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Preparing the Next Generation of Radiation Protection Leaders


In the Europe and Central Asia regions, at least 280 aspiring radiation protection professionals received training in English and Russian through PGECs. (Photo: International Sakharov Environmental Institute)

Following five months of training and studies, 12 young professionals from Europe and Central Asia completed a comprehensive course on radiation protection and the safety of radiation sources. Concluding earlier this month, this was the latest edition of the IAEA’s Postgraduate Educational Courses (PGEC) in Radiation Protection and the Safety of Radiation Sources and was hosted by the International Sakharov Environmental Institute of the Belarusian State University.

Radioactive sources and radiation generators are used daily, around the world, in areas such as health care, agriculture, energy production, industry and research. To support the safety of sources and to protect against the potential radiation risks, a framework of legislation, regulations and a strong safety culture are needed.

“The PGEC has an important long term impact on Member States’ regulatory activities as each course helps to prepare the next generation of radiation protection leaders, ensuring the sustainability of regulatory capacities,” said Emina Alic, IAEA Programme Management Officer.

Young professionals participate in practical exercises and demonstrations during a PGEC. (Photo: International Sakharov Environmental Institute)

The PGEC equips young, aspiring regulators with the technical knowledge and practical experience required to support the protection of workers, patients, the public and the environment from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation. Targeting young professionals at the graduate level, as well as experts aiming to refresh their knowledge, each PGEC is based on a rigorous syllabus, published in the IAEA’s Training Course Series.

The course is designed to convey the multidisciplinary, technical basis of international radiation protection standards and recommendations, while demonstrating how those standards are applied. Amongst the lectures, technical demonstrations, field visits and hands-on activities, students measured the half-life of radioactive sources, decontaminated surfaces in a laboratory, handled different types of radiation detectors and calibrated dosimeters. Students also completed a project to demonstrate their knowledge and the skills acquired across the semester-long program.

“The course initially provides an overview of basic scientific subjects, including nuclear physics, quantities and units, as well as the biological effects of ionizing radiation,” said Andrea Luciani, an IAEA Radiation Safety Training Specialist. “It then focuses on topics specific to radiation protection and safety, such as the international radiation protection system, IAEA requirements for the regulatory framework and the different types and categories of exposure situations. Through a train-the-trainers module, the participants will be able to share their newly-gained knowledge with colleagues in their respective countries.”

The International Sakharov Environmental Institute of the Belarusian State University hosts Russian-language PGECs in the Europe region. (Photo: International Sakharov Environmental Institute)

Participants from Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan attended this Russian-language PGEC, from 25 January to 2 July 2021, which was implemented under an ongoing IAEA technical cooperation (TC) project[1]. PGECs in the Europe and Central Asia regions are offered both in English and Russian at designated IAEA regional training centres. The Greek Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) in Athens conducts the PGECs in English, while the International Sakharov Environmental Institute of the Belarusian State University in Minsk organizes the Russian-language PGECs.

In 2018, the PGEC celebrated its 100th edition, the first of which Argentina hosted in 1981 for participants from Latin America and the Caribbean.

For 40 years, the course has helped more than 2000 young graduates and experts in 120 countries to develop or refresh their radiation safety knowledge. In Europe and Central Asia, 102 aspiring radiation protection professionals have received training in English, and a further 178 completed the course in Russian.

[1] RER9156, ‘Establishing Education and Training Infrastructure in Radiation Protection’

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