I am profoundly grateful for being chosen as the twenty-third presenter of the Lauriston S. Taylor Lecture, and I share this honor with a list of distinguished scientists, including my husband, who pay tribute to the premier leader in radiation protection. In 1938, Laurie was working for the National Bureau of Standards and chaired the Advisory Committee on X-ray and Radium Protection, a group of 8 persons, who set the pace for all forthcoming radiation standards. NBS had, since 1913, been standardizing essentially all of the radium offered for sale in the U.S., and the problem arose to revise the handbook on proper conditions for handling radium based on the then current knowledge. This resulted in Handbook 23 (1938) superseding the 1934 work. At the time Laurie was a scientist working in the measurements side of radiation and though he contributed much to that field, his name is inseparably linked with guidance in radiation protection. Today we pay tribute for his leadership that he carried out with intelligence, grace, and personal warmth.
My talk today deals mostly with measured data for naturally occurring internal radiation emitters and how these data can be used for predictive purposes in estimating the dose and risk from internal body contamination. This stresses the “and Measurements” part of the Council's title. The topic of this year's NCRP Annual Meeting is “Radiation Protection in Medicine: Contemporary Issues.” I believe that physicians and State and Federal agencies will have to cope with complaints following various exposure situations resulting from the cleanup of background radionuclides during closure at nuclear facilities, military use of radioactivity, and occurrences of high natural background in some locations. They will find comfort in the knowledge that existing background radiation data can be the basis for predictions of realistic dose and risk in most situations.
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