Around 500 professional dentists submit a letter to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha asking him to issue a ministerial regulation exempting dental X-ray devices from the new regulation. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

Controls on radioactive dental tools will be eased with oral tools removed from special watch-lists for industry equipment, the Office of Atoms for Peace (OAP), which regulates nuclear and radiation safety, said yesterday.

The move is being made in accordance with the new Radiation and Nuclear Regulation Act, it said.

The body agreed to take these tools off the control lists as the level of radiation they emit is low enough to be considered safe, said Atchara Wongsaengjan, secretary-general of the OAP.

Any dental equipment that yields higher levels of radiation will still fall under the control of the law, she said.

The new law sparked protests from professional dentists, many of whom see it as troublesome and expensive and claim the punishment for transgressors is unreasonable. They say the curbs are not needed as the risk to patients and staff who work with such equipment is negligible.

The law mandates violators can face up to five years in jail or a 500,000 baht fine.

As radioactive tools must now be registered with the Ministry of Science and Technology, critics complain of “overlapping regulations” that may complicate the work of dentists and eventually undermine the level of treatment they can offer.

They want Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who chairs the Commission on Nuclear Energy for Peace, to issue a ministerial regulation exempting dental X-ray devices from the new regulation.

Under the law, which took effect on Feb 1, only radiation safety officers (RSO) who have undergone rigorous examinations to obtain their licence can operate such machines.

This means dentists must hire a licensed staff or do the training themselves.

Paisal Kangwolkij, chairman of the Dental Council, said he was disappointed with the OAP’s decision not to remove all dental X-ray equipment from the control lists.

Citing international academic studies, he said dental X-ray tools are considered safe.

Dentists have vowed to continue their protests until the other side relents.


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