This paper discusses the historical development of standards for limiting routine radiation exposures of workers and the public. The radiobiological and epidemiological basis for radiation protection standards and practices, as this basis has evolved over time, is emphasized. Difficulties with using dose equivalents and nominal risk factors, which were developed primarily for purposes of radiation protection (i.e., to establish dose limits), in estimating radiation risks at the low levels of exposure routinely experienced in the workplace and the environment are discussed. The increasing importance of the principle that exposures should be reduced as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA) in radiation protection of workers and the public is described.
©1991Health Physics Society