• English
  • العربية
  • 中文
  • Français
  • Русский
  • Español

You are here

IAEA Launches New Information System on Workers Safety to Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material


Coal mine in Poland (Photo credit / IAEA staff)

The IAEA has launched a new database of the Information System on Occupational Exposure in Medicine, Industry, and Research (ISEMIR), which specifically targets workers in industrial processes involving naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) - called ISEMIR-N.

Globally, there are over 24 million workers in various industries such as mining, oil and gas production, mineral sands, water treatment, metal refining and recycling, phosphate production, and geothermal energy, who are monitored to ensure radiation safety as they are exposed to NORM.

“NORM is any naturally occurring material which contains no significant amounts of radionuclides other than radionuclides of natural origin such as Uranium-238 (U-238), Thorium-232 (Th-232), and Potassium-40 (K-40),” said Jizeng Ma, Head of the IAEA Occupational Radiation Protection Unit, adding that “while most industrial processes involving NORM do not require radiation monitoring, certain work activities can give rise to enhanced exposure that needs to be controlled by robust regulation and monitoring.”

What’s new?

ISEMIR, as an information system, allows workers in radiation protection in medicine, industry, and research to provide information to both the IAEA and other interested stakeholders registered for ISEMIR on the type of sources and exposures their workers will be subject to, what forms of monitoring their workers have and what are the exposure levels of their workers. This system provides feedback to users on their performance relative to their industry benchmarks to ensure radiation safety.

Currently, there exists two main branches of ISEMIR, ISEMIR-IC and ISEMIR-IR, for workers in interventional cardiology and industrial radiography respectively. Each of these branches involves collecting information relevant to occupational exposure to radiation by workers. For each tool of ISEMIR, industry-level benchmarks can be made to determine what are the safety standards to be used to determine areas such as the types of exposure, monitoring methods and effective dose levels in occupational radiation protection.

“We hope that ISEMIR-N will enhance the ability to conduct assessment of occupational exposure and make benchmarking for their own radiation protection programmes to operators in NORM industries worldwide,” said Ma.  “The IAEA- ISEMIR online platform will contribute to meeting the needs of operators, to the assessment, development and further enhancement of overarching industry trends in occupational radiation protection, and to improving communication between operators in NORM industries and the IAEA.”

Irena Petrova, Radiation Protection Inspector at the State Office for Nuclear Safety in the Czech Republic highlighted that: “After my prior experience working with ISEMIR-IR for industrial radiography, I am very excited to see its expansion to the industries involving NORM. I hope that this will provide the same benefit that ISEMIR-IR saw in terms of the assessment of our local radiation protection programmes relative to a global community.”

Ideally, information collected through ISEMIR-N would then allow the IAEA and stakeholders to draw overarching conclusions across different operators as the result of exchanging, recording, and analysing occupational exposure data and better improve the radiation protection infrastructure of operators in industries involving NORM.

How to access ISEMIR-N

For access to ISEMIR-N, please visit https://nucleus.iaea.org/isemir/

Additionally, ISEMIR-N can be found through the newly remodelled Occupational Radiation Protection Networks (ORPNET) platform since its launch in June 2022. ORPNET contains information and news in occupational radiation protection, as well as training, e-learning, publications, and regional and international radiation protection networks.

Stay in touch