LABORATORY OF IONIZING RADIATION AND RADIOACTIVITY
Technical cooperation between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is one of the world's leading organizations in the field of nuclear energy. The IAEA was created on July 29, 1957, under the slogan "Atoms for Peaceful Purposes" within the framework of the United Nations. The organization, created with the support of 18 countries, currently unites 151 states. The main purpose of the organization is to protect the strategic interests of member countries and ensure their safety.
Relations between Azerbaijan and the International Agency have been established since 2001. By the Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev dated February 13, 2001 (No. 75-IIQ), the Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan “On the accession of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Charter of the International Atomic Energy Agency” was approved on October 23, 1956. Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev of December 9, 2003 (No. 547-IIQ) adopted the Law on Accession to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.
Our country is a member of the Board of Directors of the Agency since 2009 and is one of the active participants in the Annual General Conference of the Agency.As a result of cooperation, the IAEA in the future conducts inspections in Azerbaijan for the application of nuclear energy and the study of radiation. In such areas as radiation of atomic energy and its use in medicine, nuclear and radiation safety, environmental damage from waste, studying the archaeological and cultural heritage of nuclear energy, radiation metrology, agriculture, food safety, and other areas, the IAEA has many national and regional projects, training courses and seminars are held, and hundreds of Azerbaijani specialists are trained internationally.
The Country Program Framework 2015-2020 (CPF) has now been signed and this has been approved by the relevant agencies.
To date, the IAEA has implemented two national projects at the Institute of Metrology of Azerbaijan, and one national project is underway.
PROJECT 1. AZB / 6005
"Standard Dosimetry Laboratory" (SSDL)
Since the 60s of the 19th century, there has been a great demand for accurate dosimetric measurements in the field of radiation in the world. To this end, the calibration of a large number of specialized dosimetric measuring instruments gave a great impetus to the creation of the Standard Dosimetry Laboratories (SSDL). Reference dosimetry laboratories are laboratories equipped with second standards that correspond to the initial standards in the system of international units.
Every year in Azerbaijan there is a need to calibrate and verify a variety of instruments that operate in various dosimetric, radiometric and x-ray ranges. Such devices are widespread in petrochemistry, oil refining, research institutes, health care, and geological exploration. In radiation and nuclear safety, radiology, the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and the number of such devices are increasing, and their verification and calibration are not carried out for a long time. Recently, the introduction of highly active gamma-therapeutic devices in the Republic of Azerbaijan and the lack of calibration of a large number of X-ray and dosimetric instruments threaten people's health.
In accordance with Article 12.1 of the Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan “On Ensuring the Uniformity of Measurements”, measuring devices are subject to periodic inspection prior to the commissioning of devices intended for use in the field of state regulation, and after repair. Persons using measuring instruments in the field of state regulation submit them for verification in accordance with the frequency of control. It is prohibited to use measuring devices that have not passed a periodic check, and the results of measurements made with their help are considered invalid.
Until now, since there was no calibration laboratory for ionizing radiation measuring instruments in our country, these types of measuring instruments were sent for periodic checks either to neighboring countries or operated without periodic checks. From this point of view, it was necessary to create the Standard Dosimetry Laboratory (SSDL) in Azerbaijan, and the IAEA approved the establishment of the Standard Dosimetry Laboratory (SSDL) under the technical cooperation program (AZB / 6005) for 2009-2012. SSDL laboratories are considered national laboratories, and such laboratories must be located in metrology institutes, centers or services that operate on a legislative basis throughout the country. Currently, the Azerbaijan Institute of Metrology is a metrological body operating on a legislative basis, and the Standard Dosimetry Laboratory (SSDL) "is on the balance of the Institute and acts as a department for calibration and testing of ionizing radiation and radioactivity measuring instruments.
The construction of the laboratory building in the framework of the project is carried out by the Republic of Azerbaijan in accordance with the standards of the IAEA, the gamma class (Cs-137) and x-ray equipment, as well as their auxiliary equipment, are supplied by the IAEA. The laboratory equipment was installed by the specialists of Hopewell Design Inc. in 2013, and the specialists of the Belarusian Metrological Institute carried out metrological tests, and since 2014 the laboratory has been fully operational. Available in lab devices are manufactured in the USA, Austria, and Germany. The laboratory staff took part in training courses of the IAEA in Austria, Belarus, and Turkey and have international certificates.
In accordance with the requirements of the IAEA and the World Health Organization, all laboratories created with the support of the IAEA in the IAEA member countries join the “SSDL Network Charter”. The purpose of this is to publish relevant articles on the work of laboratories throughout the year, as well as to expand the inter-sectoral relations and areas of activity of the IAEA.
Currently, SSDL of Azerbaijan, that is, the Calibration and Verification Department for Measuring Ionizing Radiation and Radioactivity, is an official member of the IAEA / WHO SSDL Network Charter and is indicated in the 69th edition of the SSDL Newsletter in April 2019, p.25 (https://www.iaea.org/publications/13549/ssdl-newsletter-issue-no-69-april-2019).
In accordance with the Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan "On Radiation Safety of the Population", the laboratory received "Special Permits" from the State Agency for Nuclear and Radiological Activities of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Azerbaijan, "Permits to use of radioactive substances" and "Radiological and hygienic passport of enterprises and organizations using sources of ionizing radiation ".
PROJECT 2. AZB / 5001
"Laboratory of spectrometry (measuring radioactivity) alpha, beta and gamma"
All living organisms and plants on our planet are constantly exposed to radiation. The source of this radiation is primarily cosmic rays and radionuclides. Radioactive radiation has a fatal effect on biological organisms, and at the same time, life on Earth cannot exist without it. During radioactive radiation, radioactive substances enter the human body through food, water, skin, and even though natural radiation (background radiation).
The main source of radioactive elements entering the human body is food. The main part is the herbal products. Water is not a big deal in this regard. However, when the activity of radium in water is 10-12 cu / l and more, it plays a role in the formation of the radioactivity of the human body.
The main radioactive substances entering the human body through the natural environment are natural radionuclides contained in the soil and rocks. To date, about 70 natural radionuclides have been found in nature.
In general, the nuclei of radionuclides or radioisotopes existing in nature, in food, in plants and animals, in water, in soil, and so far are subject to radioactive decay, alpha, beta, and gamma, with time. At this moment it is important to know the activity of their radioactive fragmentation, that is, the number of atoms that decay at the same time.
Various methods of activity have been developed to determine the activity of radionuclides in many research institutes, universities, and international organizations, and the World Health Organization, the IAEA and other international organizations have applied appropriate sanitary and hygienic norms, standards, and guidelines. Therefore, modern laboratories have been created and developed in many countries of the world.
Considering the fact that the Republic of Azerbaijan is rich in oil and industrial resources, it was important to determine the activity of natural radionuclides of imported and exported food products existing in the country due to socio-economic development, infrastructure growth in the country.
To this end, the creation of the "Laboratory of Spectrometry (Radioactivity)" in Azerbaijan was considered appropriate, and the creation of the "Laboratory of Spectrometry (alpha, beta and gamma)" was included in the IAEA Action Plan for 2014-2015 in accordance with the Technical Cooperation Framework Program. The main goal of the laboratory is to calibrate and verify spectrometers existing in the country, as well as to conduct a radionuclide analysis of food and non-food products, building materials, water, land, and so on. Currently, this laboratory is on the balance of the Azerbaijan Institute of Metrology and acts as a department of calibration and control of measuring ionizing radiation and radioactivity.
The laboratory of spectrometry was created in three directions: alpha, beta, and gamma. Within the project, all alpha, beta and gamma base spectrometric equipment is supplied by the IAEA. Laboratory staff also took part in a long-term training course in Austria and Turkey at the expense of the IAEA and received international certificates.
The directions of the laboratory are as follows:
The Gamma-spectrometer of the Ge-detector available in the laboratory and its auxiliary equipment, produced by CANBERRA, were provided by the IAEA.
The following tests are possible:
- analysis of gamma-radionuclides K-40, Th-232, Ra-226, Cs-137 in building materials (cement, sand, ceramics, gravel, brick, stone, marble, tile, etc.) and identification of units of activity;
- analysis of gamma-radionuclides Cs-137/134 in food products (tea, coffee, wheat, barley, buckwheat, rice, millet, rye, bulgur, chocolate, sweets, flour and flour products, meat, and meat products);
- verification of other gamma spectrometers available in the country using standard samples whose activity is known.
Beta Spectrometry Laboratory:
The company's products, Hidex, available in the laboratory, are equipped with a TDSR-type scintillation beta-spectrometer and measuring vessels, which were supplied by the IAEA.
Currently, the following tests can be performed in the laboratory:
- cumulative alpha-beta analysis in waters;
- Definition of Rn-222
The laboratory is being developed to analyze other beta radionuclides.
Alpha Spectrometry Laboratory:
The alpha spectrometer and its auxiliary equipment, manufactured by CANBERRA, are supplied by the IAEA.
The main goal of the alpha-spectrometric laboratory is the determination of alpha-radionuclides U-234/238, Ra-226, Pu-238/239/240, Am-241, Th-232, Po-210 in food products and water. The laboratory is currently being developed for alpha analysis.
The laboratory uses metrological provision of other spectrometric equipment in the republic, environmental monitoring, radiometric monitoring of building materials, food, agriculture, treatment, and diagnostics.
International, regional, local norms and standards are used to carry out work in this area:
- ASTM-E181 “Standard Test Methods for Calibrating Detectors and Analyzing Radionuclides”
- GOST 30108-94 ERN. “Building materials and raw materials. Determination of the specific activity of natural radionuclides ". Interstate standard.
- GOST 32161-2013. "Food. Method for the determination of Cs137".
- Decree of April 30, 2010, on the approval of sanitary-epidemiological rules and regulations "Hygienic requirements for food safety" of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
- ASTM-D7283-13. "Standard test methods for determining the activity of alpha and beta radionuclides in drinking water using a liquid stenting spectrometer"
- EPA-905.0. "Determination of radioactive Sr-90 in drinking water"
- ISO 9698. “Determination of H-3 in drinking water”, etc.
PROJECT 3. AZB / 9009
"Radon Standard Calibration Laboratory"
The economic development achieved in the Republic of Azerbaijan over the past few years has helped to protect the environment, solve environmental problems and ensure the safety of human life in the priority directions of state policy. In recent years, large-scale government programs, national projects to improve the well-being of the population and improve the safety of life and health have been implemented in the country.
There are still some problems with the effects of radiation on human health. Radiation has always existed on earth, even when there were no people. Natural radiation accompanies us throughout our lives. However, relatively recently, it was discovered that the most dangerous natural source of radiation for human health is radioactive radon gas and its fragmentation products. Calculations carried out in different countries showed that almost half of the dose received from all sources of radiation is associated with exposure to radon. Radon and its other isotopes are formed as a result of radioactive decay. Radium is distributed throughout the earth and is found in various soils, in ponds, plants, and so on. The amount of radon is measured by the concentration of radium, soil properties, and so on, and is noticeably different in different parts of the globe, as well as in a country or region. In a number of countries (USA, Canada, European countries, Australia, etc.), studies were conducted to determine the level of radon (Thoron). Thousands of buildings are being investigated for the purpose of finding residential, public and workplaces that exceed the radon level in the air. The number of such buildings was 10% in the UK, 8.6% in Portugal and 10% in South Norway. For example, in Slovenia, in the framework of the National Radon Program, in 1990-1994, 730 children's homes and 890 schools were surveyed, of which 47 (6.4%) and 77 (8.7%), respectively, exceeded the radon concentration 400 Bk / m3.
There are various data on the degree of danger of radon to human health. For example, in the UK, between 1500 and 2500 cases of lung cancer are reported annually, and according to experts from the US Environmental Protection Agency, between 7,000 and 30,000 people die each year from lung cancer.
Many scientists believe that the effect of radon is the second cause of lung disease in humans (after smoking). According to experts, the effect of radon on the health of children and young people under the age of 20 is more dangerous.
Most of the dose of radon is taken indoors. According to experts, the concentration of radon in the indoor climate is about 5-8 times higher than in the open air. In most cases, radon penetrates the premises through cracks in the walls, but it is also possible that it is present in the material used in construction. The relative share of each of the above sources of "radon loads" in residential areas is as follows (average estimate): soil and building materials - 78%, external influence - 13%, water used in household conditions - 5%, natural gas - 4 %.
The Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation established the following reference levels of radon in the atmosphere of the premises: 100 Bq / m3 during the design of houses, 200 Bq / m3 for existing apartments. The radiation experts of the European Union recommend the following levels of control for the volumes of radionuclides: during the design of houses - 200 Bq / m3, for residential buildings - 400 Bq / m3.
The basic international safety standards of the IAEA GSR-3 recommend that member states achieve a control level of 300 Bq / m3 for the concentration of radionuclide activity in the air of living space.
In the Azerbaijan Republic, the proportional amount of radon in indoor air has been regulated only since 1993, “Radiation control in construction and building materials in the Azerbaijan Republic”, which does not meet modern standards and recommendations of international organizations.
In some countries, the experience of solving the problem of radon is already available. The special program "Radon" has existed in Sweden for 15 years, starting in 1985 in the USA, in Great Britain and some other European countries - starting in 1987. Similar studies are conducted in the CIS countries. Monitoring of radon in Ukraine has been conducted since 1989. Since 1994, the program "Radon" has been operating in Russia.
In Azerbaijan, this program was approved by the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of July 31, 2014 No. 236 (“On Approval of the State Program for Research and Radiation Threat in the Republic of Azerbaijan for 2014-2018”) and its implementation is carried out by the relevant legislative body (State Regulatory Agency nuclear and radiological activities of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Azerbaijan). The main objective of the program is to “prepare a public control system for the population exposed to ionizing radiation caused by radon and make proposals for reducing the risk of radon”. To implement the program, important tasks were set, and an appropriate Action Plan was developed. However, the implementation of work in the program requires significant funding.
In general, as mentioned above, it was necessary to create a metrology laboratory using standards to perform all these works, to eliminate the problem of radon in Azerbaijan and, in particular, to conduct radon measurements and achieve accurate results taking into account international norms and standards, and in accordance with legislation.
To this end, taking into account the technical cooperation of our institute with the IAEA, a project called "Radon Standard Calibration Laboratory" was proposed for the IAEA. The project to create a calibration and test laboratory for radon measurements (AZB / 9009) was included in the action plan for 2018-2019. At the same time, as mentioned above, since the implementation of the radon action plan requires substantial funding, the State Agency for Nuclear and Radiological Operations of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Azerbaijan proposed the IAEA to jointly implement this project. As a result, the IAEA approved the joint development of these projects with the State Agency for Regulation of Nuclear and Radiological Activities of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijan Institute of Metrology, and the project was extended until 2020. The project will be implemented by both parties, taking into account their obligations, but the main participant is the legal entity Azerbaijan Institute of Metrology. The Radon Standard Calibration Laboratory will work in the calibration and verification department of ionizing radiation and radioactivity measurement tools. The main objective of this laboratory is the calibration and verification of the main instruments used in the measurements of radon, active and passive detectors, monitors, and so on. The laboratory’s main standard calibration instrument is the corresponding Ra-226 isotope, which will be supplied by the IAEA. At the same time, the participation of specialists in international training will be provided at the expense of the IAEA.
The project is currently under implementation.