Australia’s Chief Metrologist Bruce Warrington visited the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) on Tuesday 9 May to assess and re-authorise our primary standards for ionising radiation dosimetry.  

ARPANSA’s Chief Medical Radiation Scientist Dr Ivan Williams says the dosimetry of ionising radiation is maintained by the agency so that the treatment and detection of diseases such as cancer is safe for Australian and New Zealand patients.  

Dr Williams explained that a great deal of effort, combining computer modelling and measurement, is performed to ensure our standard is accurate.  

He says the final proof of accuracy is the decadal comparison to primary standards of other countries through The International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Paris.  

‘Our primary standards’ consistency is excellent,’ Dr Williams said.  

‘The national primary standard is used to calibrate equipment used by hospitals to ensure that their own radiation therapy machines are delivering the correct dose.  

‘This reduces the chance of radiotherapy accidents in Australia, whereby underdosing or overdosing could cause significant harm to patients.  

‘Higher precision treatment also means the doctor’s prescription is more closely followed.’ 

Each year, around 70,000 Australians will be treated with radiotherapy for cancer. ARPANSA seeks to ensure that all use of radiation in medical procedures is justified and safe. 

The standards are maintained under an authorisation from the National Measurement Institute under the National Measurement Act 1960. 

The National Measurement Institute Standards Authorisation Committee meets each year to authorise the standards for radiation dose and radioactivity which are maintained at ARPANSA and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).  

You can learn more about the primary standard here

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