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Health, Science & Environment

Waste Panel Seeks New Way To Get Medical Advice

State radiation control and waste management regulators oversee medical uses of radiation and their operators. But they have limited expertise in that field, so they're looking for new ways to get advice on medical matters.

The Radiation Control and Waste Management Board is looking for a new way to get guidance on regulating the medical use of radiation -- after scrapping rules to do just that.

Board members cited an attorney’s letter that said a regulation passed last year to establish a medical uses advisory committee was illegal.

“This [regulation repeal] is in response to a technical, legal issue,” Alan Matheson heads the Utah Department of Environmental Quality and spoke to fellow board members at Thursday’s meeting. “And [it] in no way reflects our perceived value of having input.”

The waste board is made up primarily of representatives from the waste industry and public officials like Matheson. At their Thursday meeting, none of the members spoke directly about the concerns last year that prompted the push for getting outside advice on the safety of patients, operators and the public. But Matheson says he’s committed to finding a way to get regulators high-quality information.

“The medical uses of radiation have impacts on public health,” he told KUER after the meeting, “and that’s why those that are day-to-day working in the field, understanding the implications of the technology on people’s health, have to be a critical part of that discussion.”

Matheson said his office is talking with health physicists and other medical professionals on alternative ways to deliver expert advice to the waste board and the staff at the Division of Radiation Control and Waste Management. He said there’s no specific timetable for creating a new system.

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