THESE ARE exciting and challenging times for the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP). The 11 March 2011 Fukushima nuclear reactor accident brought into vivid focus the need to update radiation guidance and improve risk communication. The 2007 International Commission on Radiological Protection recommendations generated interest and action around the world and coincided with U.S. initiatives to update and revise our protection regulations. The remarkable increase in public exposure to medical radiological imaging (over 85 million computed tomography exams per year!) accentuates the need for continued protection guidance in the medical arena and in other circumstances involving the beneficial uses of ionizing radiation. There is also the concern of terrorist actions using radiation sources for destructive as well as psychological effects.
The vision for NCRP is illuminated in the 2013 Annual Meeting entitled, “Radiation Dose and the Impacts on Exposed Populations,” which is dedicated to the people of Fukushima who suffered after the earthquake, tsunami, and reactor accident. The proceedings of the 2013 Annual Meeting will be published in Health Physics and for the first time will be made available free of charge due to the generous support of the Radiation Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute (NCI). You’ll note throughout the proceedings that the scientists at the National Cancer Institute were major contributors to this year’s Annual Meeting. On behalf of NCRP, I also would like to thank Drs. S.Y. Chen (Argonne National Laboratory) and Bruce Napier (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) for their leadership of the Program Committee, and also express appreciation to the other members of the Program Committee: Chris Clement (International Commission on Radiological Protection), Barry Fountos (U.S. Department of Energy), Kathy Held (Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School), Paul Locke (Johns Hopkins University), David Pawel (U.S-Environmental Protection Agency), Kaz Sakai (National Institute of Radiological Sciences, Japan), Steve Simon (NCI), John Till (Risk Assessment Corporation), and Shunichi Yamashita (Fukushima Medical University). They were terrific in organizing a stellar, interesting, and informative Annual Meeting.
NCRP and the Radiation Research Society (RRS) were pleased to welcome the first NCRP/RRS Scholars to this year’s Annual Meeting. The three young scientists below received competitive travel awards made possible by the generosity of RRS. This new initiative is aimed at encouraging and retaining young scientists in the field of radiation science. Eligible applicants included junior faculty or students in the radiation sciences or junior health or medical physicists:
- Rebecca Abergel, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
- Caitlin Mills, McMaster University
- Christopher E. Nielsen, Battelle-Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Other innovations for the 2013 Annual Meeting include:
- Written questions during the meeting and published/posted answers;
- Live webcasting of presentations and availability on NCRP website;
- Brief bios and photos in the Program of all participants;
- Goal for proceedings to be published in 2013;
- Free access to proceedings—thanks to NCI;
- Brief “email” survey after the meeting to learn how to improve;
- Reinstating the reception line for the Sinclair Keynote Speaker and the Taylor Lecturer; and
- Rapid summary published in Health Physics News, thanks to Bruce Napier and Genevieve Roessler.
NCRP IN 2012
The 2012 calendar year was productive with the publication of NCRP commentaries, reports, proceedings, and scientific articles. These include:
- NCRP Report No. 170, Second Primary Cancers and Cardiovascular Disease After Radiation Therapy (Chaired by Lois B. Travis);
- NCRP Report No. 171, Uncertainties in the Estimation of Radiation Risks and Probability of Disease Causation (Chaired by R. Julian Preston);
- NCRP Report No. 172, Reference Levels and Achievable Doses in Medical and Dental Imaging: Recommendations for the United States (Chaired by James A. Brink);
- NCRP Report No. 173, Investigation of Radiological Incidents (Chaired by David S. Myers).
The NCRP 47th Annual Meeting on ‘‘Scientific and Policy Challenges of Particle Radiations in Medical Therapy and Space Missions’’ was published in Health Physics (103:529–684; 2012). Commendably chaired by Kathryn D. Held, the publication showcases the current scientific knowledge regarding charged particles, enhanced cross-fertilization between the oncology and space scientific communities, and identified common needs and challenges to both communities and suggestions to address them. An informative overview with photos is found in the June 2011 issue of Health Physics News:
- The 2011 Proceedings included the 35th Lauriston S. Taylor Lecture on Radiation Protection and Measurements by Eleanor A. Blakely on “What Makes Particle Radiation so Effective?” (Health Phys 103:508–528; 2012) and the 8th Annual Warren K. Sinclair Keynote Address by Marco Durante on “Heavy Ions in Therapy and Space: Benefits and Risks” (Health Phys 103:532–539; 2012).
- An article commenting on NCRP Report No. 170 was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute by the Scientific Committee members (Travis et al. 2012). Publishing a summary of completed NCRP reports and commentaries in the broader scientific literature is now a recommended goal.
- An article commenting on NCRP Report No. 171 appeared in the Journal of Radiation Protection (Preston et al. 2013).
- Publishing a summary of completed NCRP reports and commentaries in the broader scientific literature is now strongly encouraged and anticipated.
NCRP is continuing to move forward to address the evolving and challenging issues of radiation protection facing our nation. Anticipated publications in 2013 include:
- NCRP Report No. 174 on Preconception and Prenatal Radiation Exposure: Health Effects and Protective Guidance (Chaired by Robert L. Brent).
- NCRP Report No. 175 on Decision Making for Late-Phase Recovery from Nuclear or Radiological Incidents (Chaired by S.Y. Chen).
- The Proceedings of the 48th Annual Meeting in 2012 on “Emerging Issues in Radiation Protection in Medicine, Emergency Response, and the Nuclear Fuel Cycle,” admirably chaired by Richard E. Toohey, will be published in Health Physics (see the informative summary appearing in the April 2012 issue of Health Physics News).
- The Proceedings of the 49th Annual Meeting Proceedings in 2013 on “Radiation Dose and the Impacts on Exposed Populations” (Chairs S.Y. Chen and Bruce A. Napier) was planned to be published in the same year (2013) as the meeting is held. This is a new attempt to make our publications more timely and accessible. Unfortunately, we were a bit short for this first attempt, but the proceedings will be published in early 2014.
- Guidance on computed tomography use in emergency medicine will be provided in a journal publication titled, “Applications of Justification and Optimization in Medical Imaging: Examples of Clinical Guidance for Computed Tomography Use in Emergency Medicine.”
Active committees are preparing the following NCRP reports or commentaries:
- Commentary on Integrating Basic Science with Epidemiological Studies on Low-Dose Radiation Effects (Chaired by Sally A. Amundson and Jonine L. Bernstein);
- Report on Biological Effectiveness of Low Energy Radiations (Chaired by Steven L. Simon);
- Peer-review report on Operation Tomodachi Radiation Dose Assessment Peer Review (Chaired by John E. Till);
- Report on Deriving Organ Doses and Their Uncertainty for Epidemiologic Studies (Guidance for the One Million U.S. Radiation Workers and Veterans Study) (Chaired by Andre Bouville); and
- Commentary on Radiation Safety Aspects of Nanotechnology (Chaired by Mark D. Hoover and David S. Myers).
Possible committee and NCRP activities being considered in 2013 and beyond include:
- Workshop on training, engaging, and retaining radiation scientists to address our national needs—the WARP initiative (Where Are the Radiation Professionals?—A National Crisis);
- Approaches to improve radiation risk communication, perception, and outreach (creation of a new program area committee);
- Environmental radiation such as tritium, 14C, and 226Ra from manmade and natural sources and technically enhanced, naturally occurring radioactive materials (e.g., fracking);
- Radiation exposures in space and protection issues surrounding the potential for central nervous system effects;
- Radiation exposures in short-term missions in space and protection issues, touching briefly on exploratory missions;
- Updating NCRP Report No. 116 (1993) on basic recommendations for radiation protection in the United States;
- Radiation protection in dentistry;
- Radiation protection and the use of sealed sources;
- Issues surrounding mobile phone, radiofrequency, and other nonionizing radiation uses; and
- Expanding NCRP efforts in medicine, such as quality management in radiological medical imaging, electronically tracking patient exposures, and collaborating on the update of a Radiation Risk Primer, published by the American College of Radiology several decades ago.
Finally we will be considering these general NCRP activities in 2013:
- Partnering with the Radiation Research Society to provide travel awards for young scientists to attend the annual meeting;
- Assigning each Council member to a Program Area Committee (PAC) and having more frequent PAC meetings;
- Developing approaches to broaden our financial integrity;
- Becoming more attuned to the modern age with Twitter®, Facebook®, webcasts, dynamic electronic publishing, and website development; and
- Participating in meetings or conferences of the International Commission on Radiological Protection, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, the Radiation Research Society, the Health Physics Society, the Radiological Society of North America Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting, the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors’ Annual Meeting, the American Association of Physicists in Medicine Annual Meeting, the Veterans Advisory Board for Dose Reconstruction, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Regulatory Information Conference, the Federal Radiological Preparedness Coordinating Committee, and seminar series sponsored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Harvard University, Colorado State University, Fukushima Medical University, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, the American Board of Radiology Foundation national summit to address the safe and appropriate use of medical imaging, and other venues to increase NCRP visibility and impact.
Our reports, activities, members, programs, and more can be found on the NCRP website, http://www.ncrponline.org. The NCRP program of activities is made possible by the partnership and financial support from many governmental agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Cancer Institute, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Gifts from our corporate sponsors and many collaborating organizations remain critical to our continued success and are gratefully acknowledged. Finally, the NCRP remains a dynamic and influential organization only because of the generous contributions of time and knowledge made by Council members, PAC and committee chairmen and members, the Board of Directors, Senior Vice Presidents, consultants, and the NCRP staff!
These are the best of times, and opportunities abound. We’re only limited by our imagination. Please help NCRP as we forge forward for a fabulous future!
INTRODUCING THE KEYNOTE SPEAKER, DR. SHUMICHI YAMASHITA
Just over 10 y ago, in 2003, Warren K. Sinclair, the second President of NCRP (1977–1991) and President Emeritus (1991 to present), made a generous contribution to NCRP that established a keynote address series named in his honor. Each year, a distinguished scientist in the field of science on which the Annual Meeting is focused is selected to present the Warren K. Sinclair Keynote Address. NCRP thanks Warren for the generous contribution that “keeps on giving” and continues to make this annual meeting highlight possible. The speaker receives an honorarium and a plaque commemorating this honor.
It is now my great pleasure to introduce my friend and colleague, Shunichi Yamashita, as the 10th Warren K. Sinclair Keynote Speaker. Shunichi is currently the Vice President of Fukushima Medical University, responsible for the long-term follow-up and health management of over two million residents of Fukushima Prefecture affected by the great earthquake of 2011 and the subsequent destruction caused by the tsunami and then the nuclear reactor accident. Dr. Yamashita graduated from Nagasaki University School of Medicine in 1978 and was an endocrine research fellow at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, 1984–1987. In 1990, Dr. Yamashita became a full Professor of Molecular Medicine and International Radiation Health at the Atomic Bomb Disease Institute, Nagasaki University School of Medicine. For more than 20 y, he has been deeply involved in Chernobyl and Semipalatinsk medical aid projects. In 2011, he left Nagasaki University for Fukushima after the Fukushima Nuclear Accident, and he is currently the Adviser to the Governor of Fukushima Prefecture on Health Risk Management. He is President of the Japan Thyroid Association and also a council member of the Asia and Oceania Thyroid Association, and Director of the World Health Organization’s collaborating Center for Research on Radiation Emergency Medical Preparedness and Response Network. He is currently a member of the Science Council of Japan. Shunichi is not a stranger to NCRP and previously spoke at the 2006 Annual Meeting on Public Perception of Risks, Rehabilitation Measures, and Long-Term Health Implications of Nuclear Accidents (Yamashita et al. 2007)—presciently similar to his 2013 address entitled, Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident and Comprehensive Health Risk Management. [Noted added after the meeting: Despite the early hour of 8:30 am on a Monday morning, Dr. Yamashita’s presentation was so anticipated that the auditorium was at near full capacity—SRO!].
Welcome to 49th Proceedings (Video 2:02, http://links.lww.com/HP/A23)
Preston RJ, Boice JD Jr, Brill AB, Chakraborty R, Conolly R, Hoffman FO, Hornung RW, Kocher DC, Land CE, Shore RE, Woloshak GE. Uncertainties in estimating health risks associated with exposure to ionising radiation. J Radiat Protect 33: 573–588; 2013.
Travis LB, Ng AK, Allan JM, Pui CH, Kennedy AR, Xu XG, Purdy JA, Applegate K, Yahalom J, Constine LS, Gilbert ES, Boice JD Jr. Commentary: second cancers and cardiovascular disease following radiotherapy. J Natl Cancer Inst 104: 1–14; 2012.
Yamashita S, Carr Z, Repacholi M. Long-term health implications of the Chernobyl accident and relevant projects of the World Health Organization. Health Phys 93: 538–541; 2007.