Current News

25 July 2016
NAS Workshop on Adopting SI Units for Radiation Measurements

The workshop "Adopting the International System of Units for Radiation Measurements in the United States" will be held 29–30 September 2016 at 2101 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20418.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is planning a workshop to discuss how the adoption of SI units for radiation measurements in the United States could improve information exchanges and communications. The workshop is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More information on the workshop, including an agenda draft and registration instructions, will be available soon. Comments should be sent to NRSB@nas.edu.

 

25 July 2016
Draft IRPA Guidance on Certification of a Radiation Protection Expert

The final text for comments on the "IRPA Guidance on Certification of a Radiation Protection Expert" is ready for review. The guidance was produced by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (IRPA) Task Group (TG), chaired by Kent Lambert and Colin Partington. The previous draft was distributed before the IRPA14 Congress in Cape Town, where an open meeting to discuss the guidance and collect comments took place. The TG chairs then prepared the current final text for comments.

The TG was launched in July 2013 with the objective "to develop a document of guiding principles for the development and implementation of a certification process for Radiation Protection Expert that would be useful to IRPA Associate Societies that would like to initiate such a certification process or improve an existing process in their countries."

Comments are expected by 30 September 2016 and can be emailed to kent.lambert@drexel.edu or eduardo.gallego@upm.es. The IRPA guidance is expected to receive final approval by the Executive Council in November 2016 in Madrid.

 

25 July 2016
New IRPA Bulletin

The International Radiation Protection Association (IRPA) has posted IRPA Bulletin 10, a special issue covering the IRPA14 meeting that was held in South Africa 9–13 May 2016. 

 

19 July 2016
Number of HP Degrees in 2015 Lowest in Over a Decade

The overall number of students who graduated in 2015 with health physics degrees dropped to the lowest level in more than a decade, according to the latest annual study conducted by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education. The institute surveyed 22 health physics programs, representing nearly all such programs at the nation's universities.

The report—titled "Health Physics Enrollments and Degrees Survey, 2015 Data"—showed that a total of 136 bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees were granted between 1 September 2014 and 31 August 2015.

 

13 July 2016
NRC Requests Input on Prompt Remediation of Residual Radioactivity

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is seeking additional input from the public, licensees, Agreement States, non-Agreement States, and other stakeholders on the need for potential rulemaking to address prompt remediation of residual radioactivity during the operational phase at licensed material sites and nuclear reactors. The NRC has not initiated a rulemaking, but is gathering information and seeking stakeholder input on this subject for developing a recommendation to the Commission regarding the need for further rulemaking.

To aid in this process, the NRC is requesting comments on the issues discussed in Section II, "Specific Questions," in the Supplementary Information section of this document. Comments on the issues discussed in this document must be submitted by 22 August 2016.

The document can be located on the federal rulemaking website at http://www.regulations.gov—search for Docket ID NRC-2011-0162.

 

 

12 July 2016
Handbook Offers Guidance to Doctors on Radiation

A new handbook has been compiled with the help of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to better prepare and improve the ability of medical professionals, physicists, and other specialists in Asia and elsewhere to communicate about radiation-related health risks in a nuclear or radiological emergency.

The IAEA said the handbook provides an overview of general radiation history and circumstances of release of radiological material at Fukushima, Japan. It addresses risk perception and advises on how best to deal with psychosomatic symptoms. Topics on preparing for and coping with disasters and risk communication are also included, along with legal and ethical considerations.

The initiative was based on the need for clear and science-based communication. This article is excerpted from an article on World Nuclear News.

 

5 July 2016
No Page Charges for Student Papers in HPS Journals

Health Physics students, here's your opportunity to publish your work free of page charges in the journals Health Physics and Operational Radiation Safety. Mike Ryan, editor of Health Physics, and Craig Little, editor of Operational Radiation Safety, are always looking for ways to encourage students to submit papers for publication. An objection that we sometimes hear is that students have no funds to pay for published page charges. While the page charges of the Health Physics Society's (HPS) journals are modest at $70 per published page, that amount is still sometimes an obstacle. Therefore, for the next year, from 1 July 2016 through 30 June 2017, we are offering to publish papers written by students free of page charges.

To qualify for publication without page charges, the paper must be submitted to one of the journals via the Editorial Manager website before the student author graduates. The student's academic advisor must verify the student's status. Additionally, the student must be the senior and corresponding author of the paper. Finally, since color figures are expensive to produce, there will be a charge for such figures at the rate published in the author guidelines on the Editorial Manager website.

 

29 June 2016
Results of HPS Membership Survey on Future Directions

The HPS Membership Survey on Future Directions has been completed and the results can be found on the HPS Members Only website. Over 800 members responded to the survey and shared their views on the topics.

 

20 June 2016
New Article on Epidemiology Without Biology

"Epidemiology Without Biology: False Paradigms, Unfounded Assumptions, and Specious Statistics in Radiation Science (With Commentaries by Inge Schmitz-Feuerhake and Christopher Busby and a Reply by the Authors) has been recently published in the journal Biological Theory. The authors are Bill Sacks, Gregory Meyerson, and Jeffry A. Siegel.

The abstract to the article is quoted below and addresses assertions about the linear no-threshold (LNT) hypothesis, science, and scientific literature:

Radiation science is dominated by a paradigm based on an assumption without empirical foundation. Known as the linear no-threshold (LNT) hypothesis, it holds that all ionizing radiation is harmful no matter how low the dose or dose rate. Epidemiological studies that claim to confirm LNT either neglect experimental and/or observational discoveries at the cellular, tissue, and organismal levels, or mention them only to distort or dismiss them. The appearance of validity in these studies rests on circular reasoning, cherry picking, faulty experimental design, and/or misleading inferences from weak statistical evidence. In contrast, studies based on biological discoveries demonstrate the reality of hormesis: the stimulation of biological responses that defend the organism against damage from environmental agents. Normal metabolic processes are far more damaging than all but the most extreme exposures to radiation. However, evolution has provided all extant plants and animals with defenses that repair such damage or remove the damaged cells, conferring on the organism even greater ability to defend against subsequent damage. Editors of medical journals now admit that perhaps half of the scientific literature may be untrue. Radiation science falls into that category. Belief in LNT informs the practice of radiology, radiation regulatory policies, and popular culture through the media. The result is mass radiophobia and harmful outcomes, including forced relocations of populations near nuclear power plant accidents, reluctance to avail oneself of needed medical imaging studies, and aversion to nuclear energy—all unwarranted and all harmful to millions of people.

Forbes magazine published a commentary on the article, which gives a summary and provides additional points for reflection.

 

1 June 2016
Cell Phone Radiation Study Preliminary Data

There is much interest in a recent news story on cell phone radiation and cancer causation. 

An Associated Press article stated in part:

A new federal study of the potential dangers of cellphone radiation, conducted in rats, found a slight increase in brain tumors in males and raised long-dormant concerns about the safety of spending so much time with cellphones glued to our ears.

But the study had enough strange findings that it has caused other federal scientists to highlight flaws in the research, and experts said these findings and those from other studies continue to suggest the potential risk from cellphone radiation is very small.

The National Institutes of Health study bombarded rats with cellphone radiation from the womb through the first two years of life for nine hours a day. It found tumors in 2 to 3 percent of male rats, which the study's authors called low. But females weren't affected at all and, strangely, the rats not exposed to the cellphone radiation died much faster—at double the rate—of those that were.

The results were preliminary, and only part of what will ultimately be released. They were made public before they were officially published—and despite strong criticism from other NIH scientists—because the results were similar to other studies that hint at a potential problem, said study author John Bucher.

The study is part of a seven-year, $25 million effort conducted by the National Toxicology Program at the request of the Food and Drug Administration. It looked at the specific type of radiation that cellphones transmit, called non-ionizing radiofrequency.

"This is the first study to actually show that non-ionizing radiation (causes) cancer," said Dr. Otis Brawley, the American Cancer Society's chief medical officer. The cancer society in a statement praised the study for "evidence that cellphone signals could potentially impact human health" but notes that it doesn't quite address real risk to people.

"If cellphones cause cancer, they don't cause a lot of cancer," he said in an interview. "It's not as carcinogenic as beef."

He said people should be far more concerned about "distraction caused by cellphone," which he said causes more deaths.

Both Brawley and Bucher said this would not change how they use their own personal cellphones.

While the study found what Bucher called a likely cause of cancer in rats, he cautioned that how that applies to humans "is not currently completely worked out. This may have relevance. It may have no relevance," he said.

Since about 1986, U.S. brain cancer deaths have not increased or decreased, Brawley said. That suggests that whatever effect cellphones may have it is so small as to be undetectable amid regular cases of brain cancer.

Also, Brawley and others point out that cellphone technology has improved so much in recent years to emit less radiation than medical studies simulate. Bucher said the levels the rats were subjected to would be considered "heavy."


Comments by John Moulder1 regarding the preliminary data are:

The report is a fragment of a preliminary version of a much bigger study. It suggests that long duration exposure to high levels of radiofrequency radiation (RFR) might cause a slight increase in brain cancer in male rats. The statistical significance of the result is questionable (that is, it might be noise) and the effect did not occur in female rats and probably not in mice. The implications of this for the safety of mobile phone use is between questionable and nonexistent. Serious evaluation of the health implications of the findings will need to wait for the final report which will be released with "peer review and public comment by the end of 2017."

Items of note are:

1) Both rats and mice were tested, but this report includes only the rats; it is implied (but not clearly stated) that the mouse studies did not find the same glioma increase.

2) Multiple types of tumors were studied, but only data on brain glioma and heart schwannomas are reported; it is implied (but not clearly stated) that results for other tumor types were negative. If all other tumor sites showed no effect, then the statistical and biological significance of the glioma effect is much diminished.

3) Each sex of each species was exposed at 3 different doses. The highest dose (6 Watts/kilogram) and the exposure time (18 hrs/day for 106 weeks starting in utero) were well above what people are exposed to.

4) The higher exposures were thermally significant. That is, they were high enough to cause heat stress in the animals. Since there is some evidence that heat stress may be carcinogenic in its own right (via epigenetic pathways), this makes the results of the higher doses of questionable relevance to human exposure (where RFR-induced heat stress is not an issue if current safety standards are followed).

5) Two different exposure regimens were used (GSM and CDMA-modulated).

6) Survival in the exposed male rats was longer than that in the unexposed group. The cause of this mortality difference is not stated, and this is a critical issue that the final report must address.

7) Four of the six groups of exposed males had higher rates of gliomas than the unexposed males (2–3 tumor per group vs. none in unexposed). This effect was not seen in females (and presumably not in mice?).

8) It is not explicit that the glioma increases in male rats were statistically significant, and it would appear that they are not.

9) Glioma incidence in the unexposed males was lower than that seen historically. If even 1 glioma (and 1–2 were expected) had appeared in the unexposed group, all statistical and biological significance of the results would have vanished.

1John E. Moulder, PhD, is a professor and director of radiation biology, Department of Radiation Oncology, at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Dr. Moulder has lectured on ionizing and nonionizing radiation biology and human health to biologists, physicists, physicians, policy makers, and industry groups around the world and has served as a consultant and expert witness in several cases involving the alleged health effects of exposure to ionizing and nonionizing radiation. Two areas of his research are the biological basis for carcinogenesis and cancer therapy and the biological aspects of human exposure to non-ionizing radiation. Moulder has published extensively in these areas, and his research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society.

 

29 April 2016
Waste Control Specialists Submits Application for Used Nuclear Fuel Interim Storage Facility in Texas

Waste Control Specialists LLC (WCS) submitted an application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a license to construct and operate a Consolidated Interim Storage Facility (CISF) for used nuclear fuel. The filing comes after a year of preapplication meetings with the NRC and maintains the timeline WCS outlined in February 2015.

The application is being led by WCS, along with its partners AREVA and NAC International, both global industry leaders in the transportation and storage of used nuclear fuel.

The license submittal puts WCS on track for completion of a CISF as early as 2021 if such steps are accomplished within their expected time line.

Timely solutions for the used nuclear fuel challenge in the United States have proved elusive for more than 40 years. Now, a private-sector solution for secure storage has been proposed by a company with a proven track record for licensing success.

WCS is the only privately owned and operated facility in the United States that has been licensed to treat, store, and dispose of Class A, B, and C low-level radioactive waste (LLRW). Located in an arid, isolated part of west Texas, WCS offers one of the most geologically characterized locations in the United States as a result of the multiyear licensing process for that facility.

More information is available on the WCS website. This article was adapted from the WCS press release.

 

14 April 2016
18 May Deadline for 2016 NORM VIII Symposium Young Professional Awards

The 2016 NORM VIII Symposium will be held 18–21 October 2016 and will bring a worldwide audience to Rio de Janeiro, where the first effort of a worldwide exchange of experiences in the naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) field occurred 17 years ago. The Technologically Enhanced Natural Radiation (TENR II) Symposium was attended by participants from 22 countries, representing all regions of the world.

The 2016 symposium will address the radiation protection control of NORM and will include the results of new research, explore practical case studies of industrial applications and waste-disposal practices, and evaluate the practical implication of international and national standards, as well as identifying new societal needs and technical requirements for regulators and industry on NORM. Possible solutions for using, recycling, and disposal of NORM residues will be another focus area, as well as the quality of NORM sampling and measurements.

The event is an essential platform for NORM industries, academic and research institutions, and regulatory authorities to share experiences, review progress made, identify opportunities, and provide an in-depth analysis of current challenges. The symposium offers a multitude of possibilities and opportunities for networking.

Taking into account that NORM VIII is an excellent opportunity for students and young professionals to get the newest technical information, while making important industry contacts, the 2016 NORM VIII Symposium committees invite students and young professionals to apply for the Young Professional Awards.

This opportunity is only open to students or professionals up to 35 years old who are the first author of a paper and whose extended abstract and presentation have been better rated by the Award Committee. Three awards will be delivered to the selected young scientists and professionals: first place (US$1,500), second place (US$700), and third place (US$350), according to the Award Commitee criteria. The awards will be announced in the closing ceremony of NORM VIII.

The contributed papers submission deadline is soon—18 May 2016.

 

30 December 2015
Fukushima Releases: The Truth

Recently, a number of websites have reported grossly false information regarding radioactive releases during the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. Here are the key facts that refute those claims.

The erroneous information cites a recently “declassified report”:

The claim is that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) “declassified” documents about Fukushima in December 2015. The truth is that the documents were requested through the Freedom of Information Act and were provided in May 2012, and more documents were provided in March 2014. None of these documents were ever “classified” in the legal sense.

The erroneous information claims that the report says “25% of the total fuel in unit 2 . . . , 50% of the total spent fuel from unit 3 . . . , and 100% of the total spent fuel . . . from unit 4” was released to the atmosphere:

Yes, these are the hypothetical releases that were evaluated in an attempt to understand the worst possible situation. No, these are not the amounts that were released from the reactors or spent fuel rods.

 The truth is that there was a high degree of uncertainty regarding actual releases early in the accident and continuing for several weeks. As a result, the NRC asked the National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center (NARAC) to provide dose estimates for two or more hypothetical scenarios to set bounds on the potential protective actions that might be taken.

 The NRC documents clearly identify those percentages as a hypothetical bounding case, which they asked NARAC to consider. The hypothetical releases were described as a “worst-case scenario” and “realistic worst case.” The NARAC report clearly states the scenario was hypothetical, and the documents also state “There is no evidence this scenario has occurred.”

Read the truth for yourself. These are the notes provided by the NRC on 8 May 2012 and 7 March 2014.

What was released?

Actual (not hypothetical) data show that ultimately there was major fuel damage in Units 1, 2, and 3 reactor cores. Through about mid-March of 2011, releases from these cores were primarily volatile fission products released to air, as well as some soluble fission products released to water. There has been no evidence of releases from any of the on-site spent fuel pools (http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/safety-and-security/safety-of-plants/fukushima-accident/). The total release from the Fukushima accident was about 10-15% that of Chernobyl, though by element, the iodine release was less than 25% and the cesium release was less than 45% of the Chernobyl releases (http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/Publications/PDF/AdditionalVolumes/P1710/Pub1710-TV1-Web.pdf).

Want more true facts about the Fukushima accident?

Check out the reputable resources listed on the Health Physics Society’s website at http://hps.org/fukushima/.

Barbara Hamrick, CHP, JD

 

17 December 2015
National Terrorism Advisory System

In 2011 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) replaced the color-coded alerts of the Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS) with the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS), designed to more effectively communicate information about terrorist threats by providing timely, detailed information to the American public.

It recognizes that Americans all share responsibility for the nation's security and should always be aware of the heightened risk of terrorist attack in the United States and of what they should do.

A workplace poster and an FAQ page are available. The NTAS posts alerts on Facebook and Twitter. Currently there is one bulletin in effect.

 

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