[ RadSafe ] SI Units in the US and Radiation Protection

George J. Vargo vargo at physicist.net
Fri Feb 17 14:19:54 CST 2006

John and Group,

I think if anything, the use of SI in radiation protection in the US is
sliding backward.  In both 2004 and 2005 I attended the annual meeting of
the Council on Radiation Measurements and Standards at NIST.  I was rather
surprised to see many presentations, including several by NIST staff, given
in traditional or mixed units.  If the keepers of the flame, if you will,
don't even follow SI orthodoxy, what kind of message does that send?

That said, newer Chrysler products use an insidious mix of SI and English
fasteners now (I can't speak for others at the moment), the 2 L soda bottle
is ubiquitous, and many of our foods are packaged in what appear to be odd
measures in traditional units, but convert to even SI values. Read the
packaging labels on your next trip to the grocery store. There is a slow
march and I suspect that, for better or worse, ultimately the market forces
created by free trade agreements and globalization gradually pull us in the
direction of SI.  I think it took better than a generation for Canada to
start thinking in SI rather than converting, and I suspect the same will be
true here too.

George J. Vargo, Ph.D., CHP
Senior Scientist
MJW Corporation
610-925-5545 (fax)
vargo at physicist.net

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