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Radiat Environ Biophys. 1998 Jul;37(2):81-5.

Consideration on a limit for lifetime occupational radiation exposure.

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Radiobiological Institute, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich, Germany.


Annual dose limits in occupational radiation exposure are merely a secondary constraint in addition to the primary rule of dose reduction and justification. The limits may, therefore, be reached only in rare, special cases. However, in principle, there might be cases in which the annual limit is continuously exhausted throughout a working life; a high total dose of 0.8 Sv could then be reached. In view of this possibility, there have been considerations of an added restriction by limiting the lifetime occupational dose to 0.4 Sv. The implications of such lifetime doses are considered, and it is shown that an exposure up to the maximum of 0.8 Sv will lead to the need for compensation, if a leukaemia were to occur in the exposed worker. A lifetime dose of 0.4 Sv equally spread over a working life will not lead to the critical value of the probability of causation in excess of 0.5. Nevertheless, it could cause such critical values when it is accumulated during shorter periods. More decisive than the probabilities of causation are, however, the absolute numbers of excess cases of leukaemia due to the occupational exposure. It is seen that less than one excess case would be expected if a group of 100 workers were all exposed to the maximum of 0.8 Sv. Since lifetime doses of 0.8 or 0.4 Sv will be accumulated in very few cases and only with special justification, there appears to be little need to introduce a further limit of lifetime exposure in addition to the current annual limit.

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