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IAEA Chairs Inter-Agency Committee in Harmonization of Guidance in Radiation Safety

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Living in the digital age where information spreads far and wide from billions of online sources, there is a greater need than ever to present a clear, single line of global recommendations in radiation safety. The Inter-Agency Committee on Radiation Safety (IACRS), comprising 13 key international organizations and bodies in the radiation field, has been harmonizing safety standards for the past 30 years, most notably in the development of the IAEA International Basic Safety Standards for Protection against Ionizing Radiation and for the Safety of Radiation Sources (GSR Part 3).

Earlier this year, the IAEA took over the Chair and led the IACRS to adopt its two main priorities for the next 18 months.

The Committee has chosen to focus on launching a joint process to consider and document all potential implications of the new operational quantities for the current radiation protection system of the new International Commission on Radiation Units and Measurements Report 95: Operational Quantities for External Radiation Exposure, issued in December 2020.

Miroslav Pinak, Head of the IAEA Radiation Safety and Monitoring Section and incoming Chair of the IACRS said, "Regulators and users may need to consider those new quantities in future revisions of their radiation safety documents."

Formulating regulatory standards in non-medical human imaging was the second priority selected by all Committee members, largely because intentional radiation exposure for purposes including security screening, detection of smuggled goods hidden in human bodies and health insurance in professional sport involves ethical aspects and can have radiological effects on the individual, particularly children.

“The group will develop a summary document highlighting the key issues associated with intentional exposure of individuals to radiation for purposes other than medical diagnosis, medical treatment or biomedical research, so called non-medical human imaging,” said Pinak.

30 years of unity

The 21st regular meeting marked IACRS’s 30 years of working together. Since its inception in 1990, members of IACRS have reviewed or co-sponsored the International Basic Safety Standards for Protection against Ionizing Radiation and for the Safety of Radiation Sources (GSR Part 3), last revised in 2014. The Basic Safety Standards are the international benchmark for radiation safety used in many countries as the basis for national legislation to protect workers, patients, the public and the environment from the risks of ionizing radiation.

The Committee has also issued key documents including an information update on new dose limit for the lens of the eye and an IACRS report on ionising radiation screening devices at airports, which help regulators to translate safety principles into practical regulatory actions, transfer know-how and assist in promoting internationally-accepted safety standards.

Most recently, in 2020, the Committee published its radon information overview for radiation protection authorities, endorsing the International Commission on Radiological Protection’s revised dose conversion factors for exposure owing to radon in workplaces.

IACRS is formed of eight intergovernmental organizations that chair the group on rotation. Those members include the IAEA, European Commission, Food and Agriculture Organization, International Labour Office, OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, Pan American Health Organization, United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation and World Health Organization. Five non-governmental organizations constitute the IACRS observers: International Commission on Radiological Protection, International Commission on Radiation Unites and Measurements, International Electrotechnical Commission, International Radiation Protection Association and International Standards Organization.

International events, including those held by the IAEA Radiation Safety Standards Committee and the International Radiation Protection Association will form the backdrop for IACRS meetings, with further ad-hoc meetings held in between.

To find out more about the work of the Committee visit the IACRS website.

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