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Dosimetry - The Role of Dosimetry in Protecting Workers Exposed to Ionizing Radiation

22 November 2016
Occupational exposure to ionizing radiation can occur in many industries, including mining and milling, medical institutions, educational and research establishments and nuclear fuel cycle facilities. Through its technical cooperation (TC) programme, the IAEA works with Member States to ensure the health and safety of workers. Dosimeters measure the external exposure of workers to radiation. They are specially prepared and checked after each possible exposure of experts, inspectors or other occupationally exposed workers, who may be exposed to ionizing radiation at their workplace.Standard dosimeters are worn on the upper body, to accurately measure the radiation the wearer is exposed to. There are different kinds of dosimeters. These yellow rings help to measure exposure while handling radioactive materials.Electronic dosimeters immediately show if a worker is exposed to potentially dangerous amounts of radiation. They are used for measuring exposure to gamma and X rays.To ensure health and safety, it is essential that laboratories around the world achieve the same results when measuring the radiation exposure of people working with ionizing radiation. Laboratory equipment must be correctly calibrated, and knowledge and experience exchange between laboratory staff is vital. These exercises reinforce quality and safety standards.
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A regional intercomparison exercise on individual monitoring for external exposure has recently been conducted under TC project RAF/9/057, "Strengthening Technical Capabilities for Patient and Occupational Radiation Protection in Compliance With Requirements of the New International Basic Safety Standards". The intercomparison exercise aimed to assess the capabilities of dosimetry services to measure the quantity of the radiation dose in a person’s body, and to help countries to achieve more accurate dosimetry services. The exercise also provided countries with guidelines to improve the performance of existing dosimetry services.As part of the exercise, a number of dosimeters were exposed to a very exact amount of radiation by the Secondary Standard Dosimetry Laboratory (SSDL CRN Alger) in Algeria. This shows the dosimeters after irradiation. The dosimeters were then sent to the participating laboratories. The laboratories then had to read the results from the exposed dosimeters. If their results differed significantly from the test values at the laboratory in Algeria, the participating laboratories would need to calibrate their measuring equipment.Thirty professionals from 22 countries in Africa participated in a final meeting in Accra, Ghana, to present and discuss the results of the 2016 regional intercomparison exercise.This capacity building exercise has helped to strengthen occupational radiation protection in Africa.ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
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At the IAEA, safeguards inspectors and technical experts must also carry a special dosimetry kit. It includes a standard dosimeter, worn on the torso, and a digital electronic dosimeter.Here, a dosimetry specialist in the IAEA's headquarters prepares dosimeters for their next use in the field.The dosimeters have to be checked every time an inspector or expert returns from a mission. After usage, dosimeters are returned to the laboratories, they are examined to ensure that workers have not been exposed to potentially harmful doses of radiation.Special thanks to: SSDL CRNA, Algeria; Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), Ghana; Dosimetry Laboratory, IAEA Headquarters, Austria.
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Photos from the field provided by: Jizeng Ma, IAEA Occupational Radiation Protection Unit; Mr Ammar Herrati, Head SSDL, CRNA, Algeria.
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Photos and Captions: Julia Krickl, IAEA Department of Technical Cooperation
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©2016 IAEA Department of Technical Cooperation

In order to ensure the health and safety of workers exposed to ionizing radiation, frequent intercomparison exercises take place in Member States. The results of such an exercise, conducted under a regional technical cooperation project, were recently discussed in Ghana.

Last update: 5 July 2019

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