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International Conference on Radiation Safety Kicks off Online

Tony Colgan, Scientific Secretary of the Conference and IAEA Head of Radiation Protection Unit with the keynote speaker, Mr Abel Gonzalez from Argentina and Mr Miroslav Pinak, IAEA Head of the Radiation Safety and Monitoring Section at the opening session

Tony Colgan (l), Scientific Secretary of the Conference and Head of the IAEA's Radiation Protection Unit with the keynote speaker, Abel Gonzalez (centre) from Argentina and Miroslav Pinak, the Head of the Radiation Safety and Monitoring Section, at the opening session. (Photo: D. Dawson/IAEA)

The fully virtual IAEA Conference on Radiation Safety commenced today with over 1400 participants already registered to join the two week event from 9 to 20 November 2020.  At the conference regulators, researchers, operators and radiation protection professionals from various organizations, countries and backgrounds will cover a broad range of radiation safety topics and identify key challenges in radiation protection that need to be addressed as a global community.

The conference is open to the public and registered participants can engage in the discussion: click here to join.

“The IAEA’s principal safety objective is to protect people and the environment from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation. We need to achieve this objective without unduly restricting the many beneficial uses of radiation on which society depends,” said IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi at the opening session. “Our challenge and responsibility are to ensure an appropriate balance at all times between the risks it poses and the benefits it provides.”

Radiation and radiation sources have many peaceful applications in medicine, industry, agriculture and research that improve our daily lives. The use of ionizing radiation in medicine can diagnose illness and treat cancer. In industry, its use includes energy generation, testing of equipment and materials as well as well-logging when prospecting for oil and gas. These, along with other applications that are being constantly developed, all make important contributions to economic development and people’s well-being.

The Conference sessions will cover areas related to radiation safety for workers, patients, the public and the environment. Protection of these groups is fundamental to ensuring that nuclear technology achieves its full potential. It is also an important element in securing public confidence in the many uses of nuclear applications.

“The discussions that take place this week will form the basis of future work in radiation protection for the various international organizations and national authorities,” said President of the Conference Rosario Velasco Garcia of Spain.

International leaders and technical experts will spend the next two weeks discussing key issues in radiation protection including justification and optimization of radiation use, dose constraints and reference levels, the graded approach in the use of radiation, non-medical human imaging,  and more. Both natural and artificial radiation sources fall within the scope of the Conference.

A particular focus at the Conference will be on lessons learned from applying the International Basic Safety Standards on Radiation Protection and the Safety of Radiation Sources (GSR Part 3) and improvements that could be considered to further facilitate its application worldwide. Participants from around the world will share their experiences and best practices as well as perspectives on the necessary changes in approach to meet new and emerging challenges in radiation protection.

Abel Gonzalez, Senior Advisor to the Argentine Nuclear Regulatory Authority, delivered the keynote presentation Emerging Challenges in Radiation Protection.

“The international radiation safety system is one of the more significant international and intergovernmental successes,” he said. “It is universal and consensual — founded on internationally accepted science — and has been established on standards and norms co-sponsored by all relevant international agencies. Notwithstanding this success, after nearly a century on the run, the system may need some review. This Conference provides a good opportunity to address gaps, discuss further improvements to this system that plays a vital role in tracking radiation safety.”

Interested participants are encouraged to view the programme and watch recorded speakers’ presentations in advance in order to better prepare for the discussion during the live Conference sessions. For those who are unable to join, all Conference sessions and discussions will be made available for viewing later.

The Conference is organized in cooperation with the European Commission, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Labour Organization, the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, the Pan American Health Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Health Organization.

Read more about the IAEA's work in radiation protection here.

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