Radiation Protection Bureau

The Radiation Protection Bureau is responsible for delivering Health Canada’s environmental and occupational radiation protection program.

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What we do

Our program informs Canadians, other government departments and agencies, and stakeholders (provinces/territories, health professionals and associations, industry, etc.) about the health risks linked with ionizing radiation, and ways to manage those risks.

Our Bureau is composed of four Divisions that contribute to radiation protection and nuclear security:

Key activities of the program are monitoring environmental and occupational radiation, working with international partners, managing federal nuclear emergency preparedness and response (such as training and maintaining plans and procedures for a coordinated federal response), and conducting radiation-related research. In addition, the Bureau educates Canadians and stakeholders on the health risks of radon and provides advice on ways Canadians can reduce their potential exposure.

The Radiation Protection Bureau’s mandate is authorized by the following legislation:

Radiation Surveillance Division

The Radiation Surveillance Division (RSD) monitors, detects, and assesses radiation in the environment across Canada and internationally using specialized expertise, laboratories and three specialised networks of radiation monitoring stations at over 100 locations across Canada. This provides the Government of Canada with a basis for risk assessment and management as well as nuclear event identification during routine and emergency situations.

In cooperation with Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), the RSD is able to trace airborne radiological contamination back to its point of origin, which can be thousands of kilometers away from the point of detection.

The Canadian Radiological Monitoring Network (CRMN) has been operating since 1959, and is currently composed of 28-stations that monitor the atmosphere and precipitation. The CRMN establishes long-term trends in naturally occurring environmental radioactivity, nuclear weapons fallout, as well as radioactivity generated by other human activities including nuclear power generation and medical isotope production.  The CRMN also monitors radioactivity in food. Full datasets for the Canadian Radiological Monitoring Network are available on the Open Government Portal.

The Fixed Point Surveillance (FPS) Network is composed of 80 radiation detection stations located in population centres and other strategic locations across Canada. This network is remotely monitored, is an early warning system for radioactivity in Canadian airspace, and monitors radioactivity in the air and on the ground in real-time. Data from the FPS network is available online, and in real time on the European Radiological Data Exchange Platform (EURDEP). 

Canada is a signatory to the United Nations Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). RSD contributes directly to this Treaty by meeting Canada’s obligations to monitor atmospheric radioactivity under the Treaty’s verification system and contributes its expertise and atmospheric radioactivity monitoring data to the CTBT International Monitoring System. The Canadian contribution to the CTBT International Monitoring System is composed of ultra-sensitive air-sampling equipment at five Canadian locations. This network monitors radioactivity in the atmosphere in the form of particulate matter and noble gases, and it is the centrepiece of Canada’s international commitment to nuclear weapons non-proliferation.

RSD provides its capabilities and knowledge under the Federal Nuclear Emergency Plan (FNEP) to other government departments, agencies, and stakeholders during emergency situations

Radiation Health Assessment Division

The Radiation Health Assessment Division (RHAD) contributes assessments and guidance to help Canadians reduce and manage risks from ionizing radiation exposure. RHAD applies radiation protection expertise in areas including radon, radioactivity in drinking water, environmental assessment, naturally occurring radioactive materials, trends in occupational exposure, and nuclear emergencies. RHAD also supports Canada’s nuclear regulatory framework by operating the National Dose Registry and the National Calibration Reference Centre for Bioassay and In-vivo Monitoring, as well as through joint scientific and research activities, and contributes to international radiation protection science, policy and practice.

National Radon Program

The National Radon Program’s objective is to help reduce Canadians exposure to radon, the number-one cause of lung cancer for non-smokers. Since 2008, the National Radon Program has made significant strides in educating the public and key stakeholders about radon. The National Radon Program also conducts research to better understand radon in Canada, and develops infrastructure and resources so Canadians can take action, test and mitigate, to reduce indoor radon.

Contact National Radon Program

National Dose Registry

The National Dose Registry (NDR) runs Canada’s national database for occupational exposure to ionizing radiation. The NDR collects and maintains dose information about Canadian workers to ensure that life-long records are available to individuals, and to support provincial and federal regulatory requirements for managing exposure. The NDR issues summary reports on occupational exposure in Canada and participates in epidemiological studies, solely or in collaboration with other agencies, to generate information on the assessment and management of risk from occupational exposure.

Contact National Dose Registry

National Calibration Reference Centre for Bioassay and In-Vivo Monitoring

The National Calibration Reference Centre is an independent, third-party reference laboratory to help internal dosimetry programs ensure accurate measurements in occupationally-exposed workers and members of the public.

Contact National Calibration Reference Centre for Bioassay and In-Vivo Monitoring

Nuclear Emergency Preparedness and Response Division

The Nuclear Emergency Preparedness and Response Division (NEPRD) administers the Federal Nuclear Emergency Plan (FNEP). In this capacity, NEPRD coordinates federal preparedness and response capability for nuclear and radiological emergencies and works closely with provincial counterparts to facilitate national coordination.

NEPRD works with other parts of the Health Portfolio, various government departments and agencies, provincial and territorial governments, and international agencies to ensure that the Canadian government has effective plans, procedures, and capabilities in place to coordinate an effective response to a nuclear or radiological emergency.

NEPRD also offers a Medical Emergency Treatment for Exposures to Radiation (METER) training course, aimed at preparing the medical community to respond, work safely and manage casualties that may result from a nuclear radiological event. This course is currently the only training of its kind offered nationally in Canada.

Contact Nuclear Emergency Preparedness Response Division

National Dosimetry Services

The National Dosimetry Services (NDS) provides occupational radiation dose monitoring and reporting for Canadian workers who may be exposed to ionizing radiation in their working environment. Various federal and provincial regulations require the use of dosimeters by these workers. 

NDS is also responsible for providing dosimetry service to emergency workers in the event of a nuclear or radiological emergency in Canada or abroad. This responsibility is mandated under the Federal Nuclear Emergency Plan.

NDS is licenced and regulated by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), and operates under a cost-recovery framework. NDS reports exposure results to client organizations, and to the National Dose Registry.

Contact National Dosimetry Services

Federal Provincial Territorial Radiation Protection Committee

The Federal Provincial Territorial Radiation Protection Committee (FPTRPC) is an intergovernmental committee established to support federal, provincial and territorial radiation protection agencies in fulfilling their respective mandates. Health Canada co-chairs the FPTRPC with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and a member Province or Territory.

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