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President's Message

The National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) continues to expand our horizons in meeting the needs of the nation in radiation protection. It has been an exciting year with the resurgence of committees overflowing with new scientific activities. A few highlights:

  • The first ever Council Committee (CC 1) was created to address radiation protection guidance for the United States. NCRP Report No. 116 (1993) is being updated with financial support from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) (Co-Chairs: John D. Boice, Jr. and Kenneth R. Kase).
  • CC 2 was approved by the Board of Directors to address the continuing needs of the nation for radiation protection. This is a continuation and expansion of our WARP (Where are the Radiation Professionals? A National Crisis) initiative for which a synopsis of the statement has been published and the statement will be forthcoming (Chair: Richard E. Toohey; Co-Chairs: John D. Boice, Jr. and Kathryn H. Pryor). The 2016 Annual Meeting is entitled the same as CC 2.
  • Program Area Committee (PAC) 3 is under new leadership (Tammy P. Taylor and Brooke R. Buddemeier).
  • PAC 5 has a new Co-Chair (Bruce A. Napier to assist S.Y. Chen) as does PAC 1 (Gayle E. Woloschak) to assist Kathryn D. Held.
  • PAC 7 on Communications, Outreach and Policy has a new vice president (Steven M. Becker) assisted by Paul A. Locke.
  • The final frontier has another commentary (No. 23) entitled Radiation Protection for Space Activities: Supplement to Previous Recommendations (Co-Chairs: Dudley T. Goodhead and R. Julian Preston).
  • NCRP Report No. 175 was published on Decision Making for Late-Phase Recovery from Major Nuclear or Radiological Incidents (Chair: S.Y. Chen).
  • The president wrote 12 columns on “all things radiation” for the Health Physics News, made 20 presentations to national and international protection and scientific groups, and had 17 publications in the scientific literature.
  • Funds to support NCRP scientific committees (SC) have been provided by several agencies including the NRC (CC 1, SC 1-23), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) (SC 1-24) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) (SC 3-1, SC 5-1).
  • The Million Person and Veterans Study is recognized around the world as the major investigation to provide information needed in radiation protection and science.
    SC 1-21 will publish a commentary in 2015 on integrating radiation epidemiology with radiation biology (Co-Chairs: Sally A. Amundson and Jonine L. Bernstein).
  • A joint Radiation Research Society (RRS)/NCRP symposium was held at the RRS Annual Meeting featuring SC 1-21 work.
  • SC 1-23 is providing a fresh look on the Radiation Protection Issues for Lens of the Eye (Co-Chairs: Eleanor A. Blakeley and Lawrence T. Dauer).
  • SC 1-24 has continued to look at radiation exposures in space and the potential for effects on the central nervous system (Co-Chairs: Leslie A. Braby and Richard S. Nowakowski). Development for a full report, Phase 2, is in the works.
  • SC 3-1 has been progressing at full speed in cooperation with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and other state and federal agencies to address the complex issues of dosimetry for emergency responders in the event of an improvised nuclear device being detonated (Co-Chairs: Adela Salame-Alfie and Stephen Musolino).
  • SC 4-6 completed NCRP Statement No 11 on Outline of Administrative Policies for Quality Assurance and Peer Review of Tissue Reactions Associated with Fluoroscopically-Guided Interventions (Chair: Stephen Balter).
  • SC 6-8 has completed its peer-review of the radiation dose assessment approach taken by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) regarding the 70,000 military personnel 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 continues to provide comprehensive assessment of the complex radiation dosimetry issues for the Million Person and Veterans Study (Chair: Andre Bouville; Co-Chair: Richard E. Toohey). A comprehensive overview was published in the Health Physics journal.
  • The Million Person and Veterans Study continues with support from NRC, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and NASA, as well as in-kind support from DOD and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The study will address the level of risk when healthy individuals receive radiation gradually over a period of years.

Other important ongoing activities that are nearing completion include commentaries or reports on radiation and nanotechnology (SC 2-6, Chair: Mark D. Hoover; Co-Chair: David S. Myers), sealed radiation sources (SC 2-7, Chair: Kathryn H. Pryor), protection in dentistry associated with cone beam computed tomography (CT) (SC 4-5, Co-Chairs: Alan G. Lurie and Mel L. Kantor), communicating radiation risks and institution review board guidance (SC 4-7, Chair: Julie E. Timins), and patient dose and CT (SC 4-8, Chair: Munnudeep K. Kalra).

Another new initiative recently approved by the Board covers the radiation protection issues associated with naturally-occurring radioactive material and technologically-enhanced naturally-occurring radioactive material as linked in particular to hydraulic fracturing (Chair: William E. Kennedy, Jr.). Other possibilities for 2015 include updating the medical portion of Report No. 160 on the Ionizing Radiation Exposure of the Population of the United States, providing additional guidance for radiation emergency response, addressing issues surrounding cancer risk around nuclear installations, studies of nuclear submariners and shipyard workers, updating the American College of Radiology (ACR)/NCRP Radiation Primer, and possibly forging a partnership with the Harvard T.C. Chan School of Public Health in conjunction with their John B. Little Center for Radiation Sciences. Jack Little is a Distinguished Emeritus Member of NCRP, a Taylor Lecturer, and a long-term friend and supporter of NCRP.

To continue supporting the needs of the nation in radiation protection, the President has met and discussed opportunities for partnership with personnel at NRC, NASA, U.S. Naval Reactors, Harvard University, Health Physics Society (HPS), RRS, ACR, and others. NCRP strives to be relevant and attuned to the needs of the nation across many disciplines.

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 addresses these tsunami trends of reality, but solutions must include increased governmental recognition and support.

The pulse of the nation's professionals in radiation science was reflected in the response to a recent Health Physics News column (The Boice Report #33, February 2015) that, figuratively speaking, went viral in its discussion of the needs for radiation science and professionals. One of the first Bills passed by the House of Representatives this year was on Low-Dose Radiation Research (H.R. 35): to develop a strategy for health research on low-dose radiation to meet national needs. If passed by the Senate and signed by the President, the Bill would require that:
  1. scientific challenges to understanding low-dose effects be identified;
  2. current status of research be assessed;
  3. scientific goals for future research be formulated;
  4. long-term strategy be recommended; and
  5. research agenda be prioritized to overcome the challenges and meet the goals.

I applaud our legislative leaders for recognizing a serious gap in the nation's infrastructure necessary to deal with the burgeoning exposure of the population to medical radiation, the potential burden of regulatory actions if overly conservative, as well as the consequences of nuclear terrorism and major nuclear reactor accidents.

SC 1-21 was remarkably prescient and will soon publish a commentary on the health effects of low doses of radiation: integrating radiation biology and epidemiology. These goals are similar to those articulated in H.R. 35. Critical research needs for evaluating low-dose radiation health effects are the focus to bridging the gap between molecules and the entire human being. Biologically-based models coupled with high-quality, large-scale epidemiologic data such as those coming from the Million Person and Veterans Study are one way forward. This public awareness about radiation needs further accentuates the need for developing and redeveloping major programs in the United States to train, engage and retain radiation protection professionals necessary to meet the needs of our nation.

The issues of radiation protection in the 21st century have been sculptured by recent events, by the increasing use of radiation in medicine, and by the horrific possibility of a nuclear terrorist act. The March 11, 2011 Fukushima nuclear reactor accident and meltdown was a major radiation disaster which brought into vivid focus the need for radiation guidance and improved ways to communicate with the press, members of the public, and equally important the medical community and scientists. The 2007 International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) made recommendations that have generated interest around the world and coincide with U.S. initiatives to update and revise our protection regulations. NCRP is addressing the needs for regulatory change and thoughtful guidance by creating CC 1 which deals directly with updating NCRP Report No.116 on Limitation of Exposure to Ionizing Radiation. Further, we are about to complete a commentary on the issues involving lens of the eye dose (SC 1-23), a topic which caused and continues to cause some controversy after the ICRP recommendations were made.

The remarkable increase in public exposure to medical radiological imaging (over 85 million CT exams per year!) heightens the need for continued protection guidance in this important medical advance and 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 2014 NCRP Annual Meeting entitled, “NCRP: Achievements of the Past 50 Years and Addressing the Needs of the Future” addressed many of these issues involving the future of radiation protection in the United States.

Our financial situation, in my view, has increased from a B– to a B: good and getting better but not great; stable in the short term but still uncertain in the long term. In addition to grants and contracts, we receive interagency support for research efforts for the Million Person and Veterans Study, 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 our ability to serve the nation at this critical time. We will continue to develop innovative approaches for resource gathering in 2015 and have reestablished our resource committee (Chair: James A. Brink) under the auspices of our finance committee. Please send us your ideas for opportunities to support NCRP, and your interest in helping.

New and small endeavors to increase the financial stability of NCRP include the AmazonSmileâ initiative where, at no cost to the individual, all purchases made on Amazon will provide a small percentage back to NCRP. Other opportunities suggested were to add NCRP as a small percentage beneficiary on IRAs, 401(k)s, and life insurance policies as already done by a number of Council members. Council members also make direct charitable contributions to NCRP and the donations in memory of Warren K. Sinclair this past year were very much appreciated.

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. The Annual Meeting enhanced many of the innovations from the 2013 meeting, including written questions and published answers and a “rapid” publication of the proceedings in Health Physics. A column of NCRP and other radiation professional activities (“The Boice Report”) has completed its third year of monthly publications in Health Physics News. Covered are recent events in radiation protection, measurements, science and health throughout the world. There have now been 32 columns published through December 2014. The President's travel schedule and presentation schedule continues to be substantial and includes presentations at the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors (keynote address), the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology International Workshop on Radiation Damage to DNA (keynote address), North Atlantic Treaty Organization Human Factors in Medicine Panel on Ionizing Bioeffects and Countermeasures (keynote address), MIRION Technologies, Society for Epidemiologic Research, American Nuclear Society (opening plenary session), U.S. Women in Nuclear, John B. Little Symposium (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health), Northeastern Chapter of HPS, Baltimore and Washington Chapter of HPS, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University of Maryland Medical School, Vanderbilt University, Harvard TC Chan School of Public Health, National Academy of Sciences, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Uniformed Services of the Health Sciences, and the 47th Annual Aubrey O. Hampton Lecture at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

The 2014 calendar year was productive with the initiation of many scientific committees outlined above and the publication of NCRP commentaries, reports, proceedings, statements, and scientific articles. These include:

  • NCRP Report No. 175 on Decision Making for Late-Phase Recovery from Major Nuclear or Radiological Incidents. A summary was also published in the 2014 peer-reviewed proceedings [Health Phys. (2015) 108(2)]. Publishing a summary of completed NCRP reports and commentaries in the broader scientific literature is enthusiastically encouraged as a way to reach broader audiences.
  • The Proceedings of the 49th Annual Meeting in 2013 on “Radiation Dose and the Impacts on Exposed Populations” (admirably co-chaired by S.Y. Chen and Bruce A. Napier) was published [Health Phys. (2014) 106(2)]. An informative summary appeared in the April 2013 issue of Health Physics News crafted by Bruce Napier.
  • The Proceedings of the 49th Annual Meeting included the 37th Lauriston S. Taylor Lecture on Radiation Protection and Measurements by John E. Till on “When Does Risk Assessment Get Fuzzy?” and the 10th Annual Warren K. Sinclair Keynote Address by Shunichi Yamashita on “Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident and Comprehensive Health Risk Management” [Health Phys. (2014) 106(2)].
  • The Proceedings of the 50th Annual Meeting in 2014 on “NCRP: Achievements of the Past 50 Years and Addressing the Needs of the Future” (Chair: Kenneth R. Kase; Co-Chairs: John D. Boice, Jr. and Jerrold T. Bushberg) was almost published in the same year (2014) as the meeting was held but fell short by only a few months and was published in February 2015. This attempt for a rapid publication is to make our publications more timely and accessible. A remarkable summary by Richard E. Toohey with accompanying photographs by Genevieve S. Roessler were published just a few weeks after the Annual Meeting in the April 2014 issue of Health Physics News!
  • An important synopsis of our WARP statement was published in 2014. It succinctly summarizes on one page our initiatives to address the national crisis of the dwindling number of radiation professionals, judged to be insufficient to meet the needs of our nation. Unmet needs are not only in emergency response, but also in regulation, medicine, occupation, environment (i.e., all aspects of radiation exposure to the population). CC 2 will continue this initiative. The WARP statement has been reviewed and approved and will soon be published.

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

  • Approaches to improve radiation risk communication, perception and outreach.
  • Expanding our efforts in medicine, such as quality management of radiological medical imaging and electronic tracking patient exposures. Updating the medical component of NCRP Report No. 160 is being considered.
  • Partnering with RRS to continue travel support for young scientists to attend the annual meeting. Two were able to attend in 2014 and four are planned for 2015.
  • Partnering with HPS to improve the conduct of our missions to enhance radiation protection in the United States.
  • Partnering with agencies that with substantial interests and programs involving radiation and protection. These includes the U.S. Navy, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), DOE, NRC, NASA, National Nuclear Security Administration, DHS, EPA, DOD and others. We are the Council for the nation and strive to meet the needs of our country in all facets of radiation protection.
  • We are improving the PAC structure in having, for the second time, full PAC meetings just before the annual meeting, and then a joint session of all PACs afterwards to present current activities and future plans and visions. This rewarding experience in 2014 will continue.
  • Issues surrounding radiofrequencies could be considered in the future such as cell phone exposures and other uses of nonionizing radiation.
  • We need to become more attuned to the modern age of social media with Twitter®, Facebook®, YouTube®, and other approaches to outreach.
  • The annual meeting this year and last year were available as webcasts, increasing the reach of NCRP activities and providing real-time access to those unable to attend.
    NCRP is negotiating with the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) to make PDF version of NCRP publications available to their members. It is anticipated that this will provide wider distribution of NCRP recommendations as well as secure funding for a portion of our publication revenue. The program will be funded by the AAPM for a period of 5 y with an option to renew.
  • NCRP is working with a professional website developer to enhance our online presence. We anticipate having the new site up and running before the end of 2015.
  • NCRP is developing a new logo, seeking a fresh and modern look for the future.
  • In addition to the plaques, honorariums and keynote presentations for the W.K. Sinclair Keynote Speaker and the L.S. Taylor Lecturer, a new form of appreciation was established. Specially engraved medals will be presented to both honorees starting with the 2015 Annual Meeting. We will also present similar medals to those previously honored over the past 10 y.
  • NCRP continues to participate in meetings or conferences of HPS, ICRP, the NRC Regulatory Information Conference, RRS, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, and more. These venues increase NCRP visibility and impact.

NCRP reports, activities, members, programs and more can be found on the website http://NCRPonline.org. The NCRP program of activities made possible by the partnership and financial support from many government agencies including CDC, NASA, National Cancer Institute, DOD, DOE, DHS, EPA, and NRC. Gifts from our corporate sponsors and many collaborating organizations remain critical to our continued success and are gratefully acknowledged.

Finally, NCRP remains a dynamic and influential organization only because of the generous contributions of time and knowledge contributed 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 times, challenging times, and opportunities abound. We are only limited by our imaginations (and shrinking budgets!). We balance two issues in management articulated by Admiral Rickover – the need to embrace innovation without losing sight or capitulating to the process (the routine hard work) that got NCRP where we are today and keeps us on an even keel. Our goal remains to be efficient, effective and productive, with a broad view for the future with ideas and visions to address the needs of the nation as we meet together the challenges of radiation protection for the 21st century!

John D. Boice, Jr.

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