The Ionising Radiation Division, comprising the Dosimetry Laboratory, based in Pretoria, and the Radioactivity Laboratory, which is based in Cape Town, provides traceability and specialised measurement services for users of radiation products and techniques in the country and the region.
The Division ensures that the national measurements standards and units maintained by the divisions are internationally comparable and scientifically valid. This, in turn, allows for correct diagnoses and medical doses to be administered to patients, facilitates quality control in the manufacture of radioactivity solutions and ensures the safety of the public.
The main priorities of the Dosimetry Laboratory are the development and upgrading of standards in radiation therapy, diagnostic radiology, brachytherapy and radiation protection. The application of accurate doses, determined for each patient through careful evaluation and calculations, is of utmost importance for the effectiveness of the application of radiation. The Laboratory will organise regional comparisons to harmonise dosimetry measurements in Africa, to assist nuclear medicine departments and will, with the IAEA as a partner, coordinate a proficiency testing scheme which focuses on linear accelerators in radiation therapy centres.
The Dosimetry Laboratory is a member of the IAEA/WHO Network of Secondary Standards Dosimetry Laboratories (SSDL Network) which was established in 1976 as a joint project between the IAEA and the World Health Organization (WHO). It is also a designated regional training centre for English speaking countries under the African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA)/IAEA. The area hosts the chairmanship of the AFRIMETS technical working group for ionising radiation (TCIR).
The Radioactivity Standards Laboratory is of critical importance to the South African community that uses radioactivity. A large number of radionuclides are in use today, with many different modes of decay. Since there is no general method of standardisation, the NMISA laboratory personnel have the expertise, skills and experience to accurately measure any radionuclide. This experience is gained through participation in international comparisons.