towards a “return to normal” after the health crisis due to COVID-19.

​​​​​MAIN FINDINGS

In 2021, 392,180 workers monitored in the context of professional activities exposing them to artificial or natural sources of ionizing radiation, i.e. a number up by 1.2% compared to 2020, and which makes it possible to find a workforce comparable to that of the years 2019 and 2018

This workforce is broken down into 370,756 workers in civil activities in the nuclear, industrial, research and medical fields or in facilities and activities of interest to defence, and 21,424 workers monitored for exposure to natural radioactivity. As in previous years, it is in the medical field (60%) and in the nuclear field (22%) that the workforce is mainly found.ideally.

A collective dose[1]​ and an average individual dose up compared to 2020 but which remain lower than those of previous years

In 2021, the collective dose for all the workers monitored was 82.7 man.Sv, ​​i.e. 14% more than in 2020 (72.4 man.Sv). This increase concerns all areas of activity, but is mainly linked to the increase in the volume of maintenance work in the nuclear industry, in connection with an improvement in the health situation due to COVID-19. This collective dose nevertheless remains lower than that of previous years (112.3 man.Sv in 2019 and 104.1 man.Sv in 2018).

In 2021, the average individual dose is 0.85 mSv, up 9% compared to 2020 (0.78 mSv) for reasons similar to the collective dose. However, it remains lower than in previous years (1.20 mSv in 2019 and 1.12 mSv in 2018). Nearly 94% of the workers monitored received an annual dose of less than 1 mSv[​2] . An overrun of the regulatory annual limit (20 mSv over 12 rolling months) was recorded for one worker (compared to seven in 2020). An overrun concerns the dose limit to the skin (greater than 500 mSv over twelve rolling months). One overrun concerns the dose limit to the lens (greater than 50 mSv for the calendar year 2021).

Average individual doses vary according to the fields of activity

The highest average individual dose is that of nuclear workers (1.33 mSv). Then come the workers exposed to natural radioactivity, more than 98% of whom are aircrew subjected to cosmic radiation, then those in the non-nuclear industry who received average individual doses of 1.12 mSv and 0 respectively, 97mSv. Finally, the medical and veterinary field and the research field have the lowest average individual annual doses, less than or equal to 0.28 mSv.

Limited internal exposure

In 2021, 232,140 analyzes were performed routinely to monitor internal exposure: three workers had an effective committed dose greater than or equal to 1 mSv.

FOCUS THEMES

As every year, focus on high-stakes themes completes the report.

HERCA

The ODCRR network (Occupational Dose Collection, Registration and Reporting) of HERCA (Association of European Radiation Protection Authorities) launched, in March 2021, a questionnaire relating in particular to current practices in terms of individual monitoring of worker exposure to ionizing radiation. From the responses received, it appears that exposure to radon in the workplace and exposure to the crystalline lens are among the topics of greatest interest.

Study Experts

This targeted study relates to the EXPOSURE of HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS TO IONIZING RADIATION (EXPERTS study) from the CHUs of AP-HP (Paris), Bordeaux and Clermont-Ferrand. The results show that the external exposure of healthcare workers decreases year by year over the period 2009-2019 and that exposure in nuclear medicine departments remains the highest. This study was also based on the results of a questionnaire sent to all the professionals included in the study, showing in particular that the means of protection (apron and/or screen) are used quite frequently.

Exposure of workers in the veterinary medicine sector

This focus follows the growing use of ionizing radiation in the veterinary medicine sector. The analysis of the exposure of the workers concerned over the years 2017 to 2021 shows that the average individual doses to the whole body are low and similar among veterinarians and specialized veterinary assistants. Regarding the dosimetry of the indicators, the numbers monitored and the doses recorded are low. However, the question is whether people actually expose to the limits because of their practice wearing dosimeters.

Exposure of workers in the fuel fabrication sector

The report presents the results of a specific study on the exposure of workers in the fuel fabrication sector, the nuclear sector with the highest individual dose. These results show that the average individual doses recorded over the past four years are fairly stable for workers in this sector. IRSN also notes that the trades most at risk are manufacturing operators and electricians or electronics engineers.

Exposure of the lens of the eye of nuclear workers

This targeted study follows decree no. 2018-437 of June 4, 2018, which introduced a lowering of the regulatory exposure limit for the lens over 12 months, to prevent the risk of radiation-induced cataracts. It appears from this study that:

1. For some workstations, the lens may be more exposed than the chest in workers in the nuclear field;

2. The profession of decontaminator appears to be the most exposed.

Exposure of workers in the dismantling sector

Following the 2020 report, the 2021 edition presents an update of the results of the monitoring of external exposure and internal exposure recorded for workers identified as having worked on one of the following three dismantling sites: basic nuclear installations (INB) n°165 and n°166 of the CEA in Fontenay-aux-Roses, the EDF nuclear power plant in Chooz A and the workshops attached to the UP2-400 plant on the ORANO site in La Hague. All of the workers at these three sites have external exposures which remain low overall. The preponderant risk in the dismantling activity, compared to other activities in the nuclear sector, is confirmed to be internal contamination, since in 2021, the results of the monitoring of internal exposure are positive for 8% of the workers having done the object of this monitoring (as in 2020), compared to 0.2% of all sectors in the nuclear field.

Exposure of nuclear contractor workers

Nuclear service providers carry out a very large part of the maintenance operations of nuclear facilities, as closely as possible to radioactivity. The targeted study concerning them has also been updated. The service activity, which represents, as in previous years, approximately one third of the workforce in the nuclear sector and more than two thirds of the collective dose in the latter, shows an average individual dose up compared to 2020 (1.8 mSv versus 1.6 mSv), and remains the highest in the field after that of the fuel fabrication sector. This increase is attributed to the performance of certain maintenance interventions in 2021 by this care, some of which had been postponed/shifted due to sanitary conditions due to COVID-19 in 2020. Regarding the monitoring of internal exposure, the results of the individual analyzes are positive for 0.5% of workers (0.7% in 2020) with associated doses still low.

[1] The collective dose of a group of people is the sum of the individual doses received by these people. For example, the collective dose of 1,000 people who each received 1 mSv is equal to 1,000 man.mSv or 1 man.Sv (H.Sv)

[2] The values ​​of 1 mSv and 5 mSv are reference values: 1 mSv is the regulatory dose limit for the public and 5 mSv is a quarter of the regulatory dose limit for workers, which constitute a reporting obligation threshold to the Nuclear Safety Authority

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