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These are exciting times for the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) and I am happy to be at the helm as we embark on new opportunities in radiation protection for the 21st century. The March 11, 2011 Fukushima nuclear reactor accident brought into vivid focus the need for updated radiation guidance and improved risk communication. The 2007 International Commission on Radiological Protection recommendations have generated interest around the world and they 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 vision for NCRP is illuminated in the 2013 Annual Meeting entitled, “Population Dose and Impact on Exposed Populations,” which is dedicated to the people of Fukushima who suffered after the earthquake, tsunami, and reactor accident. Our 2014 Annual Meeting will showcase NCRP and the past 50 y of accomplishments since being chartered by Congress in 1964, and our plans, goals and dreams for future. Our financial difficulties have turned around with interagency support for research efforts to study one million U.S. radiation workers and veterans. We prepare a column on NCRP activities (“The Boice Report”) each month for the Health Physics News covering recent activities in radiation protection, measurements, science, and health. NCRP activities were presented before the National Academies of Science, the Health Physics Society, the Interagency Steering Committee on Radiation Standards, the Veterans Advisory Board for Dose Reconstruction, the Applied Physics Laboratory, the National Cancer Institute, the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, and at an international symposium in Fukushima City.
The 2012 calendar year was productive with the publication of NCRP commentaries, reports, proceedings, and scientific articles. These include:
- NCRP Report No. 170, Second Primary Cancers and Cardiovascular Disease After Radiation Therapy (Chaired by Lois B. Travis).
- NCRP Report No. 171, Uncertainties in the Estimation of Radiation Risks and Probability of Disease Causation (Chaired by R. Julian Preston).
- NCRP Report No. 172, Reference Levels and Achievable Doses in Medical and Dental Imaging: Recommendations for the United States (Chaired by James A. Brink).
NCRP Report No. 173, Investigation of Radiological Incidents (Chaired by David S. Myers).
- The NCRP 47th Annual Meeting on ''Scientific and Policy Challenges of Particle Radiations in Medical Therapy and Space Missions'' was published in the Health Physics (Volume 103, Issue 5). Commendably chaired by Kathryn D. Held, the publication showcases the current scientific knowledge regarding charged particles, enhanced cross-fertilization between the oncology and space scientific communities, and identified common needs and challenges to both communities and suggestions to address them. An informative overview with photos is found in the June 2011 issue of Health Physics News.
- The 2011 Proceedings included the 35th Lauriston S. Taylor Lecture on Radiation Protection and Measurements by Eleanor A. Blakely on “What Makes Particle Radiation so Effective?” [Health Phys. 103(5), 508–528, 2012] and the 8th Annual Warren K. Sinclair Keynote Address by Marco Durante on “Heavy Ions in Therapy and Space: Benefits and Risks” [Health Phys. 103(5), 532–539, 2012].
- A commentary on NCRP Report No. 170 was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute by the Scientific Committee members. Travis, L.B., Ng, A.K., Allan, J.M., Pui, C.H., Kennedy, A.R., Xu, X.G., Purdy, J.A., Applegate, K., Yahalom, J., Constine, L.S., Gilbert, E.S. and Boice, J.D., Jr. (2012). “Commentary: Second cancers and cardiovascular disease following radiotherapy,” J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 104, 1–14. Publishing a summary of completed NCRP reports and commentaries in the broader scientific literature is now a recommended goal.
NCRP is continuing to move forward to address the evolving and challenging, issues of radiation protection facing our nation. Anticipated publications in 2013 include:
- NCRP Report No. 174 on Preconception and Prenatal Radiation Exposure: Health Effects and Protective Guidance (Chaired by Robert L. Brent).
- NCRP Report No. 175 on Decision Making for Late-Phase Recovery from Nuclear or Radiological Incidents (Chaired by S.Y. Chen).
- 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 will be published in the Health Physics (see the informative summary appearing in the April 2012 issue of Health Physics News).
- 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) is planned to be published in the same year (2013) as the meeting is held. This is a new attempt to make our publications more timely and accessible.
- Guidance on computed tomography (CT) use in emergency medicine will be provided in a journal publication entitled “Applications of Justification and Optimization in Medical Imaging: Examples of Clinical Guidance for Computed Tomography Use in Emergency Medicine.”
Active committees are preparing the following reports or commentaries:
- NCRP commentary on Integrating Basic Science with Epidemiological Studies on Low-Dose Radiation Effects (Chaired by Sally A. Amundson and Jonine L. Bernstein);
NCRP report on Biological Effectiveness of Low Energy Radiations (Chaired by Steven L. Simon);
NCRP peer-review report on Operation Tomodachi Radiation Dose Assessment Peer Review (Chaired by John E. Till);
NCRP report on U.S. Radiation Workers and Nuclear Weapons Test Participants - Radiation Dose Assessment (Chaired by Andre Bouville); and
NCRP commentary on Radiation Safety Aspects of Nanotechnology (Chaired by Mark D. Hoover and David S. Myers).
Possible committee and NCRP activities being considered in 2013 and beyond include:
- workshop on training, engaging and retaining radiation scientists to address our national needs;
- approaches to improve radiation risk communication, perception and outreach.
environmental radiation such as tritium, 14C and 226Ra from man-made and natural sources and technically enhanced NORM (e.g., fracking);
- radiation exposures in space and the potential for central nervous system effects;
- updating NCRP Report No. 116 (1993) on basic recommendations for radiation protection in the United States;
- issues surrounding mobile phone, radiofrequency and other nonionizing radiation uses; and
- expanding our efforts in medicine, such as quality management in radiological medical imaging and electronically tracking patient exposures.
Finally we will be considering these general NCRP activities in 2013:
- partnering with the Radiation Research Society 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;
- developing approaches to broaden our financial integrity;
becoming more attuned to the modern age with Twitter, Facebook, webcasts, dynamic electronic publishing, and website development; and
- participating in meetings or conferences of the International Commission on Radiological Protection, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, the Radiation Research Society, the Health Physics Society, the Veterans Advisory Board for Dose Reconstruction, the NRC Regulatory Information Conference, and seminar series sponsored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, 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://www.ncrponline.org. The NCRP program of activities is made possible by the partnership and financial support from many governmental agencies, including the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, National Cancer Institute, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Department of Defense. 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 are the best of times and opportunities abound. We're only limited by our imagination. Please help NCRP as we forge forward for a fabulous future!
John D. Boice, Jr.
2012 Annual Report >
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