Precise measurement of internal contamination from a wound is a major challenge for the nuclear sector when it comes to radiation protection. IRSN has launched an international exercise to improve the procedures used to perform these measurements.
In the nuclear sector, an internal contamination accident could be due to a wound caused by mishandling sharp or pointed objects such as a blade, clamp, or screwdriver. The transfer of radioelements into the blood from the wound can then lead to high committed effective doses
(radiation protection value for measuring the impact on living tissue from exposure to ionizing radiation).
Once the radioactive contaminant has been identified, assessing the dose at the wound requires very precisely measuring the quantity of contaminant that was deposited. This means also measuring the size of the contaminated surface area precisely, taking the anatomical location and heterogeneity of the deposit into consideration, and then estimating the surface radioactivity at the wound.
The international exercise lead by IRSN includes six other laboratories in France (from Areva, the CEA and the French Armed Forces Radiation Protection Department), one in Spain (CIEMAT) and one in Belgium (SCK-CEN). Their respective results will be compared in late 2017, for the purpose of standardizing practices and establishing a international standard for measuring contaminated wounds.