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In February 2008 the revised ICRP Recommendations for a System of Radiological Protection (Publication n° 103) were published, formally replacing the Commission’s previous, 1990, Recommendations (see ALARA Newsletter No. 21). They reinforce the principle of optimisation of protection, which should be applicable in a similar way to all exposure situations, subject to restrictions on individual doses and risks: dose and risk constraints for planned exposure situations, and reference levels for emergency and existing exposure situations.

In that context, the present issue of the ALARA Newsletter illustrates how wide the scope of the optimisation of radiological protection is today.

The 11th EAN Workshop on “ALARA in radioactive waste management” in Athens showed that the implementation of the ALARA principle was a common and crucial factor in the nuclear fuel cycle, medical, NORM, industrial, educational and research sectors. In addition, numerous recent incidents and accidents in the medical sector, in particular in radiotherapy, lead to a reinforcement of the control of medical activities by Radiation Protection and Safety Authorities all over Europe. Most of the surveys and inspections made in the medical sector demonstrate that exposures received both by patients and workers could be reduced and optimised through improvements and changes in day-to-day practices, the use and mastery of modern equipments, and the intensification of the training of professionals. The article on “patient doses from dental radiography in the UK” published in the present Newsletter is a very good example of the extent of the problem and the benefits that could be gained by a rigorous implementation of the ALARA principle. The industrial sector, not to be outdone, continues to be affected by radiation incidents that show that vigilance towards radiation protection should be everyone’s business and concern - see hereafter the incident of a melting source in Italy and the implementation of the HASS Directive in the same country as a response to prevent radiological accidents in the industrial sector. The dissemination and extension of radiological protection networking is a recent and promising solution to improve the development of a practical radiological culture all over the world (see Lefaure’s paper), through public and professionals channels.

To conclude, until scientific research provides unequivocal answers about the radiation effects at low doses and/or low dose rates (see Mundigl’s paper as an example for tritium), the optimisation of radiological protection will remain the only responsible approach to managing radiation exposures.

Contents of the Issue

  • EAN 11th Workshop: "ALARA in Radioactive Waste Management" - Conclusions and Recommendations, P. Shaw (HPA, UK), P. Croüail (CEPN, France)
  • High activity sources (HASS) in Italy and the implementation of the EU Directive, S. De Crescenzo, A. Anversa, G. Bertani (Public Health Department, Lombardia District, Italy)
  • Patients doses from dental radiography in the UK - an analysis of HPA data, P.G. Ramsden (HPA, UK)
  •  Incident involving stainless steel sheets contaminated with cobalt 60 in Italy,  Lieutenant Colonel R. Massi (Carabinieri Environmental Care Command, Italy)
  • Dissemination and extension of radiological protection networking to new shapes and scopes, C. Lefaure (Independant expert, France)
  • EU Scientific Seminar 2007: "Emerging issues on tritium and low energy beta emitters", S. Mundigl (European Commission)
  • ALARA News
  • 12th EAN Workshop - First announcement