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Radiation Protection of the Public and the Environment: Establishing and Strengthening Environmental Monitoring Programmes in the Asia and Pacific Region

Participants at the ‘Regional Meeting on Establishing an Environmental Monitoring Programme – Sampling Strategies and Dose Assessment’. (Photo: Chuluunbataar Ganzurkh/Mon-Atom LLC)

Ensuring that people are adequately protected from radiation while continuing to benefit from its uses is a central part of the IAEA’s mission. To build Member State capacity to control exposure of the public to radiation, IAEA experts recently helped a group of over 40 officials from 26 Member States in the Asia and the Pacific region gain knowledge to develop and strengthen their countries’ environmental monitoring capabilities.

From 15 January to 19 January 2018 at IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Member State representatives attended expert presentations and learnt best practices in the field of environmental monitoring programmes (EMPs). IAEA staff presented methodologies for radionuclide measurement and their associated radiation dose assessment procedures, and explained the origin and evolution of major international guidelines like the WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality and the Joint FAO-IAEA Criteria for Radionuclide Activity Concentrations for Food and Drinking Water. Abdullah Matooq Althomali (K.A.Care, Saudi Arabia), said “The Overview of Environmental Monitoring improved my understanding and provided a better vision of what we are supposed to start with and the different criteria to consider including the baseline study and its different approaches. It is also very useful to see other countries’ experiences regarding monitoring and laboratories.”

A group of meeting participants working on an environmental monitoring case study. (Photo: Juma Hassan/Supreme Council for Environment, Bahrain)

Discussions covered exposure to natural and man-made radionuclides through a wide range of exposure pathways, including cosmic radiation, gamma radiation, inhalation, and ingestion from radionuclides present in air, soil, food and drinking water. Using relevant case studies, participants also gained experience on how they could conduct environmental, food and drinking water monitoring programmes in their own countries. Norfaizal Mohamed (Malaysian Nuclear Agency) said “The expert presentation on food monitoring and countries’ information enabled me to learn how other countries conduct environmental monitoring. After discussion with the expert, I intend to use the knowledge to improve the measurement techniques used in the detection of radionuclides at our laboratory.” Referring to the breadth and depth of topics covered, Candice Guavis (Marshall Islands Marine Resource Authority) said the new information will allow her country to “move forward with our TC Project and fill in gaps where we lack information.”

The meeting, one in a series of activities organized within the framework of an ongoing technical cooperation regional project[1], also facilitated networking among Member State participants, which supports the building of regional knowledge and will assist in the development and enhancement of EMPs in future.


[1] RAS9078 ‘Strengthening Public and Environmental Radiological Protection in the Asia-Pacific Region’


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