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Soon after the discovery of X-rays and the radioactive element radium harmful radiation effects occurred, mainly in the medical field. Consequently, the radiologists, a new profession at that time, called for a limitation of radiation exposures. First proposals were to limit the exposure rate to prevent the incidence of skin erythema. It took more than two decades and there were many victims of severe radiation effects until a sound basis for radiation protection and individual monitoring was established. For external dosimetry, the film dosemeter was invented in the 1920s. This device, often combined with an ion chamber-based pencil dosemeter, dominated the systems used in personnel dosimetry until the end of the twentieth century. For internal exposure, the concept of limiting the ‘body burden’ was commonly used, and only in the late 1970s, the new concept of the ‘effective dose equivalent’ published in ICRP publication 26 allowed for a unified interpretation and, therefore, addition of the dosimetric quantities for external and internal exposures. By the end of the last century, individual monitoring had to survive an inflation of proposals for new quantities, but fortunately, it was also the time of vast developments of new technologies, methods and procedures. Later on, much room was given to highly sophisticated regulations, requirements, metrological concepts and administrative procedures. In this complex environment, the original task of individual monitoring became more and more hidden behind secondary loads. Now, like about hundred years ago, however with different motivation, once again the ultimate goal of the professional work has to be thought about by asking: Do people always know why they do what they do? Or simply: Why individual monitoring?

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