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Kocher D. C.; Eckerman, K. F.; Leggett, R. W.
Health Physics: August 1988
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This paper discusses the relationship between standards for limiting radiation exposures of individuals in the general public and limitation of lifetime risk. Most current radiation standards for the public in the United States specify limits on dose for each year of exposure. Particularly for internal exposures, we show that such standards may correspond poorly with a limit on lifetime risk when the age dependence of radionuclide intakes and dose is taken into account. We then show that standards which specify limits on annual dose averaged over a lifetime, with a subsidiary limit on dose in any year, correspond more closely with a limit on lifetime risk. Finally, we discuss standards far public exposures that are expressed directly as limits on lifetime risk. The development of risk standards would require consideration of age-dependent radiogenic risks and competing risks from all other causes as well as age-dependent dosimetry. We present sample calculations of lifetime risks from acute and chronic intakes that would support such a standard. We suggest that implementation of a standard for lifetime risk would require modification or abandonment of several radiation protection practices embodied in standards which specify limits on dose.

©1988Health Physics Society