NCRP Vision for the Future and Program Area Committee Activities

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Abstract

The National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) believes that the most critical need for the nation in radiation protection is to train, engage, and retain radiation professionals for the future. Not only is the pipeline shrinking, but for some areas there is no longer a pipe! When the call comes to respond, there may be no one to answer the phone! The NCRP “Where are the Radiation Professionals?” initiative, Council Committee (CC) 2, and this year’s annual meeting are to focus our efforts to find solutions and not just reiterate the problems. Our next major initiative is CC 1, where the NCRP is making recommendations for the United States on all things dealing with radiation protection. Our last publication was NCRP Report No. 116, Limitation of Exposure to Ionizing Radiation, in 1993—time for an update. NCRP has seven active Program Area Committees on biology and epidemiology, operational concerns, emergency response and preparedness, medicine, environmental issues and waste management, dosimetry, and communications. A major scientific research initiative is the Million Person Study of Low Dose Radiation Health Effects. It includes workers from the Manhattan Project, nuclear weapons test participants (atomic veterans), industrial radiographers, and early medical workers such as radiologists and technologists. This research will answer the one major gap in radiation risk evaluation: what are the health effects when the exposure occurs gradually over time? Other cutting edge initiatives include a re-evaluation of science behind recommendations for lens of the eye dose limits, recommendations for emergency responders on dosimetry after a major radiological incident, guidance to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration with regard to possible central nervous system effects from galactic cosmic rays (the high energy, high mass particles bounding through space), re-evaluating the population exposure to medical radiation (NCRP Report No. 160, Ionizing Radiation Exposure of the Population of the United States, is over 10 y old, and computed tomography exams have increased substantially since then), and concerning whether the linear no-, threshold model is still the best available for purposes of radiation protection (not for risk assessment). We believe evaluation of heart disease and cerebral vascular disease following low-dose and dose-rate exposure is important for assessments of possible detriment from such exposures. We continue to seek the necessary resources to follow our quest to improve radiation protection for the public!

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