Regulating the use of radiation sources

Ionising radiation has a wide range of applications in modern society including the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, security scanning at our airports and ports and ensuring that our bridges and other infrastructure are free from critical defects.  While these applications deliver enormous benefits to society, ionising radiation is intrinsically dangerous and so it is vital that its use be strictly regulated.

The Radiological Protection Act, 1991 together with the Ionising Radiation Regulations, 2019 set out the system of regulation covering the use of ionising radiation in Ireland and designate the EPA as the national regulatory body.  The EPA responsibilities cover the protection of workers and members of the public from the harmful effects of ionising radiation.  Responsibility for protection of patients during the use of ionising radiation rests with the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).

The system of regulation of the use of ionising radiation comprises 4 key elements:

  • Authorisation – before commencing a practice involving the use of ionising radiation undertakings must obtain prior-authorisation from the EPA;
  • Inspection – Inspection activities are carried out by the EPA to monitor compliance with the relevant regulations and license conditions;
  • Enforcement – actions taken by EPA including directions and prosecutions where practices are found not to be in compliance;
  • Guidance – the provision of guidance and supports to help the regulated community to be compliant is seen as a key part of the EPA’s role.