A doctor reviewing CT scan images at Vienna General Hospital in Austria. (Photo: L. Dojcanova/IAEA)Experts at a recent IAEA meeting proposed measures to ensure medical benefits always exceed risks for patients who need frequent radiological imaging exams for diagnosing and monitoring their diseases. New data presented at the meeting based on 2.5 million patients in 15 countries showed that more than 1% of patients receive cumulative doses above 100 mSv from multiple exams in their lifetime. This is significantly higher than previously thought. Receiving radiation in significant doses increases the risk of cancer later in life.Around 50 experts from 26 countries and nine international organisations and professional and industrial bodies met at the IAEA in Vienna from 4 to 6 March to explore the issue. New data on exposure has surfaced thanks to the introduction of automatic exposure tracking systems in many hospitals in recent years.“The medical community should find a way to improve safety of patients who need recurrent imaging exams, while not limiting their medical benefits,” said Madan M. Rehani, Director of Global Outreach for Radiation Protection at the Massachusetts General Hospital in the United States, who presented some of the new data.Medical imaging like computed tomography (CT), X-rays and interventional procedures have provided immense medical benefits in diagnosis and follow-up of diseases to better manage health conditions of millions of patients worldwide. A patient can get exposed to 100 mSv from 10-12 CT exams, which is required in different chronic conditions or malignant diseases or when treatment requires frequent follow-up examinations.Participants at the meeting agreed that several steps could be taken to improve protection of patients who need frequent imaging exams:CT scanners capable of achieving adequate image quality at sub-mSv radiation dose.Physicians need to ensure the appropriate use of imaging exams when dealing with diseases that require frequent tests.Strengthen guidelines by professional medical bodies for those treating patients who require frequent imaging studies.Integrated technological solutions for monitoring patient exposure data within the electronic healthcare records.Concrete radiation protection recommendations on how to avoid high level of exposures without curtailing medical benefits.“The new data show that all stakeholders must come together to find suitable strategies and solutions with focus on radiation protection of this specific group of patients,” Jenia Vassileva, IAEA Radiation Protection Specialist. “The IAEA will continue coordinating international efforts by engaging with the medical industry, by organizing multi-stakeholder’s meetings and by taking action to raise awareness of and educate healthcare providers and patients.”
Experts working on the Bonn Call for Action Implementation Toolkit during a March 2018 technical meeting. (Photo: C. Villarreal Silva/IAEA)The creation of an online IAEA toolkit to strengthen radiation protection in medicine is nearing completion, with participants in a recent technical meeting agreeing on final details.At the 5-7 March meeting, more than 40 radiographers, radiologists and representatives of the national and international bodies worked on the toolkit’s structure and agreed on matters such as its promotion. The resource supports the implementation of the Bonn Call for Action initiative as one of the outcomes agreed at the December 2017 International Conference on Radiation Protection in Medicine: Achieving Change in Practice.“Once launched, we hope that this online depository of international and national tools will lead to improved knowledge about the safe use of radiation,” said Ola Holmberg, Head of the Radiation Protection of Patients Unit at the IAEA. “We hope that it will be used by medical practitioners and decision-makers.”The toolkit will combine new and existing tools such as guidance materials, international standards and electronic databases to assist health authorities, regulatory bodies and health professionals. It supports implementation of Bonn Call for Action, which was issued by the IAEA and the World Health Organization in 2012 and lists 10 actions to be taken by stakeholders to strengthen radiation protection in medicine during the 2012-2022 decade.The online platform will be developed by the IAEA in cooperation with several international organizations and professional societies.The toolkit is set to be launched later this year.
UK-based research and development company Innovative Physics Ltd (IPL) and China Environmental Protection Company Ltd (CEPC) have signed an agreement on technologies and skills to further improve the safety of nuclear power plants in China and overseas.(L to R front row seated) CEPC President Wu Xiujiang, Mike Anderson CEO Innovative Physics Ltd, China Institute for Radiation Protection President Liu Quinn; (L to R standing) CNNC Vice President Cao Shudong, China Atomic Energy Authority’s Vice Chairman Zhang Jianhua, Department for International Trade Minister for Trade Policy George Hollingbery, and China Atomic Energy Authority’s Secretary Den Ge. (Image: DIT)IPL specialises in evolving technologies; sensor technology, artificial intelligence and pattern recognition, while CEPC is part of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC).Announcing the agreement on 21 June, IPL said CEPC has made "significant progress" in detecting, measuring and tackling radiation contamination but needs more advanced solutions to enable it to do so "more comprehensively and at a greater pace".IPL says it has developed bespoke AI technology to detect, identify and grade radioactive material which has been used in a number of markets, including the site of the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan.CEPC President Wu Xiujiang said the agreement "signifies an exciting opportunity for us to work together to develop improved radiological solutions to ensure our nuclear power operations function with the highest level of protection for the environment".Mike Anderson, CEO of IPL, added: "To be able to work with one of the world’s leading nuclear corporations to jointly develop and improve our new technologies represents a huge opportunity."The agreement is in place for a rolling three-year period.In the same statement, UK Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox said: "Britain is a key partner for Chinese trade and investment, and is one of China's most important trading partners in Europe. The announcements show the breadth and depth of our trading relationship, the success UK firms are having in China, and the huge opportunity the Chinese market holds for British companies, particularly with regards to market access."As an international economic department, [the Department for International Trade] will continue to support UK businesses to increase their share in this growing market and build on our substantial export figures, as we progress towards leaving the EU."In 2016, Britain exported goods worth GBP16 billion (USD20 billion) to China making it the UK’s 8th biggest trading partner for exports outside the EU, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The nuclear environmental protection mechanism of the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) covers a full range of spent fuel transport, a handling and fastening system, a transportation management system, a radiation protection system and an emergency response central system, as well as a complete technology, management and project organization and implementation system for nuclear facility decommissioning and radioactive waste treatment and disposal.A technological process for power reactor spent fuel reprocessing has been completed.Several Nuclear material transportation activities have been safely and effectively organized.First-phase preparations are being carried out for a large-scale commercial reprocessing plant under the principle of "mainly relying on our own while pursuing China-foreign cooperation".For radioactive waste treatment, key projects including a radioactive waste repository and radioactive source special treatments have been finished in 28 provinces or municipalities.The Northwest Disposal Site has been constructed and is operational. Two national centralized radioactive source storage facilities have been successively constructed. The Feifeng Mountain Disposal Site is under construction and the Northwest Disposal Site under renovation.