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Better protection against harmful radiation

Radon – a hardly noticed risk Radon – a hardly noticed risk

From now on, consumers may rely on a comprehensive protection against harmful radiation in all aspects of life. Passed on October 19, 2018, by the German Bundesrat, the Radiation Protection Ordinance contains regulations for the protection against radon at workplaces and in dwellings, new provisions for radiation applications in medicine and cosmetics, but also on the handling of materials from old nuclear power plants.

The president of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS), Inge Paulini, emphasised in particular the new regulations on radon, given that radon is among the greatest risks of developing lung cancer, apart from smoking. "We welcome that the boundary conditions for the identification of areas with enhanced radon occurrence are now clear. They are an important component for ensuring appropriate protection of the population in their living environment, at workplaces or in schools and kindergartens. Together with the federal states concerned, we need to be well prepared to make the population more aware of the radon topic and to sensitise them further. Countermeasures do not necessarily have to be complex and expensive – a good ventilation concept may already be sufficient to reduce the risk."

Also in the medical and cosmetic field, scientific findings of the BfS are implemented into important modifications: The application of optical radiation for cosmetic purposes is regulated for the first time and commits providers to both ensure the smooth operation of their devices and comprehensively inform their customers in the future.

Besides, the new Radiation Protection Ordinance contains regulations for a better protection of patients, among others in licensing procedures in medical research. Furthermore, specific reporting criteria for special occurrences in various radiation applications in diagnostics and therapy are established. "Patients should rely on the fact that the application they undergo is necessary from the medical point of view and that it is carried out properly,"

X-ray diagnostics – benefits and risks X-ray diagnostics – benefits and risksX-ray diagnostics – benefits and risks

However, Paulini expressed her regrets about the federal states' decision to abolish the X-ray passport. This is an important instrument to avoid unnecessary repeat examinations "Even without the legal requirement for an X-ray passport we recommend that patients ask their GP about the necessity of the radiation exposure associated with a planned therapy," Paulini said.

The Federal Office for Radiation Protection plays an important role in the implementation of the new regulations. For example, the BfS supports the federal states in the identification of the new radon precaution areas. In the medical field, too, the BfS gets new tasks: The authority examines, for example, whether the possible health effects outweigh the social benefit in a product or method using radiation. The Ordinance puts into more concrete terms the provisions of the Radiation Protection Act which was already passed last year. Both sets of rules become effective on December 31, 2018.

Press release of the Federal Environment Ministry

State of 2018.10.19

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