Impacts of low dose radiation exposure
A better understanding of the effects of low-dose ionising radiation on human health is essential in helping to reduce uncertainty regarding the radiation risk resulting from a number of medical and other practices, including practices involving naturally occurring radioactive materials. In particular, a reinforced cooperation between the medical and nuclear sectors in this area is highly desirable and will be mutually beneficial. It will allow the formulation of science-based recommendations to decision-makers and practitioners in the respective sectors in view of the effective protection of patients, workers and the general public, and the fine-tuning of the necessary precautionary measures. The rapid development and deployment of medical technology using ionising radiation poses specific challenges as regards radiation protection of patients and medical staff. Research into innovative and updated radiation protection tools and methods will allow the formulating of practical recommendations and improved protection of patients and staff in everyday medical practices.
Thanks to research based on the high quality data collected during the medical use of ionising radiation, this action should allow significant progress to be made in the understanding of radiation effects and underlying mechanisms, notably by performing radiation molecular epidemiology studies of people who have undergone radiology procedures (i.e. looking at side-effects from radiotherapy on healthy surrounding tissues and tissues exposed during radiology diagnosis). The action should also consider creating a networked and structured repository for patient dosimetry, imaging meta-data and bio-banking, the latter being integrated with health databases. The action shall build on the above-mentioned Memoranda of Understanding between MELODI and a number of relevant European medical associations and should involve contributions from public health and/or healthcare organisations. The objective is to further improve the science base for recommendations to decision-makers and practitioners in the respective sectors, including for optimisation of radiation protection in medical imaging. The results should therefore be presented and discussed with relevant stakeholder groups with the view to stimulate the debate, in their respective spheres, on the possible refinement of procedures for the protection of concerned persons (doctors, medical physicists, patients, technicians and operators). The effective involvement of the different actors mentioned above and notably the interaction with MELODI and partner associations will be considered during evaluation. In line with the strategy for EU international cooperation in research and innovation (COM(2012)497), international cooperation is encouraged. This action allows for the provision of financial support to third parties in line with the conditions set out in Part J of the General Annexes.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from Euratom of between EUR 8 and 10 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
This action will allow significant progress to be achieved in the interaction between the radiation protection and medical scientific communities at EU level, leading to cross-fertilisation of research efforts and the provision of more consolidated and robust science-based policy recommendations to decision makers in the respective sectors. In the longer term, these efforts will translate into additional or improved practical measures in view of the effective protection of people in the medical and nuclear sectors. Ultimately, the risks from radiation will be better evaluated and the necessary precautionary measures better quantified, leading to a more robust system of protection of patients, workers and the general public, whilst not unduly penalising activities through unnecessary and costly measures. This could also lead to some revision of the relevant regulatory frameworks.