The Future of Radiological Protection


Data Visualization and Gendered Questions in Radiation Protection

Author(s): Mary Olson
(Gender and Radiation Impact Project, NGO)



Recognition that age and biological sex are key factors in outcome of radiation exposure is reflected in the Discussion Paper on The Future of Radiological Protection. Use of a hypothetical "fixed" or universal exposure level in visualization of exposure outcomes in a large population such as the A bomb survivors, and application of a lifecycle model as compared to the population model are explored. The author is an evolutionary biologist with decades of national and global policy engagement, and she examines the efficacy of the idea of multiple standards from the perspective of the need for reparation.

Keywords: Gender; radiation; girl; protection; lifecycle



Christopher Clement

Thanks for this presentation, Mary. ICRP has not recommended using Reference Man for many years. We use a Reference Person based on an averaging of the Reference Female and Reference Male. We have reference phantoms of adults and children at several stages of development, and are now finalising reference phantoms for the embryo/fetus and pregnant mother. 

However, this is not enough. We need to recognise the differences in cancer risks based on age at exposure and sex. ICRP Publication 147 has tables  showing cancer risk throughout life for males and females separately. (It also looks at an Asian composite population and Euro-American composite population  separately, but there is little difference for all cancers combined.)

The question now is what to do about this. Already we have seen examples of how this is taken into account in practice, for example in Fukushima where a first priority was to clean up school grounds to protect children. In addition, assessments are often done that look at possible doses to children separately from adults and sometimes females separately from males, to ensure those most impacted are protected, similar to what you have suggested.

Mary Olson

Christopher, I am sad I was on leave and missed most of this interaction opportunity. Thank you for your comments on my paper. 

The US NRC is, as you know, way behind ICRP, however I do not accept the average of ADULT females and ADULT males as a "fit for purpose" in the goal of a healthy, reproductive species going forward.The phatoms are good, but they do not stand as "regulatory bases" and I do not see enough focus on real-life experience of young children (specifically female) in the most impacted communities. 

IF they are NOT the basis for regulation, then the regulators are really writing them off as "sacrifice zones." In that regard I find it interesting that 20 mSV a year was the informal level, if not standard, for Fukushima school children...and it is my understanding that applied only to their time IN SCHOOL. 

While it is clear that the other areas were in far excess of this level, nonetheless applying a standard that corresponds to NUCLEAR WORKERS in the USA to young children in Japan is indicative of the disconnect.

I am seeking funding to support work that would result in a DRAFT proposal for a universal reference individual--who would be the basis of universal regulation for the general public. She is under 10 years old...maybe under 5. Will be based on lived experience of impacted communities.