Requirements for high-quality radiation protection

In the area of radiation protection, the FOPH carries out monitoring, evaluation and research. This provides us with the necessary basis for optimising the population's radiation exposure. Our research activities focus on medical applications.

Radiation exposure of patients

Our focus is on monitoring and evaluating radiation exposure of patients during diagnostics and treatment. We regularly review the frequency of X-ray diagnostics and nuclear medicine examinations and associated radiation exposure. The results of these enquiries, which we publish, form the foundation for our supervisory priorities. New technologies using radiation are an additional ongoing challenge.

At the same time, we are further refining the concept of diagnostic reference levels (DRLs) in medicine. DRLs are derived from the distribution of radiation exposures used in the various examination techniques. They are an important benchmark for users (e.g. radiologists, nuclear medicine specialists, surgeons, etc.) in optimising their examinations. We also want to develop a strategy which sets dosage levels in relation to required image quality.

Environmental radioactivity and radon

We monitor environmental radioactivity and publish an annual report with measurement results and population exposure. Our research projects in this area aim to optimise the analytical methods for different radionuclides in biological samples (e.g. vertebral bones, teeth, urine) or in environmental samples (e.g. soil, grasses, sediment). The goal is to reduce costs, lower detection limits and reduce analysis times.

The development of scientific mapping tools enables us to make a better assessment of radon risk and its distribution in Switzerland. This allows us to specifically define and optimise the radon protection measures necessary for compliance with the reference value. We also want to promote an understanding among construction experts of the interaction between energy-saving and radon protection measures, with the goal of enabling synergies when it comes to improving indoor air quality.

Non-ionising radiation (NIR) and sound

One of our strategic research goals is to record exposure through NIR and sound. To this end, we initiate and support corresponding research projects. Our research activities aim to improve the as-yet incomplete scientific foundations particularly regarding technologies within the scope of the new Federal Act on Protection against Hazards Arising from Non-Ionising Radiation and Sound (NISSG). Aspects focussed on include cosmetic treatments with NIR and sound products (such as flashguns for hair removal or ultrasound devices for cosmetic use) and dazzle caused by laser pointers.

We also want to investigate and assess the effects of UV radiation and nocturnal light exposure in the non-occupational sphere. By way of example, in the case of sound and hearing, we want to investigate whether high noise levels at low frequencies affect hearing and whether temporary hearing problems are connected to permanent hearing impairments.

International cooperation

As part of the European project CONCERT (part of Horizon 2020), we promote participation of Swiss research institutes, thereby strengthening research topics in radiation protection. As a national authority, we collaborate in strategic monitoring in order to prioritise corresponding research activities. CONCERT’s research results aim to achieve optimised handling of ionising radiation and efficient implementation of national radiation protection legislation.

Last modification 08.02.2019

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Federal Office of Public Health FOPH
Health Protection Directorate
Radiation Protection Division
Schwarzenburgstrasse 157
3003 Bern
Tel. +41 58 462 96 14

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