Nova Scotia

Radiation at Dalhousie dentistry school to be probed after complaint

An anonymous letter alleging high radiation levels in Dalhousie University's dentistry building has prompted an investigation by Nova Scotia's Occupational Health and Safety division.

Halifax university says radiation levels were 'elevated but not beyond acceptable'

Nova Scotia's Occupational Health and Safety division says it's investigating radiation levels at Dalhousie University's dentistry school after an anonymous complaint. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

An anonymous letter alleging high radiation levels in Dalhousie University's dentistry building has prompted an investigation by Nova Scotia's Occupational Health and Safety division.

The letter, dated Oct. 21 and addressed to several local media outlets, claims a dental assistance staff member was "exposed to radiation beyond acceptable levels" in the spring due to a failure to "provide proper radiation shielding barrier for staff."

However, a university spokesman says that's not the case.

The letter alleges the high levels of radiation were detected while work was being done in the basement to remove mould.

Brian Leadbetter, a spokesperson for Dalhousie University, confirmed that work was done in May. The area was closed down during the cleanup and that altered the workflow in the X-ray area, he said.

Those who work in the basement area wear radiology badges that record radiation levels and the levels in May were "elevated but not beyond acceptable," Leadbetter said Wednesday.

Chrissy Matheson, a spokesperson for the Department of Labour and Advanced Education, said in an email that neither her department, the Department of Health and Wellness nor the Environment Department had received any workplace safety complaints from staff at Dalhousie University's dentistry school.

However, she said the anonymous letter counts as a complaint. An inspector and occupational hygienist will follow up on the radiation concerns raised in the letter, she said.

"I can confirm the department has had past discussions with the Dal radiation safety officer on allowable safety limits for occupational exposure, with no issues identified," Matheson wrote.

Leadbetter said the university will "fully support" any review or investigation into its practices.

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