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CESAM participates in a project funded with 18 million Euros

CESAM participates in a project funded with 18 million Euros

CESAM and the University of Aveiro participate in the European project RadoNorm - Managing Risks from Radon and NORM, funded by Euratom - European Atomic Energy Community and coordinated by BfS, the German Official Office for Radiological Protection. With a funding of 18 million Euros, RadoNorm will start on the 1st September and has the participation of 56 partners from 19 member states of the European Union and the United Kingdom. It integrates scientifically renowned research groups from different multidisciplinary areas belonging to national Universities, Research Centers and Radiological Protection Institutions. In a joint effort, the teams from the different participating institutions will contribute to the clarification of the possible effects arising from exposure to ionising radiation emitted by radon and naturally occurring radioactive material or NORM, thus contributing to a better management of risks to human health and the environment.

Besides the University of Aveiro, the University of Porto and the Association of the Instituto Superior Técnico for Research and Development are participating in this project. Thus, the above-mentioned National Institutions are responsible for inventorying the sites of exposure to ionizing radiation emitted by radon and other radionuclides, in Portugal. The researchers Joana Lourenço and Sónia Mendo from the Department of Biology & CESAM participate in this consortium. They have been working for more than ten years in evaluating and characterizing the molecular effects of exposure to residues from uranium mines, contaminated with metals and NORM. This research has already resulted in several research papers published in high impact factor WoS journals.

Portugal has more than 60 deactivated uranium mines, the largest of which have already been remediated. In these mining areas the evaluation of the effects of exposure to ionising radiation occurs simultaneously with exposure to metals, some of which are highly toxic or carcinogenic. Many of these metals co-occur with radionuclides in the uranium decay chain, mainly alpha emitters such as radon. The uranium extraction activity, with great economic and strategic importance in Portugal especially during the cold war, led to environmental contamination and chronic exposure of human populations living nearby. Geological formations dominated by granites, in many regions of the country, also contribute to the exposure to radon. The results of the research carried out and which has been done in collaboration with Prof. Ruth Pereira of the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Porto & GreenUPorto, led to the integration of the University of Aveiro in the European Radioecology Alliance in 2017.

The scientific outputs and technological developments resulting from this project will contribute to a better characterization of exposure (through the improvement of dosimetry techniques, especially for low dose exposures) and to the risk assessment and mitigation processes. RadoNorm will thus support the European Commission in the implementation of Directive 2013/59/Euratom by defining safety standards for exposure to ionizing radiation.

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