Answer to Question #8268 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Policy, Guidelines, and Regulations — U.S. Regulations

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:


How were 0.07 mm (70 µm) and 10 mm determined as the distances below the skin for extremity and effective whole-body dose respectively?


The thickness of the epidermis in adults varies from about 5-10 mg cm2 (50-100 m) on the head, trunk, arms, and legs, and may approach 40 mg cm2 (400 m) on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet (ICRP 2003). A "reference" value of 70 m has been used for many years as a representative average and was reiterated in the most recent International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) recommendations for anatomical reference standards (ICRP 2003). This is also codified in the principal regulations regarding the protection of radiation workers (10 CFR 20) (U.S. NRC). For calculations of the "deep dose," a depth was chosen to represent the maximum dose at some point beneath the surface of the body where dose is expected to reach a maximum, based on considerations of charged particle equilibrium. This varies considerably for different radiations and different energies of the radiations, but this value of 10 mm has been used as a reasonable value for many years (ICRP 2008) and is similarly codified in 10 CFR 20 (U.S. NRC).

Michael G. Stabin, PhD, CHP

International Commission on Radiological Protection. Basic anatomical and physiological data for use in radiological protection: Reference values. New York: Pergamon Press; ICRP Publication 89; 2003.

International Commission on Radiological Protection. Recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection. New York: Pergamon Press; ICRP Publication 103, Ann. ICRP 37(2-4); 2008.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Part 20-Standards for Protection Against Radiation; 20.1003 Definitions.

Ask the Experts is posting answers using only SI (the International System of Units) in accordance with international practice. To convert these to traditional units we have prepared a conversion table. You can also view a diagram to help put the radiation information presented in this question and answer in perspective. Explanations of radiation terms can be found here.
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