Marjorie Gordon

1929 - 1996


Posthumously awarded a Silver Medal for her work on the dangers of X-ray chemicals by the Society and College of Radiographer in the UK, Marjorie Gordon was a pioneer in the knowledge of the hazards X-ray darkroom chemicals pose to those who work with them. 

Marjorie Gordon was the sole radiographer at a private medical centre in Otaki, north of Wellington, New Zealand, in 1982 when she began developing acute symptoms of Heart arrhythmia, tinnitus, sore throat and extreme weakness.

Her symptoms were diagnosed eventually as a toxic chemical reaction, but what chemical? She had been surrounded by chemicals for 5 years since the beginning of her training as a radiographer began in Wellington in 1947, when she returned to work after the  birth of her four children,  first with manual processing, and then from 1967.

In 1980 the Medical centre where Marjorie Gordon worked installed a new 'state of the art' automated X-ray film processor, which although meaning less direct chemical contact, vented the exhast fan and fumes directly into the operator's face. There was no realisation at the time that such a thing could produce problems of health, and no formal training existed, of the hazards of the chemicals then in use. Marjorie recalled. . . "It had been known since 1908 that x-rays were hazardous, We used to have to take four weeks consecutive holidays because of the radiation and we had to wear a film badge that measured our exposure. You were always excessively tired and that was put down to the radiation. I believe now that it was due to the chemicals."

In 1982 Marjorie Gordon had become so weak that she was unable to even pick up her new born grandchild. She suffered from bad attacks of tinnitus, sore throat and hoarseness of voice and heart arrhythmia. After taking three weeks off to holiday in the Bay of Islands, where she began to recover and feel much better, she returned to work to have her symptoms immediately recur.

She was first in the world to be accepted for workers' compensation for the toxic effects of X-ray processing chemicals, in 1983. She was also made an Hon.  Fellow of the NZIMRT in 1992. And  awarded a QSM (Queen's Service Medal) at Government   House for her work in many areas of community health.

And she  was a champion cricketer in her day, holding several batting records which still exist!