Radiation and Health - Current Issues
(last updated 31 Mar 2018)
See also: Regulatory Issues USA · Other Countries
This publication comprises a report to the General Assembly with two underpinning scientific annexes. The first annex provides the principles and criteria for ensuring the quality of the Committee's reviews of epidemiological studies of radiation exposures, with a focus on the assessment of strengths and limitations of such studies. The second annex evaluates epidemiological studies analysing cancer risk on the basis of individual doses due to exposure to low dose rates from environmental sources, including key limitations of such studies (e.g. statistical power, dosimetric uncertainty and confounding).
> Access UNSCEAR 2017 report , March 30, 2018
> View ICRP release, Feb. 26, 2018
Other than indicated in this news release, the publication is not available for download.
"For … inhalation of radon and radon progeny in underground mines and in buildings, in most circumstances, the Commission recommends a dose coefficient of 3 mSv per mJ h m-3 (approximately 10 mSv WLM-1) … However, for indoor workplaces where workers are engaged in substantial physical activities, and for workers in tourist caves, the Commission recommends a dose coefficient of 6 mSv per mJ h m-3 (approximately 20 mSv WLM-1)"
> View: ICRP release Feb. 2, 2018
> Download: Summary of ICRP Recommendations on Radon , Jan. 26, 2018 (91k PDF)
> View: ICRP release Jan. 30, 2018
> View: Bibliographic information on ICRP Publication 137
Occupational Intakes of Radionuclides Part 3, by F. Paquet, M.R. Bailey, R.W. Leggett, et al., ICRP Publication 137, Ann. ICRP 46(3/4), 2017
[includes uranium and several nuclides of the uranium decay series]
U.S. EPA invites comment on plan for IRIS health assessment on uranium:
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing a 30-day public comment period associated with release of the draft IRIS [Integrated Risk Information System] Assessment Plan for Uranium. This document communicates information on the scoping needs identified by EPA program and regional offices and the IRIS Program's initial problem formulation activities.
Submit comments by March 2, 2018.
> Federal Register Volume 83, Number 21 (Wednesday, January 31, 2018) p. 4479-4480 (download full text )
> Federal Register Volume 83, Number 33 (Friday, February 16, 2018) p. 7035-7036 (download full text )
> View IRIS page for Uranium
> Download IRIS Assessment Plan for Uranium
> Access Docket ID: EPA-HQ-ORD-2017-0747 [Docket ID corrected]
"OBJECTIVES: There is growing evidence of an association between low-dose external gamma-radiation and circulatory system diseases (CSDs), yet sparse data exist about an association with chronic internal uranium exposure and the role of non-radiation risk factors. We conducted a nested case-control study of French AREVA NC Pierrelatte nuclear workers employed between 1960 and 2005 to estimate CSD risks adjusting for major CSD risk factors (smoking, blood pressure, body mass index, total cholesterol and glycaemia) and external gamma-radiation dose.
RESULTS: Workers were exposed to very low radiation doses (mean gamma-radiation dose 2 and lung uranium dose 1 mGy). A positive but imprecise association was observed (excess OR per mGy 0.2, 95% CI 0.004 to 0.5). Results obtained after adjustment suggest that uranium
exposure might be an independent CSD risk factor.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that a positive association might exist between internal uranium exposure and CSD mortality, not confounded by CSD risk factors. [...]"
Circulatory disease in French nuclear fuel cycle workers chronically exposed to uranium: a nested case-control study, by Zhivin S, Guseva Canu I, Davesne E, et al., in: Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Oct. 31, 2017, aheadofprint
"This publication covers polonium behaviour in the terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments, dose considerations and mitigation and remediation options. Additionally, case studies are presented. The primary objective is to provide Member States with information for use in the radiological assessment of accidental releases and routine discharges of polonium in the environment, and in remediation planning for areas contaminated by polonium."
"Polonium-210 is the main contributor to internal doses due to ingestion
of radionuclides from the uranium and thorium decay series. With the expected
increase in uranium mining and other industries generating naturally occurring
radioactive material residues in the future, it is likely that the radiological impact
of 210Po will increase in importance." [emphasis added]
> Download: The environmental behaviour of polonium , Technical reports series No. 484, International Atomic Energy Agency, Nov. 2017 (3.4MB PDF)
Radiation bystander effect observed with DU exposure of cell cultures
> View here
"[...] We found weak but significant positive correlations between drinking water U concentrations and incidence rates of tumors/growths and liver diseases. Odds ratios and relative risks for these disease groups showed significantly elevated values for counties with maximum U drinking water concentrations >10 µg/L, for thyroid diseases only for counties with mean drinking water U >2 µg/L. [...]"
Source: Drinking Water Uranium and Potential Health Effects in the German Federal State of Bavaria , by Banning A, Benfer M, in: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Aug. 18, 2017 (1.3MB PDF - open access)
Submit comments by July 21, 2017.
> View: ICRP release Apr. 20, 2017
> Download: draft report
The annexes A and B provide the methodology for estimating public exposures due to radioactive discharges from electricity generation and compare the radiation exposure resulting from electricity generation including nuclear, coal, gas, oil, geothermal, solar and wind. The annexes C and D examine the biological effects of internal exposure to radiation resulting from selected internal emitters (tritium and uranium).
> Download: UNSCEAR 2016 Report: Sources, Effects and Risks of Ionizing Radiation , United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, UNSCEAR 2016 Report to the General Assembly, with scientific annexes, Feb. 8, 2017
> View: ICRP release Nov. 10, 2016
The ICRP computational framework for internal dose assessment for reference adults: specific absorbed fractions. ICRP Publication 133. Ann. ICRP 45(2), 1-74, 2016
On July 14, 2016, ICRP released the draft report "Occupational Intakes of Radionuclides Part 4" for public consultation.
Submit comments by 16 September 2016.
> Download: draft report
On July 5, 2016, ICRP released the draft report "Dose Coefficients for Non-human Biota Environmentally Exposed to Radiation" for public consultation.
Submit comments by 7 October 2016.
> Download: draft report
> View: ICRP release Oct. 23, 2015
Occupational Intakes of Radionuclides: Part 1, by F. Paquet, G. Etherington, M.R. Bailey, et al., ICRP Publication 130, Ann. ICRP 44(2), 2015
In a study of workers exposed to radiation at low dose rates typically encountered in
nuclear industries in France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the results
suggest a linear increase in the relative rate of cancer with increasing exposure to
Contrary to the belief that high dose rate exposures are substantially more
dangerous than low dose rate exposures, the risk per unit of radiation dose for
cancer among radiation workers was similar to estimates derived from studies of
Japanese atomic bomb survivors.
Risk of cancer from occupational exposure to ionising radiation: retrospective cohort study of workers in France, the United Kingdom, and the United States (INWORKS), by David B Richardson, Elisabeth Cardis, Robert D Daniels, et al., in: British Medical Journal 2015;351;h5359 (open access)
Ionising radiation in the workplace - Low risk but not no risk, by Mark P Little, in:British Medical Journal 2015;351;h5405 (open access)
"[...] Given the limited nature of the planned WHO revisions to the inorganic toxic
substances and the extended timetable for these revisions, we suggest that governments, researchers, and other stakeholders might establish independent recommendations for inorganic toxic substances and possibly other chemicals to proactively protect public health, or at the very least, revert to previous editions of the Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality, which were more protective of public health."
Urgent need to reevaluate the latest World Health Organization guidelines for toxic inorganic substances in drinking water , by Frisbie SH, Mitchell EJ, Sarkar B, in: Environmental Health Vol. 14, No. 1, Aug. 13, 2015, p. 63 (open access for full text)
> See also: Scientists raise serious concerns over latest increase of WHO's drinking-water guideline for uranium
> See also: WHO raises drinking water guideline for uranium to 30 micrograms per litre
Submit comments by November 3, 2015.
> Federal Register Volume 80, Number 172 (Friday, September 4, 2015) p. 53585-53586 (download full text )
> Download: Reassessment of NRC's Dollar Per Person-Rem Conversion Factor Policy, NUREG-1530, Rev. 1, Draft Report for Comment , August 2015
> Access: Docket ID NRC-2015-0063
> Download NRC Response to Public Comments , Jan. 19, 2017 (315kB PDF)
> Download NRC Response to Public Comments , Feb. 15, 2017 (207kB PDF)
Comments must be submitted through the ICRP website no later than 9 October 2015.
> View ICRP release Aug. 6, 2015
> Download Draft ICRP report (2.4MB PDF)
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has received
three petitions for rulemaking (PRM) requesting that the NRC amend its
"Standards for Protection Against Radiation" regulations and change
the basis of those regulations from the Linear No-Threshold (LNT) model
of radiation protection to the radiation hormesis model. The radiation
hormesis model provides that exposure of the human body to low levels
of ionizing radiation is beneficial and protects the human body against
deleterious effects of high levels of radiation. Whereas, the LNT model
provides that radiation is always considered harmful, there is no
safety threshold, and biological damage caused by ionizing radiation
(essentially the cancer risk) is directly proportional to the amount of
radiation exposure to the human body (response linearity).
Comments should be filed no later than November 19, 2015 (comment period extended).
> Federal Register Volume 80, Number 120 (Tuesday, June 23, 2015) p. 35870-35872 (download full text )
> Federal Register Volume 80, Number 162 (Friday, August 21, 2015) p. 50804-50805 (download full text )
> Access Docket ID NRC-2015-0057
Ionising radiation and risk of death from leukaemia and lymphoma in radiation-monitored workers (INWORKS): an international cohort study , by Klervi Leuraud, David B Richardson, Elisabeth Cardis, et al., in: The Lancet Haematology, published online June 22, 2015 (open access)
> UNSCEAR 2012 Report
> UNSCEAR 2012 Report
Deadline for comments: July 20, 2015.
> Download: Regulatory Control of Radioactive Discharges to the Environment, March 2015: Draft Safety Guide DS442 (Draft 5) · Document Preparation Profile
Deadline for comments: July 20, 2015.
> Download: Radiation Protection of the Public and Protection of the Environment, March 2015: Draft Safety Guide DS432 · Document Preparation Profile
Deadline for comments: July 20, 2015.
> Download: A general framework for prospective radiological environmental impact assessment and protection of the public, March 2015: Draft Safety Guide DS427 Version 6 · Document Preparation Profile
From the abstract: "[...] The current chemical guideline value of 30 µg/L is still designated as provisional because of scientific uncertainties regarding uranium toxicity. During the same period, the radiological guideline for 238U increased from 4 Bq/L to 10 Bq/L while that for 234U decreased from 4 Bq/L to 1 Bq/L. These discrepancies are discussed here, and a value of 1 Bq/L for all uranium isotopes is proposed to be more consistent with the current chemical value of 30 µg/L. [...]"
Uranium in drinking-water: A unique case of guideline value increases and discrepancies between chemical and radiochemical guidelines, by Ansoborlo E, Lebaron-Jacobs L, Prat O, in: Environment International, Jan 13, 2015 (aheadofprint)
> See also: WHO raises drinking water guideline for uranium to 30 micrograms per litre
From the abstract: "[...] The effective dose per unit intake calculated using the dissolution parameters derived from the maximum likelihood and the Bayesian analyses was higher than the current ICRP dose coefficient for type F uranium by a factor of 2 or 7, respectively; the higher value of the latter was due to use of the revised respiratory tract model. The dissolution parameter values obtained here may be more appropriate to use for radiation protection purposes when individuals are exposed to a UF6 mixture that contains an insoluble uranium component."
US Transuranium and Uranium Registries case study on accidental exposure to uranium hexafluoride, by Avtandilashvili M, Puncher M, McComish SL, et al., in: Journal of Radiological Protection, Jan. 12, 2015 (aheadofprint)
> View ICRP release Nov. 27, 2014
On Nov. 7, 2014, the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) announced that two new Task Groups have been formed under Committee 4 on the Application of the Commission's Recommendations:
Deadline for comments: 5 December 2014.
> View DS455 - Establishing the Infrastructure for Radiation Safety (Aug. 8, 2014)
Deadline for comments: 20 June 2014.
> Download DS453 - Occupational Radiation Protection (Feb. 25, 2014)
Member States are required to transpose the new Directive into national law by 6 February 2018.
> Download: Council Directive 2013/59/Euratom of 5 December 2013 laying down basic safety standards for protection against the dangers arising from exposure to ionising radiation, and repealing Directives 89/618/Euratom, 90/641/Euratom, 96/29/Euratom, 97/43/Euratom and 2003/122/Euratom, Official Journal of the European Union L13, Vol. 57, 17 Jan 2014, p. 1-73
> See also: New European Union Basic Safety Standards may water down standards for cleanup of remaining Wismut uranium mine sites in Germany
UNSCEAR 2013 Report: Sources, effects and risks of ionizing radiation
"[...] This paper reviews the WHO drinking-water guideline for U, from its introduction as a 2 µg L-1 health-based guideline in 1998 through its increase to a 30 µg L-1 health-based guideline in 2011. The current 30 µg L-1 WHO health-based drinking-water guideline was calculated using a ''no-effect group'' with ''no evidence of renal damage [in humans] from 10 renal toxicity indicators''. However, this nominal ''no-effect group'' was associated with increased diastolic blood pressure, systolic blood pressure, and glucose excretion in urine. In addition, the current 30 µg L-1 guideline may not protect children, people with predispositions to hypertension or osteoporosis, pre-existing chronic kidney disease, and anyone with a long exposure. The toxic effects of U in drinking water on laboratory animals and humans justify a re-evaluation by the WHO of its decision to increase its U drinking-water guideline." [emphasis added]
Frisbie SH, Mitchell EJ, Sarkar B: World Health Organization increases its drinking-water guideline for uranium, in: Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts Vol. 15 No. 10 (Sep. 25, 2013), p. 1817-1823
> See also: WHO raises drinking water guideline for uranium to 30 micrograms per litre
"[...] The present work describes the application of parameter uncertainty analysis to quantify uncertainties resulting from internal exposures to 238U, 226Ra, 239Pu, 241Am, 137Cs, 90Sr, 131I, 129I, and 3H by members of the UK public, confining consideration to uncertainties in biokinetic models and parameter values. The report does not consider uncertainties in risk directly, but derives uncertainties in the biokinetic models that are used to calculate the retention and excretion of radionuclides in the body, in order to calculate distributions of effective dose per unit intake. The central values and ranges of the distributions are used to inform the derivation of uncertainty factors (UF) for the different dose coefficients. A UF indicates a 95% probability of the risk coefficient being within a factor, UF, of the nominal risk associated with the appropriate ICRP dose coefficient, E50, with respect to uncertainties in the biokinetic model and parameter values. The inferred UF values are around 2-3 for ingestion and 2-6 for inhalation for all age groups. [...]"
> Assessing the Reliability of Dose Coefficients for Ingestion and Inhalation of Radionuclides by Members of the Public, HPA-CRCE-048 , by M Puncher and J D Harrison, Health Protection Agency, Public Health England, April 2013, 90 pp.
> See also: The reliability of dose coefficients for inhalation and ingestion of uranium by members of the public, by M Puncher, G Burt, in: Radiation Protection Dosimetry, May 23, 2013 (ahead of print)
U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) releases final update of Toxicological Profile for Uranium
> View here
United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation:
Biological Mechanisms of Radiation Actions at Low Doses, A white paper to guide the Scientific Committee's future programme of work , New York 2012 (900kB PDF)
> Download ICRP Publication 119 , Annals of the ICRP Volume 41, Supplement (Oct. 2012)
A corrected version was published in Annals of the ICRP Volume 42, Issue 4 (August 2013).
Comments are due by December 21, 2012.
> View ICRP release Sep. 20, 2012
> Download Draft Report: Occupational Intakes of Radionuclides Part 2 (2.3MB PDF)
> View ICRP release Sep. 20, 2012
> Download Draft Report: Occupational Intakes of Radionuclides Part 3 (2.8MB PDF)
> View ICRP release Aug. 28, 2012
Comments are due October 12, 2012.
> Download Protection of the Environment under Different Exposure Situations (July 18, 2012)
Parametric values for radon and tritium and parametric values for Total Indicative
Dose, for other radioactive substances, in water intended for human consumption
Note 1: Excluding tritium, potassium-40, radon and short-lived radon decay products
|Total indicative dose||0.10 mSv/year (Note 1)
The Total indicative dose (TID) is the committed effective dose for one year of intake resulting from all the radionuclides whose presence in a water supply has been detected, both of natural and artificial origin, excluding tritium, potassium-40, radon and short-lived radon decay products.
The TID shall be calculated from the radionuclide concentrations and the dose coefficients for adults laid down in Annex III, Table A of Directive 96/29/Euratom or more recent information recognised by the competent authorities in the Member State (assuming an intake of 730 litres per year).
> Download: Proposal for a COUNCIL DIRECTIVE laying down requirements for the protection of the health of the general public with regard to radioactive substances in water intended for human consumption , COM(2012) 147 final, 2012/0074 (NLE), March 28, 2012 (101k PDF)
Closing date for Member States' comments: 13 August 2012.
> Download: Protection of the Public against Exposure Indoors due to Natural Sources of Radiation, Draft Safety Guide No. DS421 , International Atomic Energy Agency, April 2012 (1.3MB PDF)
Conversion Coefficients for Radiological Protection Quantities for External Radiation Exposures , ICRP Publication 116, Ann. ICRP 40(2–5), 2010
"[...] The operational quantities for photons, neutrons, and electrons continue to provide a good approximation for the conversion coefficients for effective dose for the energy ranges considered in ICRP Publication 74 and ICRU Report 57, but not at the higher energies considered in the present report. [...]"
Comments are due by April 13, 2012.
> View ICRP release Feb. 23, 2012
> Download Draft Report: Occupational Intakes of Radionuclides Part 1 (2MB PDF)
Comments are due by June 8, 2012.
> View ICRP release Dec. 7, 2011
> Download Draft Report: Radiological Protection against Radon Exposure (1.1MB PDF)
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is seeking public comment on proposed changes to its policy statement on consumer products containing radioactive material. The proposed revisions would make minor changes that would bring the statement (originally issued by NRC's predecessor Atomic Energy Commission in 1965) up to date, but would not represent a policy shift.
The Commission has approved a number of uses, including:
Comments will be accepted through December 28, 2011.
- Uranium to color glass for certain decorative purposes [!];
- Thorium in various alloys and products (e.g., gas mantles, optical lenses, tungsten wire in such things as electric lamps and vacuum tubes) to impart desirable physical properties;
- Thorium and uranium in piezoelectric ceramic, which is used in many electronic products and other consumer products;
- Tritium as a substitute luminous material for the long-standing use of radium for this purpose on watch and clock dials and hands;
- Tritium and other radionuclides in electron tubes;
- Americium-241 in smoke detectors.
> Download NRC release Oct. 14, 2011 (PDF)
> Federal Register: October 14, 2011 (Volume 76, Number 199) p. 63957-63959 (download full text )
> Access Docket ID NRC-2010-0292
On 29 September 2011, the European Commission adopted the
Proposal for a Council Directive laying down basic safety standards for protection against the dangers arising from exposure to ionising radiation [COM(2011)593] (410 kB PDF) · Citizens Summary (18 kB PDF)
WHO raises drinking water guideline for uranium to 30 micrograms per litre
> View here
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announces the availability of
the updated EPA Radiogenic Cancer Risk Models and Projections for the
U.S. Population (EPA 402-R-11-001, April 2011), also known as the Blue
"Results. Summary risk coefficients are calculated for a stationary population (defined by 2000 U.S. vital statistics). Numerically, the same coefficients apply for a cohort exposed throughout life to a constant dose rate. For uniform whole-body exposures of low-dose gamma radiation to the entire population, the cancer incidence risk coefficient (Gy-1) is 1.16x10-1 (5.6x10-2 to 2.1x10-1), where the numbers in parentheses represent an estimated 90% confidence interval. The corresponding coefficient for cancer mortality (Gy-1) is about one-half that for incidence: 5.8x10-2 (2.8x10-2 to 1.0x10-1)." [emphasis added]
Federal Register Volume 76, Number 104 (Tuesday, May 31, 2011) p. 31329-31330 (download full text )
> Download Blue Book (EPA)
> View Docket No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2011-0436
The UNSCEAR 2010 Report comprises the main text of the 2010 report to the General Assembly (A/65/46) and a scientific report.
> Download Report of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation 2010, UNSCEAR 2010 Report (3.3M PDF)
U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) invites comment on draft update of Toxicological Profile for Uranium
> View here
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) spent two decades under-reporting radiation levels in local water supplies, which helped water districts avoid fines, but exposed residents to potentially harmful radioactive elements.
An investigation by KHOU news in Houston found hundreds of water providers near the Gulf Coast that delivered drinking water containing radioactive contaminants, all with the blessing of state officials, using a reporting method that came to be known as "Texas math."
At the center of the controversy was TCEQ's manipulation of water-testing reports from the Department of State Health Services. When given a range of possible radiation levels in a water supply, TCEQ officials automatically went with the lowest possible figure based on the margin of error. This practice went on until 2009, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discovered what TCEQ was doing and told it to stop.
(AllGov November 26, 2010)
Texas politicians knew agency hid the amount of radiation in drinking water:
Newly-released e-mails from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality show the agency's top commissioners directed staff to continue lowering radiation test results, in defiance of federal EPA rules.
The e-mails and documents, released under order from the Texas Attorney General to KHOU-TV, also show the agency was attempting to help water systems get out of formally violating federal limits for radiation in drinking water. Without a formal violation, the water systems did not have to inform their residents of the increased health risk.
"It's a conspiracy at the TCEQ of the highest order," said Tom Smith, of the government watchdog group Public Citizen. "The documents have indicted the management of this commission in a massive cover-up to convince people that our water is safe to drink when it's not."
(KHOU May 18, 2011)
On Nov. 26, 2010, the German Bundesrat (Upper House of Parliament) approved an amendment to the drinking water regulations (Trinkwasserverordnung) to establish a 10 µg/L drinking water standard for uranium.
(AFP Nov. 26, 2010)
On May 11, 2011, the Federal Ministry of Health promulgated the revised drinking water regulations that will come into effect on Nov. 1, 2011.
The German government plans to amend its drinking water regulations (Trinkwasserverordnung) to establish a 10 µg/L drinking water standard for uranium, according to a draft proposal by the Ministry of Health .
(Ärzte Zeitung Sep. 22, 2010)
Comments must be submitted no later than September 30, 2010.
> View ICRP release July 28, 2010 and download draft report
The draft ICRP report "Environmental Protection: Transfer parameters for Reference Animals and Plants" is now available for public consultation.
Comments must be submitted no later than October 1, 2010.
> View ICRP release July 5, 2010 and download draft report
On Nov. 24, 2011, ICRP announced the availability of the final report:
Environmental Protection: Transfer Parameters for Reference Animals and Plants,
ICRP Publication 114, Ann. ICRP 39 (6), 2009
> View ICRP release Nov. 24, 2011
International Basic Safety Standards for Protection against Ionizing Radiation and for the Safety of Radiation Sources, Draft Safety Requirements DS379 , January 2010 (772k PDF)
The closing date for comment by IAEA member states is 31 May 2010.
International Basic Safety Standards for Protection Against Ionizing Radiation and for the Safety of Radiation Sources, IAEA Safety Series No. 115 , 21 March 1996 (18.8M PDF)
> Download: Strahlenexposition durch natürliche Radionuklide im Trinkwasser in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland , BfS-SW-06/09, Beyermann, M.; Bünger, T.; Gehrcke, K.; Obrikat, D., Dezember 2009 (BfS - in German)
In order to obtain representative data on public exposure to radiation from natural radionuclides in drinking water in Germany, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) conducted systematic studies to determine the contents of natural radionuclides in drinking water from 2003 to 2008. A total of 582 drinking waters from all 16 Federal States was analysed with special regard to densely populated urban areas and selected areas with enhanced natural radioactivity. Analyses were conducted to determine the following parameters: total alpha activity, activity concentration of uranium isotopes U-234, U-235, and U-238, the radium isotopes Ra-226 and Ra-228, as well as radon-222 and the radon decay products lead-210 and polonium-210.
An essential result of this study is that drinking water in Germany makes only minor contributions to the total mean value of annual radiation exposure from natural sources of 2.1 mSv. The mean values of radiation exposure (ingestion dose) obtained from the data according to the calculation bases of the German Radiation Protection Ordinance are about 0.009 mSv per year for adults and about 0.05 mSv per year for sucklings. However, there is a considerable range of variation of activity concentrations and radiation exposures. [...]"
Réseau national de mesures de la radioactivité de l'environnement
The ICRP now recommends a detriment-adjusted nominal risk coefficient for a population of all ages of 8 x 10-10 per Bq h m-3 for exposure to radon-222 gas in equilibrium with its progeny (i.e. 5 x 10-4 per WLM).
> View ICRP statement on radon, Nov. 16, 2009
In 2010, J.W. Marsh et al. used this proposed risk coefficient, together with ICRP's updated values of total radiation detriment per unit effective dose (4.2 x 10-5 per mSv for workers and 5.7 x 10-5 per mSv for members of the public, see ICRP 2007 recommendations), to determine effective dose conversion coefficients of 12 mSv/WLM for workers and 9 mSv/WLM for the public, replacing the 5 mSv/WLM for workers and 4 mSv/WLM for the public of ICRP 65 (1993).
James W. Marsh, John D. Harrison, Dominique Laurier, et al: Dose conversion factors for radon: recent developments, in: Health Physics Vol. 99, No. 4 (Oct. 2010), p. 511-516
On Nov. 24, 2011, ICRP announced the availability of Publication 115 revising the radon risk coefficient according to its November 2009 statement:
"Based on recent results from combined analyses of epidemiological studies of miners, a lifetime excess absolute risk of 5 x 10-4 per WLM (14 x 10-5 per mJ h m-3) should now be used as the nominal probability coefficient for radon and radon progeny induced lung cancer, replacing the previous ICRP Publication 65 value of 2.8 x 10-4 per WLM (8 x 10-5 per mJ h m-3)."
Lung Cancer Risk from Radon and Progeny and Statement on Radon. ICRP Publication 115, Ann. ICRP 40(1), 2010.
> View ICRP release Nov. 24, 2011
The World Health Organization (WHO) has drastically cut the maximum amount of radon, a naturally occurring gas, that should be permitted in homes because of strong evidence it causes lung cancer.
In a WHO Handbook on Indoor Radon issued quietly on Monday (Sep 21), it called for public health authorities and the construction industry to make great reductions in exposure to radon, calling it a "major and growing public health threat in homes."
The WHO's new recommended maximum level of radon gas is 100 becquerels per cubic meter -- one tenth of its previously recommended maximum of 1,000 becquerels, issued in 1996.
If a country cannot meet the new standard, levels should not exceed 300 becquerels per cubic meter, it said, noting that the risk of lung cancer rises 16 percent per 100 becquerels.
(Reuters Sep 22, 2009)
"In view of the latest
scientific data, WHO proposes a reference level of 100 Bq/m3 to minimize health hazards due to indoor radon exposure. However, if this level cannot be reached
under the prevailing country-specific conditions, the chosen reference level should
not exceed 300 Bq/m3 which represents approximately 10 mSv per year according to recent calculations by the International Commission on Radiation Protection."
> Download WHO Handbook on Indoor Radon - a Public Health Perspective, 2009 (595k PDF)
On July 21, 2009, United Nations Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) published Volume II of the UNSCEAR 2006 Report, containing the annexes on the following topics:
> Download UNSCEAR 2006 REPORT Vol. II
- Non-targeted and delayed effects of exposure to ionizing radiation:
"Current risk estimates for cancer and hereditary effects in humans from irradiation do not need to be changed, in spite of new findings about non targeted and delayed cellular effects"
- Effects of ionizing radiation on the immune system:
"It has long been known that high-dose irradiation can damage the immune system. However, some recent studies have shown that low levels can stimulate it, at least for short periods"
- Sources-to-effects assessment for radon in homes and workplaces:
"There is mounting direct evidence to confirm a small but detectable risk of lung cancer from living with radon in the home"
Uranium in foodstuffs, in particular mineral water, Scientific Opinion of the Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (Question No EFSA-Q-2007-135), Adopted on 25 March 2009 , European Food Safety Authority, The EFSA Journal (2009) 1018, 1-59
- "The uranium dietary exposure estimates for the general population and high consumers across European countries are below the TDI [tolerable daily intake] of 0.6 µg/kg b.w. [body weight] per day. In specific local situations e.g. drinking water with high uranium concentrations the exposure estimates are close to the TDI.
- The CONTAM Panel [Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain] noted, however, that for infants fed with infant formula reconstituted with water containing uranium at the mean and the 95th percentile concentration levels, the exposure may be up to 3 times higher than the uranium exposure of adults on the body weight basis, for both mean and 95th percentile consumption values. The CONTAM Panel concluded that such exposure in infants should be avoided."
> View press release Mar. 12, 2009 (BfS) - in German
> View Zusammenfassende Bewertung der Ergebnisse der Trinkwasser-Studie des BfS - in German
> Download full study: Strahlenexposition durch natürliche Radionuklide im Trinkwasser in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland , Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz, March 2009 (4M PDF - in German, BfS)
Germany to introduce 10 microgram per litre drinking water standard for uranium
The federal and state ministers of consumer protection of Germany have agreed to introduce a 10 microgram per litre drinking water standard for uranium. It is still unclear whether this value will be introduced in Germany, before the European Union introduces some value.
(AP Sep. 19, 2008)
On May 21, 2008, ICRP released a draft report titled "Application of the Commission’s Recommendations for the Protection of People in Emergency Exposure Situations".
Comments must be provided no later than 8 August 2008.
> View ICRP release and download draft report
On Jan. 7, 2008, ICRP released a draft report titled "Environmental Protection: The Concept and Use of Reference Animals and Plants". This draft provides the practical basis for consideration of non-human species in radiological protection.
Comments must be provided no later than 28 March, 2008.
> View ICRP release and download draft report
Uran im Leitungswasser deutscher Städte (Meßwerte Karte) und Uran im Mineralwasser (Meßwerte) ,
Meßwerte des Instituts für Pflanzenernährung und Bodenkunde der Bundesforschungsanstalt für Landwirtschaft (FAL-PB), Stand: 2007;
The Radiation Protection Commission (Strahlenschutzkommission - SSK), the advisory body of the German Federal Government, sees no rationale for use of a "Dose and Dose Rate Effectiveness Factor" (DDREF) for the reduction of doses from radiation exposure at low dose rates, as recommended by the ICRP. This is the conclusion drawn from an assessment of current studies on cancer risks after long-term exposure to radiation in the dose range of 100 - 500 mSv.
Krebsrisiko durch mehrjährige Expositionen mit Dosen im Bereich des Grenzwertes für die Berufslebensdosis nach § 56 StrlSchV , Empfehlung der Strahlenschutzkommission, Verabschiedet auf der 215. Sitzung der SSK am 20.04.1007, Veröffentlicht im BAnz Nr. 183a vom 28.09.2007
Mice that drank uranium-containing water exhibited estrogenic responses including
selective reduction of primary follicles, increased uterine weight, greater uterine luminal epithelial cell height, accelerated vaginal opening and persistent presence of cornified vaginal cells. The authors conlude that their data supports the conclusion that uranium is an endocrine disrupting chemical and populations exposed to environmental uranium should be followed for increased risk of fertility problems and reproductive cancers.
Drinking Water with Uranium below U.S. EPA Water Standard Causes Estrogen Receptor Dependent Responses in Female Mice , by Stefanie Raymond-Whish, Loretta P. Mayer, Tamara O'Neal, et al.; in: Environmental Health Perspectives - in press (Sep. 14, 2007) (323k PDF)
Particulate DU compounds induced time and concentration-dependent cytotoxic (producing a toxic effect on cells) and clastogenic (causing disruption or breakages of chromosomes) effects in human lung cells. Soluble DU was cytotoxic but not clastogenic. The types of aberrations seen with treatment of particulate DU are consistent with those induced by other carcinogenic metals.
Particulate Depleted Uranium Is Cytotoxic and Clastogenic to Human Lung Cells, by Sandra S. Wise, W. Douglas Thompson, AbouEl-Makarim Aboueissa, et al., in: Chemical Research in Toxicology Apr 14, 2007
Submit comments by April 22, 2007.
On Nov. 24, 2006, the second Chamber of the German Parliament (Bundesrat ) approved regulations limiting the uranium concentration in bottled mineral waters to 2 micrograms per litre, if the water is designated as suitable for preparation of food for infants.
(Bundesrats-Drucksache 711/06 v. 12.10.2006; 828. Sitzung v. 24.11.2006)
This document seeks to compare the different approaches needed to set standards of protection concerning the adverse health effects of exposure to ionising radiation, non-ionising radiation and noxious chemical agents.
This draft document is available for comment for a three-month period from 26 October 2006.
> View HPA announcement Oct. 26, 2006
> Download Comparison of Processes and Procedures for Setting Standards – Chemicals, Ionising Radiation, Non-ionising Radiation
(Draft for Comment), by J R Cooper, R Fielder, R Jefferson, J R Meara, K R Smith and J W Stather (274k PDF)
The NRC is issuing this regulatory issue summary (RIS), to inform addressees and other stakeholders of NRC’s implementation of a policy of enforcement discretion for community water systems (CWSs). Under this policy, CWSs, in non-Agreement States, that concentrate naturally-occurring uranium above 0.05 percent by weight in media, effluents, and other residuals during the treatment of drinking water will not be required to apply for a NRC specific license while they remain eligible for enforcement discretion.
Federal Register: September 22, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 184) p. 55520-55522
(download full text )
> Download: Guidance for receiving enforcement discretion when concentrating uranium at community water systems, NRC Regulatory Issue Summary 2006-20, September 14, 2006: NRC website · ADAMS (Accession No. ML061990394) (PDF)
On July 18, 2006, the Magdeburg administrative court (Verwaltungsgericht) ruled that the Ministry of Social Affairs (Sozialministerium) of the State of Sachsen-Anhalt has to release data on uranium concentrations found in bottled mineral water in the State. Berlin-based journalist Frank Brendel had requested the data from ministries in several States, but the Sachsen-Anhalt ministry refused to release it, on the grounds that the uranium data were proprietary data of the mineral water industry. However, the journalist had only requested general data, not data specific by company.
(Volksstimme July 19, 2006)
> See also Foodwatch (in German)
The new recommdations were published on December 18, 2007.
> Download ICRP release Dec. 2007 (MS Word format)
A German translation (without annexes) is available for free download at
Die Empfehlungen der Internationalen Strahlenschutzkommission (ICRP) von 2007 , ICRP-Veröffentlichung 103, verabschiedet im März 2007, Deutsche Ausgabe, BfS-SCHR-47/09, Salzgitter, November 2009 (BfS)
For translations to other languages, see ICRP Publications
At its meeting in Essen, Germany, 19-21 March, the International Commission
on Radiological Protection, ICRP, approved a new set of fundamental
Recommendations on the protection of man and the environment against
ionising radiation. These Recommendations will replace the Commission's
previous Recommendations from 1990.
> Download ICRP release March 23, 2007 (PDF)
Draft ICRP Reports
> Download Draft Recommendations, 5 June 2006 (719k PDF)
Progress report, next ICRP Recommendations
> Download revised Draft Recommendations, 12 January 2007 (781k PDF)
Uranium exposure was measured in 95 men and 98 women aged 18 to 81 years who had used drinking water from drilled wells for an average of 16 years. Median uranium concentration in drinking water was 25 microg/L (interquartile range, 5 to 148 microg/L; maximum, 1,500 microg/L). Indicators of cytotoxicity and kidney function did not show evidence of renal damage, while, in experimental settings, uranium is toxic to kidneys.
Kidney toxicity of ingested uranium from drinking water, by Kurttio P, Harmoinen A, Saha H, et al., in: American journal of kidney diseases, 2006 June, Vol.47, No.6, p.972-982
In a research project to study the non-radiological toxic effects of certain radionuclides, France's Institute of Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety has investigated the effects of chronic ingestion uptakes of low doses of uranium to various biota and rats.
The study showed some unexpected results:
- Experiments on mollusks and other small organisms:
- Clear physiological effets could be observed with the organisms upon chronic exposure.
- There appears to exist a threshold, above which these effects can be observed; this is of importance for the tolerable releases from installations such as uranium mines and mills.
- The effects to uranium exposure were increased by simultaneous exposure to cadmium, while they were decreased by simultaneous exposure to selenium, among others.
- Experiments on rats:
It remains, however, unclear, whether these observed biological effecs can cause any health effects, and whether they can be extrapolated to humans.
- Uranium distribution in mammal tissues after chronic exposure cannot be predicted by the current biokinetic models (which are based on acute exposure); uranium in target organs of rats after chronic exposure is overestimated by a factor 10 to 100 by the current models.
- Uranium crosses the brain-blood-barrier and accumulates in rat brain. The highest deposit was found in the hypothalamus.
Various behavioural changes were observed with rats (sleep-wake stages, the spatial working memory capacities and the anxiety-like behaviour). For unknown reasons, more effects were found after exposure to enriched uranium than after exposure to depleted uranium.
> View IRSN News Release March 16, 2006 (in French)
> Download ENVIRHOM - Bioaccumulation of radionuclides in situations of chronic exposure of ecosystems and members of the public, Progress Report 2, covering the period June 2003 – September 2005 (2.6M PDF - in English)
Comments are expected before 19 June 2006.
This report recommends criteria of a universal and generic nature for defining the radiation exposure situations that can and need be subject to radiological protection regulations and those that cannot or need not. It suggests that the relevant legislation should specifically define those situations that should be covered by the legislation, because they can be controlled, and those that may be excluded from legislation because they cannot be controlled by any reasonable means. It also recommends that the legislation should empower regulators to define the extent of application of regulatory requirements to the situations covered by the legislation. Regulators should identify the situations that need be controlled with the full system of regulatory requirements and those that are exempted from compliance with particular regulatory requirements on the grounds that they need not be controlled because those requirements are unwarranted.
Legislative systems for purposes of radiological protection may exclude situations of radiation exposure to cosmic radiation at ground level, to natural radioactive constituents of the human body (such as the radionuclide potassium-40), to substances containing an activity concentration of less than around 1 Bq per kilogram for alpha emitting artificial radionuclides and around 10 Bq per kilogram for beta and gamma emitting artificial radionuclides, to ambient radon below concentrations of 40 Bq per cubic metre and to any source that is unamenable to control by any reasonable means.
Exemption criteria were originally introduced for exempting a priori practices involving limited amounts of 'artificial' radioactive materials. The concept was then extended to the exemption a posteriori of radioactive materials already regulated but for which regulation was no longer warranted. These materials, therefore, could be cleared from the regulatory requirements.
Clearance criteria were developed for bulk amounts of materials. A fundamental exemption principle was to keep individual risk at low levels, which became an individual dose criterion of 10 µSv in a year. The report recommends, however, that the criteria for exemption should be broader and focus on unwarranted control, being situation specific and with multiple attributes.
While they should respect the low individual risk criteria, they should not be determined by individual doses alone but include societal factors involved in determining whether or not it is warranted to control certain exposure situations. Different situations may lead to different dose criteria for exemption. For situations involving naturally occurring radioactive materials and for interventional situations the use of an individual dose criterion of up to 1 mSv in a year may be appropriate.
Exposure situations to naturally-occurring radioactive material may be considered either for a generic regulatory exemption or for exclusion from legislative instruments, providing that the activity concentrations of the radionuclides in the primordial uranium and thorium series are lower than 1000 Bq per kg and of potassium-40 lower than 10000 Bq per kg. However, building materials may warrant additional restrictions of the sum of the activity concentrations of uranium-238, thorium-232 and potassium-40. Moreover, wherever ambient radon would otherwise be regulated, exemption can be granted provided that the time-averaged radon concentration does not exceed a minimum value of 200 Bq per cubic metre in dwellings or 500 Bq per cubic metre in workplaces.
Exposure situations to foodstuff and drinking-water containing radionuclides in activity concentrations smaller than those specified by the Codex Alimentarious Commission and the World Health Organization respectively are candidates for automatic exemption. Situations involving exposure to non-edible radioactive materials may be considered candidates for automatic exemption from regulatory requirements if the activity or the activity concentration does not exceed the values specified in the agreements reached under the aegis of international organizations, as referenced in this report."
> View details
> Download draft report The Scope of Radiological Protection Regulations (March 8, 2006) (477k PDF)
Informal comments may be submitted, preferably before 20 March 2006.
> Download Draft Guidance Document on Interpretation of Bioassay Data - 16 January 2006
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has released a health study of the St. Lawrence, Newfoundland fluorspar miners. The purpose of this study is to better understand the relationship between exposure to radon gas and risk of lung cancer. This study updates earlier health studies of the Newfoundland fluorspar miners. The update includes over 50 years of mortality follow-up (1950-2001) and a new smoking survey.
> View CNSC release July 25, 2005 · Backgrounder
The Institut für Radiochemie at Forschungszentrum Rossendorf (FZR), Germany, has for the first time used a very senstitive laser-spectroscopic method to analyze the chemical speciation of uranium in drinking water and bottled mineral waters. The information now obtainable with the new method allows for better assessements of the toxicity of the uranium found in the samples.
(FZR release July 21, 2005)
On June 30, 2005, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) in Berlin released a new assessment of uranium in bottled mineral waters.
97% of 1530 samples of German mineral waters were found to contain uranium concentrations of less than 15 µg/L (the current WHO guidance value for drinking water) and are considered to present no hazard for adults.
For infants, these values are regarded as too high; the institute recommends that mineral waters declared as suitable for infants should have uranium concentrations below a lower limit of detection of 0.2 µg/L. This condition was met for 44% of the samples tested.
> View BfR release June 30, 2005: in English · in German
> Download BfR statement Uran in Mineralwasser: Bei Erwachsenen geringe Mengen tolerierbar, Wasser
für Säuglingsnahrung sollte uranfrei sein, Stellungnahme Nr. 024/2005 des BfR vom 13. Mai 2005 (40k PDF - in German )
NAS releases BEIR VII report
On June 29, 2005, National Academy of Science released the report "BEIR VII: Health Risks From Exposure To Low Levels Of Ionizing Radiation".
"BEIR VII develops the most up-to-date and
comprehensive risk estimates for cancer and other
health effects from exposure to low-level ionizing
- It is among the first reports of its kind to
include detailed estimates for cancer incidence in addition
to cancer mortality.
- In general, BEIR VII supports
previously reported risk estimates for cancer and
leukemia, but the availability of new and more extensive
data have strengthened confidence in these estimates.
comprehensive review of available biological and
biophysical data supports a "linear-no-threshold" (LNT)
risk model - that the risk of cancer proceeds in a linear
fashion at lower doses without a threshold and that the
smallest dose has the potential to cause a small increase
in risk to humans." [emphasis added]
> View NAS release June 29, 2005
> Download report brief (161k PDF)
> Download report summary (1M PDF)
> Access full report
> View NIRS release June 30, 2005
Changes to BEIR VII Committee Composition
There have been changes to the BEIR VII phase 2 committee composition. The public can comment on the committee membership for a period of 20 days from October 5, 1999.
> View National Academy of Science announcement Oct. 5, 1999
Objectives To provide direct estimates of risk of cancer after
protracted low doses of ionising radiation and to strengthen the
scientific basis of radiation protection standards for
environmental, occupational, and medical diagnostic exposures.
Design Multinational retrospective cohort study of cancer
Setting Cohorts of workers in the nuclear industry in 15
countries. [Uranium mining is not included.]
Participants 407 391 workers individually monitored for
external radiation with a total follow-up of 5.2 million person
Main outcome measurements Estimates of excess relative risks
per sievert (Sv) of radiation dose for mortality from cancers
other than leukaemia and from leukaemia excluding chronic
lymphocytic leukaemia, the main causes of death considered by
radiation protection authorities.
Results The excess relative risk for cancers other than
leukaemia was 0.97 per Sv, 95% confidence interval 0.14 to
1.97. Analyses of causes of death related or unrelated to
smoking indicate that, although confounding by smoking may
be present, it is unlikely to explain all of this increased risk. The
excess relative risk for leukaemia excluding chronic
lymphocytic leukaemia was 1.93 per Sv ( < 0 to 8.47). On the
basis of these estimates, 1-2% of deaths from cancer among
workers in this cohort may be attributable to radiation.
Conclusions These estimates, from the largest study of nuclear
workers ever conducted, are higher than, but statistically
compatible with, the risk estimates used for current radiation
protection standards. The results suggest that there is a small
excess risk of cancer, even at the low doses and dose rates
typically received by nuclear workers in this study.
Risk of cancer after low doses of ionising radiation: retrospective
cohort study in 15 countries, by
E Cardis, M Vrijheid, M Blettner, et al.
BMJ, doi:10.1136/bmj.38499.599861.E0 (published 29 June 2005)
Full text available at BMJ Online First
Submit comments by September 8, 2005.
> View BfS release June 16, 2005 (in German)
> Download Leitlinien Strahlenschutz (in German)
ICRP invites comments on several Task Group 'Foundation Documents', supporting the coming next fundamental Recommendations of the ICRP.
|Draft report||Consultation ends:|
|Optimisation of radiological protection ||10 July 2005|
|Assessing dose to the representative individual|
|Health risks attributable to radiation||24 July 2005|
|Reference animals and plants|
> View draft reports
Comments must be submitted by 18 March 2005.
> View ICRP release Dec. 21, 2004
> Download Low-dose Extrapolation of Radiation-Related Cancer Risk - Draft report (1.2M PDF)
The UK Committee Examining Radiation Risks of Internal Emitters (CERRIE) released its final report on Oct. 20, 2004.
> Download CERRIE Press Release Oct. 20, 2004 (MS WORD)
> Download Final report
WHO once more weakens drinking water standard for uranium to 15 micrograms per litre
> View here
Comments must be provided by 15 November 2004.
> View ICRP release Aug. 23, 2004
> Download Draft Human Alimentary Tract Model for Radiological Protection (2.5M PDF)
The International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) presents a draft text of the 2005 ICRP Recommendations for consultation. The new Recommendations are intended to replace the 1990 Recommendations in ICRP Publication 60.
The consultation period will end 31 December 2004.
> View ICRP release June 21, 2004
> Download Draft 2005 Recommendation (2MB PDF)
> Access calculator
An analysis of 233 bottled mineral water brands from all over the world for uranium and arsenic has been performed by the Institute of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science , Federal Agricultural Research Center (FAL) Braunschweig, Germany.
The values found ranged from lower than the detection limit of 0.015µg/L to 162 µg/L for arsenic, and 232 µg/L for uranium. Nearly 20% of the mineral waters exceeded the former WHO provisional guideline value for uranium of 2 µg/L (WHO's current provisional guideline value is 9 µg/L).
> View FAL press release (Oct. 14, 2003) (PDF, in German )
> Access Analysis data by mineral water name (www.mineralwaters.org)
National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements
Extrapolation of Risks from Nonhuman Experimental Systems to Man , NCRP Draft Report SC 1-4, October 2003
EPA updates its assessment of health risks from indoor radon,
which the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has determined
to be the second leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette
smoking. This risk assessment is based primarily on results
from a recent study of radon health effects (BEIR VI) by the NAS,
with some technical adjustments and extensions.
"Results. Based on its analysis, EPA estimates that out of a total of 157,400 lung cancer deaths nationally in 1995, 21,100 (13.4%) were radon related. Among NS [never smokers], an estimated 26% were radon related. Estimates of risk per unit exposure are 5.38·10-4 per WLM for the U.S. population; 9.68·10-4/WLM for ever smokers (ES); and 1.67·10-4 per WLM for never smokers (NS). The estimated risks from lifetime exposure at the 4 pCi/L [148 Bq/m3] action level are: 2.3% for the entire population, 4.1% for ES, and 0.73% for NS. [...]"
For comparison: ICRP65(1994) uses a risk estimate per unit exposure of 2.83·10-4 per WLM.
> Download EPA assessment of risks from radon in homes, EPA 402-R-03-003, June 2003
(1.9 MB PDF)
On July 22, 2004, U.S. EPA updated the Inhalation Slope Factor for Radon in its HEAST Tables accordingly. The new slope factor uses a new inhalation rate of 1.78E+04 L/day (Federal Guidance Report 13, p.139); a new 40% equilibrium for decay products; and a new risk coefficient of 5.38E-4 fatal lung cancers per WLM:
Lifetime Excess Total Cancer Risk Per Unit Intake from Inhalation of Radon-222 and short-lived decay products: 7.57E-12 per pCi Radon-222
> Download revised Radionuclide Table: Radionuclide Carcinogenicity – Slope Factors (July 22, 2004) (12.6M PDF)
Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR) VI Report: The Health Effects of Exposure to Indoor Radon,
National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C. 1998, ISBN 0-309-05645-4, 514 p.
> View summary and additional information (EPA)
> View full text
"An independent advisory group has examined the risk of leukaemia and related cancers following exposure to ionising radiation. They conclude there is a clear link between leukaemia and radiation exposure, but not for Hodgkin disease, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Risk estimates derived for radiation-induced leukaemia in the UK population are consistent with those adopted internationally and with previous estimates of risk made by the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB). The advisory group recommends further studies of the risks to people exposed to high doses, and that more information should be obtained on people exposed to low doses, such as radiation workers."
> View NRPB release Oct. 7, 2003 · Study Summary and conclusions
> Download full study: Risk of Leukaemia and Related Malignancies following Radiation Exposure: Estimates for the UK Population: Report of an Advisory Group on Ionising Radiation, Doc NRPB 14(1) 3-117 (2003) (7 MB, PDF)
> A Framework for Assessing the Impact of Ionising Radioation on Non-human Species
, ICRP Publication 91, 2003, ISBN 0-08-044310-9, 66 pages
> Download ICRP release (Aug. 15, 2003) [MS Word]
The British National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) completely dismissed the criticism of ICRP's assessment of radiation risk by the "self-styled" European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR).
> View NRPB response statement , July 24, 2003
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is adopting EPA's maximum contaminant level (MCL) for uranium of 30 micrograms per liter of water as an allowable level in the quality standard regulation for bottled water.
Federal Register: March 3, 2003 (Vol. 68, No. 41) p. 9873-9882 (download full text )
"SUMMARY: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is amending its bottled
water quality standard regulations by establishing an allowable level
for the contaminant uranium. As a consequence, bottled water
manufacturers are required to monitor their finished bottled water
products for uranium at least once each year under the current good
manufacturing practice (CGMP) regulations for bottled water. Bottled
water manufacturers are also required to monitor their source water for
uranium as often as necessary, but at least once every 4 years unless
they meet the criteria for the source water monitoring exemptions under
the CGMP regulations. [...]"
> See also Federal Register: June 9, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 110) p. 34272-34273 (download full text )
SUMMARY: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is confirming the
effective date of December 8, 2003, for the direct final rule that
appeared in the Federal Register of March 3, 2003 (68 FR 9873). [...]
> See also: EPA promulgates final rule for Radionuclides in Drinking Water, including uranium standard of
30 micrograms per litre (Dec. 2000)
WHO weakens drinking water standard for uranium to 9 micrograms per litre
> View here
ICRP is currently considering two draft reports for publication, one of the effects of prenatal exposure and one on relative biological efficiency (RBE) of different kinds of radiation.
Comments arriving after 31 January 2003 can not be taken into account.
> View ICRP announcement (Dec. 18, 2002)
> Download Prenatal effects draft (3.5MB PDF) · RBE draft (0.5MB PDF)
Industrial Uranium Compounds: Exposure Limits, Assessment of Intake and Toxicity after Inhalation, by N Stradling, A Hodgson, E Ansoborlo, P Bérard, G Etherington, T Fell, E Rance and B Le Guen.
National Radiological Protection Board, NRPB-W22, ISBN 0-85951-493-5, Chilton, Didcot, Oxon, United Kingdom, October 2002
> View abstract and download full text
> See also:
- Determination of the physical and chemical properties, biokinetics, and dose coefficients of uranium compounds handled during nuclear fuel fabrication in France, by Ansoborlo E, Chazel V, Henge-Napoli MH, et al. in: Health Physics 2002, vol. 82 (no.3, March), p. 279-289.
"The DOE-approved technical standard, "A Graded Approach for
Evaluating Radiation Doses to Aquatic and Terrestrial Biota
(DOE-STD-1153-2002)" is now available for use in environmental
radiological protection and risk assessment activities. This voluntary
consensus technical standard provides methods, models, and
guidance within a tiered framework for evaluating doses to biota that
is generally cost-effective and easy to implement. It was developed by
the Department's Biota Dose Assessment Committee (BDAC)."
DOE-STD-1153-2002 A Graded Approach for Evaluating Radiation Doses to Aquatic and Terrestrial Biota, July 2002
> Download: DOE BDAC (registration reqd.) · alternate source
RAD-BCG Calculator (Release 2.0; a companion tool for use with the DOE Technical Standard)
> Download: DOE BDAC (registration reqd.) (requires Microsoft Excel; Excel Viewer not sufficient)
Protection of Non-Human Species From Ionising Radiation · alternate source
Proposal for a Framework for the Assessment and Management of the Impact of Ionising Radiation in the Environment
The final report was published in October 2003.
Dr Alice Stewart, epidemiologist who proved links between exposure
to radiation and cancer, and forced the authorities into greater
openness, died on June 23, 2002, aged 95.
> View obituaries in London Times, June 27, 2002 · The Guardian, June 28, 2002
The Woman Who Knew Too Much: Alice Stewart and the Secrets of Radiation , by Gayle Greene, 360 pages, The University of Michigan Press 2001, ISBN 0-472-08783-5
> View Book review in Journal of the American Medical Association
> View Book review in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
"Member States of the European Union currently use different approaches both to identify reference groups and to calculate their doses. The European Commission, therefore, identified the need for a common methodology to assist in harmonisation of the approach for calculating such doses and to the application of standards throughout the EU. This report gives guidance on all aspects of the assessment of doses to reference groups from the routine operations of nuclear installations."
> Download Guidance on the assessment of radiation doses to members of the public due to the operation of nuclear installations under normal conditions , by K A Jones, C Walsh, A Bexon, J R Simmonds, A L Jones, M Harvey, A Artmann and R Martens (1M PDF)
Evaluation of Occupational and Environmental Radon Risk, Draft Report SC-85, April 2002
"In 1984 the NCRP published Reports numbers 77 and 78 jointly, evaluating occupational and environmental exposure to 222Rn and its decay products, and suggested risk based guidelines for personal exposure. [...] This present report updates the 1984 reports, and critically examines and summarizes the new information. [...]
This report recommends that the guidelines proposed in Report 77, of 4 WLM y-1 for occupationally exposed miners and 2 WLM y-1 for personal exposure in domestic situations are justifiable and no further reduction is recommended."
Comments should be submitted by July 1, 2002.
On Feb. 15, 2002, the International Commission on Radiological Protection released its draft report "Basic Anatomical and Physiological Values" for comment.
"The report of the Task Group is carefully focused to provide sets of age- and gender-specific Reference Values for anatomical and physiological characteristics for use in dosimetric calculations for radiation protection purposes. These uses may relate to either internal or external sources of radiation. This information also provides important input to the design of new phantoms of the human body."
Please send any comments you may wish to make, before 31 March 2002.
> Download: Draft report: Basic Anatomical and Physiological Values
On December 20, 2001, the European Commission issued a non-binding recommendation on radon in drinking water. It recommends to the member states to set a reference level above 100 Bq/L for radon "to be used for consideration whether remedial action is needed to protect human health". For concentrations in excess of 1000 Bq/L, "remedial action is deemed to be justified on radiological protection grounds".
COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION of 20 December 2001 on the protection of the public against exposure to radon in drinking water supplies,
Official Journal of the European Communities, 28.12.2001, L 344, p.85-88
> Download Recommendation
In November 2001, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) released its 2001 Report to the General Assembly.
"In this 2001 Report, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation has completed a comprehensive review of the hereditary risks to offspring following parental exposure to radiation. This report includes an evaluation of those diseases, which have both hereditary and environmental components, the so-called multifactorial diseases. The new information presented in this report suggests that radiation is less likely to have adverse genetic effects than had been assumed. This report provides a unique scientific basis for estimating radiation risk, establishing radiation protection and safety standards and regulating radiation sources for governments and organizations throughout the world."
> View UN announcement
> Access full text
On April 16, 2001 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released an update of the Health Effects Assessment Summary Tables (HEAST) for radionuclides, incorporating all new values, based on Federal Guidance Report No. 13.
> See details: HEAST
> See also: Risk coefficients
The Main Commission of ICRP has decided to set up a Task Group on protection of
the environment with the purpose of developing a protection policy and establishing a
framework of environmental protection based on ethical-philosophical principles. The
conceptual framework of this area of work should feed into ICRP's next
recommendations. The Task Group is expected to present a document by year 2003
for the major ideas to be incorporated into the new recommendation of the
(ICRP news release March 23, 2001 )
Discussion Paper by Task Group Chairman Lars-Erik Holm (23k PDF)
"The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) has just approved its UNSCEAR 2000 Report to the General Assembly. This is a detailed assessment of radiation sources and health effects. Particular emphasis has been given to the evaluation of exposures and health consequences of the Chernobyl accident." (UNSCEAR press release June 6, 2000 - PDF)
> Access full text
On July 26, 2001, the new radiation protection regulations were published in Bundesgesetzblatt 2001 Teil I Nr.38, 26. Juli 2001. The effective date is August 1, 2001.
> View full text: Bundesgesetzblatt or BMU (485k PDF, viewing only)
On June 1, 2001, the German Bundesrat (2nd chamber of parliament) approved the new radiation protection regulations with amendments watering them down.
On March 14, 2001, a revised draft of the German Radiation Protection Regulations (Strahlenschutzverordnung) has been approved by the German Federal Government. The regulations are meant to implement the EU directive 96/29/EURATOM. The regulations now are subject to approval by the Bundesrat (2nd chamber of parliament).
> View BMU press release March 14, 2001 (in German)
> Access Details and Downloads (in German)
While the first draft explicitly had excluded applicability of the new regulations to the reclamation of Wismut's former uranium mining activities, the current draft at least includes the Wismut reclamation workers under the new radiation workers standards (such as an annual dose standard of 20 mSv rather than 50 mSv). It allows for Wismut workers, however, for the exceedance of the life time dose standard of 400 mSv, provided the excess dose rate is limited to 10 mSv per year and the worker gives written consent; otherwise many of the workers currently employed by Wismut would have to cease their work.
Moreover, workers cleaning up uranium mining sites that had been abandoned before 1960, are not subject to the new radiation worker regulations, but only to the less stringent regulations for work in natural radiation environments.
For the environmental reclamation standards, however, the related regulations of the former German Democratic Republic will remain in force, until further regulations on the management of radioactive legacy will be prepared.
On May 17, 2001, several NGOs, including BUND (FOE Germany), IPPNW, Gesellschaft für Strahlenschutz, among others, criticized the proposed regulations and opposed a suspected further water-down by the 2nd chamber of parliament. The groups were specifically concerned about the following issues:
> View BUND release [in German]
- the deregulation of contaminated material from the decommissioning of nuclear facilities
- the insufficient adoption of recent scientific evidence about the hazards of radiation
- the suspected deletion of organ dose limits (through the 2nd chamber of parliament)
- the decrease in protection for pregnant women.
A critical review of the proposed regulations was published by Otto Hug Institute:
Strahlengefahr für Mensch und Umwelt: Bewertungen der Anpassung der deutschen Strahlenschutzverordnung an die Forderungen der EU-Richtlinie 96/29/Euratom. Berichte des Otto Hug Strahleninstitutes 21-22, April 2000, 120 p. Authors are Bettina Dannheim, Wolfgang Baumann, Bernd Franke, Helmut Hirsch, Wolfgang Hoffmann, Wolfgang Köhnlein, Horst Kuni, Wolfgang Neumann, Inge Schmitz-Feuerhake, Angelika Zahrnt. (view details and order information )
Gesellschaft für Strahlenschutz held an international congress "Radiation Protection in the new Millennium " on this topic on June 9 - 10, 2000 at Bremen.
> See also New Radiation Protection Standards in European Union
Risk Assessment of Radon in Drinking Water, National Resarch Council, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1999, ISBN 0-309-06292-6, 293 p.
> View full report online
Uranium: Radiation Protection Guidelines, NCRP Draft Report No. SC 57-15, National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements , Bethesda MD, August 1999, 145 p.
> Download full text (674K PDF format)
2. LEVELS OF NATURALLY OCCURRING URANIUM
3. PHYSICAL AND CHEMICAL PROPERTIES OF URANIUM
4. ASSESSMENT OF URANIUM TOXICITY
5. TOXICOKINETIC MODELS FOR URANIUM
6. RADIATION PROTECTION GUIDES
7. EXPOSURE MONITORING PROGRAMS
8. SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Appendix A. Nuclear and Atomic Properties of Uranium Isotopes
Appendix B. History of Uranium Limits in Man
> See also extra page on uranium toxicity.
Protection Of The Public In Situations Of Prolonged Radiation Exposure - The Application Of The Commission's System Of Protection To Exposures Due To Natural Sources Of Radiation And Radioactive Residues. International Commission On Radiological Protection , Draft Report 42/163/97, version 3 (1999), 87 p.
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Some relevant situations involving prolonged exposure include exposure "to 'natural' radiation sources; to 'artificial' sources (including artificial uses of naturally occurring radionuclides, mainly land contaminated with radioactive residues that may remain either from the cessation and decommissioning of practices or from past human activities that were conducted either outside any control or under radiation protection requirements less stringent than those applying today and from accidents that released long-lived radionuclides to the environment); and to commodities for public consumption containing radioactive substances."
ICRP Committee 4 - Task Group On Radiation Protection Recommendations As Applied To The Disposal Of Long-Lived Solid Radioactive Waste, Draft Report 42/162/97, version 3 (1999), 23 p.
> Download full text (131k PDF format)
For its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) database, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requests submission of scientific information on chronic health effects of natural uranium (CAS No. 7440-61-1).
(view full text of Notice in Federal Register: Dec. 10, 1998 (Vol. 63, No. 237) p. 68285-68287 )
> See also extra page on uranium toxicity.
The new directive of the European Union on drinking water quality establishes a 0.1 mSv/a total indicative dose guidance for radionuclides, excluding tritium, potassium-40, radon and radon decay products. For tritium, a separate standard of 100 Bq/l is established. The directive includes no specific value for uranium, however.
The directive has to be adopted by the EU member countries into national law within 2 years.
398L0083 - Council Directive 98/83/EC of 3 November 1998 on the quality of water intended for human consumption, Official Journal of the European Communities L 330, 5 December 1998, p. 32-54
[the radionuclide standards are contained in Annex I, Part C, p. 45]
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New Guidelines for Radiation Protection (6 Aug 1998)