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Radiation protection research and training programme: Evolution, achievements, perspectives

A report issued by the specific multiannual research and training programme (Euratom) in the field of radiation protection presents its evolution and achievements during the period 1987-1992 and considers progress and results made during this time. The radiation protection re...

A report issued by the specific multiannual research and training programme (Euratom) in the field of radiation protection presents its evolution and achievements during the period 1987-1992 and considers progress and results made during this time. The radiation protection research programme is a Community research activity having a unique character as it deals with a recognized hazardous agent, ionizing radiation and radioactivity, and covers the complete spectrum of complex problems from the identification of source terms, the distribution of radioactivity in the environment and the resulting exposure of the population through a quantitative and mechanistic analysis of the health effects, to the continued development of risk assessment and protection policy. The programme exists because it is necessary to integrate the varied contributory topics into a comprehensive and coherent unity. Until recently, the programme was implemented in five-year periods via cost-shared contracts with individual institutions. The last five-year period covered 1985-1989 but then, in order to bring the programme into synchrony with the Third Framework Programme for Community RTD (1990-1994) a two-year transition period, 1990-1991, was defined, pending adoption by the Council of the 1990-1994 nuclear fission safety programme under which work on radiation protection was to continue. In addition, this period heralded the introduction of multinational, multi-partner contracts which have provided a structure for, and thus intensified, the collaboration between the different research institutions in the programme. A panel of independent experts evaluated radiation protection research activities over the periods 1980-1984 and 1985-1989 (Research Evaluation Report No 37; EUR 12145, 1989) and concluded that: The programme had reached a level of sophistication that ensured its respect among the other major programmes at world level; together with the national programmes, the Commission's programme provides the people of the European Community with a sound base of knowledge and information which is essentially state-of-the-art; at the final term of evaluation, a good balance was seen with respect to the distribution of activities among the subdisciplines; the programme's record was excellent in achievement of coordination and collaboration among scientists and activities. Prior to this evaluation and just after the 1986 reactor accident at Chernobyl, a "Committee of High Level Independent Scientists" was convened to assess the scientific evidence arising from current research in view of recent nuclear incidents and to consider the possible implications for the Basic Standards and emergency reference levels, and to advise the Commission on future actions in radiological protection (Radiation Protection in the European Community, Evaluation and suggestions; Report EUR 11449, 1998). The Committee concluded that the Chernobyl accident brought into focus areas where research should be intensified in order to evaluate the radiological consequences of the accident and to improve preparedness for possible future incidents. This prompted the launching of ten post-Chernobyl actions. However, administrative procedures to establish extra funding and to negotiate additional research contacts have to some degree slowed the programme in areas where rapid reaction is necessary to respond to an urgent research problem. The present 120-page evaluation document is divided into two parts: The first deals with: - The overall quality of results; - The management of the programme and its consistency with Community policies and principles; - The revision of post-Chernobyl actions; - Current actions including the Radiation Protection Research Action, 1992-1993, Complementary and Supporting Actions, and Cooperation with Belarus, the Ukraine and the Russian Federation (APAS-COSU); - Statistical data. The second section of the report presents the scientific evaluation by sector for the periods 1985-1989 (final report) and 1990-1992. The sectors covered by the programme comprise: Measurement of radiation dose and its interpretation; radioecology; consequences of radiation exposure to man; risk and management of radiation protection and assessment of human exposure and risks; optimization of radiation protection in medicine; education and training in radiation protection (ERPET).

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