Radiation monitoring is our work

At the workshop in Vienna, Austria, from left: Kristina Reimers, Candice Guavis, Lyla Lemari and Damiee Riklon.
At the workshop in Vienna, Austria, from left: Kristina Reimers, Candice Guavis, Lyla Lemari and Damiee Riklon.

Four Marshallese participated in a technical cooperation program last month in Vienna, Austria organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The training last month was part of an ongoing program to develop capacity in the Marshall Islands and other countries to monitor the environment for radioactivity.

RMI EPA staff Damiee Riklon and Kristina Reimers, and Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority’s Lyla Lemari and Candice Guavis attended the Regional Meeting on Establishing an Environmental Monitoring Program – Sampling Strategies and Dose Assessments in Vienna.

In addition to the IAEA, the workshop was supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The workshop involved participants in discussing procedures for establishing baseline information on exposure to the public to various sources of radiation and for assessing radiation doses. It covered topics such as exposure pathways for cosmic radiation, gamma radiation from radionuclides present in air, soil, food and drinking water; natural and man-made radionuclides; sampling strategies and dose assessment methodologies; and international standards.

Aside from lectures and group discussions, participants delivered brief country presentations. Reimers delivered the RMI report and pointed out that the Marshall Islands does not have national standards on sampling and dose assessments. But with current national projects supported by the IAEA, “Developing a National Radioactivity Monitoring Capacity” and “Improving Services in Radiology” in addition to 2018’s project on “Strengthening the National Infrastructure for Radiation Safety,” the RMI is working toward developing these standards.

Topics covered “left burning questions in our minds,” said the RMI participants. For example, they wondered how “safe” are we in terms of exposure in workplaces such as the radiology lab at Majuro and Ebeye hospitals, exposure of the national airline’s crew to cosmic radiation, exposure to radionuclides in drinking and ground water, and in food, and the level of radionuclides in commodities such as wood or building materials.

As RMI agencies make progress in studying and understanding nuclear science, they will be able to answer some of these questions and, in the future, be able to give advice pertaining to the safety and well being of Marshall Islands citizens and the environment.

Read more about this in the February 9, 2018 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.