Hungarian Academy of Sciences KFKI Atomic Energy Research Institute
1121 Budapest, Konkoly Thege Miklós út 29-33., Hungary * Letters: H-1525 Budapest 114, P.O.B. 49. * Tel: +36 1 392 2222 * aeki@aeki.kfki.hu

Health Physics Research Group

Research topics

The main research field of the group is the numerical simulation of the biological effects of low dose ionising radiations. The algorithms and methods developed in the frame of this topic can partly be applied to model the airway transport and deposition of aerosols other than radioactive, as well. Research is done in the frame of AEKI projects and other, national and international projects. The head of the research group is Imre Balásházy; Árpád Farkas, Balázs Gergely Madas and István Szőke being project co-workers. PhD students and graduate students are also working temporally on the projects of the research group.

Establishing a plausible dose-effect relationship for the low doses of atomic radiations is certainly one of the biggest challenges of current radiation protection, radiation biology and toxicology. The research area is considered one of the most distinguished and top priority scientific topics in the developed countries in general and in the European Union in particular. Recognising the scientific importance of the topic a research group dedicated to the study of low dose health effects was established in our Institute in the late nineties.

In the frame of the above mentioned research area, the research group of the Institute focuses on revealing the health consequences of radon progeny inhalation. One of the reasons for choosing this approach is that at the beginning of our efforts directed towards the analysis of radiation action in the airways the group already owned one of the most sophisticated lung deposition models in the world. Studying the effect of radiations through radon progenies is also underpinned by the fact that they are responsible for more than the half of the natural radiation burden of the general population and huge epidemiological datasets concerning radon induced detrimental health effects are available in the published literature. In addition, it is constantly accumulating scientific evidence that radon is the most important risk factor of lung cancer in case of non smokers and passive smokers, and the second cause of it in case of smokers. It is worth mentioning that, unfortunately, Hungary leads the international lung cancer statistics. Finally, from technical point of view it is important that radon daughters are alpha-emitters and thus relatively easy to model.

Since human and animal experiments are ethically restricted and the extrapolation of data from in vitro cell experiments is full of uncertainties our scientific method is numerical modelling. Radiation induced cancer development is a rather complicated process, thus its description is only possible by integrating the relevant outcomes of experiments with advanced computational methods.

The related work is done in the frame of national and international cooperation, the results being presented on academic conferences and published in highly ranked international peer reviewed journals.

Research projects, main results achieved

On-going projects

ETT project 317-08
"A composite numerical model for the assessment of lung cancer risk associated with the inhalation of radon and its progenies"

According to the cancer registries both the number of new lung cancer cases and the number of people dying of lung cancer is increasing year by year. Lung cancer incidence in Hungary is much higher than the worldwide average, but lung cancer is the cause of death in case of every 10-18th European citizen as well. According to the US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) radon and its short lived decay products are the second leading cause of lung cancer, after cigarette smoke. Since more than the half of the natural background radiation is provided by radon and its progenies, practically everybody is involved in the radon problem. However, mostly due to the lack of knowledge of the mechanisms of action of ionizing radiations, exact health consequences are not fully understood to date. There is increasing scientific awareness that complex numerical models can be a powerful tool in risk assessment in general, and in the assessment of lung cancer risk following radon inhalation in particular. The scope of the present project is the development and application of a composite model able to assess the probability of lung cancer as a function of radon exposure. The model will incorporate relevant radiobiological and epidemiological data and will be able to assess the risks in the controversial range of low doses.

OTKA project K61193
"Ultrafine atmospheric aerosol"

Recently completed projects

DERI_06_AEROSZOL1 consortial EUREKA project

NKFP 3/A/089/2004 consortial project

GVOP-3.1.1.-2004-05-0432/3.0 consortial project