Radiation from medical use

The use of radiation in medicine has been an important tool in diagnosing and treating patients for over a century. Radiation is for example used in x-ray medical imaging and cancer-treating radiotherapy.

Exposure to radiation can however harm the health of both patients and medical staff. With human exposure to ionising radiation in medicine exceeding that of any other man-made source, it is important to have safety standards in place.

The Basic Safety Standards Directive (2013/59), which, among other items, regulates the safe use of ionising radiation in medical applications is consistently updated. The Commission also issues non-binding recommendations and communications.

The SAMIRA initiative 

Nuclear and radiation technology is used outside the nuclear power sector in areas such as in medicine, in various industries, and for research.  It is an indispensable part of modern medicine, used for diagnosis and treatment of some of the most common life-threatening diseases.  In addition, nuclear and radiation technologies are used in many industrial applications, including material processing, manufacturing semi-conductors, sterilisation of medical equipment, treatment of liquid and gaseous effluents, security checks and non-destructive testing. 

The Strategic agenda for medical industrial and research applications of nuclear and radiation technology - also referred to as the SAMIRA initiative - seeks to identify cross-cutting actions that the European Commission can take in collaboration with stakeholders to maximise the societal benefits of nuclear and radiation technologies, whilst maintaining the highest achievable level of quality and safety to provide reassurance to citizens. 

SAMIRA conferences and workshops

The SAMIRA evidence gathering and consultation phase began in 2017.  It has been informed by a contracted study into the non-power applications of nuclear and radiation technology, as well as an international conference in March 2018, organised by the Commission, that highlighted how societal challenges can be addressed by advancing SAMIRA.

The European Commission also hosted a technical workshop on 'Medical radioisotopes in the future', 7 February 2019 in Brussels, to investigate the challenges and opportunities on the specific topic previously identified as an issue with relevant stakeholders.

The European Commission and Finland’s presidency of the Council of the EU hosted another workshop on 'Management of spent fuel and radioactive waste arising from non-energy uses of nuclear and radiation technologies' on 13 November 2019 in Brussels.  The workshop results will contribute to the preparation of Council conclusions on this subject area later this year.


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