New radiation symbol launched

22 February 2007

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) together with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has launched a new warning symbol for ionising radiation to supplement the well known black and yellow three cornered trefoil.

With radiating waves, a skull and crossbones and a running person, the new symbol is being launched to help reduce needless deaths and serious injuries from accidental exposure to large radioactive sources. It will serve as a supplementary warning to the trefoil, which the IAEA says has no intuitive meaning and little recognition beyond those educated in its significance. The new symbol is aimed at alerting anyone, anywhere to the potential dangers of being close to a large source of ionizing radiation, the result of a five-year project conducted in 11 countries. The symbol was tested with different population groups - mixed ages, varying educational backgrounds, male and female - to ensure that its message of “danger - stay away” was crystal clear and understood by all.

The symbol is intended for IAEA Category 1, 2 and 3 sources defined as dangerous sources capable of death or serious injury, including food irradiators, teletherapy machines for cancer treatment and industrial radiography units. The symbol is to be placed on the device housing the source, as a warning not to dismantle the device or to get any closer. It will not be visible under normal use, only if someone attempts to disassemble the device. The symbol will not be located on building access doors, transportation packages or containers.

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