Robert Hiscock says patients being treated in doctors' and dentists' offices should be more cautious about getting X-rays.
Mr. Hiscock, who has been a radiation safety officer for 25 years at Sinai Medical Center, was saluted Friday by the Maryland Department of the Environment for his efforts to educate and protect the public from radiation dangers. He was the first recipient of the department's "Together We Can Clean Up" award, which recognizes businesses, organizations and individuals who help the department achieve its goals to preserve the environment. Nine other awards were given, along with a salute to excellence from the governor.
"We can't do our job by ourselves," said the department's secretary, Robert Perciasepe, who presented the awards Friday morning. "Many of the recipients have volunteered their time, or gone beyond the requirements of their jobs to make a difference."
Mr. Hiscock said that, overall, doctors and dentists are being more conservative when calling for X-rays, but that patients must still be aggressive in protecting themselves from unnecessary exposure to radiation.
"Theoretically, it can lead to cancer, even at low doses," he said. Mr. Hiscock suggested patients request protective covering and ask if the person conducting the X-ray is qualified, or if the X-rays are essential.
Mr. Hiscock was cited for his work at Sinai in establishing safe standards for radiation exposure for patients and health care workers. Mr. Hiscock has helped the state set up new radiological health programs, including one that regulates radiological machines.
"Not only has he helped us in many of the things we have to do," Mr. Perciasepe said, "but when we had to plan a radiological certification program for machines he spent many hours advising my staff, and letting us look around. He is not one to buck the regulatory system."
"We recognize he is doing one of the best jobs around," said Roland Fletcher, the department's program administrator for radiological health. He added that he sends inspection personnel to Sinai to see how things should be done.
"We go beyond the regulations for safety, simply out of motivation to protect workers, patients and visitors at the hospital," Mr. Hiscock said.
Altogether, 10 organizations, businesses and leaders were given awards that the department hopes to present every year, media relations chief Michael Sullivan said.
"We often find ourselves at odds with groups we have to deal with. It's unavoidable," Mr. Sullivan said. "These awards are a chance to recognize those individuals who are working toward the same goal."
Other recipients of this year's "Together We Can Clean Up" awards are:
James Gutman, chairman of the State Water Quality Advisory Committee since 1980.
The staff of the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory for conducting analyses of Chesapeake Bay and Patuxent River water samples.
Dr. Rebecca Bascom, chair of the Environmental and Occupational Health Committee of the American Lung Association of Maryland.
The City of Havre de Grace for improvements at its wastewater treatment plant.
Carroll County Public Schools for incorporating instruction on erosion control into its curriculum.
Scott Broom of WMAR-TV for "Project Environment" reports.
Haverhill Construction Co. for construction of an "environmentally sensitive" interchange on U.S. 29 in Howard County.
Maryland Recyclers Coalition and Midshore Regional Recycling Project for recycling efforts in the state.
Also, earlier this week, the department presented John Edwards, 13, with a Tawes Youth Award for organizing a campaign to stencil "Chesapeake Bay Drainage" on storm drains in his neighborhood. John is a Boy Scout from Severn. Edwin Weber received the adult award for developing the state oil control program.