publicized cases of radiation injury are those occurring in the radium poisoning or "dial painters" cases in the 1920's. Unlike most noxious materials encountered in industry and the environment generally, ionizing radiation cannot be detected by the unaided senses. Depending upon the radiation dose received and other considerations, there may be a relatively long latent period between the time that an injurious radiation dose is received and the manifestation of physiological damage or impairment.