A first-of-its-kind biological dosimetry service in Costa Rica — and the only one of its kind in Central America — is now ready to assess people who may have been unexpectedly exposed to radiation. Biological dosimetry is the science of measuring and verifying the exact dose of radiation exposure to a person. This new service is part of the country’s efforts to strengthen emergency response in the case of accidents or other unplanned radiation exposures.
In Costa Rica, radiation sources are widely used in health care as part of radiation medicine, and in industry for quality control of products and processes. Over the last 50 years, more than 40 radiological accidents have been reported in Latin America. Before 2017, there were no laboratories in Costa Rica or the region that could provide timely and adequate biodosimetric assessments.
Experts set up the new service in 2017 at a laboratory in INISA with support from the IAEA, in part through an IAEA technical cooperation project, in collaboration with national authorities, including the University of Costa Rica. Several of the technical aspects were also developed in cooperation with the Latin American Biological Dosimetry Network (LBDNet), which was founded in 2007 to provide early biological dosimetry assistance in case of radiation emergencies in Latin America.
In addition to material support, the IAEA, through its technical cooperation programme, also offered fellowships, training courses and scientific visits to improve the laboratory team’s skills.