NCRP RELEASES GUIDANCE FOR RADIATION PROTECTION IN THE UNITED STATES

On February 4, 2019, the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) announced the newest guidance for radiation protection in the United States with the publication of Report No. 180 titled, Management of Exposure to Ionizing Radiation: Radiation Protection Guidance for the United States (2018).  

The report is intended to serve as a tool for those responsible for implementing radiation protection programs and developing regulations in the United States.

Interested stakeholders can purchase a copy of NCRP Report No. 180 at https://ncrponline.org/shop/reports/report-no-180-management-of-exposure-to-ionizing-radiation-radiation-protection-guidance-for-the-united-states-2018-2018/.

Overview

NCRP Report No. 180 contains NCRP’s recommendations to guide active decision-making for radiation protection.  Key points for radiation protection in the NCRP guidance include:

•     the best protection guidelines are flexible and reflect current circumstances;

•     new topics are addressed that have emerged in the last 25 years; and,

•     medical use, stakeholder engagement, ethical values and safety culture are included and emphasized.

NCRP recommendations are intended to provide a basis for radiation protection programs in the United States.  Report No. 180 is primarily for federal and state agencies responsible for the well being of individuals exposed to ionizing radiation and those agencies with responsibility for protecting non-human biota from such sources.  The report also provides useful information for health physicists, medical physicists, physicians and other medical professionals, radiation safety officers, managers, workers, members of the public and the media.

Some of the categories of radiation protection that are discussed in NCRP Report No. 180 include:  medicine; worker safety and naturally occurring radioactive materials; public safety, including sensitive populations; environmental protection; emergency response; and, research and industry.

Issues and Analysis

NCRP Report No. 180 gives an integrated and coherent approach for radiation protection in all exposure situations.  The report states that optimization of protection universally applies, ensuring benefits from radiation taking into consideration societal, economic, and environmental aspects; addressing all hazards; and, striving for continuous improvement when it is reasonable to do so.  

The report includes numeric criteria for individual dose management that provide an adequate basis for protection.  The recommended criteria are influenced by the type and knowledge of the source; the existence of an appropriate radiation control program; and, whether that program can be established in advance of introducing the source.

NCRP Report No. 180 also includes new topics that have emerged in the last 25 years and builds on the many NCRP recommendations issued since the previous recommendations in Report No. 116, which was issued in 1993.  The treatment of medical exposure is significantly expanded, including optimization for patients; coverage of comforters and caregivers; and, biomedical research participants.  Emergency workers are defined as a new category of exposure and NCRP recommends that they be handled separately from occupational exposure or public protection.  Protection of the environment, including non-human biota, is covered with recommendations to support decision-making under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Ethical values, stakeholder engagement and safety culture are emphasized as contributing to radiation protection decisions and practice in addition to the knowledge of human biological effects of ionizing radiation.  Ethical values support decision-making in complex situations.  Stakeholders are key in making decisions concerning the management of their radiation exposure and the achievement of sustainable and suitable decisions.  A strong safety culture is intrinsic to effective radiation protection programs.

Background

NCRP is a Congressionally chartered body that seeks to formulate and widely disseminate information, guidance and recommendations on radiation protection and measurements which represent the consensus of leading scientific thinking.

For additional information about NCRP, interested stakeholders may contact Laura Atwell, Director of Operations, at (301) 657-2652 (ext. 18) or at (atwell (at) ncrponline (dot) org) atwell (at) ncrponline (dot) org or go to http://ncrponline.org.