Introduction

Any fieldwork planning needs to consider the associated risks and team safety. When considering moving sophisticated paleoimaging instrumentation to and through remote, sometimes hostile, geographic areas and operating such instruments in those regions, researchers must be aware of the physical and biological risks they may encounter. Additionally, the safe transport and operating parameters related to that equipment prior to embarking on such expeditions must be considered. Radiation protection measures must be practiced at all times when conducting paleoimaging research.

As described earlier in this text, field paleoimaging research is a team project involving many different professionals having varied backgrounds and experience in field research outside of their home country. In addition, students from varied backgrounds and from different disciplines may be accompanying the research team as observers, assistants, or they may be involved in data collection for theses or dissertations. Safety in the field setting should be considered part of the professional development of these students and assistants.

Given that mummified remains and artifacts exist throughout the world, travel to and within remote locations cannot be taken lightly. Preparation is a key factor. A major aspect of that preparation is for the researchers to educate themselves regarding the safety and health-risk potentials of the expedition in any given geographic location. Expedition members need to be aware of the physical and biological risks they may encounter and be prepared for the unexpected. Each risk should be anticipated and formally addressed prior to the expedition through comprehensive orientation sessions. This will enable each team member to enter into the fieldwork fully informed and with eyes open. Many times, inexperienced researchers or students may not anticipate the potential hazards of the fieldwork they have embarked on. Plans need to be in place to address each possible safety or health challenge the team may face, and the individuals in the team must be educated and made aware of each and every one of these possibilities.

In paleoimaging research, radiation protection requires unique and special attention. The impact of radiation exposure may be "invisible" at the time of exposure, while prolonged exposure may in fact cause harm. Each team member needs to understand the behavior of radiation associated with paleoimaging instrumentation as well as the potential biological impact of radiation exposure. Radiation protection procedures must be developed and followed to ensure the safe use of these paleoimaging instruments.

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