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President's Message

The visibility, influence and importance of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) is in a resurgence. The nation and world recognizes the need for sound guidance in radiation protection and we are striving to meet these needs. A few of many highlights for this past year:

  • The WARP initiative (Where are the Radiation Professionals? A National Crisis) was submitted to Council for publication as a statement (only the 11th such statement in our history).
  • An update for NCRP Report No. 116 (1993) on Radiation Protection Guidance for the United States has begun (Chairs John D. Boice, Jr. and Kenneth R. Kase).
  • SC 1-23 is providing a fresh look on the radiation protection issues for lens of the eye (Chairs Eleanor A. Blakely and Lawrence T. Dauer).
  • SC 1-21 will have a commentary out in 2014 on integrating radiation epidemiology with radiation biology (Chairs Sally A. Amundson and Jonine Bernstein).
  • SC 1-22 will have a commentary out in 2014 on radiation protection issues for astronauts (Chairs Dudley T. Goodhead and R. Julian Preston).
  • SC 1-24 has begun to look at radiation exposures in space and the potential for effects on the central nervous system (Chairs Leslie A. Braby and Richard S. Nowakowski).
  • SC 3-1 in cooperation with New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, will be addressing the complex issues of dosimetry for emergency responders in the event of an improvised nuclear device going off in a city (Chairs Adela Salame-Alfie and Stephen V. Musolino).
  • SC 4-6 is preparing an NCRP statement on managing dose and deterministic injuries associated with fluoroscopically-guided interventions (Chair Stephen Balter).
  • SC 6-8 continues to provide peer review of the radiation dose assessment approach taken by the U.S. Department of Defense regarding the 70,000 military and civilians in Japan in 2011 at the time of the Fukushima earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear reactor accident (Chair John E. Till).
  • SC 6-9 is providing a tour de force assessment of the complex radiation dose assessment procedures needed for the Million Worker and Veteran Study (Chairs Andre Bouville and Richard E. Toohey).
  • The Million Worker and Veteran Study continues with support from the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. The study will address the level of risk when healthy individuals receive radiation gradually over a period of years.
  • A new Program Area Committee (PAC 7) was created and chaired by Paul A. Locke. It will address the critically important areas of Radiation Education, Risk Communication, Outreach, and Policy.

Other important ongoing activities deal with radiation and nanotechnology (Chairs Mark Hoover and David S. Myers), sealed radioactive sources (Chair Kathryn H. Pryor), protection in dentistry (Chairs Alan G. Lurie and Mel L. Kantor), communicating radiation risks and Institutional Review Board guidance (Chair Julie E.K. Timins), and patient dose and computed tomography (Chair Mannudeep K.S. Kalra).

Yet despite the obvious need for radiation guidance in the United States we are being overwhelmed by two tidal waves of societal change: there continues to be a dwindling number of radiation professionals available to meet the needs of the nation and the sources of funding for radiation protection activities continue in a downward spiral. Our WARP initiative will address these tsunami trends of reality, but solutions must come from increased governmental recognition and support.

And the issues of radiation protection in the 21st century have been sculptured by events, by medicine, and by horrific possibilities. The main event of course was the March 11, 2011 Fukushima nuclear reactor accident and melt down which brought into vivid focus the need for improved radiation guidance and improved ways to communicate with the press, members of the general public, and other professionals. Another happening was the 2007 International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) recommendations that have generated interest around the world and coincide with U.S. initiatives to update and revise our protection regulations. The remarkable increase in public exposure to medical radiological imaging (over 85 million computed tomography exams per year!) accentuates the need for continued protection guidance in this important medical advance in the beneficial uses of ionizing radiation. The unsettling nature of world affairs raises the possibility that a terrorist event with nuclear devices may occur on U.S. soil. The 2013 NCRP Annual Meeting entitled, “Population Dose and Impact on Exposed Populations” addressed many of these issues and was dedicated to the people of Fukushima who suffered after the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear reactor accident.

Our financial situation, in my view, is a C+ to B-: good but not great; stable in the short term but uncertain in the long term. In addition to grants and contracts, we received interagency support for research efforts to study one million U.S. radiation workers and veterans, and we are reaching out to government agencies to support the initiatives outlined above as well as professional societies, universities, industry, donors, and benefactors. We are grateful for our corporate sponsors and many professional contributors but we need more resources to increase beyond our current basal metabolic rate. We will embark upon innovative approaches for resource gathering in 2014 – please send us your ideas or your interest in helping!
Our 2014 Annual Meeting showcased NCRP and the past 50 y of accomplishments since being chartered by Congress in 1964, and our plans, goals and dreams for the future. It continued many innovations from the 2013 meeting, including written question and published answers and a “rapid” publication goal of the proceedings. A column on NCRP activities (“The Boice Report”) is prepared each month for the Health Physics News covering recent events in radiation protection, measurements, science, and health throughout the world. There have been 20 columns published through December 2013. NCRP activities were presented at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Director's Science Seminar Series, Federal Radiological Preparedness Coordinating Committee, Food and Drug Administration, Health Physics Society, ICRP Second International Symposium on the System of Radiological Protection in Abu Dhabi, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, National Academy of Sciences, National Cancer Institute, Radiation Research Society, Veterans Advisory Board for Dose Reconstruction, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and at an international symposium in Fukushima City. The 2013 calendar year was productive with the initiation of many scientific committees outlined above and with the publication of NCRP commentaries, reports, proceedings, and scientific articles. These include:

  • NCRP Report No. 174 on Preconception and Prenatal Radiation Exposure: Health Effects and Protective Guidance (Chaired by Robert L. Brent).
  • NCRP Report No. 171, Uncertainties in the Estimation of Radiation Risks and Probability of Disease Causation (Chaired by R. Julian Preston) was published in 2012 but a synopsis by the scientific committee was published in the scientific literature in 2013: Preston, R.J., Boice, J.D., Jr., Brill, A.B., Chakraborty, R., Conolly, R., Hoffman, F.O., Hornung, R.W., Kocher, D.C., Land, C.E., Shore, R.E. and Woloshak, G.E. (2013). “Uncertainties in estimating health risks associated with exposure to ionising radiation,” J. Radiol. Prot. 33, 573–588. Publishing a summary of completed NCRP reports and commentaries in the broader scientific literature is enthusiastically encouraged as a way to reach broader audiences.
  • NCRP Report No. 173, Investigation of Radiological Incidents (Chaired by David S. Myers) was published in 2012 and a brief overview appeared in the May 2013 issue of Health Physics News by Kathryn H. Pryor and David S. Myers.
  • The Proceedings of the 48th Annual Meeting in 2012 on “Emerging Issues in Radiation Protection in Medicine, Emergency Response, and then Nuclear Fuel Cycle” admirably chaired by Richard E. Toohey was published in November 2013 in Health Physics (Volume 105, Issue 5). An informative summary appeared in the April 2012 issue of Health Physics News.
  • The 2012 Proceedings included the 36th Lauriston S. Taylor Lecture on Radiation Protection and Measurements by Antone L. Brooks on “From the field to the laboratory and back: the what ifs, wows, and who cares of radiation biology” [Health Phys. 105(5), 407–421, 2013] and the 9th Annual Warren K. Sinclair Keynote Address by Fred A. Mettler, Jr. on “Effects of childhood radiation exposure: An issue from computed tomography scans to Fukushima” [Health Phys. 105(5), 424–429, 2013].
  • The Proceedings of the 49th Annual Meeting Proceedings in 2013 on “Population Dose and Impact on Exposed Populations” (Chairs S.Y. Chen and Bruce A. Napier) was almost published in the same year (2013) as the meeting but fell short by only a few months. This is a new attempt to make our publications more timely and accessible. An incredible summary by Bruce Napier with accompanying photos by Genevieve S. Roessler was published just a few weeks after the Annual Meeting in the April 2013 issue of Health Physics News!
  • Guidance on computed tomography use in emergency medicine was published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology and in the Annals of Emergency Medicine: Sierzenski, P.R., Linton, O.W., Amis, E.S., Jr., Courtney, D.M., Larson, P.A., Mahesh, M., Novelline, R.A., Frush, D.P., Mettler, F.A., Timins, J.K., Tenforde, T.S., Boice, J.D., Jr., Brink, J.A., Bushberg, J.T. and Schauer, D.A. (2014). “Applications of justification and optimization in medical imaging: Examples of clinical guidance for computed tomography use in emergency medicine,” J. Am. Coll. Radiol. 11, 36–44 and Ann. Emerg. Med. 63, 25–32,.

Active committees are preparing the reports and commentaries highlighted at the beginning of the President’s message. In addition, NCRP is continuing to move forward to address the evolving and challenging, issues of radiation protection facing our nation. These include:

  • An important and anticipated publication in 2014 is NCRP Report No. 175 on Decision Making for Late-Phase Recovery from Nuclear or Radiological Incidents (Chaired by S.Y. Chen). An overview of the report by Anne F. Nisbet and S.Y. Chen will appear in the Annals of the ICRP.
  • Approaches to improve radiation risk communication, perception and outreach have begun.
  • Expanding our efforts in medicine, such as quality management in radiological medical imaging and electronically tracking patient exposures are encouraged.
    Partnering with the Radiation Research Society to continue to provide travel awards for young scientists to attend the annual meeting.
  • Assigning each Council member to a program area committee and having more frequent PAC meetings — the PAC meetings at the Annual Meeting and joint session of all PACs were remarkably rewarding and will continue.
  • Issues surrounding mobile phone, radiofrequency, and other nonionizing radiation uses are being considered.
  • Becoming more attuned to the modern age with Twitter, Facebook, webcasts, dynamic electronic publishing, and website development.
  • Participating in meetings or conferences of the Health Physics Society, the International Commission on Radiological Protection, the NRC Regulatory Information Conference, the Radiation Research Society, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, the Veterans Advisory Board for Dose Reconstruction, and seminar series sponsored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and the American Board of Radiology Foundation national summit to address the safe and appropriate use of medical imaging, and other venues to increase NCRP visibility and impact.

Our reports, activities, members, programs and more can be found on the NCRP website http://ncrp online.org. The NCRP program of activities is made possible by the partnership and financial support from many governmental agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Cancer Institute, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Gifts from our corporate sponsors and many collaborating organizations remain critical to our continued success and are gratefully acknowledged.

Finally, the NCRP remains a dynamic and influential organization only because of the generous contributions of time and knowledge made by Council members, the Senior Vice President, Scientific Vice Presidents, committee members, Board of Directors, consultants, and the NCRP staff! These continue to be exciting and challenging times and opportunities abound. We're only limited by our imagination (and by shrinking budgets!). Please continue to help NCRP address the needs of the nation as we meet together the challenges of radiation protection for the 21st century!

John D. Boice, Jr.
President

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