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United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation

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United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation
Formation1955; 69 years ago (1955)
TypeScientific Committee
Legal statusActive
HeadquartersVienna, Austria
Jing Chen (Canada)[1]
Parent organization
United Nations
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The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) was set up by resolution of the United Nations General Assembly in 1955. Twenty-one states are designated to provide scientists to serve as members of the committee which holds formal meetings (sessions) annually and submits a report to the General Assembly. The organisation has no power to set radiation standards nor to make recommendations in regard to nuclear testing. It was established solely to "define precisely the present exposure of the population of the world to ionizing radiation". A small secretariat, located in Vienna and functionally linked to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), organizes the annual sessions and manages the preparation of documents for the committee's scrutiny.


International policy relationships in radiological protection

UNSCEAR issues major public reports on Sources and Effects of Ionizing Radiation from time to time. As of 2017, there have been 28 major publications from 1958 to 2017. The reports are all available from the UNSCEAR website. These works are very highly regarded as sources of authoritative information and are used throughout the world as a scientific basis for evaluation of radiation risk. The publications review studies undertaken separately from a range of sources. Reports from UN member states and other international organisations on data from survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Chernobyl disaster, accidental, occupational, and medical exposure to ionizing radiation.


Signing an agreement with the IAEA in 2022

Originally, in 1955, India and the Soviet Union wanted to add several neutral and communist states, such as mainland China. Eventually a compromise with the US was made and Argentina, Belgium, Egypt and Mexico were permitted to join. The organisation was charged with collecting all available data on the effects of "ionising radiation upon man and his environment". (James J. Wadsworth - American representative to the General Assembly).

The committee was originally based in the Secretariat Building in New York City, but moved to the United Nations Office at Vienna in 1974.

The Secretaries of the Committee have been:

  • Dr. Ray K. Appleyard (UK) (1956–1961)
  • Dr. Francesco Sella (Italy) (1961–1974)
  • Dr. Dan Jacobo Beninson (Argentina) (1974–1979)
  • Dr. Giovanni Silini (Italy) (1980–1988)
  • Dr. Burton Bennett (1988 acting; 1991–2000)
  • Dr. Norman Gentner (2001–2004; 2005 acting)
  • Dr. Malcolm Crick (2005–2018)
  • Dr. Ferid Shannoun (2018–2019 acting)
  • Ms. Borislava Batandjieva-Metcalf (Bulgaria) (2019–)[2]

Contents of UNSCEAR 2008 report[edit]

UNSCEAR has published 20 major reports. The latest is the 2010 Summary Report (14 pages), while the last full report was the 2008 report Vol. I and Vol. II with scientific annexes (A to E).

"UNSCEAR 2008 REPORT Vol.I"[3] main report and 2 scientific annexes

Includes short overviews of the materials and conclusions contained in the scientific annexes
  • Scientific Annex
  • Annex A: "Medical radiation exposures" (202 pages)
  • Annex B: "Exposures of the public and workers from various sources of radiation" (245 pages)
Tables (downloadable) "Public.xls" (A1 to A14), "Worker.xls" (A15 to A31)

"UNSCEAR 2008 REPORT Vol.II" 3 scientific annexes

  • Annex C: "Radiation exposures in accidents" (49 pages)
  • Annex D:"Health effects due to radiation from the Chernobyl accident" (179 pages)
  • Annex E: "Effects of ionizing radiation on non-human biota" (97 pages)

Type of radiation exposure[edit]

The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) itemized type of exposures and reported exposure rate of each segment.

Type of radiation exposures
Public exposure
Natural Sources Normal occurrences Cosmic radiation
Terrestrial radiation
Enhanced sources Metal mining and smelting
Phosphate industry
Coal mining and power production from coal
Oil and gas drilling
Rare earth and titanium dioxide industries
Zirconium and ceramics industries
Application of radium and thorium
Other exposure situations
Man-made sources Peaceful purposes Nuclear power production
Transport of nuclear and radioactive material
Application other than nuclear power
Military purposes Nuclear tests
Residues in the environment. Nuclear fallout
Historical situations
Exposure from accidents
Occupational radiation exposure
Natural Sources Cosmic ray exposures of aircrew and space crew
Exposures in extractive and processing industries
Gas and oil extraction industries
Radon exposure in workplaces other than mines
Man-made sources Peaceful purposes Nuclear power industries
Medical uses of radiation
Industrial uses of radiation
Miscellaneous uses
Military purposes Other exposed workers
Source UNSCEAR 2008 Annex B retrieved 2011-7-4

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "UNSCEAR bureau".
  2. ^ "UNSCEAR secretariat". www.unscear.org. Retrieved 6 September 2022.
  3. ^ UNSCEAR-2008 retrieved 4 July 2011

External links[edit]