The radiation protection field is concerned with the protection of individuals, their progeny,
and humanity as a whole, while still allowing for necessary activities which might involve
radiation exposure. The aim of radiation protection is to prevent deterministic effects and to
limit the probability of deterministic effects. Most decisions about human activities are
based on an implicit form of balancing risks and benefits leading to the conclusion of
whether or not the application of a particular practice produces a positive net benefit.
Because the probability of health effects is not zero, the ICRP in Publication 26 (ICRP,
1977) recommended the following criteria for a system of dose limitation:
-- No practice shall be adopted unless its introduction produces a positive net benefit.
-- All exposures shall be kept as low as reasonably achievable, with economic and social
factors being taken into account.
-- The dose equivalent to individuals shall not exceed the limits recommended for the
These criteria and related information have been incorporated into DOE regulations,
instructions, and manuals for radiation protection.
The successful operation of a plutonium facility requires scrupulous attention to providing
implementation of a quality health physics program. (In this section, "health physics" and
"radiation protection" can be used interchangeably when referring to programs or
personnel.) Prompt dose assessment is important for demonstrating compliance with
standards, providing information to workers, establishing an accurate historical record, and
for responding to accident and incident situations. This section defines the basis for the
establishment of a sound health physics program at a plutonium facility.
REGULATION AND STANDARDS
Regulations on radiation protection in DOE and DOE contractor facilities are found in 10
CFR 835, Occupational Radiation Protection: Final Rule (DOE, 1998a). Guidance is found
in the supporting document Radiological Control Ch.1. (DOE, 2004) and Implementation
Certain OSHA regulations, primarily those contained in 29 CFR 1910 (DOL, 1993), may
also be included in the radiation protection program for workers in DOE facilities. Other
related source documents include publications of the EPA, ANSI, ICRP, NCRP, and