The Council on Ionizing Radiation Measurements and Standards (CIRMS) is an independent, non-profit council that draws together experts involved in all aspects of ionizing radiation to discuss, review and assess developments and needs in this field.
Drawing upon expertise from government and national laboratories, agencies and departments, from the academic community and from industry, back in 2011 CIRMS issued its fifth triennial report on “Needs in Ionizing Radiation Measurements and Standards.” It was the last one published, and since then it has been constantly updated by the Council and its members.
Needs in Ionizing Radiation Measurements and Standards are delineated in Measurement Program Descriptions (MPDs) that indicate the objective, state background information, define needed action items and resource requirements in terms of personnel and facilities.
Each of the three subcommittees of the CIRMS Science and Technology Committee has prepared a series of MPDs pertinent to their area of expertise. These were arrived at through dialog at CIRMS numerousmeetings and workshops.
CIRMS Medical Subcommittee, which deals with diagnostic and therapeutic uses of ionizing radiation, has found need in four specific areas:
- Radioactivity Standards and Techniques for Nuclear Medicine
- Dose Mapping Systems for 3D Conformal Radiation Therapy and Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy
- Absorbed Dose Standards for Brachytherapy Sources
- Liquid Based and Micro-Brachytherapy Sources
These reflect current developments in medicine that have come to rely more heavily on the use of radioactive species for diagnostic purposes and treatment. Brachytherapy, for example, is becoming more widely used as an option to treat prostate cancer. Prior to any such internal or to external treatment of cancer, patient dose mapping is needed so that the physician can best treat the targeted or intended area.
CIRMS Radiation Protection and Homeland Security subcommittee has been formed by merging the existing Public and Environmental Radiation Protection Subcommittee (PERP), which dealt with radioactivity found in the environment and its possible public health effects, and Occupational Radiation Protection Subcommittee (ORP), which dealt with worker protection in radioactive environments. The Homeland Security subcommittee interests are combined with those in Radiation Protection, so this subcommittee recently was added to Radiation Protection one.
Nine Measurement Program Descriptions are defined in these areas:
- Trace ability to NIST for Reference, Monitoring and Service Laboratories
- Sorption of Radioactive Elements in Contaminated Soils and Sediments and Urban Structural and Other Materials
- Atom-Counting Measurement Techniques for Environmental and Radio bioassay Monitoring
- Inter comparison Transfer Standards for Neutron Source Calibrations
- Improvements for In–vivo and In-vitro Radio bioassay Metrology
- Improved Radiation Measurement Infrastructure for Occupational Radiation Protection
- Extension of Calibration Accreditation Criteria to Low Dose Radiations
- Implementation of Support for Personnel Dosimetry Proficiency Testing per ANSI N13.11
- Emergency Radiological Response
These reflect continuing needs to improve upon ways to measure radioactivity, especially in soils, structures and other materials that have been contaminated by hosting activities related to nuclear weapons development. Accurate measurements that will be traceable to national reference standards must be sustained and an understanding of how such radioactivity decays over time is a continuing area of inquiry.
Issues of calibration, proficiency testing and the maintenance of a network to monitor dose exposure in occupational settings are covered. The need for a national network capable of responding in the event of terrorist activities involving radiological materials is also addressed.
The CIRMS Industrial Applications and Materials Effects subcommittee (IAME) covers a diverse area generally not related directly to human radiation exposure. In this context, IAME has found need for measurement programs in five areas:
- Radiation Hardness Testing and Mixed-Field Radiation Effects
- Neutron Dosimetry for Reactor Pressure Vessel Surveillance
- Medical Device Sterilization
- Food Irradiation
- Low-Voltage Electron Beam Dosimetry
Terrestrial measurements of the effects (hardening) of types of radiation found in space on electronic materials are essential to satellite operations and communications systems. As nuclear power plants age, radiation effects on their pressure vessels must continue to be monitored. The growing use of irradiation to sterilize medical devices and the emergence of food irradiation demand heightened attention to dosimetry measurements and their trace ability to national reference sources.
In an era of constrained government resources, the above point to areas warranting program attention as determined by a consensus of experts from industry, academia and government laboratories and agencies. Adequate resources should be allocated so that the objectives outlined in each area can be accomplished.
CIRMS hopes that this report will be of value in the identification and prioritization of future efforts in area of ionizing radiation measurements and standards. The 5th edition of "Needs in Ionizing Radiation Measurements and Standards" is available here, with the current updates made over the years.
CIRMS holds an annual meeting each Spring to give its members the opportunity to hear thorough topical presentations but more importantly, engage in dialogs that other professional meetings are unable to provide. Nearly half of the annual meeting is devoted to working group sessions where the informal environment permits the open exchange of ideas.
Another important aspect of CIRMS revolves around developing young, new researchers. Each year, CIRMS grants several awards to students to cover the cost to attend the annual meeting and present their research during a plenary session.
For those interested in a more complete history of CIRMS, it can be found here.