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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 44  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 59-60  

ICRP Recommendations: Fit for purpose

Editor, RPE; Ex. Radiation Safety Systems Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Date of Submission29-Sep-2021
Date of Acceptance29-Sep-2021
Date of Web Publication23-Oct-2021

Correspondence Address:
D D Rao
Editor, RPE; Ex. Radiation Safety Systems Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/rpe.rpe_37_21

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How to cite this article:
Rao D D. ICRP Recommendations: Fit for purpose. Radiat Prot Environ 2021;44:59-60

How to cite this URL:
Rao D D. ICRP Recommendations: Fit for purpose. Radiat Prot Environ [serial online] 2021 [cited 2023 Mar 28];44:59-60. Available from: https://www.rpe.org.in/text.asp?2021/44/2/59/329137

International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) recommends radiation protection guidelines for the protection of workers, public, and the environment, in addition to using the guidelines for medical exposure. Scientific Secretary, ICRP, and other researchers from different countries associated with ICRP have published an article, “Keeping the ICRP recommendations fit for purpose” in Journal of Radiological Protection (2021, https://doi.org/10.1088/1361-6498/ac1611). They also stated that the work published is of authors' collective engagements over the years and not the official position of ICRP. The statement of “Fit for Purpose” is exactly what the recommendation must be used for laying guidelines and standards for radiation protection of public and radiation workers, and not more than that. Over-enthusiasm in applying risk coefficients for all purposes, such as cancer risk estimates for trivial normal background radiation exposure and cancer risk estimates for cumulative population exposures (by multiplying the average exposures with number of population), needs to be stopped.

The purpose of this paper is to describe the various stages of ICRP recommendations, pinpoint the gap areas, and encourage scientists and stakeholders to research and publish material useful for ICRP, leading to the revision of ICRP-103 (2007) general recommendations. The general recommendations of ICRP-103 came into force to replace ICRP-60 recommendations over more than two decades. By going on this logic, the revision of ICRP-103 recommendations may come out only after 2030.

The authors point out that quite a significant work has been accomplished since the publication of ICRP-103 recommendations by various committees of ICRP by bringing out several publications. A few of them are ICRP-124 (2014a) on protection of the environment under different exposure situations; ICRP-126 (2014b) on radiological protection against radon exposure; ICRP-118 (2012) on statement on threshold doses from tissue reactions; ICRP-108 (2008) on use of reference animals and plants; ICRP-138 (2018) on ethical basis of radiological protection; ICRP-113 (2009c) on education and training for workers and member of public; ICRP-147 (2021) on use of dose quantities of equivalent and effective doses; ICRP-143 (2020a) on pediatric reference computational phantoms; ICRP-110 (2009a) on adult reference computational phantoms and many others.

It has been stated that ICRP-103 recommendations have worked very well in meeting the requirements of Fit for Purpose. However, to keep pace with the developments in science, to develop better communications, and also to include the stakeholders, it is always desirable to bring out new recommendations to replace ICRP-103. Some of the important objectives and features of the paper are:

  • Encourage discussions throughout the radiological protection community and beyond on which areas of the system might gain the greatest benefit from detailed review and refinement
  • Initiate and shape collaborative efforts to examine prioritized areas and develop improvements
  • Help define the ICRP program of work for the coming years
  • The need to take into account the quality of life in the justification of many decisions. In medicine, challenges related to justification arise from increased healthcare complexity and increased use of imaging, with wider stakeholder expectations, participation, and demands
  • There is a need to revisit the definitions of exposure situations (planned, existing, and emergency) to improve clarity and to review how they can be best applied based on more decades of experience
  • Further clarity is needed on the interpretation and use of the exposure situations and transitions between them. It is also worth considering how potential exposures, or safety, fit into this scheme
  • Some recent results demonstrate relationships at doses <0.1 Gy with little evidence of the existence of a threshold, even if there are large uncertainties.

In addition to a few of the above features, there are many observations on gap areas or the need for improvement in the general recommendations. This is definitely an opportunity for researchers to conduct scientific investigations particularly on dose–risk relationship in low levels of exposure. High impact publications are essentially needed in this area and also on LNT hypothesis to get the outcome of their work find place in ICRP decisions. This is all the more important for DAE/university professionals from India to engage in basic research related to radiation exposure from high background radiation regions and/or use already existing data to publish their work in reputed journals so as to get noticed/used by ICRP for their upcoming recommendations.


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