Due to COVID, this year all 2021 Health Physics Society (HPS) conference shirts and hats will be sold online and shipped directly to the attendee. Order your meeting hats and shirts online at the 2021 HPS Swag Store.
Find out more about the 66th HPS Annual Meeting sessions, activities, hotels, and registration on the meeting web page.
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 National Academies is convening a new committee to review the technical quality and completeness of the recent national laboratories' analysis, which examined supplemental treatment options for low-activity radioactive waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
This congressionally mandated review will help guide the US Department of Energy and Congress on the Hanford waste treatment and disposal efforts that involve expenditures of tens of billions of dollars and decades of work.
For more information and to submit nominations, click here. Nominations should be submitted by Friday, 21 May 2021.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is offering, at no charge, two new e-learning courses on radiation protection of workers: "Occupational Radiation Protection Based on General Safety Guide No. GSG-7" and "Management and Control of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM)." The courses focus on how to further strengthen worker protection and occupational exposure control and provides guidance on monitoring and recording methodologies.
More information is available on the IAEA website.
Franz Schönhofer passed away on 11 April 2021. His obituary can be found on the HPS website In Memoriam page.
The Department of Energy (DOE) has contracted with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to perform a study and report findings and recommendations on the current status and development of a long-term strategy for low-dose radiation research in the United States. Objectives of the study are to:
- Define the health and safety issues that need to be guided by an improved understanding of low-dose and low-dose-rate radiation health effects.
- Identify current scientific challenges for understanding low-dose and low-dose-rate radiation health effects.
- Assess the status of current low-dose radiation research nationally and internationally.
- Recommend a long-term strategic and prioritized research agenda to (1) address research goals to overcome identified scientific challenges in coordination with other research efforts and (2) support education and outreach activities to disseminate information and promote public understanding of low-dose radiation.
- Define the essential components of the research program that would address this research agenda within the universities and national laboratories.
- Address needed coordination between federal agencies and with international efforts to achieve objectives.
- Identify and, if possible, quantify potential monetary and health-related impacts to federal agencies, the general public, industry, research communities, and other users of information produced by such a research program.
The National Academies expect to prepare a report by April 2022 with findings and recommendations that address the objectives above. Health Physics Society (HPS) members who are interested in serving on the study committee may self-nominate by contacting Dr. Ourania Kosti, project leader, or via an online nomination form. If you decide to submit your name, please contact HPS Federal Agency Liaison Craig Little so we can support your candidacy.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has published Occupational Radiation Protection During the Decommissioning of Nuclear Installations. This publication presents practical information on occupational radiation protection and examples with good practices from the nuclear industry on how to comply with the requirements established in IAEA Safety Standards Series No. GSR Part 3, Radiation Protection and Safety of Radiation Sources: International Basic Safety Standards, within the context of decommissioning activities. Taking account of the fact that over 70% of the world's nuclear reactors are to be decommissioned by 2040, this publication can be used in the planning of new decommissioning projects and for improvements in the implementation of existing decommissioning projects. Useful input for licensing and supervision of decommissioning projects is also provided.
Health Physics Society member Ken Foster, PhD, will be the speaker for the IEEE webinar "Did Microwaves Harm US Employees at Its Embassy in Havana?" This free webinar will be held 18 May 2021, 7–8 pm Eastern, and requires preregistration before noon on 18 May. Dr. Foster received his PhD in physics from Indiana University in 1971 and is currently professor emeritus with the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He has been involved in studies on the interaction of nonionizing radiation and biological systems, including mechanisms of interaction and biomedical applications of radio frequency and microwave energy. In addition, he has written widely about scientific issues related to possible health effects of electromagnetic fields. He has authored approximately 170 technical papers in peer-reviewed journals, numerous other articles, and two books related to technological risk and the law. In 2016, he received the d'Arsonval Award from the Bioelectromagnetics Society for contributions to the field of bioelectromagnetics. He is a longtime member of TC 95 of the IEEE and a member of the Physical Agents Committee of the American Conference of Industrial Hygienists, among many other professional activities. He is Life Fellow of the IEEE and fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and the Electromagnetic Academy.
More details on the webinar and the preregistration link can be found online.
David J. Allard, CHP
For all the radiation history buffs, I'd like to note that Madam Marie Curie and her two daughters came to the United States 100 years ago this month. And as you can image, it was a major news event. The story is fascinating given the women of America raised over $1 million (in today's dollars) to buy her a gram of radium. US President Warren Harding made a formal presentation of that gift at a White House event. Curie traveled to western Pennsylvania to tour the firm that extracted and produced the radium. She also had an extremely tiring trip to numerous other engagements, colleges, and universities. To recount and celebrate this anniversary, there are several online events I'd like to bring to your attention.
The first event is a 23 May (1:00–2:30 pm [EDT]) virtual workshop sponsored by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Curie was the honored guest there on 23 May 1921 and donated a piezo-electric device that evening. I'd mention, Curie coined the term "radio-activity," and she and her husband Pierre used the device to measure radioactivity from uranium, as well as polonium and radium—the elements they discovered. An agenda covering her visit to the States, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC, and how radium was the starting point for most if not all our medical uses of radioactivity should be posted shortly. Registration is free and can be found online.
A second event is series of online reenactments of Curie telling her life story in her laboratory by the wonderful storyteller and performer Susan Marie Frontczak. I recently had the opportunity to view this performance and must say, it felt like you actually had an intimate conversation with this amazing pioneer woman of science. If you have (or know of) any young children interested in STEM, I'd highly recommend this event.
Digital theater performances of "Humanity Needs Dreamers: A Visit With Marie Curie" will feature four performances—20, 21, 22, and 23 May 2021 at 6:30–8:30 pm EDT. The evening will include an interactive Q & A with Marie Curie as portrayed by living history scholar Susan Marie Frontczak and features classical music, materials science, and a short digital story on the100th Anniversary of Marie Curie's visit to the United States in 1921. Recommended for adults, families, and students ages 9 and older. Performance is $19.21, which includes all fees and only one virtual ticket is needed per streaming location (Use code Curie2021 for 25% off).
More information on this event is available on the Stem on Stage website.
Dan Sowers, CHP Corner Editor
The May 2021 issue of the CHP Corner has been posted to the American Academy of Health Physics (AAHP) website. In this edition we celebrate John Crapo as our May CHP in the Spotlight, and AAHP President-elect Gus Potter posts a call for expressions of interest to serve on AAHP committees.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has published Protection Against Exposure Due to Radon Indoors and Gamma Radiation From Construction Materials—Methods of Prevention and Mitigation. This publication presents a review of technical solutions providing both corrective actions and preventive measures to reduce the ingress of radon indoors. A description of methods, design, and implementation of measures to reduce ingress of radon into buildings, and of the materials and equipment used in these solutions, are included. The publication also presents methods for measuring gamma radiation from radionuclides in building and construction materials and methods of reducing exposure due to this gamma radiation. Aimed primarily at building and construction professionals designing and installing radon preventive and mitigation measures, this publication will also be a useful resource for national authorities responsible for the development of national building codes and implementation of national radon action plans.
The 6th International Symposium on the System of Radiological Protection (ICRP 2021) is being held 1–4 November 2021. Accepted oral and e-poster presenters are required to register for ICRP 2021 to have their work showcased at the symposium. However, e-posters can be accepted even if the presenter is unable to come to Vancouver, in which case single-day registration is sufficient. For more information about abstracts and e-posters, please visit the ICRP 2021 website.
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.
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)!
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.
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.