The laboratory for measuring the activity of the human body of the JRC in Ispra, a European point of excellence in the sector, has turned 55 today.
Since February 1966, without interruptions, thanks to the design and construction of the WBC (Whole Body Counter) laboratory by Prof. Alessandro Malvicini using specific selected material, the JRC Ispra has carried out internal contamination measurements of workers engaged in operations with radioactive material, to verify that people involved do not have abnormal contents of radioactive substances inside their body.
By means of inhalation, ingestion and skin absorption, everyone is a mobile environmental sampler and everyone, with his personal metabolic system, is a living biological sample at the same time. The Whole Body Counter Laboratory allows measuring the radioactive elements collected by our biological-sampling system in a particular place at a certain time and it is used for the routine checking of internal contamination of nuclear workers.
Since 55 years the laboratory has been operational with several radiation detectors for incorporating monitoring of gamma-emitting radionuclides by workers of the on-site nuclear facilities and in case of nuclear emergency, in conformity to European Radiation Protection Directives and Italian legislation. The WBC laboratory has carried out measurements on workers and normal public during the Chernobyl accident. In the last few years, the experts of the WBC have performed measurements on children from Belarus, guests of Italian families during the summer holidays.
In 2019, the detection and the electronic acquisition systems were renewed maintaining the same structure of the laboratory, but reducing of more than 30% the natural radiation background and improving consistently the detection resolution (Fig.1). The JRC researchers have also installed, the only WBC laboratory in the world, a cosmic radiation shielding system to highlight the presence of minimal quantities of radioactive substances inside the human body. It continues to be at the service of all the laboratories, universities and scientific and governmental institutions of the member countries of the European Union.
- 11 Februar 2021