3 Safety Tips to Follow When Using XRF Technology

By Sally O'Brien

As experts in metal recycling in Melbourne, Metal Men Recycling use X-ray fluorescence (XRF) to analyse collected scrap metal and sort them by materials. While metal recyclers once had to manually sort metals by hand, modern, portable XRF technology has allowed sorting to be more time-efficient and accurate, speeding up the recycling process and preventing recyclable materials from ending up in landfills. Although scrap metal recycling benefits the environment, this sorting technology does pose safety concerns for the operator so certain rules must be followed. Today, our experienced team will detail some of the safety tips that Metal Men Recycling follows to ensure that your scrap metal is sorted with care.

What is XRF technology?

Handheld x-ray fluorescence analysers are tools for elemental analysis. In the metal recycling industry, this technology is used to identify the metal and alloys of scrap metal by irradiating the sample material with x-rays which causes electrons to eject from the surface. This produces fluorescent x-rays to then be emitted by the unknown metal. The XRF scanner interprets the energy of the emissions and displays the composition of the metal, all without damaging the metal. XRF and LIBS technology have their advantages and disadvantages, but the XRF scanning technology’s use of low-level radiation requires some additional safety precautions.

1. Ensure operators have been trained to handle the technology safely

Firstly and most importantly, all operators should be given access to training on safe handling, operation and storage of the XRF analyser. With appropriate training, XRF analysers will only be used for the minimal amount of time needed to achieve the result and appropriate level of precision. By simply improving the operator’s efficiency you reduce the operator’s exposure time to radiation, creating a safer metal recycling process.

As the radiation beam is invisible to the human eye, the operator should be aware of the LED indicators that trigger when radiation is being produced. Always be cautious when the lights are flashing and do not use an XRF analyser with faulty LED indicators.

2. Shielding and PPE

Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) creates a shield between the operator and the radiation, once again reducing exposure to the minimal radiation of the beam of handheld, XRF analysers. Although most of the radiation beam is absorbed by the metal material, a small amount of scattered radiation escapes from the sample. Scattered radiation increases with samples that are low density or have low atomic mass, such as aluminium metal, and decreases with heavier samples such as iron-based metal alloys. 

Scattered radiation dose rates are very close to the natural background within inches of the sample analysis point. Maintaining distance and wearing specialist PPE such as gloves will help to further reduce any unnecessary radiation exposure during operation.

3. Avoid direct exposure to the radiation beam

The spectrometer emits a directed radiation beam that, though a similar level to a medical or dental x-ray, should never be aimed at a person. This is all part of the effort to maintain the lowest possible radiation exposure to avoid any health concerns such as increased cancer risk or skin burns. Trained operators should avoid having their hands in front of the XRF analyser or holding the metal subject during analysis.

Always place the unknown metal on a flat surface to be analysed and keep all body parts as distant as possible from the radiation beam during the analysis process. For samples that are circular and could roll away, place an object behind the sample to avoid handling the object while measuring fluorescence. 

Are you interested in metal recycling in Melbourne?

At Metal Men Recycling, we use the latest technology and methods to make metal recycling in Melbourne simple. We take all the hard work of sorting and transporting out of the process with our streamlined 24-hour pick-up service. By buying an extensive range of scrap metals, our reliable team is ready to cater to your metal recycling needs to easily benefit your business and the environment. 

Whether you’re looking to sell scrap metal or would just like to learn more about our business-to-businessmetal recycling process, give us a call on 03 5941 6677 or fill out our online contact form.

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