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Improving traceability of medical and radiation protection dosimetry in Belgium

Woman operating a linear accelerator

Improvements of traceability for radiation protection, diagnostic imaging and cancer radiation treatment in Belgium made possible through the work of an EMPIR project

Ionising radiation is used extensively in hospitals, from the low dose and energy levels used in diagnostic imaging to the higher dose and energies used in radiotherapy. Radiation protection is important in an aging population where medical exposure to all forms of ionising radiation is increasing, causing safety concerns. To address these, better monitoring of individual patient exposures is needed coupled with greater accuracy in determining delivered doses from all ionising radiation sources.

Like many emerging European countries, Belgium does not have its own primary dosimetry standards but derives traceability from another member state. The Belgian Nuclear Research Centre, SCK-CEN, through its Laboratory for Nuclear Calibrations (LNK), is aiming to change this by developing its own primary standards and becoming the country’s leading radiation protection calibration service provider. Participation in EURAMET’s Capacity Building project ‘Absorbed dose in water and air’ (14RPT04 Absorb), has brought this aim nearer to implementation.

As a result of the project, SCK-CEN has characterised a primary air kerma standard, important both for radiotherapy and for radiation protection. Project derived knowledge will be used to characterise their x-ray beams, both before and after relocation to a new state of the art facility, LNK.  This will form one of three newly constructed EU facilities, with the others located in France and Turkey.

EMPIR Capacity Building projects support the development of metrological expertise in emerging EURAMET National Metrology Institutes and Designated Institutes, whilst increasing interactions and extending the capability of the more developed institutions. These projects form a key EURAMET tool for creating a coherent, efficient and sustainable metrology landscape in Europe.

Dr Mihailescu, from LNK, who was involved in the project said:

"Building knowledge in a metrology laboratory requires constant long-term efforts and support from well-established laboratories”.

A workshop entitled ‘Absorbed dose in water and air’ was held in Paris in March 2016 and a report on this has the basic information for any laboratory to build a primary standard .


This EMPIR project is co-funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the EMPIR Participating States.

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