National Physical Laboratory

Radioactive header image Sectors

NPL's Radioactivity team combines wide-ranging expertise with state-of-the-art equipment and laboratory facilities to support vital radioactivity measurements for UK industry.

In recent years NPL has identified key sectors among the radioactivity user community and has set up 'measurement infrastructure' projects to provide a suite of standards and services to support users in each area.

Environmental Monitoring
The measurement of radioactivity in the environment is a regulatory requirement around sites where significant amounts of radioactive material are used or stored. NPL provides the standards, reference materials and laboratory proficiency testing exercises needed to support measurements of environmental samples by analysis laboratories.

Nuclear Decommissioning
The UK has a historical legacy of radioactive materials on its nuclear sites; the government has established the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to clear the sites, a process which will take several decades. NPL provides the measurement infrastructure needed to support the nuclear industry in its efforts to decommission nuclear sites safely.

Nuclear Medicine
In the UK, around half a million patients a year undergo diagnostic procedures involving the use of radionuclides. In addition, some 30000 patients receive high activities of radionuclides for treating various conditions and for pain palliation. NPL  supports regulations that ensures that activities of radionuclides administered to patients are as low as practicable, compatible with the medical procedure.

Radiation Protection
Ionising radiation has many applications, ranging from nuclear medicine to the nuclear power industry. NPL supports radiation protection of workers and the general public through the provision of appropriate standards. Examples are standards for  radioactivity in air and a new standard under development for gases used in Positron Emission Tomography (PET).

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