[ RadSafe ] LNT What will be the content of a draft radiationprotection recommendations

parthasarathy k s ksparth at yahoo.co.uk
Tue Sep 27 19:44:51 CDT 2011

Dear Mike,

Thank you. Very pragmatic answers. I am waiting for the response of others.


From: "Brennan, Mike  (DOH)" <Mike.Brennan at DOH.WA.GOV>
To: parthasarathy k s <ksparth at yahoo.co.uk>; The International Radiation Protection (Health Physics) MailingList <radsafe at health.phys.iit.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, 28 September 2011, 3:46
Subject: RE: [ RadSafe ] LNT What will be the content of a draft radiationprotection recommendations

Bear in mind I am speaking for myself, though I believe these positions sound and advocate them within my organization.

1.   What is the radiation dose below which you will not have any concern about (harmful!) radiation effects(0.5mSv,5 mSv,10 mSv, 50 mSv????)  
This is a real "it depends" type of question.  Would I recommend against someone living someplace because of background radiation, no matter how high?  I don't think so.  Do I think exposure to radon should be limited?  Yes (though I am willing to entertain discussion on where that limit should be.)  Would I ever say, "don't worry about contamination control: do it the cheap way, because no one is going to get hurt."?  Again, I don't think so, because my Navy training taught me that it is more expensive in the long run to not control contamination, regardless of the health risk.  Dose that I would avoid in normal circumstances wouldn't cause me pause in an unusual situation, let alone an emergency.  And I am a firm believer that age should be considered, so for example around Fukushima there are likely many people my age (55) and older who would be better off at home, being exposed to a new and higher background, than stressed out in some
 evacuation center.  I always try to keep in mind that the thing to be controlled is risk, and dose is only a sometimes useful surrogate. 

2. Do you accept the dose limits of ICRP
  (a) without ALARA "principle"
  (b) With ALARA    "principle"

I don't have a problem with ALARA, though I perhaps have a more flexible definition of "reasonable" than some others have.  I don't see anything sacred about ICRP limits, but I do think it is more useful to have imperfect limits than no limits, and have to argue all the time.  I would like to see the limits change to reflect new and better modeling, though that might be overly optimistic. 

3. If you have all the authority to enforce radiation safety what are the possible recommendations? (Preferably in one page?)

The first is, "Don't be stupid."  This would have several parts, such as, "Don't cut corners to save money" and "Don't waste resources to score political points."  Another principle would be, "Listen to people who know what they are talking about", with a program to provide at no cost the opportunity to interested individuals to learn enough to know what they are talking about.  Anyone unable or not interested enough to learn would be assumed to not have anything of value to add to the discussion, and would not be listened to.  In a similar vein, those who say absurd things, like "there will never be a two-system failure" or "the spent fuel will dissolve in groundwater" will have to back up their positions or be ignored.  There would be some technical things, too, but they would be informed by the guiding principles. 

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