[ RadSafe ] "exposure" to radiation in other languages

HOWARD.LONG at comcast.net HOWARD.LONG at comcast.net
Tue Aug 26 18:47:55 CDT 2008

Will points out (from the risk assessment community) the individual variation in probability of harm (cancer, infection, organ damage, etc), i.e. range of risk. That is important.

 My seemingly healthy 19 year old grandson just had several brain CTs and angiograms while having 3 brain operations to remove AVmalformation that caused decerebrate rigidity (near death) as he was wheeled into the first surgery an hour after collapse. He is now almost well, 3 weeks later! Obviously the benefit was lifesaving, so possible cancer from x ray was not considered. However, it is comforting to believe, as I do, that the 10rem or so would likely benefit - actually reduce cancer risk.

It is also comforting to have the best health care that ever existed being available to everybody, everywhere in the USA, unlike where governments run health care. You who are part of it should occasionally celebrate your accomplishments. I do.

Howard Long 

   -------------- Original message -------------- 
From: "Wright, Will (CDPH-PSB)" <Will.Wright at cdph.ca.gov> 

In general I agree that many find the concept of risk of outcome difficult to grasps because it cannot generally be supported by predictable outcomes ie absolute numbers of infected or actual cancers. In the risk assessment community we handle the unpredictability with such terms as additional risk, relative risk etc.  The absolute risk will actually vary from individual to individual due to interindividual base line exposure dose as well as interindividual physiology. I believe this is why the medical community has held on to the term “exposure” for their procedures as opposed to an x rad dose. Whereas when it involves a medication, the exposure is always referred to as “dose” even in the case of overexposure to medications as “overdose” because of the predictable outcome in both cases. Some of the newer medication fall into the same realm of unpredictability as risk because of the risk benefit assessment and are used anyway in contrast to say the predictable outcomes of penicilli
n when an organism is sensitive.
Yes dose is always sufficient whether adequate for a specific outcome or not. Even though both terms infer the same we have coined them to be used in two different scenarios, one with a specific outcome in mind and one with a range of outcomes. This is illustrated in your example of “underexposed x rays” considered an exposure all the way up to overexposed x rays which at some point become a dose for specific outcomes for everyone exposed with certainty. As you say,  these are all doses and some are without any observable effects and thus termed exposures much the same way risk assessors say all exposures are not necessarily effective doses for observable effects.  

From: HOWARD.LONG at comcast.net [mailto:HOWARD.LONG at comcast.net] 
Sent: Monday, August 25, 2008 5:31 PM
To: Wright, Will (CDPH-PSB); Ansari, Armin (CDC/CCEHIP/NCEH); radsafe at radlab.nl
Subject: RE: [ RadSafe ] "exposure" to radiation in other languages
Good point, Will.
I remember taking underexposed chest x-rays.
So "exposed" is always insufficient.
Howard Long
-------------- Original message -------------- 
From: "Wright, Will (CDPH-PSB)" <Will.Wright at cdph.ca.gov> 

> The word dose is appropriate for specific exposures, even 
> "underexposed". 
> -----Original Message----- 
> From: radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl [mailto:radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl] On 
> Behalf Of HOWARD.LONG at comcast.net 
> Sent: Monday, August 25, 2008 10:46 AM 
> To: Ansari, Armin (CDC/CCEHIP/NCEH); radsafe at radlab.nl 
> Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] "exposure" to radiation in other languages 
> "Overdose" should replace most use of "Exposure" to ionizing radiation, 
> since everyone is constantly "exposed" from his own K40, 
> cosmic rays, etc. 
> The same should be done with chemicals, since trace minerals 
> largely eliminated from purified foods (like selenium - diabetes, 
> lithium - hyperactivity, etc) are also ubiquitous (all around) 
> but often deficient for best health - as with ionizing radiation. 
> Howard Long 
> -------------- Original message -------------- 
> From: "Ansari, Armin (CDC/CCEHIP/NCEH)" 
> > Dear radsafe colleagues, 
> > 
> > As you are well aware, we always have difficulty communicating the 
> > concept of "exposure" to non-radiation audiences in plain English. 
> This 
> > is because the word "exposure" in case of chemical and biological 
> agents 
> > means coming in contact with something - similar to how we use 
> > "contamination". Exposure to radiation of course means just that, no 
> > contamination. This distinction is second nature to us, but very 
> > difficult to get across even to a highly-educated audience. We find 
> the 
> > word "irradiation" works better than exposure, but so much of our 
> > technical literature and fact sheets still use the word exposure. 
> > 
> > I was wondering if a similar difficulty is encountered in languages 
> > other than English. What words are used for "exposure" and 
> > "contamination" and if the word used for exposure to chemicals or 
> > biological agents creates the same communication issues in those 
> > languages. 
> > 
> > If you can reply to me off-line with information about any other 
> > languages you know, I would appreciate it very much, and I would later 
> > share a summary with the group. 
> > 
> > Thanks in advance! 
> > 
> > Armin 
> > 
> > 
> > _________________________ 
> > Armin Ansari, PhD, CHP 
> > Radiation Studies Branch, EHHE, NCEH 
> > Centers for Disea se Control and Prevention 
> > Atlanta, GA 30341-3717 
> > Phone: 770-488-3654 
> > FAX: 770-488-1539 
> > asa4 at cdc.gov 

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