Radiological Health Physics, or simply Health Physics, is a scientific discipline that involves the study of natural and man-made radiation sources, the distribution of radioactivity in the environment, radiation detection and measurement, radiation shielding, exposure pathways, the metabolism of radioactive substances, and the effects of radiation on the human body. The discipline of Health Physics also could be referred to as the science of radiation protection, and is part of the broader discipline of radiological sciences which also includes the uses of radiation in medicine.
The profession of Health Physics is dedicated to the application of scientific principles for the protection of man and the environment from the harmful effects of radiation while at the same time making it possible for our advancing civilization to realize all of the benefits resulting from its uses, which involves the establishment of radiation dose limits, the implementation of radiation controls, the justification of radiation exposures, and the optimization of protection practices.
The profession of Health Physics requires skills and knowledge from many areas of specialization, including: physics, chemistry, biology, physiology, ecology, nuclear engineering, public health, medicine, and industrial hygiene. Other aspects of the profession include a working knowledge of workforce and public relations, teaching, training, and administration. The wide spectrum of knowledge required of the health physicist makes this profession both challenging and rewarding.