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Setting basic safety standards for exposure to ionising radiation (from 2018)

Setting basic safety standards for exposure to ionising radiation (from 2018)

This law establishes basic safety standards to protect the health of employees, the general public, patients and others from the dangers of exposure to ionising radiation.

ACT

Council Directive 2013/59/Euratom of 5 December 2013 laying down basic safety standards for protection against the dangers arising from exposure to ionising radiation, and repealing Directives 89/618/Euratom, 90/641/Euratom, 96/29/Euratom, 97/43/Euratom and 2003/122/Euratom

SUMMARY

In normal situations, doses of ionising radiation are very low and produce no clinically observable adverse effects. However, in the longer term, they can give rise to health problems, notably cancer. Hence, the need for a uniform threshold of protection across the EU, while allowing governments to set higher basic safety standards if they wish.

The directive replaces five earlier pieces of legislation which contained inconsistencies, did not fully reflect scientific progress or fully cover natural radiation sources or the protection of the environment. It sets out how to ensure the safety and security of radioactive material and the mandatory information that must be provided in the event of an exposure emergency.

The standards it contains are based on recommendations from the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP).

The directive applies to any planned, existing or emergency situation which involves a risk to ionising radiation. In particular, it applies to:

  • the manufacture, production, processing, handling, disposal, use, storage, holding, transport, import to and export from the EU of radioactive material;
  • the manufacture and operation of electrical equipment emitting ionising radiation;
  • human activities withnatural radiation sources that could lead to a significant increase in the exposure of employees or the public, such as the exposure of space crew to cosmic radiation;
  • domestic exposure to radon gas in indoor air and external exposure to gamma radiation from building materials;
  • managing emergency exposure situations that require measures to protect the public and workers.

The legislation sets out general principles of radiation protection, giving a more prominent role to dose constraints for occupational, public and medical exposure. An annex lists the bands of reference levels proposed by the ICRP for existing and emergency exposure situations. Special provision is made to protect pregnant and breastfeeding employees and apprentices and students.

Specific requirements apply to exposure to radiation for medical purposes. Here exposure must show there is a sufficient net benefit to the health of an individual and to society at large against the individual detriment that exposure might cause. Patients must have information on the health risks and benefits and any medical exposure must take place under the clinical responsibility of a qualified practitioner.

REFERENCES

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Council Directive 2013/59/Euratom

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OJ L 13 of 17.1.2014

Last updated: 07.04.2014

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