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Protecting the public

Radiation is present in many aspects of everyday life. Today advanced imaging technologies give doctors an unparalleled ability to diagnose medical conditions. Nuclear medicine is also a critical part of our armoury against cancer.

The natural background level of radiation experienced by individuals varies considerably depending on the natural geology under their homes and on their lifestyle, including how often they fly.

Understanding the effects of radiation in terms of the dose received and the biological response of humans, animals and plants is important for many fields. For medical purposes it can lead to better targeted, safer procedures. It can ensure the most appropriate safety procedures for radiation protection of the general public. A current focus is improving understanding of the effects of low doses.

The research also forms the basis of emergency response procedures by modelling the processes by which radiation moves through the environment.

Integrating ecosystems

The effects of ionising radiation on animals, plants and whole ecosystems are being assessed by the ERICA project. It aims to provide an integrated approach to assessment and management of environmental risk from ionising contaminants.

Safety, safety, safety

Safety is paramount. Ensuring safety is a priority goal of the Euratom research programme.This covers all aspects of society’s interaction with ionising radiation and nuclear technologies.

The safety record of the European nuclear industry is extremely high both in terms of the operation of nuclear plants and the management of radioactive waste. Euratom research is helping to understand the important scientific issues for safety, whether in the operation of today’s power plants, the management of radioactive waste, or the development of future reactors.

A significant part of the Euratom programme is developing and demonstrating a safe permanent solution to disposal of high-level radioactive waste. This is a key issue for both industry and society alike.

Ionising radiation is used in many medical therapies – in particular for cancer treatment – and in diagnostic X-ray techniques such as radiography, fluoroscopy or computer tomography. It is used in industrial practices, and naturally occurring radioactive sources, such as radon gas, can be found in many homes. Euratom research is working to improve understanding of all aspects of radiation safety.

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