Risk Estimates for Radiation Protection

Radiation protection overview: international aspects and perspective
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This Issue. William R. Hendee, PhD. Learn more.

Radiation Risks Revisited

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In these cases, a problem, inherently bound to risk definitions Eqs. Calabrese April The National Academy. The Lancet. The conceptual framework for radiation protection, as proposed by the ICRP, provides a basis for operational criteria and guidance applicable to specific situations e.

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Report No. 115 – Risk Estimates for Radiation Protection (1993)

With atomic bomb survivors there are two types of investigations. Whereas the first type focuses on the causes of death so-called mortality follow-up , the second type investigates newly diagnosed diseases incidence follow-up. For current issues the findings from the incidence follow-up are more relevant. In the group of the , survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, additional radiation-induced cases of solid tumors were observed until the end of Added to that were about 85 deaths due to leukaemia which could only be determined from the approx.

Radiation Protection

Report No. – Risk Estimates for Radiation Protection (). Product Details. Sort Title: Report No. ISBN: ISBN Scientific Committee. Risk estimates for radiation-induced cancer--the epidemiological evidence. Risk coefficients for radiation protection must, therefore, be based on the uncertain.

Further, the lifetime risk to develop cancer is of interest. The data available on the observation period have to be extrapolated to the lifetime to determine the lifetime radiation risk. For relatively low radiation exposure levels, as they are determined today in the environment and workplace, a further extrapolation of the results from the Japanese atomic bomb survivors is needed. If the effect of small doses or low dose rates is to be estimated, the epidemiological results, which are mainly available for high dose rates, have to be converted to exposure situations with low doses and chronic exposure.

Furthermore, the rate of so-called "spontaneous" cancer and leukaemia diseases in a particular population observed plays an important role for being able to estimate the additional radiation-induced risk.

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The extrapolations to lifetime risk have to consider the relevant low dose range and the spontaneous cancer rate within a population. They are therefore subject to estimation uncertainties. They are based on specific model assumptions, among other things on assumptions on cancer development and on the dose-response relationship. They also include assessments by panels of experts. It is necessary to verify these assumptions regularly and to adjust risk estimates to the respective current level of knowledge.


This means that, if 1, individuals are each exposed to mSv then it can be expected that seven individuals will additionally die from cancer or leukaemia source: UNSCEAR According to statistical results about individuals out of 1, die from cancer or leukaemia without radiation exposure. The ICRP estimates the radiation-induced cancer risk after radiation exposures at low dose rates such as those occurring in everyday life and in the workplace at 5. On the basic assumption that low doses and chronic exposures are less effective than high doses and acute exposures given the same total dose , the risk coefficients for radiation protection in the low- dose range have been divided by the factor two in accordance with the recommendations of the ICRP on dose limit values.

The intention behind this is to particularly take into account the repair and recovery capacity of irradiated cells at low values of the dose and dose rate. The reduction does not result directly from the observational data for cancer in humans and is based on model assumptions founded on findings from laboratory experiments. The BfS considers the scientific justification for this reduction of the risk coefficients for low doses and chronic exposures insufficient.

Risk assessment is an overall attempt to ensure realistic risk estimates supported by international and national panels of experts. Safety considerations are not included at this level of risk assessment. It is currently not possible to make reliable estimates for the risk of developing diseases other than cancer and leukaemia after radiation exposure.

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However, the evaluations of atomic bombings survivors in Japan, exposed population groups in the former Soviet Union and radiotherapy patients indicate that radiation-induced cardiovascular diseases may also occur more frequently. The assumption that cataracts clouding of the lens in the eye belong to the deterministic radiation effects is currently being called into question.


Here also, new evidence has emerged indicating that cataracts already occur at tenfold lower doses than until recently assumed 0. There is an ongoing debate that there might be no threshold dose for these diseases and that they should be regarded as stochastic radiation effects like malignant neoplasms. Reports about the effects of radiation on groups of individuals who have been exposed to low radiation doses can be found in scientific literature.