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The System of Radiological Protection

ICRP Publication 103 The 2007 Recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection

The System of Radiological Protection contributes to an appropriate level of protection from harmful Effects of Exposure to Ionising Radiation. Objectives of Radiological Protection are defined for both people and the environment.

Protection is based on three Fundamental Principles of Radiological Protection related to:

  • doing more good than harm (the justification principle),
  • keeping doses as low as reasonably achievable (the optimisation principle), and
  • ensuring no person receives an unacceptably high dose (the limitation principle).

These principles are universal, but various Exposure Categories and Situations are defined to help apply them most effectively in different circumstances.

The System of Radiological Protection is based on scientific knowledge, ethical values, and more than a century of practical experience.

It forms the basis of standards, regulations, guidance, programmes, and practice, worldwide.

The System of Radiological Protection overall is described in ICRP Publication 103.

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Quotes from ICRP Publications

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Publication 103 paragraph 44

The Commission’s system of radiological protection applies to all radiation exposures from any source, regardless of its size and origin. The term radiation is used to mean ionising radiation. The Commission has been using the term radiation exposure (or exposure in short) in a generic sense to mean the process of being exposed to radiation or radionuclides, the significance of exposure being determined by the resulting radiation dose ... The term ‘source’ is used to indicate the cause of an exposure, and not necessarily a physical source of radiation ...

Publication 103 paragraph 45

The Commission has aimed to make its Recommendations applicable as widely and as consistently as possible. In particular, the Commission’s Recommendations cover exposures to both natural and man-made sources. The Recommendations can apply in their entirety only to situations in which either the source of exposure or the pathways leading to the doses received by individuals can be controlled by some reasonable means ...

Publication 103 paragraph 27

... The Recommendations are based on scientific knowledge and on expert judgement. Scientific data, such as those concerning health risks attributable to radiation exposure, are a necessary prerequisite, but societal and economic aspects of protection have also to be considered. All of those concerned with radiological protection have to make value judgements about the relative importance of different kinds of risk and about the balancing of risks and benefits. In this, radiological protection is not different from other fields concerned with the control of hazards ...

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