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Radionuclide Metrology laboratories

The radionuclide metrology sector was the first to be established at JRC-Geel in 1959 (at that time called CBNM – Central Bureau for Nuclear Measurements). Its main objective was the accurate measurement of radioactivity and decay properties of radionuclides. Over the last 57 years, this group has built up a reputation as one of the world's leading laboratories in primary standardisation of radionuclides and SI-traceable radioactivity measurements. It has extended its work programme to characterisation of reference materials for radioactivity measurements, the organisation of intercomparisons among European monitoring laboratories, development of standards and development of source preparation techniques.

Measurements of radioactivity are becoming increasingly important in today’s society. Natural radioactivity is omnipresent and needs to be monitored to protect the health of the population and to understand processes in nature and industry. Anthropogenic (man-made) radioactivity is continuously produced in the nuclear industry and does not stop at borders if accidentally released. Nuclear medicine is developing rapidly and uses more radionuclides than ever before – an increase that will continue. Sustainability requires extensive recycling of materials which calls for robust measurements of radioactivity in scrap to minimise risks to society. All of this calls for harmonised measurement procedures and well-established calibrations in radioactivity monitoring laboratories.

JRC-Geel has developed and implemented instruments to measure radioactivity with the highest possible accuracy, which is important to maintain the SI-unit becquerel and establish international equivalence of radioactivity measurements.