Radiological protection of volunteers in biomedical research
Volunteers acting in biomedical research makes a substantial contribution to medicine and human radiobiology. Some research studies are of direct value in the investigation of disease, and others provide information on the metabolism of pharmaceuticals and radionuclides that may be absorbed from contamination of the workplace or the environment. Not all of these studies take place in medical institutions, but ICRP includes the exposure of all these volunteers under the category of medical exposure.
The ethical and procedural aspects for volunteers in biomedical research have been addressed in ICRP Publication 62 Radiological Protection in Biomedical Research. The key aspects include the need to guarantee a free and informed choice by the volunteers, the adoption of dose constraints linked to the societal benefits of the studies, and the use of an ethics committee that can influence the design and conduct of the studies. Involvement of children and the mentally ill or defective in biomedical research is also addressed in *ICRP Publication 62 Radiological Protection in Biomedical Research. It is important that the ethics committee should have easy access to radiological protection advice.
In many countries, radiation exposure of pregnant females in biomedical research is not specifically prohibited. However, their involvement in such research is very rare and should be discouraged unless pregnancy is an integral part of the research. In order to protect the embryo/fetus, strict controls should be placed on the use of radiation in these cases.