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Our understanding of scientific work

The Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) performs tasks relating to radiation protection and precautionary radiation protection. In these fields the BfS professionally and scientifically supports the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).

In accordance with the Radiation Protection Act and the Radiation Protection Ordinance, radiation protection in Germany must follow the state of the art of science and technology. The

  • Determination,
  • Description,
  • Application, and
  • Further development

of the state of the art of science and technology is thus part of the BfS work. The scientific activities comprise both science-based work – i.e. the application of scientific findings – and research.

Research at the BfS is departmental research

Aufgabenwahrnehmung Aufgabenwahrnehmung

The BfS research establishes basic principles and decision guidance for the appropriate processing and fulfilment of present and future tasks and political consulting. BfS research takes up

  • Topics from the political-administrative field,
  • Technical developments, and
  • Societal changes


  • Transforms the issues to be decided and solved into scientific questions,
  • Addresses these issues with the help of methods and procedures according to the state of the art of science and technology,
  • Analyses and processes the results for the implementation into guides, rules and directives and application in daily work.

However, the BfS also identifies key developments and new research findings and thus clarifies

  • Related questions,
  • Needs for action, and
  • Needs for decision-making at the political level.

Thus, being departmental research, the BfS research goes beyond the classic research approach and comprises the transfer of research results into regulatory and administrative practice as decision support for politics and administration. These include:

  • Analysis of the current and future need for information in the political-administrative field,
  • Identification of the need for scientific knowledge and its concretisation in issues to be dealt with scientifically,
  • Specification of the scientific processing depth taking into account the objective of the departmental task,
  • Processing of scientific results for an optimal contribution to the management of departmental tasks,
  • Effective communication with and providing results to the respective addressees as well as players in the fields of policy, administration and implementation, the specialist world and the interested public.

Research at the BfS is professionally competent and interdisciplinary

Wissen weiter geben Wissen weiter geben

From open scientific questions, the BfS develops a medium-term research programming, taking into account socio-political and interdepartmental boundary conditions. The BfS performs in-house research and awards research projects to third parties. Both require a high degree of scientific power of judgment and expertise in order to enable

  • The science-based formulation of objective,
  • The appropriate choice of methods,
  • Target-oriented professional support, as well as
  • The examination and evaluation of results with regard to the resulting need for action.

Results from research projects are normally published in referenced technical journals and at national and international conferences. The results also serve to inform the general public in an independent and neutral manner. In communicating the results, the BfS also points out the limits of the present state of knowledge and existing uncertainties. In cases where no legal regulations exist but scientific results indicate that precautionary measures be reasonable, the BfS makes substantiated recommendations.

Arbeiten im Labor Arbeiten im BfS

The BfS

  • Ensures the long-term preservation of its professional and scientific competence,
  • Takes part in university teaching, and
  • Carries out training programmes and seminars.

Apart from a basic scientific understanding of the

  • Physical,
  • Chemical,
  • Biological,
  • Medical, and
  • Ecological

mechanisms and interrelations existing in the BfS fields of responsibility,

  • Sociological and social-scientific as well as
  • Economic and legal

Aspects are components of the interdisciplinary research at the BfS.

Research in the BfS serves the BfS protection mandate

grafische Darstellung von SAR-Werten am Kopf Forschung im BfS

Research at the BfS provides important fundamentals and preconditions to

  • Take into account the advancing state of the art of science and technology,
  • Take into account the need for protection of the general public,
  • Assess possible hazards to man and environment,
  • Minimise associated risks, and
  • Guarantee the best possible radiation protection in terms of precaution.

The quality of departmental research is measured in terms of

  • The scientific quality of results,
  • Their processing for implementation, and
  • The use of results.

It provides thus a scientifically substantiated and reliable basis for performing the conferred tasks in a responsible manner. Furthermore

  • Detailed knowledge of administrative actions and
  • Long-time experience as to the feasibility of implementing scientific findings into regulatory practice

are required. Only the combination of these competences ensures that the BfS departmental research meets the demands and corresponds to both the state of the art of science and technology and the needs encountered in practice.

State of 2018.11.06

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