Archive for October, 2011

X-ray Fluorescence Safety: Handheld and Desktop Analyzers

A common question that we hear is “How safe is XRF Technology?” and the short answer is ‘very safe’ but the answer can be expanded for the two styles of analyzers that Quickshot XRF offers – handheld (portable) systems and desktop (stationary) systems.  Both utilize the same basic technology; electronically induced radiation generated through a low energy x-ray tube and high voltage power supply but safety approaches vary slightly.

Handheld XRF Fluorescence: Essentially, these systems are as safe as the operator using one is.  All Quickshot XRF handheld analyzers are tested before shipping to insure no radiation leakage (safety radiation survey, visual inspection).  However, if a user does not follow basic safety guidelines they can be putting themselves at risk.

Handheld-XRF-SafetyThe image to the left shows a different brand of Handheld XRF being used in a low-cost holding stand and you will notice the operator is actually holding the sample in place with their hand – this doesn’t fall under the category of good common sense.  Holding stands for these ‘x-ray guns’ are very beneficial and we offer a stand that holds the unit in place, has a large platform to place samples and a lid to protect operators from any radiation.  Additional common sense when using handheld systems include not placing a sample on your lap or holding in your hand while testing it.  Of course, pointing the ‘gun’ at co-workers should never be done either…basic stuff that needs to be noted.

More about the instrument stand can be reviewed in a past blog entry on “Holding Handheld XRF“.

Desktop X-ray Fluorescence: These closed chamber systems are subject to Federal regulations that must be met to insure operator safety – all desktop systems from QSX meet the requirements.  The technology itself is safe because of the x-ray tube design (glass tube held in a thick metal chamber that is filled with oil) and all components are enclosed in a thick steel chamber.  However, additional safety requirements include four main items:
Key Switch: turns hi-voltage power supply on/off, controlling when radiation can be produced
X-ray On Light: indicates to an operator when radiation is being produced
Instrument Power Lamp: illuminated when the chamber has power, no radiation can be produced without power
Safety Interlock: a sensor on the door that will cut power to the HV Power Supply when the door is open

QSX Instruments Inc puts customer service and operator safety at a high priority.  We work to educate users on the proper operation of the systems and provide overviews of how they can be safe when utilizing x-ray fluorescence technology.  While we provide information and support, clients need to use common sense during operation (especially with handheld systems) and should have a safety radiation survey performed annually to insure operators are not exposed to radiation.

Contact a representative of QSX Instruments if you have any questions about the safety features of Quickshot XRF analyzers or general safety approaches when utilizing the technology.