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Radiation Protection

Radiological Emergency Response

RERT SealEPA prepares for, and responds to, emergencies involving radioactive materials. EPA's Radiological Emergency Response Team (RERT) works with federal, state and local agencies to monitor radioactivityHelpradioactivityThe emission of ionizing radiation released by a source in a given time period. The units used to measure radioactivity are becquerel (Bq) and curie (Ci). and clean up affected areas. During an emergency, EPA uses its protective action guidelines to help determine what actions are necessary to protect people from unhealthy levels of radiation. 

Planning and Past Responses

To prepare for a radiological incident, EPA has plans and procedures that are tested and practiced in exercises on a regular basis. EPA has extensive knowledge about radiological emergency response from experience with real-life emergencies. 

Expertise and Equipment

EPA has on-scene coordinators and several special teams that focus on responding to environmental emergencies, including the Radiological Emergency Response Team (RERT). The RERT provides specialized support for radiological or nuclear emergency responses.

Response Authorities

From "dirty bombsHelpdirty bombA mix of explosives, such as dynamite, with radioactive powder or pellets. Also known as a radiological dispersal device (RDD). A dirty bomb is not a nuclear weapon." to foreign radiological releases, EPA has the ability and authority to respond to many different types of radiological incidents. When other federal, state, or local organizations lead responses to radiological emergencies, EPA provides a supporting role.

Protective Action Guides

The Protective Action Guide (PAG) manual contains radiationHelpradiationEnergy given off as either particles or rays. dose guidelines that would trigger public safety measures, such as evacuation or staying indoors, to minimize or prevent radiation exposure during an emergency. EPA developed Protective Action Guides to help responders plan for radiation emergencies.

EPA also responds to oil spills, chemical, biological, radiological releases and large-scale national emergencies.