Public Health England (PHE) through its Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards (CRCE) has a statutory responsibility for advising UK government departments, and those with responsibility for using ionising and non-ionising radiation, on the risks to human beings imposed by the use of such radiations. This applies in all areas: medical, public health, occupational and environmental. These responsibilities passed to PHE from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) on its formation on 1 April 2013. HPA inherited the responsibility from the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) when it merged into the HPA on 1 April 2005.
In 1995 the Director of NRPB set up the Advisory Group on Ionising Radiation (AGIR) that had as its terms of reference:
to review work on the biological and medical effects of ionising radiation relevant to human health in the occupational, public health, medical and environmental fields and advise on research priorities.
In addition, the AGIR has been given the task of helping PHE, where appropriate, deal with any urgent request for advice or work from the Department of Health or other government departments. The AGIR was reconstituted in 1999 as an independent body and reported directly to the Board of the NRPB; it now reports to the PHE Environmental Hazards Programme Board. The remit of the AGIR is restricted to the provision of scientific judgements and does not include the development of specific recommendations relating to radiation protection policy. These are matters for PHE and its Advisory Board.
The AGIR has now published ten reports covering a wide range of issues within its terms of reference:
For details of these reports see the Bibliography.
The AGIR was chaired from its start to 31 March 2013 by Professor Bryn Bridges OBE. His input has been instrumental in the development of the group and its work.
The AGIR meets annually unless urgent matters require attention. The detailed work of the AGIR is conducted within subgroups.
The current work programme of the AGIR was endorsed by the Environmental Hazards Technical Committee of the HPA Board in March 2012.
The AGIR maintains a watching brief on genomic instability and bystander effects and in March 2013 prepared a briefing note for the HPA on the topic of transgenerational effects of ionising radiation; this will be made available in due course.
The work programme will be reviewed by the AGIR at its 2013 meeting.
AGIR (1999a). Genetic heterogeneity in the population and its implications for radiation risk. Report of an Advisory Group on Ionising Radiation. Doc NRPB, 10 (3), 1-47.
AGIR (1999b). Guidelines on patient doses to promote the optimisation of protection for diagniostic medical exposures. Report of an Advisory Group on Ionising Radiation. Doc NRPB, 10 (1), 1-43.
AGIR (2000). Risks of second cancer in therapeutically irradiated populations: comparison with cancer risks in the Japanese atomic bomb survivors and in other exposed groups. Report of an Advisory Group on Ionising Radiation. Doc NRPB, 11 (1), 1-105.
AGIR (2007), Review of risks from tritium. Report of the independent Advisory Group on Ionising Radiation. Chilton, Doc HPA, RCE-4, 1-90.
The HPA response to Review of risks from tritium is published here.
AGIR (2009a), High dose radiation effects and tissue injury. Report of the independent Advisory Group on Ionising Radiation. Chilton, Doc HPA, RCE-10, 1-94.
AGIR (2009b), Radon and public health. Report of the independent Advisory Group on Ionising Radiation. Chilton, Doc. HPA, RCE-11,1-240.
AGIR (2010). Circulatory disease risk. Report of the independent Advisory Group on Ionising Radiation. Chilton, Doc HPA, RCE-16, 1-116.
The HPA response to Circulatory disease risk is published here.
AGIR (2011). Risk of solid cancers following radiation exposure: estimates for the UK population. Report of the independent Advisory Group on Ionising Radiation. Chilton, Doc HPA, RCE-19, 1-258.
AGIR (2013) Human radiosensitivity. Report of the Independent Advisory Group on Ionising Radiation. Chilton, Doc HPA, RCE-21, 1-152.
Dr Dudley Goodhead, OBE, MRC Harwell (acting Chair from 1 April 2013)
Professor Peter Hoskin, University College London Hospitals
Dr Mark Little, US National Cancer Institute, Bethesda
Professor Trevor McMillan, Lancaster University
Dr Simon Bouffler, PHE
Dr Hilary Walker, Department of Health
Dr Stuart Conney, Department of Health
The AGIR welcomes the submission of references to published work relevant to the current work programme. Please send details to
PHE Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards
Oxfordshire OX11 ORQ
It will be for the AGIR and subgroup members to decide what weight to give the submitted material and whether or not to cite it.
Last reviewed: 14 May 2013