In the ongoing debate and confusion around safe radiation standards a detail in the ICRP manuals is being overlooked. The ICRP sets 1-20 mSv/year as the range for a post accident scenario. It also states that this is for emergency situations and not to be used as a long term benchmark. The ICRP goes on to say that governments should develop much lower long term standards that are towards the low end of the ICRP range.
There was much international outrage with the Japanese government increased the acceptable exposure level for children to 20 mSv/year. They eventually brought it down to 1 mSv/year but the levels for adults appears to still be set at 20 mSv/year. Neither of these is intended to be long term exposure standards but brief emergency standards.
The Japanese government has been hiding behind the ICRP standards for credibility and blame yet took the higher standard in a manner that is against ICRP’s recommendations.
From page 60 of ICRP Post Emergency Situations:
(116) There are no predetermined temporal or geographical boundaries that delineate
the transition from an emergency exposure situation to an existing exposure situation.
In general, a reference level of the magnitude used in emergency exposure
situations will not be acceptable as a long-term benchmark, as these exposure levels
are generally unsustainable from social and political standpoints. As such, governments
and/or regulatory authorities will, at some point, identify a new reference level
for managing the existing exposure situation, typically at the lower end of the range
recommended by the Commission of 1–20 mSv/year.
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