Lupardo Bill to Protect Dental Patients from Harmful Radiation Passes Assembly, Senate

Ann G. McGuinness fourth-graders in Assembly chamber for bill passage

Yesterday, legislation introduced by Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-Endwell) passed in the Assembly with bi-partisan support. The bill (A.6780/S.2863) requires that a dentist or dental hygienist shield the thyroid of a patient with a thyroid collar when performing dental x-rays.

“The bill adds to the existing protective measures required of dentists and dental hygienists when taking dental x-rays,” said Lupardo. “Healthcare professionals should be required to protect patients with all available means against any risks associated with radiation.”

Present in the Assembly chamber for the passage of the bill was one of five fourth grade classes from Ann G. McGuinness elementary school. The students were in Albany as part of an annual field trip to the Capitol.

“It was my pleasure to welcome the students to the Assembly chamber,” said Lupardo. “I applaud the commitment and efforts of the teachers and parents to give their students the opportunity to observe the legislative process.”

The bill acknowledges that as important as radiation is as a diagnostic tool, it is also important for the dentist to use all available means to protect patients against any effect of such radiation; however, the bill does leave discretion to the dentist to determine that it may be inappropriate under certain circumstances. Currently, many dentists do in fact employ the use of a thyroid collar.

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck, just below your Adam's apple. Although the thyroid gland is small, it produces hormones that regulate every aspect of your metabolism, from your heart rate to how quickly you burn calories.

People exposed to high levels of radiation are much more likely than others to develop thyroid cancer. Routine diagnostic x-rays, such as dental x-rays or chest x-rays, use very small doses of radiation; however, repeated exposure could be harmful.

The bill passed unanimously in the Senate earlier this month and will await action by the Governor. The bill will take effect 180 days after it becomes law.