12th International Conference on the Health Effects on Incorporated Radionuclides (HEIR)
HEIR 2018, the 12th International Conference on the Health Effects of Incorporated Radionuclides, opens Monday, October 8 at the IRSN headquarters in Fontenay-aux-Roses, France, and runs until October 11, 2018. The conference has been co-organized by the IRSN (French Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety) and the CEA (French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission). It has been held in the IRSN's new auditorium and 120 delegates are set to attend.
The conference is an opportunity to discuss the latest advances in every field of incorporated radionuclides. Topics addressed will include biokinetics, chemistry of radionuclides, dosimetry of internal contamination, radiotoxicology, and radiobiology, as well as radionuclide applications in nuclear medicine (e.g. medical imaging and therapy). The organizing committee comprises representatives of both the IRSN and the CEA, two leading bodies in radiation toxicology and radiation biology research. The committee is co-chaired by J-M. Bertho (IRSN) and F. Menetrier (CEA).
HEIR 2018 website
11th HEIR conference
Skin contamination by radionuclides: the first emergency treatment is on the market
Since July 2018, Cevidra has marketed Cevidra® Calixarene, the first emergency local treatment for skin contamination by actinides (such as uranium, plutonium, americium, etc.). The treatment, a simple-to-use cleansing cream, prevents uranium from passing through the skin barrier by more than 95% if applied immediately, and was developed during two theses in IRSN's Radiochemistry, Speciation and Imaging Research Laboratory (LRSI) in partnership with the Institut Galien Paris-Sud (UMR CNRS 8612) and the Defense Procurement Agency (DGA).
Presented in preview at the World Nuclear Exhibition in Paris (26-28 June 2018), an international nuclear event, this cream earned Cevidra the "Nuclear Safety" WNE Award in the SMEs category.
Previously, the only treatment available was an emergency rinsing with soapy water, which was not very effective. This cleansing cream consists of a nanoemulsion with the active ingredient calixarene carboxylic acid (1,3,5-OCH3-2,4,6-OCH2COOH-p-tertbutylcalixarene), which traps actinides, notably uranium. It therefore prevents them from passing into the bloodstream, where they can become attached to the kidneys and bones, causing a risk of pathologies developing in these organs over time. The marketing of the cleansing cream is the culmination of 10 years of research by the LRSI and the Institut Galien Paris Sud.
Post-doctorate proposal at Radiobiology of medical exposure laboratory (LRMed)
Post-doctorate contracts give doctoral graduates an opportunity to develop their competence while contributing to IRSN’s research work. The recruitment procedure for this programme is similar to that established for doctoral theses, in that candidates’ proposals for research projects are reviewed by researchers from universities or other research institutes.
See the post-doctorate proposals page
The 17th issue of Aktis, IRSN’s scientific newsletter, is available
The seventeenth English-language issue of Aktis, the quarterly newsletter on IRSN’s research, is available on a HTML and PDF package. Aktis is published only in a digital version and available in HTML or text format for e-mail, RSS and pageflip PDF.
In this issue, focus on simulating the early effects of alpha or proton radiation on DNA. Aktis n°17 also treats of an epidemiological study on a population of Russian children on the possible link between cardiac arrhythmias and low doses of cesium-137. As well, it deals with P²REMICS, state-of-the-art models and original numerical schemes to simulate deflagration.
The subscription for the English and French versions is complimentary. To read this issue or subscribe, go to
Read the pageflip PDF
Read the HTML page
Best oral presentation award for Jacques Jabbour at the RF2B Scientific Days
Jacques Jabbour, a research engineer in structural mechanics at IRSN, has won the award for the best oral presentation at the Scientific Days event held on July 12 and 13, 2018 by the RF2B(1) (Regroupement Francophone pour la recherche et la Formation sur le Béton – Francophone group for research and education on concrete).
Jacques Jabbour during his presentation © IRSN/RF2B
This award recognizes the scientific quality and originality of his thesis entitled "Test methods for accelerated aging of concrete on the scale of the structures". The aim of the research was to develop an accelerated aging test protocol applied to structures representative of parts of nuclear reactor containments, a first at this scale in France. The acceleration of aging not only provides a pertinent physical representation, but is also essential for studying phenomena that develop typically over a period of around 40 years. Jacques Jabbour has designed an experimental device and instrumentation methods that can accelerate and monitor the evolution of pathologies(2) in concrete blocks on a large scale (2.40 x 1.40 x 1.00 m³). The acceleration technique he has developed has improved estimation of the mechanical effects of the pathologies affecting concrete. A patent application has been filed for the technique. This research forms part of work to extend the service life of nuclear power plants.
developed out of an understanding between French-speaking university laboratories in Canada (Quebec), France, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg. The aim of the group is primarily to promote formal scientific exchanges between the member universities and secondly to foster collaborative research.
(2) Pathologies are phenomena that involve chemical reactions (e.g. DEF, or delayed ettringite formation), which occur within concrete over a very long period of time and cause changes in its composition and degradation of its mechanical properties.
More about Jacques Jabbour's thesis
Alexia Lapière receives the “Young Researcher” Award at the GFNG Congress
Alexia Lapière, a PhD student at IRSN’s Radiobiology of medical exposure laboratory (LRMed), has won the “Young Researcher” Award for the quality and originality of her research work at the annual congress of the French Neuro-Gastroenterology Group (Groupe français de neuro-gastroentérologie, GFNG), held in Paris on June 14 and 15, 2018.
The award-winners recognized at the conference. Alexia Lapière is third from the right. © GFNG / IRSN
She is one of three doctoral students to receive this award for their presentations at the congress. Alexia Lapière’s presentation, entitled “Study of the effect of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii on preventing radiation-induced colonic ulceration – Application as part of treatment following pelvic radiation therapy”, was based on her thesis research. She is studying the effects of a probiotic, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, on colonic lesions that may develop ten years or more after undergoing pelvic radiation therapy. Her research, carried out in collaboration with INRA, aims to evaluate how effective this probiotic is in reducing damage to healthy tissue when administered as a preventive measure prior to starting radiation therapy. Its effectiveness has already been proven in preclinical studies for treating other inflammatory pathologies of the colon.
The French Neuro-Gastroenterology Group (GFNG) brings together physicians and researchers from clinical and fundamental research units with an interest in the mechanisms and treatment of digestive functional pathologies.
Analysis of the concepts of trust and expertise in the nuclear field: the first step of the SHINRAI project
A review of literature on the concepts of trust and expertise in the nuclear field has helped define research issues to be considered within the SHINRAI project (coordinated by IRSN, with the participation of Sciences Po Paris and Tokyo Tech), which is looking at the political and social impact of the accident at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan. This analysis serves as a resource tool for the project and is now available on the IRSN website.
Trust and expertise are two key concepts for the SHINRAI research program, which looks at the situation after the accident in Japan, notably Japanese citizens’ loss of confidence in the authorities and the role played by the alternative sources of expertise (non-governmental scientists, N.G.O, etc.). A review of the literature has helped to define research issues developed in greater depth later in the project, and to confirm that trust is a relevant prism with which decode the post-accidental situation in the Fukushima prefecture.
The concept of trust
The concept of trust is key to analyzing the post-accident management and its social and political consequences.
The initial observation concerns the legacy of previous nuclear accidents and of Nagasaki and Hiroshima and how this was revived at the time of the Fukushima accident. Every nuclear catastrophe rekindles the memory of other accidents; the subsequent management problems encountered at Fukushima Daiichi therefore revived in France what happened at the Chernobyl accident, whereas in Japan it was memories and issues linked to the bombardments of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that resurfaced. The mechanisms of confidence and defiance at the time of an accident are a legacy of this previous experience. The loss of confidence linked to a nuclear accident becomes lodged in the collective psyche in a durable way.
A second aspect that the project is currently exploring in depth is the complex nature of trustworthiness, the extent to which institutions merit the trust of citizens. According to Luhman, the trustworthiness of an institution is based on its competence and willingness to consider the interests and vulnerability of those who place their confidence in it – the truster. In the post-accident situation in Japan, some citizens felt the authorities were not considering their interests, their vulnerability and, most particularly, the vulnerability of the weakest: the children.
This loss of confidence in the Japanese authorities and their experts is notably linked to a policy after the accident that did not sufficiently recognize uncertainty regarding the risks of low doses of ionizing radiation. Taking the most “optimistic” or least “cautious” hypothesis (no risk below 100 mSv) was denounced by many citizens as a deliberate choice to serve interests other than protecting the health of populations.
Finally, this review of the literature helped recognize the emergence of counter-expertise and its interactions with institutional expertise. A communal or citizens’ expertise, with alternative visions, emerged and developed when faced with a type of scientist or expert that did not seem to consider individuals’ interests carefully enough. This counter-expertise seemed more “trustworthy” because it implicitly included a form of caution in a context of uncertainty. The main feature of these counter-experts, beyond their diversity, is that they never seemed to aim first to reassure about the radiological risk. For some citizens, the counter-experts were seen as the only players who actually considered their interests in a risky situation.
The notion of expertise
Considering the notion of expertise, this review of the literature focused on systems of expertise in charge of evaluating the health impacts of ionizing radiation – starting from the design of the first atomic bomb (project Manhattan). This stance helped show that the questions asked in the aftermath of Fukushima were actually recurrent issues: they illustrate a repeated divide in risk assessment between on the one hand institutions linked to the nuclear field and on the other external scientists, who continually criticize the underestimation of radiological risks. The accident therefore provides an opportunity for these external scientists to again question the legitimacy of the institutions responsible for radiation protection.
Several questions are being researched in greater depth in the SHINRAI project, about the place of controversy linked to the dangers of ionizing radiation in the Japanese authorities’ decision-making and debate in the public sphere.
Some of these questions have already been addressed in publications presenting the results of the project. They are related to more general issues about the linkages between knowledge production and regulation, expertise and decision-making in the environmental and health fields.
The SHINRAI project should provide insight from a socio-political angle into the issues surrounding post-accident situation management and, more specifically, the role of public expertise and its interaction with political decisions. Two other reports are planned: one presenting the survey results (autumn 2018) and the other with analysis of decision-making processes after the accident (spring 2019).
F. Ekardt, Ch. Fassert, L. Pellizzoni,
Sociotechnical Environments – Actors, Technologies, Geographies and New kinds of actions, C. Fassert : living with/in contaminated territories : an STS perspective. Technoscienza vol. 8 (I) pp. 103-128
M. Shirabe, Ch. Fassert, R. Hasegawa,
From ‘Risk Communication’ to Participatory Radiation Risk Assessment, Fukushima Global Communication Programme Working Paper Series #21, Décembre 2015
Read the report (PDF)
To know more about SHINRAI project
Involved IRSN laboratory
Contact: Christine Fassert
Publication of the EURADOS report on the 2017 internal dose assessment intercomparison
In 2016, as part of the EURADOS network, IRSN proposed and organized an intercomparison on the lifetime dose assessment received by nuclear workers exposed to uranium. The results were summarized in a report, which has recently been published.
Coordinated by the IRSN, the intercomparison aimed to evaluate the uncertainties related to the lifetime dose assessment received by workers exposed to a risk of uranium contamination. Indeed, the IRSN conducts epidemiological studies looking at the long-term effect of uranium intake on health, and to do that, accurately estimates the internal dose received by people exposed, to identify a possible link between uranium and the pathologies studied. Nuclear workers are a very interesting cohort for this type of study since they are monitored regularly by biological tests (mostly urine) and their conditions of exposure can be reconstructed from their workstation data. However, the data is old and little-accurate. Many of the biological tests have values under the technical limit of detection used, and the exposure conditions (i.e. Exposure times) are not always fully known. To assess the internal dose on the basis of this information, dosimetry experts can put forward numerous different hypotheses for reconstituting exposure scenarios. This is why the uncertainty to assess the radionuclides dose received during a lifetime is considered to be significant. This finding by the IRSN sparked organization of this intercomparison within the EURADOS network.
To quantify this uncertainty, the 16 participants in the intercomparison assessed the “lifetime” doses of 3 workers from the French nuclear industry exposed to uranium. This work was used to compare the dose assessment protocols and the various hypotheses used by the participants, to identify the sources of the uncertainty and to discuss evaluation of the uncertainty concerning the dose.
The dispersion of the dose assessments is important, higher than that usually acknowledged for uncertainty of internal doses. This analysis was used to compare the dose assessment protocols and to identify the sources of uncertainty. The next step will be to identify those with the most impact on evaluation of the dose received by the workers during their lifetime. The main perspective of this intercomparison is to prepare a joint protocol to evaluate the internal lifetime dose received by nuclear workers, which will be used in future epidemiological studies.
EURADOS (European Radiation Dosimetry Group) is an organization which supports scientific and technical research into ionising radiation dosimetry in Europe and internationally. The main objectives of this permanent network of experts, and reference laboratories in radiation protection, radiobiology, diagnostics and radiation therapy, are to harmonise existing working practices and implement training in ionising radiation dosimetry