IAEA course trains to develop capacities for radiological assessments on dose risk
The course was attended by 15 participants from 12 Member States, supported by the IAEA Technical Cooperation programme.
Assessing the amount of radioactivity present in the environment is crucial for mitigating the adverse risks of radiation exposure and safeguarding public health. To this end, the IAEA, through its Environment Laboratories recently organized a two-week course to train participants in the necessary skills to develop their respective countries’ capacities for radiological assessments on dose risk and authorized limits at contaminated sites.
The course was attended by 15 participants from 12 Member States, supported by the IAEA Technical Cooperation programme and hosted by Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) in Illinois, the USA from 30 April to 11 May 2018.
The course is part of ongoing cooperation between the IAEA Environment Laboratories and the Member States on monitoring environmental radioactivity and conducting environmental impact assessments. Impact assessments provide the basis for the management of radionuclides that are either naturally present in the environment or result from anthropogenic causes.
The assessments inform the Member States about the possible impact on humans and the environment of any radioactivity that is present so that appropriate actions may be taken.
At the center of the course was training in the ‘family of codes’ of RESRAD (RESidual RADioactivity), a computer model that estimates radiation doses and risks through various exposure pathways—for example, eating or drinking certain contaminated foods or water. Based on these types of complex estimates, regulators and government officials can decide how to manage any consequences of exposure to radioactivity.
Since the participants all work in government authorities or organizations involved in radiological environmental assessment and monitoring, they can implement the family of codes in their respective countries’ institutions and share what they learned with their peers.
Remarking on his participation in the course, Mr. Alex Twesigye, Nuclear Safety Officer in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development of Uganda said, “The RESRAD codes will be integrated into the national regulatory processes and activities to ensure that human beings and biota are adequately protected from ionizing radiation arising from contaminated sites. I will also be happy to transfer the knowledge and skills acquired to my colleagues at work to create a multiplier effect.”
Over the two weeks, participants in the course had the opportunity to take part in discussion sessions, coordinated exercises and lectures delivered by leading experts in the field as well as by staff at Argonne National Laboratory where the RESRAD family of codes were originally developed.
The five codes covered in the training (RESRAD-BIOTA, RESRAD-ONSITE, RESRAD-OFFSITE, RESRAD-BUILD, RESRAD-RDD) involved different radiation exposure situations for both human and non-human biota, such as whether exposure takes place in a contaminated building or on top of the contaminated soil or how long after a radiation release the exposure takes place.
“The most useful thing was that I could understand the codes and ask questions straight to the codes' developers,” said Ms. Rena Mikailova, Research Officer at the Russian Institute of Radiology and Agroecology (RIRAE) in the Russian Federation. “All the RESRAD codes
Other topics covered in the training included ecological risk assessment, dose assessment and concentration ratios and transfer of radionuclides in the environment. Participants also took part in hands-on exercises that involved real-world scenarios such as reconstructing the wildlife dose from near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan.