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Health Phys. 2004 Sep;87(3):258-72.

Radiation safety standards and their application: international policies and current issues.

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  • 1International Atomic Energy Agency, Wagramerstrasse 5, (A-1400), Vienna, Austria.


This paper briefly describes the current policies of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation and the International Commission on Radiological Protection and how these policies are converted into international radiation safety standards by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is the only global organization-within the United Nations family of international agencies-with a statutory mandate not only to establish such standards but also to provide for their application. It also summarizes the current status of the established corpus of such international standards, and of it foreseeable evolution, as well as of legally binding undertakings by countries around the world that are linked to these standards. Moreover, this paper also reviews some major current global issues related to the application of international standards, including the following: strengthening of national infrastructures for radiation safety, including technical cooperation programs for assisting developing countries; occupational radiation safety challenges, including the protection of pregnant workers and their unborn children, dealing with working environments with high natural radiation levels, and occupational attributability of health effects (probability of occupational causation); restricting discharges of radioactive substances into the environment: reviewing current international policies vis-a-vis the growing concern on the radiation protection of the "environment;" radiological protection of patients undergoing radiodiagnostic and radiotherapeutic procedures: the current International Action Plan; safety and security of radiation sources: post-11 September developments; preparedness and response to radiation emergencies: enhancing the international network; safe transport of radioactive materials: new apprehensions; safety of radioactive waste management: concerns and connections with radiation protection; and radioactive residues remaining after the termination of activities: radiation protection response to the forthcoming wave of decommissioning of installations with radioactive materials. The ultimate aim of this paper is to encourage information exchange, cooperation, and collaboration within the radiation protection professional community. In particular, the paper tries to facilitate consolidation of the growing international regime on radiation safety, including the expansion of legally binding undertakings by countries, the strengthening of the current corpus of international radiation safety standards, and the development of international provisions for ensuring the proper worldwide application of these standards, such as a system of international appraisals by peer review.

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