Jillian Oleandi, Chapter Secretary
At the Western New York Chapter's 2021 virtual spring meeting, chapter members from around the area welcomed speakers Robert Pizzutiello (FACR, RAAPM), Ronald Goans (PhD, MD, senior medical advisor, MJW Corporation), and Fred Mis (PhD, CHP). Pizzutiello presented "New Recommendations for Shielding of Patients" and commented on the impact new regulations will have on gonadal shielding for radiological patient imaging. Goans discussed his coauthored paper "Neutrophil to Lymphocyte Ratio as a Triage Tool for Criticality Accidents." The neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) is a suitable tool for contact triage, since complete blood count samples are easily available and can be computerized in the interim environment. Mis presented "Techniques to Estimate Key Parameters for Clarification of a Ground Water Leak at a Nuclear Power Plant," referencing the Industry Ground Water Protection Initiative NEI 07-07, the significant environmental concerns of possible radioactive isotopes leaking into the ground water, and how to detect them.
The chapter thanks our virtual host, Health Physics Society Executive Director Brett Burk. Health physicists in the Western New York area (Buffalo to Rochester to Syracuse) are encouraged to join our chapter and to participate in our health physics activities. Please contact me, Jillian Oleandi, secretary of the Western New York Chapter, for a membership application.
Richard Harvey, Section Secretary/Treasurer on behalf of the Section Board
Current MHPS Activities
The Medical Health Physics Section (MHPS) board would like to inform the section of our activities and encourage participation from membership. Section or committee endeavors are not always transparent enough, and MHPS hopes this information will change that and energize our section membership. Here are some highlights of what is going on.
AAPM Joint Initiative for Scope of Practice: The Health Physics Society and American Association of Physicists in Medicine are working on a collaborative scope of practice document for medical health physics.
Joint Commission (JC): MHPS continues to market our expertise to JC and promote inclusion within JC framework and our recognition as subject-matter experts for radiation safety in health care.
Special Sessions: a medical health physics special session is scheduled for 22 July 2021. This is the week prior to the annual meeting and will be virtual only.
New Business – Staffing Levels and Methodology to Determine: The MHPS board discussed how to determine staffing levels in light of current radiation protection challenges and methods to determine staffing requirements. A white paper was proposed.
Title Protection Committee (TPC): The TPC plans to focus on a white paper—"Unique Duties and Responsibilities of an HP"—and MHPS will provide input on medical health physics.
MHPS Board Candidates Recruitment: The section needs candidates for president-elect, secretary/treasurer and two board members. Please contact MHPS Past President Bryan Lemieux if you are interested.
Return to Care Campaign: This Radiological Society of North America campaign was discussed and is an initiative to return patients to treatments after interruption during the pandemic.
Tired of being cooped up? How about ending your extended time at home with a bucket list trip? Or decide to take the cash to use however you would like!
The Health Physics Society (HPS) Board of Directors has once again authorized a raffle to benefit the HPS Fund and thus the HPS. The Tesla raffle last year was very successful for HPS and created some excitement and friendly competition among members. This year, for each $50 donation, you get an entry to win $25,000 toward a vacation (or cash)! There will also be 2nd and 3rd prizes of $3,000 and $2,000, respectively. Chances of winning are excellent because only 2,000 entries will be allowed. We are opening the raffle up to everyone at this time so buy your tickets before it is too late! In the unlikely event that fewer than 1,200 tickets are sold, it will become a 50/50 raffle with only one prize being given equal to 50% of the amount raised. The drawing will close on 27 July 2021 at midnight ET and the winner will be announced at the HPS business meeting on 28 July 2021. Go to the raffle web page for more information, to make your donation to the HPS, and to put your name in for a chance(s) to win.
The May short course offerings have been posted on the Short Courses page of the HPS website. Information on the following courses is available:
Applied Health Physics—ORAU's Professional Training Programs
Site Characterization Online Training Course—ORAU's Professional Training Programs
Livestream Laser Safety Officer (LSO) Training—Kentek Corporation
Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) School and Refresher Class—RSO Services, Inc.
Professional Enrichment Program (PEP) sessions from the 2020 Health Physics Society (HPS) Virtual Workshop are still available for those who previously registered. HPS members may purchase access to the sessions.
If you are not yet a member of the HPS and would like to view the PEPs, you can join here.
Add the dates of the following Health Physics Society meetings to your calendar. Check the Meetings and Conferences page of the website for the most current information.
First Annual Workshop: 23–26 May 2021; Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina; "A Fresh Perspective"
66th Annual Meeting: 25–29 July 2021; Phoenix, Arizona
67th Annual Meeting: 16–21 July 2022; Spokane, Washington
Wade C. Morris, Chapter President
The Cincinnati Radiation Society (CRS) Chapter of the Health Physics Society, in partnership with the Ohio Valley Section (OVS) of the American Industrial Hygiene Association, held a very informative, engaging, and successful virtual meeting. Approximately 25 members met on Wednesday, 21 April 2021, to hear Mutty M. Sharfi, CHP, CIH. Sharfi presented "How the Worlds of Health Physics and Industrial Hygiene Interrelate." The presentation was an excellent demonstration of where health physics and industrial hygiene intersect. This meeting is certain to be the first of many CRS/OVS collaborations.
Two studies published in a recent issue of Science were concerned with possible mutations to Chernobyl survivors and their children. Researchers used advanced genomic tools to investigate potential health effects of exposure to ionizing radiation from the 1986 accident in northern Ukraine.
A study of more than 200 Chernobyl survivors and offspring found no evidence of a transgenerational effect. The team sequenced the genomes of 105 parents and 130 children born between 1987 and 2002. Numbers of de novo mutations (DNMs) were no greater than those seen in the general population—even at the highest radiation doses. A summary of the work by Richard Stone was published online.
According to a National Cancer Institute press release, a second study published in the same Science issue documented genetic changes in the tumors of people who developed thyroid cancer following being exposed as children or fetuses to the radiation released during the Chernobyl accident. Results of the study suggest that DNA double-strand breaks could be an early genetic change following radiation exposure that subsequently enables the growth of thyroid cancers. These findings suggest further studies of radiation-induced cancers, especially those that involve risk differences as a function of both dose and age.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will hold the "First International Conference on Nuclear Law: The Global Debate" at IAEA's headquarters in Vienna, Austria, 7–11 February 2022. The conference will be held in English and is expected to be a major event, providing a unique forum for leading global experts from governments, industry, academia, and civil society to share experiences and discuss topical issues with a view to developing further the various areas of nuclear law and promoting international expertise in this field.
More information on the conference and the call for papers can be found on the conference website.
Health Physics Society (HPS) headquarters was contacted by a historic preservation officer for the city of New Braunfels, Texas, searching for information regarding Colonel John E. Pickering, a former resident. The city is aware that Pickering was a member of HPS, perhaps a founding member. Any member who knows of Pickering's involvement and contributions to HPS is asked to email website Editor in Chief Barbara Hamrick or Society Operations Editor Craig Little.
Health Physics Society member Robert Brent passed away on 24 February 2021. His obituary can be found on the HPS website In Memoriam page.
25–29 July 2021; Phoenix, AZ
+ 20 and 22 July Virtual Days
Charles Wilson, 2021 Annual Meeting Task Force Chair
This year's Health Physics Society (HPS) annual meeting has expanded to two weeks! The first week will feature seven special sessions all held virtually and the second week will be held in Phoenix, Arizona!
Are you concerned that you will not be able to travel to Phoenix this July? Worry not! The Phoenix portion of the meeting will be available (1) live in person, (2) live virtually, and (3) recorded for later viewing. Registration is now open.
Virtual attendees will have all sessions available live on our new platform. To start things off, on 20 July, virtual sessions include the nonionizing special session, the homeland security special session, and pandemic experiences (part 1 of a 3-part session).
More featured information to come in future newsletters.
See you in Phoenix (virtually or in person)!
Last month the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued its FY2021 Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for Research and Development. NRC is now soliciting volunteers to serve as technical grant proposal reviewers. Each reviewer will be assigned up to eight proposals to review (depending on the number of proposals received) and will be expected to participate on a review panel teleconference. Reviewers will evaluate and rate proposals against specific review criteria outlined in the FOA. All reviewers must certify no conflicts of interest for the proposals they will evaluate. For planning purposes, the tentative time frame for the review process is late May to early June. They ask that only serious and dedicated individuals volunteer, as there will be a tight review schedule.
NRC is specifically seeking at least two individuals from each institution as a volunteer to serve as a reviewer. Please note, just because an individual submitted a proposal does not preclude that person from reviewing other proposals submitted by a different institution. Individuals interested in serving as a reviewer should contact Program Manager Nancy Hebron-Israel, senior grants administrative specialist, no later than 10 May 2021 and include your technical area of expertise. If there might be a perceived conflict of interest, please provide that information as well. Every attempt will be made to assign proposals according to technical area.
Health Physics Society Member Andrew Karam, PhD, CHP, spoke with a reporter for the public radio show The World about the release of tritiated water from Fukushima. Also, the first in a series of three articles Karam wrote about cosmic radiation has been posted to the website of the American Council on Science and Health. This article is on health effects, the second will be about exposure to astronauts, and the third is about magnetic field reversals and whether or not they can cause mass extinctions.
Health Physics Society member John Auxier passed away on 27 August 2020. His obituary can be found on the HPS website In Memoriam page.
Emily Caffrey, 2021 Midyear Task Force Chair
Registration has officially opened for the first-ever Health Physics Society workshop—"A Fresh Perspective." The workshop is 23–26 May 2021 at Clemson University and will be held as a hybrid meeting with both virtual and in person options.
Remember, this workshop replaces the traditional midyear meeting and promises to be a place where early-career members can share experiences, foster common goals, and gain valuable contacts. Students will have the opportunity to learn about the job market and career opportunities from the unique perspective of early-career health physicists. Of course, all are welcome to attend and participate in the workshop.
Steve Sugarman*, MS, CHP, SummitET® Vice President and Corporate Health Physicist, SummitET.com
Acknowledgements: Mark Basnight, SummitET® Vice President of Communications and Marketing; Holly Hardin, SummitET® Strategic Communications Program Manager
Words have meaning, and subtle shifts in the language we use can have a large impact on the message being delivered and the perceptions of the receiving audience. This is especially important when speaking about topics that may cause anxiety in people, such as radiation. Should the media report “radiation leaks” at some facility, a health physicist (HP) would know that radiation doesn't leak, but that radioactive materials do if not properly contained. Many people don't understand the difference between exposure and contamination. While the differences in various concepts may seem elementary to an HP, it's an extremely important difference and can be a primary driver in emergency response. After the accident at Fukushima, there were numerous articles written about the "antiradiation pill," yet one does not exist. These types of messages, coupled with a lack of understanding, shape people's perception of radiation and radioactivity.
The importance of effective communication cannot be overstated. Radiation can be a scary word. A lack of knowledge and/or not understanding how radiation works can lead people to make decisions they may not have made had they been more aware of the true nature of the potential hazard. As HPs, we play a key role in providing information and guidance to various stakeholders to help facilitate good decision-making.
A recent example of an overreaction based on a lack of understanding of the relative hazard happened on 8 January 2021 in Haddon Township, New Jersey. A student brought a uranium-glazed plate (Fiesta® ware) and Geiger counter that he had been given for Christmas to school to show a teacher. As a result, Haddon Township High School was evacuated over radiation concerns. Agencies that responded to the scene included local law enforcement, fire, HAZMAT, and even representatives from the county prosecutor's office. Unnecessary responses of this nature draw resources from areas where they may be needed, are expensive, negatively impact the involved institutions, create concern/fear for the public, and unintentionally increase risk to evacuees—not to mention the overall risk associated with just responding to an incident.
It can be difficult to take a complicated topic and simplify it into easily understood terms while maintaining factual integrity. The implications of effective communications are far reaching—whether it is helping an individual who has radiation-related concerns about an anticipated medical procedure or affecting the public's willingness to accept emergency-management recommendations during an incident involving radioactive materials. We should all hone our communication skills to help educate others about what radiation can and cannot do.
Let's consider how we process risk. According to the late Dr. Dennis Mileti, who specialized in disaster communication, people pick the messages they want to hear. For example, in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, people will select what they want to hear about the need for masks, about the timeline for a vaccine, about social distancing, etc. Messages that motivate behavior change must consider emotion, social networks, and group identity—all important things to consider. We must understand people's fears before we tell them what to do; make all public directives as specific, consistent, and clear as possible; and ensure messages come from many different sources when trust is rare. The pandemic has highlighted the distrust that mixed messages and mixed respect for experts can generate. These are not necessarily new issues, but they are certainly contributing to the complexity of the current information ecosystem.
Remember who your information consumers are—what modalities they use and what their preferences for information consumption are. While society evolves and we try to understand the vast diversity of culture, we can all agree that communication can be complex. Understand the emotional status of your audiences and tailor messages to address their fears and/or perceptions. Strong emotions are not likely to be overcome by simply providing facts. When addressing fear and concern, the person giving the information and how it is perceived will oftentimes overshadow what has been said. Set up information expectations and stick to what you know—and be forthright with what you don't know. Remember that the people you are talking to may have fears and preconceptions that as an HP you overcame long ago, and your empathy when dealing with a situation will likely go as far—or farther—than the facts you are providing.
*Steve Sugarman, a member of the Health Physics Society Public Information Committee has responded to numerous radiation events throughout his career. The importance of good communications cannot be overstated. Steve subscribes to the idea verbalized by Sydney J. Harris—The two words "information" and "communication" are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.
David J. Allard, CHP
In my last "HPS History Corner" column I noted March as Women's History Month with the article "We Need More Women in STEM." And because she won Nobel Prizes in physics and in chemistry, I highlighted Marie Curie as an (obvious) and widely known trailblazer for women in science.
Here I'd like to call your attention to someone not as well known, yet a noteworthy woman in STEM—Sarah Frances Whiting, an early physics professor at Wellesley College outside Boston. I was recently working through my "fun reading pile" and spotted an article on Whiting in the August 2020 issue of Physics Today, specifically on her "Photography of the Invisible." Apparently, while an old science building on the Wellesley campus was being cleaned out, a number of early x-ray prints and photographs of Whiting using a Crookes tube and fluoroscope were discovered. These images were made in early 1896, within a few weeks of the newspaper accounts of Roentgen's discovery. Whiting had established a very well-equipped lab for her undergraduate physics course and had the apparatus available to repeat Roentgen's work. Very quickly, she radiographed a hand with a ring and other objects. Her x-ray work and lectures on the subject were well documented in local newspaper accounts of the day, but sadly, her work as a physicist and trailblazer educator of women did not endure. Thankfully, these images survived and are now documentation of her wonderful legacy as a physics professor at a college that was ahead of its time.
This account of Whiting's work is well worth the read. From now on, I'm going to cite Whiting as an early American x-ray pioneer when I talk to high school and college students. I hope you will do the same while encouraging young women, minorities, and all students to pursue a STEM education, and possibly, health physics!
Enjoy these articles on Whiting:
An In Memoriam piece for John Villforth, who died 14 September 2019, has been posted on the Health Physics Society (HPS) website.
The HPS would also like to pay tribute to other members who have died within the past few years and some of the "HPS greats." If you would like to write an In Memoriam piece for one of the following, please contact Web Operations Editor in Chief Barbara Hamrick.
- Keith Shiager (d. 3 March 2021)
- Pete Darnell (d. 25 March 2021)
- Lynn A. Fitz-Randolph (d. 20 December 2019)
- Roy Parker (d. 1 January 2021)
- John Johnson (d. March 2020)
- Bill Kirk (d. 22 April 2019)
- Jim Williams (d. 14 February 2020)
- Eugene "Gene" Kramer (d. 11 March 2019)
- Frank Cosolito (d. 3 July 2018)
- Elda Anderson
- Robley Evans
- K.Z. Morgan
David Connolly, HPS Congressional Liaison, The Connolly Group
It is now just over a year since I have physically been in the US Capitol and had a face-to-face meeting with a senator, member of the House of Representatives, or any of their staff persons, and this lack of normal contact is beginning to affect me. From my vantage point, the best way to represent the Society with the Congress is to be walking around the Capitol complex attending meetings, running into people, monitoring hearings, and listening to some of the floor debates. Although I can do some of those things through the internet, the lack of both the physical interaction and the depth of knowledge obtained from these interactions makes me feel somewhat inadequate in trying to perform my duties. Notwithstanding this COVID-19 reality of the last year and my misgivings, there have been some noteworthy legislative achievements for the Health Physics Society in the last year that I will discuss over the next month.
Among the perennial legislative goals of the Government Relations Program is to achieve funding for the study of health physics in universities and colleges throughout the country. One of the main vehicles to do this is the Integrated University Program jointly administered by the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. For the past number of years, the funding level for this program has not moved off of the $15 million mark despite our efforts to get it increased. However, in a positive development, the Appropriations Committees recognized the value of the program in their report (which explains why they fund particular programs) with the following language:
Integrated University Program.--The agreement notes the alarming statistics highlighting the severe shortage of highly trained nuclear specialists and the lack of academic programs to train and prepare individuals for work in the nuclear sector. The budget request again attempts to defund this program, despite continued success in developing highly qualified nuclear specialists to meet national needs. The agreement provides $5,000,000* to continue the Integrated University Program, which is critical to ensuring the nation's nuclear science and engineering workforce in future years. [NOTE: the phrase "budget request" used in this quote means the request submitted by the Trump Administration, which the Congress ignored.]
The acknowledgement by the Appropriations Committee of the need for support in academic programs was a very positive step that we will build on in our future advocacy—an advocacy that I hope to be doing in person in the very near future!
*The total appropriation is $15 million drawn from other accounts.
Dan Sowers, CHP Corner Editor
The April 2021 issue of the CHP Corner has been posted to the American Academy of Health Physics website. In this edition, Academy President Scott Schwahn encourages participation in the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) 6th International Symposium on the System of Radiological Protection (ICRP 2021). Realizing how important ICRP 60 and ICRP 103 are to what we do daily, this could be your calling to be part of an initiative that changes the world!