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Radiation and Health - Current Issues

(last updated 8 Nov 2014)

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ICRP issues Publication 126: Radiological Protection against Radon Exposure

> View ICRP release Nov. 27, 2014 external link


ICRP forms task groups on (near) surface disposal of radioactive waste and on exposures from contaminated sites

On Nov. 7, 2014, the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) announced that two new Task Groups have been formed under Committee 4 on the Application of the Commission's Recommendations:


IAEA issues draft Safety Guide on Establishing the Infrastructure for Radiation Safety

Deadline for comments: 5 December 2014.
> View DS455 - Establishing the Infrastructure for Radiation Safety external link (Aug. 8, 2014)


IAEA issues draft Safety Guide on Occupational Radiation Protection

Deadline for comments: 20 June 2014.
> Download DS453 - Occupational Radiation Protection external link (Feb. 25, 2014)


European Union issues revised directive on basic radiation protection standards

Member States are required to transpose the new Directive into national law by 6 February 2018.
> Download: Council Directive 2013/59/Euratom of 5 December 2013 external link laying down basic safety standards for protection against the dangers arising from exposure to ionising radiation, and repealing Directives 89/618/Euratom, 90/641/Euratom, 96/29/Euratom, 97/43/Euratom and 2003/122/Euratom, Official Journal of the European Union L13, Vol. 57, 17 Jan 2014, p. 1-73

> See also: New European Union Basic Safety Standards may water down standards for cleanup of remaining Wismut uranium mine sites in Germany


UNSCEAR releases Vol. II of 2013 Report: Effects of radiation exposure of children

UNSCEAR Publications: external link
UNSCEAR 2013 Report: Sources, effects and risks of ionizing radiation


Scientists raise serious concerns over latest increase of WHO's drinking-water guideline for uranium

"[...] This paper reviews the WHO drinking-water guideline for U, from its introduction as a 2 g L-1 health-based guideline in 1998 through its increase to a 30 g L-1 health-based guideline in 2011. The current 30 g L-1 WHO health-based drinking-water guideline was calculated using a ''no-effect group'' with ''no evidence of renal damage [in humans] from 10 renal toxicity indicators''. However, this nominal ''no-effect group'' was associated with increased diastolic blood pressure, systolic blood pressure, and glucose excretion in urine. In addition, the current 30 g L-1 guideline may not protect children, people with predispositions to hypertension or osteoporosis, pre-existing chronic kidney disease, and anyone with a long exposure. The toxic effects of U in drinking water on laboratory animals and humans justify a re-evaluation by the WHO of its decision to increase its U drinking-water guideline." [emphasis added]
Frisbie SH, Mitchell EJ, Sarkar B: World Health Organization increases its drinking-water guideline for uranium, in: Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts Vol. 15 No. 10 (Sep. 25, 2013), p. 1817-1823

> See also: WHO raises drinking water guideline for uranium to 30 micrograms per litre


Study assesses uncertainty of ICRP dose factors for ingestion and inhalation of radionuclides

"[...] The present work describes the application of parameter uncertainty analysis to quantify uncertainties resulting from internal exposures to 238U, 226Ra, 239Pu, 241Am, 137Cs, 90Sr, 131I, 129I, and 3H by members of the UK public, confining consideration to uncertainties in biokinetic models and parameter values. The report does not consider uncertainties in risk directly, but derives uncertainties in the biokinetic models that are used to calculate the retention and excretion of radionuclides in the body, in order to calculate distributions of effective dose per unit intake. The central values and ranges of the distributions are used to inform the derivation of uncertainty factors (UF) for the different dose coefficients. A UF indicates a 95% probability of the risk coefficient being within a factor, UF, of the nominal risk associated with the appropriate ICRP dose coefficient, E50, with respect to uncertainties in the biokinetic model and parameter values. The inferred UF values are around 2-3 for ingestion and 2-6 for inhalation for all age groups. [...]"

NuclideUncertainty Factor
 IngestionInhalation
U-23832
Ra-22636

> Assessing the Reliability of Dose Coefficients for Ingestion and Inhalation of Radionuclides by Members of the Public, HPA-CRCE-048 external link, by M Puncher and J D Harrison, Health Protection Agency, Public Health England, April 2013, 90 pp.

> See also: The reliability of dose coefficients for inhalation and ingestion of uranium by members of the public, by M Puncher, G Burt, in: Radiation Protection Dosimetry, May 23, 2013 (ahead of print)


U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) releases final update of Toxicological Profile for Uranium

> View here


UNSCEAR releases white paper on Biological Mechanisms of Radiation Actions at Low Doses

United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation: Biological Mechanisms of Radiation Actions at Low Doses, A white paper to guide the Scientific Committee's future programme of work external link, New York 2012 (900kB PDF)


ICRP Publication 119 "Compendium of Dose Coefficients based on ICRP Publication 60" available for free download

> Download ICRP Publication 119 external link, Annals of the ICRP Volume 41, Supplement (Oct. 2012)

A corrected version external link was published in Annals of the ICRP Volume 42, Issue 4 (August 2013).


ICRP issues Draft Report for Consultation: Occupational Intakes of Radionuclides Parts 2 and 3

Comments are due by December 21, 2012.
> View ICRP release Sep. 20, 2012 external link
> Download Draft Report: Occupational Intakes of Radionuclides Part 2 external link (2.3MB PDF)

> View ICRP release Sep. 20, 2012 external link
> Download Draft Report: Occupational Intakes of Radionuclides Part 3 external link (2.8MB PDF)


ICRP issues Publication 118: ICRP Statement on Tissue Reactions / Early and Late Effects of Radiation in Normal Tissues and Organs Threshold Doses for Tissue Reactions in a Radiation Protection Context

> View ICRP release Aug. 28, 2012 external link


ICRP issues draft report for consultation: Protection of the Environment under Different Exposure Situations

Comments are due October 12, 2012.
> Download Protection of the Environment under Different Exposure Situations external link (July 18, 2012)


European Commission issues proposal for Council Directive on radionuclides in drinking water

Parametric values for radon and tritium and parametric values for Total Indicative Dose, for other radioactive substances, in water intended for human consumption
Radon100 Bq/l
Tritium100 Bq/l
Total indicative dose0.10 mSv/year (Note 1)
Note 1: Excluding tritium, potassium-40, radon and short-lived radon decay products

The Total indicative dose (TID) is the committed effective dose for one year of intake resulting from all the radionuclides whose presence in a water supply has been detected, both of natural and artificial origin, excluding tritium, potassium-40, radon and short-lived radon decay products.
The TID shall be calculated from the radionuclide concentrations and the dose coefficients for adults laid down in Annex III, Table A of Directive 96/29/Euratom or more recent information recognised by the competent authorities in the Member State (assuming an intake of 730 litres per year).

> Download: Proposal for a COUNCIL DIRECTIVE laying down requirements for the protection of the health of the general public with regard to radioactive substances in water intended for human consumption external link, COM(2012) 147 final, 2012/0074 (NLE), March 28, 2012 (101k PDF)


IAEA issues Draft Safety Guide "Protection of the Public against Exposure Indoors due to Natural Sources of Radiation"

Closing date for Member States' comments: 13 August 2012.
> Download: Protection of the Public against Exposure Indoors due to Natural Sources of Radiation, Draft Safety Guide No. DS421 external link, International Atomic Energy Agency, April 2012 (1.3MB PDF)


ICRP issues Publication 116: Conversion Coefficients for Radiological Protection Quantities for External Radiation Exposures

Conversion Coefficients for Radiological Protection Quantities for External Radiation Exposures external link, ICRP Publication 116, Ann. ICRP 40(25), 2010
"[...] The operational quantities for photons, neutrons, and electrons continue to provide a good approximation for the conversion coefficients for effective dose for the energy ranges considered in ICRP Publication 74 and ICRU Report 57, but not at the higher energies considered in the present report. [...]"


ICRP issues Draft Report for Consultation: Occupational Intakes of Radionuclides Part 1

Comments are due by April 13, 2012.
> View ICRP release Feb. 23, 2012 external link
> Download Draft Report: Occupational Intakes of Radionuclides Part 1 external link (2MB PDF)


ICRP issues Draft Report for Consultation: Radiological Protection against Radon Exposure

Comments are due by June 8, 2012.
> View ICRP release Dec. 7, 2011 external link
> Download Draft Report: Radiological Protection against Radon Exposure external link (1.1MB PDF)


U.S. NRC seeks public comment on proposed changes to its policy statement on consumer products containing radioactive material

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is seeking public comment on proposed changes to its policy statement on consumer products containing radioactive material. The proposed revisions would make minor changes that would bring the statement (originally issued by NRC's predecessor Atomic Energy Commission in 1965) up to date, but would not represent a policy shift.
The Commission has approved a number of uses, including: Comments will be accepted through December 28, 2011.
> Download NRC release Oct. 14, 2011 external link (PDF)
> Federal Register: October 14, 2011 (Volume 76, Number 199) p. 63957-63959 (download full text external link)
> Access Docket ID NRC-2010-0292 external link


European Commission adopts proposal for revised basic radiation protection standards

On 29 September 2011, the European Commission adopted the Proposal for a Council Directive laying down basic safety standards for protection against the dangers arising from exposure to ionising radiation [COM(2011)593] external link (410 kB PDF) · Citizens Summary external link (18 kB PDF)


WHO raises drinking water guideline for uranium to 30 micrograms per litre

> View here


U.S. EPA releases updated Blue Book on Radiogenic Cancer Risk Models and Projections for the U.S. Population

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announces the availability of the updated EPA Radiogenic Cancer Risk Models and Projections for the U.S. Population (EPA 402-R-11-001, April 2011), also known as the Blue Book.
"Results. Summary risk coefficients are calculated for a stationary population (defined by 2000 U.S. vital statistics). Numerically, the same coefficients apply for a cohort exposed throughout life to a constant dose rate. For uniform whole-body exposures of low-dose gamma radiation to the entire population, the cancer incidence risk coefficient (Gy-1) is 1.16x10-1 (5.6x10-2 to 2.1x10-1), where the numbers in parentheses represent an estimated 90% confidence interval. The corresponding coefficient for cancer mortality (Gy-1) is about one-half that for incidence: 5.8x10-2 (2.8x10-2 to 1.0x10-1)." [emphasis added]
Federal Register Volume 76, Number 104 (Tuesday, May 31, 2011) p. 31329-31330 (download full text external link)
> Download Blue Book external link (EPA)
> View Docket No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2011-0436 external link


UNSCEAR releases 2010 Report: "Summary of low-dose radiation effects on health"

The UNSCEAR 2010 Report comprises the main text of the 2010 report to the General Assembly (A/65/46) and a scientific report.
> Download Report of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation 2010, UNSCEAR 2010 Report external link (3.3M PDF)


U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) invites comment on draft update of Toxicological Profile for Uranium

> View here


Texas Environment Commission manipulated test results to hide radiation in drinking water

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality external link (TCEQ) spent two decades under-reporting radiation levels in local water supplies, which helped water districts avoid fines, but exposed residents to potentially harmful radioactive elements.
An investigation by KHOU news external link in Houston found hundreds of water providers near the Gulf Coast that delivered drinking water containing radioactive contaminants, all with the blessing of state officials, using a reporting method that came to be known as "Texas math."
At the center of the controversy was TCEQ's manipulation of water-testing reports from the Department of State Health Services. When given a range of possible radiation levels in a water supply, TCEQ officials automatically went with the lowest possible figure based on the margin of error. This practice went on until 2009, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discovered what TCEQ was doing and told it to stop. (AllGov November 26, 2010)

Texas politicians knew agency hid the amount of radiation in drinking water:
Newly-released e-mails from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality show the agency's top commissioners directed staff to continue lowering radiation test results, in defiance of federal EPA rules. The e-mails and documents, released under order from the Texas Attorney General to KHOU-TV, also show the agency was attempting to help water systems get out of formally violating federal limits for radiation in drinking water. Without a formal violation, the water systems did not have to inform their residents of the increased health risk.
"It's a conspiracy at the TCEQ of the highest order," said Tom Smith, of the government watchdog group Public Citizen. "The documents have indicted the management of this commission in a massive cover-up to convince people that our water is safe to drink when it's not." (KHOU May 18, 2011)


Germany to establish 10 g/L drinking water standard for uranium

On Nov. 26, 2010, the German Bundesrat (Upper House of Parliament) approved an amendment to the drinking water regulations (Trinkwasserverordnung) to establish a 10 g/L drinking water standard for uranium. (AFP Nov. 26, 2010)
On May 11, 2011, the Federal Ministry of Health promulgated the revised drinking water regulations that will come into effect on Nov. 1, 2011.

The German government plans to amend its drinking water regulations (Trinkwasserverordnung) to establish a 10 g/L drinking water standard for uranium, according to a draft proposal by the Ministry of Health external link. (Ärzte Zeitung Sep. 22, 2010)


ICRP releases Draft Report for Consultation - ICRP Statement on Radon AND Lung cancer risk from radon and progeny

Comments must be submitted no later than September 30, 2010.
> View ICRP release July 28, 2010 external link and download draft report


ICRP releases Report - Environmental Protection: Transfer parameters for Reference Animals and Plants

The draft ICRP report "Environmental Protection: Transfer parameters for Reference Animals and Plants" is now available for public consultation.
Comments must be submitted no later than October 1, 2010.
> View ICRP release July 5, 2010 and download draft report

On Nov. 24, 2011, ICRP announced the availability of the final report:
Environmental Protection: Transfer Parameters for Reference Animals and Plants, ICRP Publication 114, Ann. ICRP 39 (6), 2009
> View ICRP release Nov. 24, 2011 external link


IAEA releases draft Revision of the International Basic Safety Standards

International Basic Safety Standards for Protection against Ionizing Radiation and for the Safety of Radiation Sources, Draft Safety Requirements DS379 external link, January 2010 (772k PDF)

The closing date for comment by IAEA member states is 31 May 2010.

International Basic Safety Standards for Protection Against Ionizing Radiation and for the Safety of Radiation Sources, IAEA Safety Series No. 115 external link, 21 March 1996 (18.8M PDF)


German radiation protection authority releases monitoring results for radiation exposure from drinking water

"SUMMARY
In order to obtain representative data on public exposure to radiation from natural radionuclides in drinking water in Germany, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) conducted systematic studies to determine the contents of natural radionuclides in drinking water from 2003 to 2008. A total of 582 drinking waters from all 16 Federal States was analysed with special regard to densely populated urban areas and selected areas with enhanced natural radioactivity. Analyses were conducted to determine the following parameters: total alpha activity, activity concentration of uranium isotopes U-234, U-235, and U-238, the radium isotopes Ra-226 and Ra-228, as well as radon-222 and the radon decay products lead-210 and polonium-210.
An essential result of this study is that drinking water in Germany makes only minor contributions to the total mean value of annual radiation exposure from natural sources of 2.1 mSv. The mean values of radiation exposure (ingestion dose) obtained from the data according to the calculation bases of the German Radiation Protection Ordinance are about 0.009 mSv per year for adults and about 0.05 mSv per year for sucklings. However, there is a considerable range of variation of activity concentrations and radiation exposures. [...]"
> Download: Strahlenexposition durch natürliche Radionuklide im Trinkwasser in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland external link, BfS-SW-06/09, Beyermann, M.; Bünger, T.; Gehrcke, K.; Obrikat, D., Dezember 2009 (BfS - in German)


France launches website for acces to radiation monitoring data

Réseau national de mesures de la radioactivité de l'environnement external link


ICRP revises radon risk coefficient

The ICRP now recommends a detriment-adjusted nominal risk coefficient for a population of all ages of 8 x 10-10 per Bq h m-3 for exposure to radon-222 gas in equilibrium with its progeny (i.e. 5 x 10-4 per WLM).
> View ICRP statement on radon, Nov. 16, 2009 external link

In 2010, J.W. Marsh et al. used this proposed risk coefficient, together with ICRP's updated values of total radiation detriment per unit effective dose (4.2 x 10-5 per mSv for workers and 5.7 x 10-5 per mSv for members of the public, see ICRP 2007 recommendations), to determine effective dose conversion coefficients of 12 mSv/WLM for workers and 9 mSv/WLM for the public, replacing the 5 mSv/WLM for workers and 4 mSv/WLM for the public of ICRP 65 (1993).
James W. Marsh, John D. Harrison, Dominique Laurier, et al: Dose conversion factors for radon: recent developments, in: Health Physics Vol. 99, No. 4 (Oct. 2010), p. 511-516

On Nov. 24, 2011, ICRP announced the availability of Publication 115 revising the radon risk coefficient according to its November 2009 statement:
"Based on recent results from combined analyses of epidemiological studies of miners, a lifetime excess absolute risk of 5 x 10-4 per WLM (14 x 10-5 per mJ h m-3) should now be used as the nominal probability coefficient for radon and radon progeny induced lung cancer, replacing the previous ICRP Publication 65 value of 2.8 x 10-4 per WLM (8 x 10-5 per mJ h m-3)."
Lung Cancer Risk from Radon and Progeny and Statement on Radon. ICRP Publication 115, Ann. ICRP 40(1), 2010.
> View ICRP release Nov. 24, 2011 external link


WHO reduces radon limit in homes by factor of 10

The World Health Organization (WHO) has drastically cut the maximum amount of radon, a naturally occurring gas, that should be permitted in homes because of strong evidence it causes lung cancer. In a WHO Handbook on Indoor Radon issued quietly on Monday (Sep 21), it called for public health authorities and the construction industry to make great reductions in exposure to radon, calling it a "major and growing public health threat in homes."
The WHO's new recommended maximum level of radon gas is 100 becquerels per cubic meter -- one tenth of its previously recommended maximum of 1,000 becquerels, issued in 1996. If a country cannot meet the new standard, levels should not exceed 300 becquerels per cubic meter, it said, noting that the risk of lung cancer rises 16 percent per 100 becquerels. (Reuters Sep 22, 2009)

"In view of the latest scientific data, WHO proposes a reference level of 100 Bq/m3 to minimize health hazards due to indoor radon exposure. However, if this level cannot be reached under the prevailing country-specific conditions, the chosen reference level should not exceed 300 Bq/m3 which represents approximately 10 mSv per year according to recent calculations by the International Commission on Radiation Protection."
> Download WHO Handbook on Indoor Radon - a Public Health Perspective, 2009 external link (595k PDF)


Volume II of UNSCEAR 2006 Report published

On July 21, 2009, United Nations Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) published Volume II of the UNSCEAR 2006 Report, containing the annexes on the following topics: > Download UNSCEAR 2006 REPORT Vol. II external link


Tolerable daily intake of uranium may be exceeded for infants in certain exposure scenarios, European Food Safety Authority panel finds

Uranium in foodstuffs, in particular mineral water, Scientific Opinion of the Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (Question No EFSA-Q-2007-135), Adopted on 25 March 2009 external link, European Food Safety Authority, The EFSA Journal (2009) 1018, 1-59


Radiation protection authority publishes assessment of radiation doses from consumption of German drinking waters

> View press release Mar. 12, 2009 external link (BfS) - in German
> View Zusammenfassende Bewertung der Ergebnisse der Trinkwasser-Studie des BfS external link - in German
> Download full study: Strahlenexposition durch natürliche Radionuklide im Trinkwasser in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland external link, Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz, March 2009 (4M PDF - in German, BfS)


Germany to introduce 10 microgram per litre drinking water standard for uranium

The federal and state ministers of consumer protection of Germany have agreed to introduce a 10 microgram per litre drinking water standard for uranium. It is still unclear whether this value will be introduced in Germany, before the European Union introduces some value. (AP Sep. 19, 2008)


ICRP releases draft report on Protection of People in Emergency Exposure Situations for consultation

On May 21, 2008, ICRP released a draft report titled "Application of the Commissions Recommendations for the Protection of People in Emergency Exposure Situations".
Comments must be provided no later than 8 August 2008.
> View ICRP release external link and download draft report


ICRP releases draft report on Reference Animals and Plants for consultation

On Jan. 7, 2008, ICRP released a draft report titled "Environmental Protection: The Concept and Use of Reference Animals and Plants". This draft provides the practical basis for consideration of non-human species in radiological protection.
Comments must be provided no later than 28 March, 2008.
> View ICRP release external link and download draft report


Monitoring data available for uranium in tap water and in bottled mineral water (Germany)

Uran im Leitungswasser deutscher Städte (Meßwerte – Karte) und Uran im Mineralwasser (Meßwerte) external link, Meßwerte des Instituts für Pflanzenernährung und Bodenkunde der Bundesforschungsanstalt für Landwirtschaft (FAL-PB), Stand: 2007; (Strahlentelex)


German Radiation Protection Commission sees no rationale for use of Dose and Dose Rate Effectiveness Factor (DDREF) for radiation exposure at low dose rates

The Radiation Protection Commission (Strahlenschutzkommission - SSK), the advisory body of the German Federal Government, sees no rationale for use of a "Dose and Dose Rate Effectiveness Factor" (DDREF) for the reduction of doses from radiation exposure at low dose rates, as recommended by the ICRP. This is the conclusion drawn from an assessment of current studies on cancer risks after long-term exposure to radiation in the dose range of 100 - 500 mSv.

Krebsrisiko durch mehrjährige Expositionen mit Dosen im Bereich des Grenzwertes für die Berufslebensdosis nach 56 StrlSchV external link, Empfehlung der Strahlenschutzkommission, Verabschiedet auf der 215. Sitzung der SSK am 20.04.1007, Veröffentlicht im BAnz Nr. 183a vom 28.09.2007


Drinking water with uranium below U.S. EPA water standard causes estrogen receptor dependent responses in female mice

Mice that drank uranium-containing water exhibited estrogenic responses including selective reduction of primary follicles, increased uterine weight, greater uterine luminal epithelial cell height, accelerated vaginal opening and persistent presence of cornified vaginal cells. The authors conlude that their data supports the conclusion that uranium is an endocrine disrupting chemical and populations exposed to environmental uranium should be followed for increased risk of fertility problems and reproductive cancers.

Drinking Water with Uranium below U.S. EPA Water Standard Causes Estrogen Receptor Dependent Responses in Female Mice external link, by Stefanie Raymond-Whish, Loretta P. Mayer, Tamara O'Neal, et al.; in: Environmental Health Perspectives - in press (Sep. 14, 2007) (323k PDF)


Study finds particulate depleted uranium causes toxic effects and chromosome breakage on human lung cells

Particulate DU compounds induced time and concentration-dependent cytotoxic (producing a toxic effect on cells) and clastogenic (causing disruption or breakages of chromosomes) effects in human lung cells. Soluble DU was cytotoxic but not clastogenic. The types of aberrations seen with treatment of particulate DU are consistent with those induced by other carcinogenic metals.

Particulate Depleted Uranium Is Cytotoxic and Clastogenic to Human Lung Cells, by Sandra S. Wise, W. Douglas Thompson, AbouEl-Makarim Aboueissa, et al., in: Chemical Research in Toxicology Apr 14, 2007


ICRP issues draft report on interpretation of bioassay data for consultation

View details external link

Submit comments by April 22, 2007.


Germany sets 2 g/L uranium standard for bottled mineral waters designated as suitable for babies

On Nov. 24, 2006, the second Chamber of the German Parliament (Bundesrat external link) approved regulations limiting the uranium concentration in bottled mineral waters to 2 micrograms per litre, if the water is designated as suitable for preparation of food for infants. (Bundesrats-Drucksache 711/06 v. 12.10.2006; 828. Sitzung v. 24.11.2006)


UK Health Protection Agency issues "Comparison of Processes and Procedures for Setting Standards Chemicals, Ionising Radiation, Non-ionising Radiation" for comment

This document seeks to compare the different approaches needed to set standards of protection concerning the adverse health effects of exposure to ionising radiation, non-ionising radiation and noxious chemical agents.
This draft document is available for comment for a three-month period from 26 October 2006.
> View HPA announcement Oct. 26, 2006 external link
> Download Comparison of Processes and Procedures for Setting Standards Chemicals, Ionising Radiation, Non-ionising Radiation (Draft for Comment), by J R Cooper, R Fielder, R Jefferson, J R Meara, K R Smith and J W Stather external link (274k PDF)


U.S. NRC exempts uranium wastes arising from drinking water treatment from licensing requirement

The NRC is issuing this regulatory issue summary (RIS), to inform addressees and other stakeholders of NRCs implementation of a policy of enforcement discretion for community water systems (CWSs). Under this policy, CWSs, in non-Agreement States, that concentrate naturally-occurring uranium above 0.05 percent by weight in media, effluents, and other residuals during the treatment of drinking water will not be required to apply for a NRC specific license while they remain eligible for enforcement discretion.

Federal Register: September 22, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 184) p. 55520-55522 (download full text external link)

> Download: Guidance for receiving enforcement discretion when concentrating uranium at community water systems, NRC Regulatory Issue Summary 2006-20, September 14, 2006: NRC website external link · ADAMS (Accession No. ML061990394) external link (PDF)


Court rules State Ministry has to release uranium data of bottled mineral water (Germany)

On July 18, 2006, the Magdeburg administrative court (Verwaltungsgericht) ruled that the Ministry of Social Affairs (Sozialministerium) of the State of Sachsen-Anhalt has to release data on uranium concentrations found in bottled mineral water in the State. Berlin-based journalist Frank Brendel had requested the data from ministries in several States, but the Sachsen-Anhalt ministry refused to release it, on the grounds that the uranium data were proprietary data of the mineral water industry. However, the journalist had only requested general data, not data specific by company. (Volksstimme July 19, 2006)

> See also Foodwatch external link (in German)


ICRP approves new fundamental Recommendations on radiological protection

The new recommdations were published on December 18, 2007.
> Download ICRP release Dec. 2007 external link (MS Word format)

A German translation (without annexes) is available for free download at
Die Empfehlungen der Internationalen Strahlenschutzkommission (ICRP) von 2007 external link, ICRP-Veröffentlichung 103, verabschiedet im März 2007, Deutsche Ausgabe, BfS-SCHR-47/09, Salzgitter, November 2009 (BfS)
For translations to other languages, see ICRP Publications external link

At its meeting in Essen, Germany, 19-21 March, the International Commission on Radiological Protection, ICRP, approved a new set of fundamental Recommendations on the protection of man and the environment against ionising radiation. These Recommendations will replace the Commission's previous Recommendations from 1990.
> Download ICRP release March 23, 2007 external link (PDF)

Draft ICRP Reports external link
> Download Draft Recommendations, 5 June 2006 external link (719k PDF)

Progress report, next ICRP Recommendations external link
> Download revised Draft Recommendations, 12 January 2007 external link (781k PDF)


Research finds no indicators of kidney toxicity in humans after continuous ingestion of uranium in drinking water

Uranium exposure was measured in 95 men and 98 women aged 18 to 81 years who had used drinking water from drilled wells for an average of 16 years. Median uranium concentration in drinking water was 25 microg/L (interquartile range, 5 to 148 microg/L; maximum, 1,500 microg/L). Indicators of cytotoxicity and kidney function did not show evidence of renal damage, while, in experimental settings, uranium is toxic to kidneys.

Kidney toxicity of ingested uranium from drinking water, by Kurttio P, Harmoinen A, Saha H, et al., in: American journal of kidney diseases, 2006 June, Vol.47, No.6, p.972-982


Research finds unexpected effects of chronic exposure to uranium

In a research project to study the non-radiological toxic effects of certain radionuclides, France's Institute of Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety has investigated the effects of chronic ingestion uptakes of low doses of uranium to various biota and rats.
The study showed some unexpected results:

> View IRSN News Release March 16, 2006 (in French)
> Download ENVIRHOM - Bioaccumulation of radionuclides in situations of chronic exposure of ecosystems and members of the public, Progress Report 2, covering the period June 2003 September 2005 external link (2.6M PDF - in English)


ICRP releases draft report on the scope of radiological protection

"ABSTRACT
This report recommends criteria of a universal and generic nature for defining the radiation exposure situations that can and need be subject to radiological protection regulations and those that cannot or need not. It suggests that the relevant legislation should specifically define those situations that should be covered by the legislation, because they can be controlled, and those that may be excluded from legislation because they cannot be controlled by any reasonable means. It also recommends that the legislation should empower regulators to define the extent of application of regulatory requirements to the situations covered by the legislation. Regulators should identify the situations that need be controlled with the full system of regulatory requirements and those that are exempted from compliance with particular regulatory requirements on the grounds that they need not be controlled because those requirements are unwarranted.
Legislative systems for purposes of radiological protection may exclude situations of radiation exposure to cosmic radiation at ground level, to natural radioactive constituents of the human body (such as the radionuclide potassium-40), to substances containing an activity concentration of less than around 1 Bq per kilogram for alpha emitting artificial radionuclides and around 10 Bq per kilogram for beta and gamma emitting artificial radionuclides, to ambient radon below concentrations of 40 Bq per cubic metre and to any source that is unamenable to control by any reasonable means.
Exemption criteria were originally introduced for exempting a priori practices involving limited amounts of 'artificial' radioactive materials. The concept was then extended to the exemption a posteriori of radioactive materials already regulated but for which regulation was no longer warranted. These materials, therefore, could be cleared from the regulatory requirements.
Clearance criteria were developed for bulk amounts of materials. A fundamental exemption principle was to keep individual risk at low levels, which became an individual dose criterion of 10 Sv in a year. The report recommends, however, that the criteria for exemption should be broader and focus on unwarranted control, being situation specific and with multiple attributes. While they should respect the low individual risk criteria, they should not be determined by individual doses alone but include societal factors involved in determining whether or not it is warranted to control certain exposure situations. Different situations may lead to different dose criteria for exemption. For situations involving naturally occurring radioactive materials and for interventional situations the use of an individual dose criterion of up to 1 mSv in a year may be appropriate.
Exposure situations to naturally-occurring radioactive material may be considered either for a generic regulatory exemption or for exclusion from legislative instruments, providing that the activity concentrations of the radionuclides in the primordial uranium and thorium series are lower than 1000 Bq per kg and of potassium-40 lower than 10000 Bq per kg. However, building materials may warrant additional restrictions of the sum of the activity concentrations of uranium-238, thorium-232 and potassium-40. Moreover, wherever ambient radon would otherwise be regulated, exemption can be granted provided that the time-averaged radon concentration does not exceed a minimum value of 200 Bq per cubic metre in dwellings or 500 Bq per cubic metre in workplaces.
Exposure situations to foodstuff and drinking-water containing radionuclides in activity concentrations smaller than those specified by the Codex Alimentarious Commission and the World Health Organization respectively are candidates for automatic exemption. Situations involving exposure to non-edible radioactive materials may be considered candidates for automatic exemption from regulatory requirements if the activity or the activity concentration does not exceed the values specified in the agreements reached under the aegis of international organizations, as referenced in this report."
Comments are expected before 19 June 2006.
> View details external link
> Download draft report The Scope of Radiological Protection Regulations (March 8, 2006) external link (477k PDF)


ICRP releases early Draft Guidance Document on Interpretation of Bioassay Data

Informal comments may be submitted, preferably before 20 March 2006.

> Download Draft Guidance Document on Interpretation of Bioassay Data - 16 January 2006 external link


CNSC releases Newfoundland Fluorspar Miners' Health Study

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has released a health study of the St. Lawrence, Newfoundland fluorspar miners. The purpose of this study is to better understand the relationship between exposure to radon gas and risk of lung cancer. This study updates earlier health studies of the Newfoundland fluorspar miners. The update includes over 50 years of mortality follow-up (1950-2001) and a new smoking survey.

> View CNSC release July 25, 2005 external link · Backgrounder external link


Sensitive method allows for chemical speciation analysis of uranium in drinking water

The Institut für Radiochemie at Forschungszentrum Rossendorf external link (FZR), Germany, has for the first time used a very senstitive laser-spectroscopic method to analyze the chemical speciation of uranium in drinking water and bottled mineral waters. The information now obtainable with the new method allows for better assessements of the toxicity of the uranium found in the samples. (FZR release July 21, 2005)


Institute assesses uranium concentrations in German bottled mineral waters, demands better protection of infants

On June 30, 2005, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment external link (BfR) in Berlin released a new assessment of uranium in bottled mineral waters.
97% of 1530 samples of German mineral waters were found to contain uranium concentrations of less than 15 g/L (the current WHO guidance value for drinking water) and are considered to present no hazard for adults.
For infants, these values are regarded as too high; the institute recommends that mineral waters declared as suitable for infants should have uranium concentrations below a lower limit of detection of 0.2 g/L. This condition was met for 44% of the samples tested.

> View BfR release June 30, 2005: in English external link · in German external link

> Download BfR statement Uran in Mineralwasser: Bei Erwachsenen geringe Mengen tolerierbar, Wasser fr Säuglingsnahrung sollte uranfrei sein, Stellungnahme Nr. 024/2005 des BfR vom 13. Mai 2005 external link (40k PDF - in German )


BEIR VII: Health Risks From Exposure To Low Levels Of Ionizing Radiation

NAS releases BEIR VII report

On June 29, 2005, National Academy of Science external link released the report "BEIR VII: Health Risks From Exposure To Low Levels Of Ionizing Radiation".
"BEIR VII develops the most up-to-date and comprehensive risk estimates for cancer and other health effects from exposure to low-level ionizing radiation.

> View NAS release June 29, 2005 external link
> Download report brief external link (161k PDF)
> Download report summary external link (1M PDF)
> Access full report external link

> View NIRS release June 30, 2005 external link

Changes to BEIR VII Committee Composition

There have been changes to the BEIR VII phase 2 committee composition. The public can comment on the committee membership for a period of 20 days from October 5, 1999.
> View National Academy of Science announcement Oct. 5, 1999 external link


Retrospective cohort study on nuclear workers in 15 countries confirms risk of cancer after low doses of ionising radiation

Abstract
Objectives To provide direct estimates of risk of cancer after protracted low doses of ionising radiation and to strengthen the scientific basis of radiation protection standards for environmental, occupational, and medical diagnostic exposures. Design Multinational retrospective cohort study of cancer mortality.
Setting Cohorts of workers in the nuclear industry in 15 countries. [Uranium mining is not included.]
Participants 407 391 workers individually monitored for external radiation with a total follow-up of 5.2 million person years.
Main outcome measurements Estimates of excess relative risks per sievert (Sv) of radiation dose for mortality from cancers other than leukaemia and from leukaemia excluding chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, the main causes of death considered by radiation protection authorities.
Results The excess relative risk for cancers other than leukaemia was 0.97 per Sv, 95% confidence interval 0.14 to 1.97. Analyses of causes of death related or unrelated to smoking indicate that, although confounding by smoking may be present, it is unlikely to explain all of this increased risk. The excess relative risk for leukaemia excluding chronic lymphocytic leukaemia was 1.93 per Sv ( < 0 to 8.47). On the basis of these estimates, 1-2% of deaths from cancer among workers in this cohort may be attributable to radiation.
Conclusions These estimates, from the largest study of nuclear workers ever conducted, are higher than, but statistically compatible with, the risk estimates used for current radiation protection standards. The results suggest that there is a small excess risk of cancer, even at the low doses and dose rates typically received by nuclear workers in this study.

Risk of cancer after low doses of ionising radiation: retrospective cohort study in 15 countries, by E Cardis, M Vrijheid, M Blettner, et al.
BMJ, doi:10.1136/bmj.38499.599861.E0 (published 29 June 2005)
Full text available at BMJ Online First external link


German Federal Office for Radiation Protection invites comment on radiation protection guidelines

Submit comments by September 8, 2005.

> View BfS release June 16, 2005 external link (in German)
> Download Leitlinien Strahlenschutz external link (in German)


ICRP releases draft Foundation Documents for comment

ICRP invites comments on several Task Group 'Foundation Documents', supporting the coming next fundamental Recommendations of the ICRP.
Draft reportConsultation ends:
Optimisation of radiological protection 10 July 2005
Assessing dose to the representative individual
Health risks attributable to radiation24 July 2005
Dosimetric quantities
Reference animals and plants

> View draft reports external link


ICRP releases draft report on Low-dose Extrapolation of Radiation-Related Cancer Risk for comment

Comments must be submitted by 18 March 2005.

> View ICRP release Dec. 21, 2004 external link
> Download Low-dose Extrapolation of Radiation-Related Cancer Risk - Draft report external link (1.2M PDF)


UK CERRIE committee releases final report on internal emitters

The UK Committee Examining Radiation Risks of Internal Emitters (CERRIE) released its final report on Oct. 20, 2004.

> Download CERRIE Press Release Oct. 20, 2004 external link (MS WORD)
> Download Final report external link


WHO once more weakens drinking water standard for uranium to 15 micrograms per litre

> View here


ICRP issues Draft Report "Human Alimentary Tract Model for Radiological Protection" for comment

Comments must be provided by 15 November 2004.

> View ICRP release Aug. 23, 2004 external link
> Download Draft Human Alimentary Tract Model for Radiological Protection external link (2.5M PDF)


ICRP releases draft text of next fundamental Recommendations for comment

The International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) presents a draft text of the 2005 ICRP Recommendations for consultation. The new Recommendations are intended to replace the 1990 Recommendations in ICRP Publication 60.

The consultation period will end 31 December 2004.

> View ICRP release June 21, 2004 external link
> Download Draft 2005 Recommendation external link (2MB PDF)


WISE Uranium Project releases Uranium Biokinetics Calculator

On Feb. 17, 2004, WISE Uranium Project released a JavaScript-based calculator that solves ICRP's complete biokinetic model for uranium. It computes the biokinetic behaviour of uranium in the human body after intakes by inhalation, ingestion or embedded shrapnel. It can be used to determine the uranium excretion in urine associated with a given intake, or, the other way round, estimate a prior intake from a given uranium concentration in urine, for example.
> Access calculator


Survey of uranium in bottled mineral waters

An analysis of 233 bottled mineral water brands from all over the world for uranium and arsenic has been performed by the Institute of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science external link, Federal Agricultural Research Center (FAL) Braunschweig, Germany. The values found ranged from lower than the detection limit of 0.015g/L to 162 g/L for arsenic, and 232 g/L for uranium. Nearly 20% of the mineral waters exceeded the former WHO provisional guideline value for uranium of 2 g/L (WHO's current provisional guideline value is 9 g/L).

> View FAL press release (Oct. 14, 2003) external link (PDF, in German )

> Access Analysis data by mineral water name external link (www.mineralwaters.org)


NCRP issues draft report on Extrapolation of Risks from Nonhuman Experimental Systems to Man for comment

National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements

Extrapolation of Risks from Nonhuman Experimental Systems to Man external link, NCRP Draft Report SC 1-4, October 2003


U.S. EPA updates its assessment of health risks from indoor radon

EPA updates its assessment of health risks from indoor radon, which the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has determined to be the second leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking. This risk assessment is based primarily on results from a recent study of radon health effects (BEIR VI) by the NAS, with some technical adjustments and extensions.
"Results. Based on its analysis, EPA estimates that out of a total of 157,400 lung cancer deaths nationally in 1995, 21,100 (13.4%) were radon related. Among NS [never smokers], an estimated 26% were radon related. Estimates of risk per unit exposure are 5.38·10-4 per WLM for the U.S. population; 9.68·10-4/WLM for ever smokers (ES); and 1.67·10-4 per WLM for never smokers (NS). The estimated risks from lifetime exposure at the 4 pCi/L [148 Bq/m3] action level are: 2.3% for the entire population, 4.1% for ES, and 0.73% for NS. [...]"

For comparison: ICRP65(1994) uses a risk estimate per unit exposure of 2.83·10-4 per WLM.

> Download EPA assessment of risks from radon in homes, EPA 402-R-03-003, June 2003 external link (1.9 MB PDF)

On July 22, 2004, U.S. EPA updated the Inhalation Slope Factor for Radon in its HEAST Tables accordingly. The new slope factor uses a new inhalation rate of 1.78E+04 L/day (Federal Guidance Report 13, p.139); a new 40% equilibrium for decay products; and a new risk coefficient of 5.38E-4 fatal lung cancers per WLM:

Lifetime Excess Total Cancer Risk Per Unit Intake from Inhalation of Radon-222 and short-lived decay products: 7.57E-12 per pCi Radon-222
> Download revised Radionuclide Table: Radionuclide Carcinogenicity Slope Factors (July 22, 2004) external link (12.6M PDF)

See also:
Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR) VI Report: The Health Effects of Exposure to Indoor Radon, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C. 1998, ISBN 0-309-05645-4, 514 p.
> View summary and additional information external link (EPA)
> View full text external link


NRPB study confirms link between leukaemia and radiation exposure

"An independent advisory group has examined the risk of leukaemia and related cancers following exposure to ionising radiation. They conclude there is a clear link between leukaemia and radiation exposure, but not for Hodgkin disease, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Risk estimates derived for radiation-induced leukaemia in the UK population are consistent with those adopted internationally and with previous estimates of risk made by the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB). The advisory group recommends further studies of the risks to people exposed to high doses, and that more information should be obtained on people exposed to low doses, such as radiation workers."

> View NRPB release Oct. 7, 2003 external link · Study Summary and conclusions external link
> Download full study: Risk of Leukaemia and Related Malignancies following Radiation Exposure: Estimates for the UK Population: Report of an Advisory Group on Ionising Radiation, Doc NRPB 14(1) 3-117 (2003) external link (7 MB, PDF)


ICRP releases final report on protection of non-human species from radiation

> A Framework for Assessing the Impact of Ionising Radioation on Non-human Species external link, ICRP Publication 91, 2003, ISBN 0-08-044310-9, 66 pages


ICRP sets up new Task Group on Reference Animals and Plants

> Download ICRP release (Aug. 15, 2003) external link [MS Word]


NRPB dismisses ECRR radiation risk report

The British National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) completely dismissed the criticism of ICRP's assessment of radiation risk by the "self-styled" European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR).

> View NRPB response statement external link, July 24, 2003


U.S. FDA adopts uranium standard of 30 micrograms per liter for bottled water

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) external link is adopting EPA's maximum contaminant level (MCL) for uranium of 30 micrograms per liter of water as an allowable level in the quality standard regulation for bottled water.

Federal Register: March 3, 2003 (Vol. 68, No. 41) p. 9873-9882 (download full text external link)

"SUMMARY: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is amending its bottled water quality standard regulations by establishing an allowable level for the contaminant uranium. As a consequence, bottled water manufacturers are required to monitor their finished bottled water products for uranium at least once each year under the current good manufacturing practice (CGMP) regulations for bottled water. Bottled water manufacturers are also required to monitor their source water for uranium as often as necessary, but at least once every 4 years unless they meet the criteria for the source water monitoring exemptions under the CGMP regulations. [...]"

> See also Federal Register: June 9, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 110) p. 34272-34273 (download full text external link)

SUMMARY: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is confirming the effective date of December 8, 2003, for the direct final rule that appeared in the Federal Register of March 3, 2003 (68 FR 9873). [...]

> See also: EPA promulgates final rule for Radionuclides in Drinking Water, including uranium standard of 30 micrograms per litre (Dec. 2000)


WHO weakens drinking water standard for uranium to 9 micrograms per litre

> View here


ICRP releases draft reports on the effects of prenatal exposure and on the relative biological efficiency of different kinds of radiation

ICRP is currently considering two draft reports for publication, one of the effects of prenatal exposure and one on relative biological efficiency (RBE) of different kinds of radiation.
Comments arriving after 31 January 2003 can not be taken into account.
> View ICRP announcement (Dec. 18, 2002) external link
> Download Prenatal effects draft external link (3.5MB PDF) · RBE draft external link (0.5MB PDF)


NRPB publishes report on dose assessments for industrial uranium compounds

Industrial Uranium Compounds: Exposure Limits, Assessment of Intake and Toxicity after Inhalation, by N Stradling, A Hodgson, E Ansoborlo, P Bérard, G Etherington, T Fell, E Rance and B Le Guen. National Radiological Protection Board, NRPB-W22, ISBN 0-85951-493-5, Chilton, Didcot, Oxon, United Kingdom, October 2002
> View abstract and download full text external link

> See also:


U.S. DOE releases final standard for dose assessment to biota

"The DOE-approved technical standard, "A Graded Approach for Evaluating Radiation Doses to Aquatic and Terrestrial Biota (DOE-STD-1153-2002)" is now available for use in environmental radiological protection and risk assessment activities. This voluntary consensus technical standard provides methods, models, and guidance within a tiered framework for evaluating doses to biota that is generally cost-effective and easy to implement. It was developed by the Department's Biota Dose Assessment Committee (BDAC)."

DOE-STD-1153-2002   A Graded Approach for Evaluating Radiation Doses to Aquatic and Terrestrial Biota, July 2002
> Download: DOE BDAC (registration reqd.) external link · alternate source external link

RAD-BCG Calculator (Release 2.0; a companion tool for use with the DOE Technical Standard)
> Download: DOE BDAC (registration reqd.) external link (requires Microsoft Excel; Excel Viewer not sufficient)


ICRP releases draft report on protection of non-human species from radiation

Protection of Non-Human Species From Ionising Radiation external link · alternate source external link
Proposal for a Framework for the Assessment and Management of the Impact of Ionising Radiation in the Environment
Draft 2002-08-26

The final report was published in October 2003.


Dr Alice Stewart dies at age 95

Dr Alice Stewart, epidemiologist who proved links between exposure to radiation and cancer, and forced the authorities into greater openness, died on June 23, 2002, aged 95.

> View obituaries in London Times, June 27, 2002 external link · The Guardian, June 28, 2002 external link

Biography:
The Woman Who Knew Too Much: Alice Stewart and the Secrets of Radiation external link, by Gayle Greene, 360 pages, The University of Michigan Press 2001, ISBN 0-472-08783-5

> View Book review in Journal of the American Medical Association external link
> View Book review in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists external link


European Union issues guidance on dose assessments for releases from nuclear installations

"Member States of the European Union currently use different approaches both to identify reference groups and to calculate their doses. The European Commission, therefore, identified the need for a common methodology to assist in harmonisation of the approach for calculating such doses and to the application of standards throughout the EU. This report gives guidance on all aspects of the assessment of doses to reference groups from the routine operations of nuclear installations."
> Download Guidance on the assessment of radiation doses to members of the public due to the operation of nuclear installations under normal conditions external link, by K A Jones, C Walsh, A Bexon, J R Simmonds, A L Jones, M Harvey, A Artmann and R Martens (1M PDF)


NCRP issues draft radon risk report for comment

Evaluation of Occupational and Environmental Radon Risk, Draft Report SC-85, April 2002 external link

"In 1984 the NCRP published Reports numbers 77 and 78 jointly, evaluating occupational and environmental exposure to 222Rn and its decay products, and suggested risk based guidelines for personal exposure. [...] This present report updates the 1984 reports, and critically examines and summarizes the new information. [...]
This report recommends that the guidelines proposed in Report 77, of 4 WLM y-1 for occupationally exposed miners and 2 WLM y-1 for personal exposure in domestic situations are justifiable and no further reduction is recommended."

Comments should be submitted by July 1, 2002.


ICRP releases draft report "Basic Anatomical and Physiological Values" for comment

On Feb. 15, 2002, the International Commission on Radiological Protection released its draft report "Basic Anatomical and Physiological Values" for comment.
"The report of the Task Group is carefully focused to provide sets of age- and gender-specific Reference Values for anatomical and physiological characteristics for use in dosimetric calculations for radiation protection purposes. These uses may relate to either internal or external sources of radiation. This information also provides important input to the design of new phantoms of the human body."
Please send any comments you may wish to make, before 31 March 2002.

> Download: Draft report: Basic Anatomical and Physiological Values external link


European Union issues recommendation on radon in drinking water

On December 20, 2001, the European Commission issued a non-binding recommendation on radon in drinking water. It recommends to the member states to set a reference level above 100 Bq/L for radon "to be used for consideration whether remedial action is needed to protect human health". For concentrations in excess of 1000 Bq/L, "remedial action is deemed to be justified on radiological protection grounds".

COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION of 20 December 2001 on the protection of the public against exposure to radon in drinking water supplies, Official Journal of the European Communities, 28.12.2001, L 344, p.85-88
> Download Recommendation external link


UNSCEAR releases 2001 report

In November 2001, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) released its 2001 Report to the General Assembly.
"In this 2001 Report, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation has completed a comprehensive review of the hereditary risks to offspring following parental exposure to radiation. This report includes an evaluation of those diseases, which have both hereditary and environmental components, the so-called multifactorial diseases. The new information presented in this report suggests that radiation is less likely to have adverse genetic effects than had been assumed. This report provides a unique scientific basis for estimating radiation risk, establishing radiation protection and safety standards and regulating radiation sources for governments and organizations throughout the world."
> View UN announcement external link
> Access full text


U.S. EPA releases revised Radionuclide Slope Factors

On April 16, 2001 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released an update of the Health Effects Assessment Summary Tables (HEAST) for radionuclides, incorporating all new values, based on Federal Guidance Report No. 13.
> See details: HEAST external link
> See also: Risk coefficients


ICRP sets up a Task Group on Protection of the Environment

The Main Commission of ICRP has decided to set up a Task Group on protection of the environment with the purpose of developing a protection policy and establishing a framework of environmental protection based on ethical-philosophical principles. The conceptual framework of this area of work should feed into ICRP's next recommendations. The Task Group is expected to present a document by year 2003 for the major ideas to be incorporated into the new recommendation of the Commission. (ICRP news release March 23, 2001 external link)

Discussion Paper by Task Group Chairman Lars-Erik Holm external link (23k PDF)


UNSCEAR releases 2000 report

"The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) has just approved its UNSCEAR 2000 Report to the General Assembly. This is a detailed assessment of radiation sources and health effects. Particular emphasis has been given to the evaluation of exposures and health consequences of the Chernobyl accident." (UNSCEAR press release June 6, 2000 external link - PDF)
> Access full text


Revision of German Radiation Protection Standards

On July 26, 2001, the new radiation protection regulations were published in Bundesgesetzblatt 2001 Teil I Nr.38, 26. Juli 2001. The effective date is August 1, 2001.
> View full text: Bundesgesetzblatt external link or BMU external link (485k PDF, viewing only)

On June 1, 2001, the German Bundesrat (2nd chamber of parliament) approved the new radiation protection regulations with amendments watering them down.

On March 14, 2001, a revised draft of the German Radiation Protection Regulations (Strahlenschutzverordnung) has been approved by the German Federal Government. The regulations are meant to implement the EU directive 96/29/EURATOM. The regulations now are subject to approval by the Bundesrat (2nd chamber of parliament).
> View BMU press release March 14, 2001 external link (in German)
> Access Details and Downloads external link (in German)

While the first draft explicitly had excluded applicability of the new regulations to the reclamation of Wismut's former uranium mining activities, the current draft at least includes the Wismut reclamation workers under the new radiation workers standards (such as an annual dose standard of 20 mSv rather than 50 mSv). It allows for Wismut workers, however, for the exceedance of the life time dose standard of 400 mSv, provided the excess dose rate is limited to 10 mSv per year and the worker gives written consent; otherwise many of the workers currently employed by Wismut would have to cease their work.
Moreover, workers cleaning up uranium mining sites that had been abandoned before 1960, are not subject to the new radiation worker regulations, but only to the less stringent regulations for work in natural radiation environments.
For the environmental reclamation standards, however, the related regulations of the former German Democratic Republic will remain in force, until further regulations on the management of radioactive legacy will be prepared.

On May 17, 2001, several NGOs, including BUND (FOE Germany), IPPNW, Gesellschaft für Strahlenschutz, among others, criticized the proposed regulations and opposed a suspected further water-down by the 2nd chamber of parliament. The groups were specifically concerned about the following issues:

> View BUND release external link [in German]

A critical review of the proposed regulations was published by Otto Hug Institute:
Strahlengefahr für Mensch und Umwelt: Bewertungen der Anpassung der deutschen Strahlenschutzverordnung an die Forderungen der EU-Richtlinie 96/29/Euratom. Berichte des Otto Hug Strahleninstitutes 21-22, April 2000, 120 p. Authors are Bettina Dannheim, Wolfgang Baumann, Bernd Franke, Helmut Hirsch, Wolfgang Hoffmann, Wolfgang Köhnlein, Horst Kuni, Wolfgang Neumann, Inge Schmitz-Feuerhake, Angelika Zahrnt. (view details and order information external link)

Gesellschaft für Strahlenschutz external link held an international congress "Radiation Protection in the new Millennium external link" on this topic on June 9 - 10, 2000 at Bremen.

> See also New Radiation Protection Standards in European Union


National Research Council releases risk assessment report of radon in drinking water

Risk Assessment of Radon in Drinking Water, National Resarch Council, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1999, ISBN 0-309-06292-6, 293 p.
> View full report online external link


NCRP issues draft uranium report

Uranium: Radiation Protection Guidelines, NCRP Draft Report No. SC 57-15, National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements external link, Bethesda MD, August 1999, 145 p.
> Download full text external link (674K PDF format)

CONTENTS:
1. INTRODUCTION
2. LEVELS OF NATURALLY OCCURRING URANIUM
3. PHYSICAL AND CHEMICAL PROPERTIES OF URANIUM
4. ASSESSMENT OF URANIUM TOXICITY
5. TOXICOKINETIC MODELS FOR URANIUM
6. RADIATION PROTECTION GUIDES
7. EXPOSURE MONITORING PROGRAMS
8. SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Appendix A. Nuclear and Atomic Properties of Uranium Isotopes
Appendix B. History of Uranium Limits in Man

> See also extra page on uranium toxicity.


ICRP issues draft report on Prolonged Radiation Exposure

Protection Of The Public In Situations Of Prolonged Radiation Exposure - The Application Of The Commission's System Of Protection To Exposures Due To Natural Sources Of Radiation And Radioactive Residues. International Commission On Radiological Protection external link, Draft Report 42/163/97, version 3 (1999), 87 p.
> Download full text external link (383k, PDF format)

Some relevant situations involving prolonged exposure include exposure "to 'natural' radiation sources; to 'artificial' sources (including artificial uses of naturally occurring radionuclides, mainly land contaminated with radioactive residues that may remain either from the cessation and decommissioning of practices or from past human activities that were conducted either outside any control or under radiation protection requirements less stringent than those applying today and from accidents that released long-lived radionuclides to the environment); and to commodities for public consumption containing radioactive substances."


ICRP Task Group issues Draft Recommendations for disposal of Long-Lived Radioactive Waste

ICRP external link Committee 4 - Task Group On Radiation Protection Recommendations As Applied To The Disposal Of Long-Lived Solid Radioactive Waste, Draft Report 42/162/97, version 3 (1999), 23 p.
> Download full text external link (131k PDF format)


U.S. EPA requests scientific information on chronic health effects of natural uranium

For its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) external link database, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requests submission of scientific information on chronic health effects of natural uranium (CAS No. 7440-61-1).
(view full text of Notice in Federal Register: Dec. 10, 1998 (Vol. 63, No. 237) p. 68285-68287 external link)

> See also extra page on uranium toxicity.


European Union Directive for Drinking Water Establishes Dose Guidance for Radionuclides

The new directive of the European Union on drinking water quality establishes a 0.1 mSv/a total indicative dose guidance for radionuclides, excluding tritium, potassium-40, radon and radon decay products. For tritium, a separate standard of 100 Bq/l is established. The directive includes no specific value for uranium, however.
The directive has to be adopted by the EU member countries into national law within 2 years.

398L0083 - Council Directive 98/83/EC of 3 November 1998 on the quality of water intended for human consumption, Official Journal of the European Communities L 330, 5 December 1998, p. 32-54
[the radionuclide standards are contained in Annex I, Part C, p. 45]
> full English text: View HTML external link · Download text (283k PDF) external link · Download image scan (300k PDF) external link


German Society for Radiation Protection calls for tighter radiation standards

New Guidelines for Radiation Protection external link (6 Aug 1998)

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