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Dangers arising from ionising radiation (from 2018)

Dangers arising from ionising radiation (from 2018)

The legislation brings together in one text five individual directives and lays down basic safety standards to protect individuals against the dangers that can arise from exposure to ionising radiation.


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.


Normally, doses of ionising radiation are so low that there are no adverse health effects, however some, notably cancer, can appear at a later date. To minimise the danger, a European Union directive, adopted in December 2013, introduces new safety standards.

These draw on almost two decades of international research on radioprotection by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the World Health Organisation, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and other international bodies. They represent a significant advance in radioprotection in a wide range of areas: medical, industrial, power generation and waste management.


The legislation is designed to protect the health of workers, the general public, patients and other individuals by guaranteeing a uniform threshold level of protection. This applies to any planned, existing, accidental or emergency exposure which might arise. EU governments may apply higher basic standards if they wish.

Publication of maximum doses or in the event of emergency

The directive provides for the publication of maximum radiation doses so that the public can check whether they have received, from various sources, more than the legal limit. There are also provisions for providing information when an emergency occurs. This must cover weather data and forecasts, air movements and ground deposits, ambient dose rates and contamination levels of essential foods.

National authorities have to inform anyone living within 50 kilometres of a plant at risk, and who could be affected, of the health protection measures they should take in the event of any emergency.


The directive contains measures for the disposal of radioactive material and temporary, or final, storage of radioactive waste, and the exposure of workers to cosmic radiation from aircraft, spacecraft and frequent flying.


Ionising radiation from medical equipment is not covered by the legislation, but by the medical devices directive (Directive 93/42/EEC).


Directives 89/618/Euratom, 90/641/Euratom, 96/29/Euratom, 97/43/Euratom and 2003/122/Euratom will be repealed with effect from 6 February 2018.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2013/59/Euratom



OJ L 13 of 17.1.2014.

Last updated: 11.08.2014