Positions of the Health Physics Society

Official positions are the positions that the Health Physics Society (HPS) takes on a topic. Positions are concise declarations regarding an issue relevant to radiation safety. Positions are established by a two-thirds vote of the Board members present.

To promote collegial relationships between the Society and other professional organizations, the Scientific and Public Issues Committee will communicate the positions of the Society on radiation safety issues with other organizations and the scientific community.

Topic Society Positions

Nuclear Power

The Health Physics Society (HPS) believes that nuclear power in the United States is a safe, reliable, low-carbon energy source. The exposures to radiation and/or radioactive material associated with nuclear power generation—and indeed the entire nuclear fuel cycle—have been effectively managed to ensure the safety of workers, the public, and the environment.

Health Physics

Health physics, also referred to as the science of radiation protection, is the profession devoted to protecting people and their environment from potential radiation hazards, while making it possible to enjoy the beneficial uses of radiation. Health physicists normally require a four-year bachelor's degree and qualifying experience that demonstrates a professional knowledge of the theory and application of radiation protection principles and closely related sciences.

CT Scanning

The Health Physics Society recommends that computed tomography (CT) screening exams only be performed if prescribed by a qualified healthcare provider.

Mobile Device Use for Radiation Detection

Mobile applications to measure radiation using smart phones, or external accessories made for such devices, are not substitutes for quality-controlled measurements made by trained and qualified radiation protection professionals using calibrated radiation detection instruments. Measurements made by such devices should not be used as the primary source of information to evaluate the user's safety or to issue protective actions for the public.

Radiofrequency Transmitters

The radiofrequency transmitters used in conjunction with smart meters do not present a public health risk.

Radiation Exposure of Public

No person should be intentionally exposed to ionizing radiation without his or her knowledge.

Patient Release PS027-0

The HPS has adopted a position recommending that patients who have been treated with therapeutic quantities of radiopharmaceuticals or who have received permanent implants of sealed radioactive sources for therapeutic purposes may be released from treatment facilities without harm to caregivers and the public if the conditions of release are based on patient-release criteria published by national and international radiation safety consensus organizations and by regulations (10 CFR 35.75) of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Safety Culture

Users of radiation and radioactive material should establish a collective commitment by their managers and employees to emphasize safety over competing goals to ensure protection of people and the environment.

Radiological Quantities

The HPS has adopted a position that the International System of Units (SI) should be used exclusively when expressing radiological quantities.

Stakeholder Engagement

The HPS endorses the Guiding Principles for Radiation Protection Professionals on Stakeholder Engagement developed by the International Radiation Protection Association.

Spent Nuclear Fuel

1.   The HPS believes the management of spent fuel from nuclear reactors should be conducted in a manner that (a) uses only scientifically valid and reasonable assumptions for setting protection standards, (b) adequately protects the public and environment from radiation exposure resulting from natural, accidental, or malevolent release of radioactive materials from the spent fuel, (c) accommodates evolving technologies, and (d) does not permanently dispose of potentially valuable material that is contained in a spent-fuel assembly.
2.   The HPS believes that the development of new reactor technology that is intended for commercial production of electrical power must (a) integrate the characteristics of waste streams created by this new technology into the design of the new technology and process from the very beginning of its development, (b) design the framework to manage the new waste stream with equal importance to designing the technology itself, and (c) incorporate input and involvement from the regulatory authority that will regulate the technology and resulting waste stream once it is producing commercial power.
3.   The HPS believes the scientific validity and reasonableness of assumptions regarding the estimation of cancer and genetic risk from radiation exposure only allows the risk estimates to be extrapolated out for a period on the order of several generations (that is, on the order of a hundred years) but no more than a few hundred years. 

Source Security

1.   The HPS believes that security of vulnerable and orphan sources, both domestic and international, is a radiation safety issue of high priority needing additional state and national attention.
2.   The HPS supports adopting the International Atomic Energy Agency Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources and believes the Department of State should work with the International Atomic Energy Agency to get its member states to enact import/export controls and to prevent source transactions with countries that do not have proper source controls.
3.   The HPS supports the study of alternative technologies, as provided for by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, to reduce the use of radioactive materials when hazards and disposition are an issue.
4.   The HPS supports the International Atomic Energy Agency categorization system, but recognizes there is a need for other categorization levels for different purposes to support missions of the various federal agencies.
5.   The HPS believes congressional action is needed to ensure accessible and safe options are available for disposing of all radioactive sources, especially the higher-category (1–3) sources and orphan sources.
6.   The HPS believes that the Department of Transportation should continue to authorize appropriate shipping containers and require special form testing records be maintained that will not identify potential vulnerabilities of the packaging. 

Security Screening

1.   The HPS believes that radiation-emitting devices must be operated in accordance with the appropriate operating standards for the device.
2.   The HPS believes that intentionally exposing people to low levels of ionizing radiation for security screening in accordance with ANSI (American National Standards Institute)/HPS-43.17 is justified if there is a net benefit to society and individual doses are kept as low as reasonably achievable. 

Human Capital Crisis

The HPS believes that congressional and federal agencies' support for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education is critical for resolution of the human capital crisis in radiation safety. 


1.   Based on the extensive knowledge of radiation health effects, the HPS believes that a person's radiation dose must be considered in determining whether to provide compensation for a disease that could have been caused by radiation.
2.   There should be no compensation for persons whose lifetime doses are less than approximately 0.1 Sv.
3.   The HPS supports compensation for individuals who have been injured, or wronged, by practices that have clearly caused them harm. 

Occupational Standards


1.   The HPS believes occupational radiation safety standards and regulations and their implementation have been sound, and protective of radiation workers, since the mid-1950s.
2.   The HPS believes employers should be held accountable to conduct radiation safety programs that comply with regulations and requirements.

Clearance of Materials

1.   The HPS supports regulations for radiation protection that are based on the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements recommendations for dose limits for individual members of the public.
2.   The HPS believes that constraints should be applied to all regulated, nonmedical, nonoccupational sources of radiation exposure to the general public, excluding indoor radon, such that no individual member of the public will receive in any one year a total effective dose equivalent (TEDE) exceeding 1 mSv from all such sources combined.
3.   The HPS believes that dose limits should be applied only to individual members of the public, not to the collective dose to population groups.
4.   The HPS believes that regulations for radiation protection should be based on consensus standards of the American National Standards Institute issued by the Health Physics Society Standards Committee in keeping with the intent of Public Law 104-113 "National Technology and Transfer Act of 1995" and Office of Management and Budget Circular A-119 "Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards."
5.   The HPS believes that primary radiation protection standards should be all pathway TEDE standards with screening levels related to quantities that can be measured such that compliance with these levels will result in the primary dose standards being met for reasonable and likely scenarios.
6.   The HPS believes that these screening levels should be derived with consideration of the principle of as low as reasonably achievable.
7.   The HPS supports the adoption of ANSI Standard N13.12 (1999), "Surface and Volume Radioactivity Standards for Clearance," which is consistent with positions (1) through (6) above.


1.   The HPS has concluded that estimates of health risk should be limited to individuals receiving a dose of 50 mSv in one year or a lifetime dose of 100 mSv above that received from natural sources.
2.   Estimation of health risk associated with radiation doses that are of similar magnitude as those received from natural sources should be strictly qualitative and encompass a range of hypothetical health outcomes, including the possibility of no adverse health effects at such low levels.
3.   The linear no-threshold hypothesis oversimplifies the relationship between exposure and cancer or hereditary effects in the low dose/low dose-rate region.
4.   Calculation of collective dose (the sum of individual doses in a defined exposed population expressed as person-mSv) for low doses over large populations carries uncertainties too high to make it useful for estimating health effects in the low dose/low dose-rate region. 
5.   For populations in which almost all individuals are estimated to receive a lifetime dose of less than 100 mSv above background, collective dose is highly speculative, and detriment should not be determined for individuals with doses less than 50 mSv.

Low-Level Waste

1.  The goal of managing low-level radioactive waste (LLRW) is to ensure the safety of workers and the public and to protect the environment. To achieve this goal, disposal, not long-term storage, is the best and safest long-term approach.
2.  The Health Physics Society believes that accessible disposal options should be available to waste generators nationwide.
3.   Risk-informed waste-disposal requirements for radioactive materials should be based on sound science and consistent with the risk posed to public health and not based on its origins and statutory definitions.

Risk Assessment

1.   The HPS supports risk assessments that are consistent, of high technical quality, unbiased, and based on sound, objective science.
2.   Risk assessments should employ the best available scientific and/or technical data.
3.   Risk assessments should include consideration of uncertainties.

Standards – Public

The HPS recommends that radiation safety standards for the general public be based on the current scientific consensus provided by International Commission on Radiological Protection and National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements recommendations.

Standards – Compatibility

1.   The HPS advocates a single, independent US federal agency shall have the responsibility and authority to establish all ionizing radiation safety standards for all controllable sources of occupational and public exposures.
2.   Radiation safety standards shall be consistent with the recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection, the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, and scientific consensus standards.


The HPS encourages members of the public to minimize exposure to radon and its radioactive decay products to the extent reasonably achievable, taking into account applicable technical, economic, and social factors.