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LAURISTON S. TAYLOR LECTURE: THE EVOLUTION OF RADIATION PROTECTION—FROM ERYTHEMA TO GENETIC RISKS TO RISKS OF CANCER TO…?

Meinhold, Charles B.*

Special Submission

Radiation Protection has evolved and will continue to evolve as new information becomes available, as the result of changes in public perception and concern and, perhaps in the future, as a result of enormous expenditures on reducing small risks. In the early part of the last century it was a sense of real danger among medical Practitioners that prompted the first set of exposure limiting suggestions. Addressing medical concerns continued to be the basis of guidance until after the Second World War. An array of new sources and applications led to new approaches, which modified many of the technical issues but didn’t result in substantial changes in the dose limits. Fallout from the first generation of thermonuclear weapons in the 1950’s resulted in focusing attention on genetic effects, which continued until the middle 1970’s. Data from the Japanese Survivor Studies provided the information for risk based recommendations beginning in 1977 and continue to do so today. Both the ICRP and the NCRP are heavily criticized by both those groups of individuals which believe the risk estimates are underestimated and by those which believe the risks are greatly overestimated. Perhaps both organizations can take some comfort in Saint Thomas Aquinas’ suggestion, “In medio virtus.

* National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, 7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 400, Bethesda, MD 20814.

For correspondence or reprints contact: the author at the above address, or email at cmeinhold@bnl.gov.

(Manuscript received 6 April 2004; accepted 18 May 2004)

©2004Health Physics Society