The Future of Radiological Protection


Does the System of Radiological Protection Require Science to the Nth Degree to be Fit For Purpose?

Author(s): Cameron Jeffries
(South Australian Medical Imaging, Australia)



The objective of the of the System is "to contribute to an appropriate level of protection for people and the environment" according to ICRP 103. This may be broadly accepted as the purpose of the System. An inherent requirement for protection is an understanding of the risk, where the System burdens Radiation Protection Practitioners with an assumption; a theory. Adoption of LNT has made it mandatory to wear 7 kg of PPE during for a long surgery with a short X-ray exam in the middle, adding a risk of musculoskeletal injuries. In a practical, holistic approach to safety accepting the risk of life long debilitating injury to avoid 0.0025% risk of cancer at some uncertain time is difficult to justify. The discussion paper acknowledges the uncertainty of the LNT Hypothesis. However, despite the uncertainty proposes its continuation at all radiation levels. Is the purpose of the System the pursuit of pure science, or is the purpose to provide practitioners with the ability to protect people?

Keywords: Radiation Protection



Christopher Clement

You are right that optimisation is about the BEST protection for the circumstances, not necessarily the MOST protection. Sometimes there is too much emphasis on chasing the lowest dose rather than the best protection, especially when considering other impacts like those you mention for lead aprons.

You mention the possibility of thresholds below which no further action is needed. Publication 104 talks about this point, and although Publication 103 says there's no generic level below which optimisation should stop, it is possible to set levels for specific circumstances below which further efforts are not worthwhile. Exemption levels do this in a regulatory context, but I see no reason why something similar could not be used operationally.

Cameron JeffriesSouth Australia Medical Imaging

Hi Chris thank you for taking to time to listen and comment. I agree ICRP does have detailed guidance on a a graded approach. This guidance has been available for a long time, Publication 104 or even earlier. Unfortunately, we're just not seeing that translate into regulations, even when the regulators often talk about the need for a graded approach. ICRP are not responsible for Regulations, but  stronger recommendations could help.

There are broader issues that impact the regulatory approach where there are limited resources and skills shortages. Definitive guidance that a specific level of dose is below a level of concern, may help focus those limited resources.

Bernd Lorenz

your presentation is very interesting and I agree completely.. The "Club of Philosophers" of the German-Swiss Society for Radiation Protection has produced a statement on the future of RP, proposing i.a. a cut-off for optimization at 1 mSv/ occupationally exposure and 0,1 mSv/a for public exposure.. We are at a state in RP where further reductions are not  reasonable