ICRP Committe 4: Application of the Recommendations

Committee 4 of ICRP works closely with the rest of the Committees and with the Main Commission to provide advice on the application of the Commission’s recommendations for the protection of people and the environment in an integrated manner for all exposure situations. Membership of Committee 4 gathers together diverse profiles of experts from the industry, researchers, academics and regulators; there are 18 members from 12 countries, in addition to invited observers from IRPA, IAEA and NEA-OECD.

In the recent years, the intense activity of Committee 4 together with the former Committee 5 has resulted in a good number of publications. Highlights are those aimed to help improving understanding and application of the concepts that are part of the System of Radiological Protection, in particular the one that develops its ethical foundations (publication 138) or the one dedicated to the concept of optimization and its extended application (publication 101b). Particularly relevant are those that have developed the methodology for the protection of the environment (publications 108, 114, 124 and 136). Recent and important are also the publications related to protection in specific sectors and activities, such as the deep geological storage of long-lived radioactive waste (publication 122), the protection against cosmic radiation in commercial aviation (publication 132) and the radiation protection in security screening systems (publication 125). In the context of existing exposure situations caused by natural radiation sources, the protection against radon gas (publication 126) and to naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) in industrial processes (publication 142), are both key issues for the application of the latest international regulations.

The work of Committee 4 in the period 2017-2021 is being developed around five main areas, such as the existing exposure situations, the emergency exposure situations and lessons from Fukushima, the foundations and bases of radiation protection, the integration of environmental protection and the development of thematic reports applicable to certain sectors. In these areas, Committee 4 currently maintains 12 TGs or Task Groups of its own or in collaboration with other Committees. The specific topics under study refer to exposures resulting from contaminated sites as a result of past activities in the military, industrial or nuclear field, seeking coherence between the protection of workers, the public and the environment. To the protection of the population in the event of large nuclear accidents, distinguishing between the early and intermediate phases, which are considered an emergency exposure situation, and the long-term post-accident phase, which is considered an existing exposure situation. Recently, a new TG has also been formed to update the recommendations for managing exposures in the event of radiological emergencies and malicious acts. On the foundations and bases of the System, there are currently two TGs working respectively on “Ethics in radiation protection for medical diagnosis and treatment”, in coordination with Committee 3, and on “Reasonableness and tolerability in the System”. Regarding the radiological protection of the environment, there are three groups dedicated respectively to establishing radiation weighting factors for estimating the dose to biota, with special emphasis on alpha and tritium emitters, in collaboration with Committee 2; to the preparation of the so-called “reference animals and plants (RAP) monographs” that works jointly with Committee 1; and to the consideration of the environment in the application of the Radiological Protection System, through real case studies to illustrate how protection principles should be applied in the human and biota context. On the other hand, there are other TGs on the application of the recommendations to surface and near-surface waste disposal, to activities that involve highly active mobile sources and to veterinary practices, also in collaboration with Committee 3. Also, a TG has just been formed to focus on the evaluation of risks and doses for the radiation protection of astronauts.

In summary, Committee 4 is reflecting that the ICRP continues to evolve at the pace required by society in the 21st century.


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