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Assessing Dose of the Representative Person for the Purpose of the Radiation Protection of the Public

ICRP Publication 101a

Ann. ICRP 36 (3), 2006
Published under one cover with ICRP Publication 101b


Abstract - The Commission intended that its revised recommendations should be based on a simple, but widely applicable, system of protection that would clarify its objectives and provide a basis for the more formal systems needed by operating managers and regulators. The recommendations would establish quantified constraints, or limits, on individual dose from specified sources. These dose constraints apply to actual or representative people who encounter occupational, medical, and public exposures. This report updates the previous guidance for estimating dose to the public. Dose to the public cannot be measured directly and, in some cases, it cannot be measured at all. Therefore, for the purpose of protection of the public, it is necessary to characterise an individual, either hypothetical or specific, whose dose can be used for determining compliance with the relevant dose constraint. This individual is defined as the ‘representative person’. The Commission’s goal of protection of the public is achieved if the relevant dose constraint for this individual for a single source is met and radiological protection is optimised.

This report explains the process of estimating annual dose and recognises that a number of different methods are available for this purpose. These methods range from deterministic calculations to more complex probabilistic techniques. In addition, a mixture of these techniques may be applied. In selecting characteristics of the representative person, three important concepts should be borne in mind: reasonableness, sustainability, and homogeneity. Each concept is explained and examples are provided to illustrate their roles. Doses to the public are prospective (may occur in the future) or retrospective (occurred in the past). Prospective doses are for hypothetical individuals who may or may not exist in the future, while retrospective doses are generally calculated for specific individuals.

The Commission recognises that the level of detail afforded by its provision of dose coefficients for six age categories is not necessary in making prospective assessments of dose, given the inherent uncertainties usually associated with estimating dose to the public and with identification of the representative person. It now recommends the use of three age categories for estimating annual dose to the representative person for prospective assessments. These categories are 0–5 years (infant), 6–15 years (child), and 16–70 years (adult). For practical implementation of this recommendation, dose coefficients and habit data for a 1-year-old infant, a 10-year-old child, and an adult should be used to represent the three age categories.

In a probabilistic assessment of dose, whether from a planned facility or an existing situation, the Commission recommends that the representative person should be defined such that the probability is less than about 5% that a person drawn at random from the population will receive a greater dose. If such an assessment indicates that a few tens of people or more could receive doses above the relevant constraint, the characteristics of these people need to be explored. If, following further analysis, it is shown that doses to a few tens of people are indeed likely to exceed the relevant dose constraint, actions to modify the exposure should be considered.

The Commission recognises the role that stakeholders can play in identifying characteristics of the representative person. Involvement of stakeholders can significantly improve the quality, understanding, and acceptability of the characteristics of the representative person and the resulting estimated dose.

Recommended reference format for citations

ICRP, 2006. Assessing Dose of the Representative Person for the Purpose of the Radiation Protection of the Public. ICRP Publication 101a. Ann. ICRP 36 (3).


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