For information only - not an official document

6 November 2020

UN Scientific Committee Concludes its 67th Session

VIENNA, 6 November (United Nations Information Service) - The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) deliberated and endorsed three scientific reports and its Future Programme of Work (2020-2024) at its 67th session, which concluded earlier today. Due to the impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic, the session took place online from 2-6 November 2020.

The scientific reports covered the following topics:

(i)               Levels and effects of radiation exposure due to the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station: implications of information published since the 2013 UNSCEAR Report: the Committee has been following the latest research and scientific data on the issue and published White Papers on the same in 2015/ 2016/ 2017. At its 65th session (2018), the Committee decided to update the 2013 Report to reflect the latest cumulative scientific findings and developments. The launch of the updated report is expected to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the accident in 2021.

(ii)              An evaluation of medical exposure to ionizing radiation: Medical exposure remains by far the largest source of radiation exposure of the population, other than natural radiation. The report examines the most recent data on this exposure in detail and identifies emerging issues and trends in exposure to patients. The topic of medical exposure has been examined by the Scientific Committee in several reports, which are considered a principal and authoritative source worldwide. This evaluation has been carried out in cooperation with the World Health Organization to enhance collection and analyses of medical exposure data.

(iii)        Biological mechanisms relevant for the inference of cancer risks from low-dose and low dose rate radiation: this report comprehensively evaluates and synthesizes the current knowledge on biological mechanisms of radiation action, particularly at low exposure levels, considered to contribute to or modulate carcinogenesis following radiation exposure. The report is a comprehensive study and expands on the 2012 UNSCEAR White Paper.

The Scientific Committee elected Anssi Auvinen (Finland) as Rapporteur for its 67th session.

Over 210 participants from 27 State Members of the Committee, four observer countries and eleven international observer organizations also advanced their ongoing work on second primary cancer after radiotherapy; epidemiological studies of radiation and cancer; and, evaluation of public exposure to ionizing radiation from natural and man-made sources.

"Given the extraordinary circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic, I would like to thank our participants and the UNSCEAR secretariat for continuing to uphold its high standards of scientific excellence, and professional commitment," said Gillian Hirth, Chair, UNSCEAR. The UNSCEAR Secretary, Borislava Batandjieva-Metcalf, also acknowledged the dedicated work of experts, and despite the challenges, the launch of three new evaluations and progress in a number of outreach activities (including collaboration with international organizations) since the 66 th session.

The reports will now follow procedures for final approvals before being processed for publication, targeted for 2021. Their main findings will be presented to the UN General Assembly during its 76 th session in 2021.

The Scientific Committee envisages holding its 68th session from 21-25 June 2021 in Vienna, Austria. That session will also mark the sixty-fifth anniversary of the Committee's establishment by the General Assembly in 1955.


The mandate of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), established in 1955, is to undertake broad reviews of the sources of ionizing radiation and the effects on human health and the environment. Its assessments provide a scientific foundation for United Nations agencies and governments to formulate standards and programmes for protection against ionizing radiation. It does not deal with or assess nuclear safety or emergency planning issues. The secretariat in Vienna, which is functionally linked to UN Environment, organizes the annual sessions and manages the preparation of documents for the Committee's scrutiny.

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For information contact:

UNSCEAR secretariat
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060 4122
Email: unscear[at]