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Monitoring strategies applied in NORM involving industries – evaluation of occupational exposure and environmental impact

March 15, 2020 - March 29, 2020

The problem of NORM (Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials) was recently elucidated to a certain degree by the latest European BSS (Council Directive 2013/59/Euratom) as well as IAEA ones (GSR Part 3) that both cover several NORM occurrence aspects including occupational exposure as well as its possible interaction with the environment. The required graded system of authority control in the management of NORM needs not only the assessment of (immediate) exposure to workers as well as members of the public but shall also demonstrate that environmental criteria for long-term human health protection are met. As activities affected by NORM cover broad industrial sectors, site and practice specific risk assessment methods are needed based on well-justified scientific guidance. There are about 50 natural radionuclides that may occur in different environmental compartments. Majority of them are members of natural decay series of uranium and thorium and subject to sequential decay.  Complex combination of their half-lives, chemical properties of different elements created due to decay and its aggregate state, influence significantly behaviour of natural radioactivity in the environment as well as in different technological processes. Finally, natural radionuclides are occurring as a radionuclide’s suites, emitting alpha, beta and gamma radiation, which is difficult to monitor, and many measurement techniques must be applied to get proper existing exposure evaluation. Moreover, as radiation protection is focused only on radiation exposure above natural background, measurements of natural radionuclides must provide additional information helping one to distinguish which source of radiation is natural and which one should be considered as a source of risk.

Existing exposure scenarios in NORM involving industries are different from those present in either nuclear industry and medicine or overall use of artificial sources of radiation. The differences are caused by e.g. source volume (geometry), complex mixture of elements and radionuclides present as well as external conditions e.g. work conditions or co-presence of non-radioactive pollutants. Very often qualified personnel trained in let say “traditional” radiation protection either give up facing a problem of risk evaluation, waste management and environmental impact assessment related to NORM or provide a superficial, inadequate to the real exposure evaluation. Actually, the significant lack of radiation protection experts experienced in NORM related radiation risk is observed, especially in the case when an environmental impact is identified and long-term safety conditions for NORM affected sites must be provided. It is caused also by the fact that many industries of concern have not been regulated in term of radiation safety to date.


The main part of the course is devoted to monitoring strategies and radiation protection plans applicable for occupational exposure and environmental radiation impact evaluation. Sampling strategies and protocols will be presented, training will include the use of state-of-the-art measurement techniques (laboratory and in situ) and special attention will be paid to NORM specific features that makes exposure to natural radiation different from classical situations met in the field of radiation protection. Exercises on the calculation of radiation dose to workers, members of the public as well as the use of Environmental Risk Assessment models (ERICA tool) are included, based on real examples and data from NORM involving industries, including simulations of justification and optimization rules applied influence on applied monitoring strategies.

The training course focuses on most aspects related to measurement techniques applicable for measurement of natural radionuclides in all matrices present in a human either natural or working environment. Lectures (30 hours) and exercises (32 hours) in well-equipped laboratories will focus on:

  • High-resolution gamma spectrometry applied for radionuclides identification, activity concentration quantification and equilibrium/disequilibrium evaluation, including in situ measurements.
  • Liquid scintillation spectrometry (LSC) measurements, combined with radiochemical preparation techniques that let one to get very good detection limits for alpha and beta-emitting natural radionuclides, in application not only for analyses of relatively simple matrix like water but also for more complex samples (sediments, biota etc.).
  • Alpha spectrometry dedicated for specific natural radionuclides e.g. polonium.
  • Radon and radon progeny (PAEC) measurement applied for indoor air quality control and occupational exposure under specific work conditions, especially in underground workplaces as mines or caves including aerosols size distribution and the related effect on the committed dose.

As still the lack of basic knowledge about natural radioactivity related risk is observed, the course program covers also the interpretation of obtained results from an occupational risk and environmental exposure perspectives. As in case of natural radionuclides often other radionuclide are directly measured that these one important for exposure to radiation evaluation (e.g. Bi-214 and Ra-226 or Rn-222 and its short-lived decay products) analysis of available data concerning external circumstances, the history of tested materials combined with hints given e.g. by observed equilibrium factors are extremely important for proper exposure situation assessment. The training course covers all such subjects and provides case studies pointing out sources of possible mistakes.

Based on the great success of our previous courses in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 we can present you a very interesting, balanced and multi-faceted program.


For details please refer to http://szkolenia.gig.eu/node/136


March 15, 2020
March 29, 2020


GIG Central Mining Institute