It is necessary to quantify the detriment associated with exposure and to develop general policies for protection of populations and individuals exposed to external penetrating radiations and incorporated radionuclides.
Such protection policies are published in the form of recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (hereafter, the Commission). The Commission is aided by four standing scientific committees and ad hoc task groups, who meet at appropriate intervals to allow interchange of information, thereby coalescing the opinions and experience of about one hundred eminent scientists who have established reputations in the fields of radiation protection, radiobiology, radiation physics and medical radiology. This form of international cooperation which provides a consensus on radiological protection policy is intended to meet the guidelines of a multi-disciplinary and trans-national effort. In the past it has provided guidelines for the Commission of the European Community to prepare and update its directives on health protection within the community and as a bass for rationalisation of the Community programme on the development of nuclear energy.
The most recent conceptual framework of radiological protection published in 1990 (ICRP Publication 60) depends on a system of protection which requires justifying a practice, optimising the protection using source-related dose constraints to individuals, and overriding dose or risk limits. The objectives of the committees and task groups in aiding the Commission are:-
- To assess the risk and severity of deterministic effects and the induction rates of stochastic effects. Current considerations are the physical characteristic of different radiations and tissues, the molecular changes caused by the interaction of radiation with cells and genetic susceptibility to induced stochastic effects.
- To develop values of secondary standards, based on the Commission's recommended basic dose limits. This involves the derivation of limits for intakes of radionuclides that lead to in situ tissue and organ irradiation and the derivation of maximum fluences for external irradiation.
- To provide advise on radiation protection in medicine. Matters requiring attention include protection of the patient in radiodiagnosis and nuclear medicine and optimising protection of medical workers exposed to ionising radiations in the environment of radiology and radiotherapy departments and wards.
- To provide advice on the practical applications of the Commission's system of radiological protection of workers in the nuclear industry and members of the public who may be exposed as a consequence of releases of radioactivity into the environment from nuclear sites.
The basis of the recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological protection (ICRP or the Commission) is how best to protect mankind from sources of ionising radiation, recognising that an appropriate standard of protection should be balanced against unduly limiting the beneficial practices that give rise to the radiation exposure. Following the recent publication of new ICRP recommendations in radiological protection which are expected to set the basis of protection until at least the end of this century, major revisions are required in several applications of the recommendations. These are discussed in a more detailed description of the project. They include the need to ensure that the estimates of risks are as reliable as possible, that limits for intakes of radionuclides are set at an acceptable level; and that the system of radiological protection advocated in the new recommendations is properly applied, not only over normal practices where exposure is certain to occur but also in situations where there is the potential for exposure, or where it is necessary to intervene to reduce the exposure, for example after a radiological emergency.
The Commission, its Committees on Radiation Effects, Secondary Limits, protection in Medicine and on Application of the Commission's Recommendations and ad hoc groups meet at appropriate intervals to allow interchange of information, thereby coalescing the opinions of about one hundred eminent scientists who have established reputations in the fields of radiation protection, radiobiology, radiation physics and medical radiology. The Scientific Secretary coordinates these diverse activities, ensuring that the recommendations of ICRP are promulgated.
This form of international cooperation Would seem to meet the guidelines of a multidisciplinarv and transnational effort. It should provide ascientific consensus for the Commission of the European Community to prepare and update its directives on health protection Within the community; and as a basis for rationalisation of the Community programme on the development of nuclear energy.