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Guaranteeing radiation protection

How do we protect people and the environment from ionising radiation?

Ionising radiation is found literally everywhere: in in water, air and soil. Even humans are radioactive. You cannot see, smell, taste or feel radiation – but you can observe it with sophisticated measuring equipment. And SCK CEN has such equipment.

With that equipment and our world-renowned expertise, we measure radiation and can predict its effects – on Earth and in space. On people and the environment. The better we can identify the amount and type of radiation, the better we can protect ourselves against it.


Detecting the invisible

Low-level radioactivity measurements

Everything in our daily environment contains radioactive particles. SCK CEN monitors radiation levels on behalf of FANC by taking and analysing samples of, for example, drinking water, food and pasture grasses. Low radiation doses must also be measured. This is what we call low radioactivity measurements – a specialisation of SCK CEN in the context of radiological protection.

🔗 Learn more about this expertise.


Certain work processes, including production of electricity through nuclear energy, nuclear medicine, medical imaging and radiotherapy, make use of ionising radiation or radioactivity. Increased exposure allows for a higher risk of health damage. SCK CEN measures, analyses and controls the doses that both workers and the environment receive.

🔗 Learn more about our services and research projects.

SCK CEN - Crisisbeheersing (2019)

Crisis management: being available when needed

In addition to radiological protection, SCK CEN is also tasked with assisting the government in emergency planning. The Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC) keeps a sharp eye on radioactivity in Belgium. With over 250 monitoring stations, they measure radioactivity in the air and the river water 24/7. Is a limit exceeded? Then an alarm is triggered. At that point, it is up to SCK CEN to provide expert advice.

Drones for better measurements

The nuclear sector can now also rely on drones to carry out radiation measurements. The drones will primarily be used preventively to survey areas for possible radioactive contamination. We also prepare restoration interventions. Thanks to the detector on the drone, measurements can be carried out in crisis situations without sending people into the potentially dangerous zone, providing maximum protection for employees.

Tracing radioactivity

Behind our predictions and measurements is a powerful piece of IT. For example, SCK CEN has created a code that makes the traceability of radioactivity even more accurate. This allows us to predict exact source locations of, for example, the fires around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and what path the smoke plumes would take.

🔗 Learn more about our activities in crisis management.

SCK CEN - Ruimte (2019)

Space research: the world beyond the atmosphere

We do not go into space every day, but when in space, astronauts are exposed to extreme conditions: cosmic radiation, prolonged weightlessness, and social isolation. We gather crucial insight into those factors to protect our spacefarers. In this way, our space research brings Mars just that little bit closer.

🔗 How can astronauts in space produce their own food? Or recycle oxygen and water? Read more about our space research.

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