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Cardinal Rules of Radiation Protection – Does the handling o

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 29, 2010 2:12 pm    Post subject: Cardinal Rules of Radiation Protection – Does the handling o Reply with quote

There are three well known Cardinal Rules of radiation protection that are applicable in all areas in which people have to be protected against the adverse effects of ionising radiation. These three rules are:

• Time - limit duration of exposure time.
• Distance - maintain a safe distance between source and exposed person / body.
• Shielding - add shielding between radiation sources and exposed bodies.

A supplementary principle is that of ALARA, which means that the above mentioned rules have to be applied not only to comply the limits but also to reduce the doses in a way that they are as low as reasonable achievable. These rules are practicable for operational radiation protection and radiation protection of workers also in NORM-industries.

But they are less feasible for the protection of the public – in particular if “public” is related to humans outside a NORM facility who process, use or handle otherwise bulk materials of NORM. Protection of the public against the risks of radiations is however the crucial intention of radiation protection in the field if NORM-residues.

Most of the NORM-residues are characterised by large amounts of materials with low activity concentrations. If NORM-residues exceed exemption levels (which are defined in different European countries in different ways) they are usually handled under a certain level of radiation protection control. This enables to perform radiation protection measures and dose estimations. But, in practice quite large amounts of NORM-residues are excluded from radiation protection control or are released from such control. In these cases it is assumed that the doses for workers/persons, which get in contact with the residues in the further steps of treatment remain below 1 mSv/a. Radiation protection in this context is focussed on the compliance with a dose limit (in some cases it may also be a dose constraint) - but the ALARA principle is neglected!

Reduction of doses in situations with exposures below 1 mSv/a is easy possible by applying the Cardinal Rules cited above in an appropriate manner. Workplaces can be designed in a way that the workers stay in distance to NORM heaps in times they don’t have to handle these materials - provided, that it is known that this is useful. The handling of NORM-residues can be optimized in a way that the time in which workers are in contact with the material is minimized – provided, that it is known that this is useful. These examples demonstrate: Information is a crucial necessity for the implementation of the ALARA principle in the field NORM-residues.

Therefore, the following three-I΄s can be defined as the Cardinal Rules for the handling of NORM-residues:

• Information gathering: Gather information about ambient exposures / dose rates, about the radionuclide composition and the activity concentrations of residues.
• Information distribution: Inform all persons about radioactivity in their working area. Make sure that the information on radioactivity reaches the responsible managers of the companies that further process NORM residues – and that they inform their subcontractors about the radioactivity as long as the activity concentrations exceed the background level.
• Information assessment: Evaluate all information on radioactivity and assess doses and risks in a proper way.

I΄m looking forward to get to know your opinion.

Rainer Gellermann
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