NCRP Report No. 160

May 18, 2009 · Written by ·

NCRP Report No. 160, “Ionizing Radiation Exposure of the Population of the United State,” was released in March 2009.   This report is an update of the NCRP report No. 93 that was published in 1987. A copy of this report should be in every physics office, and reviewing this report is a must if you are a medical physicist who is responsible for teaching radiation safety education to radiation workers or if you are a physicist who is planning to take the board exam.  

In summary, the main message of NCRP No.160 is that the population dose (the collective effective dose) has doubled since the previously reported value. See table below.

  Early 1980 2006
Collective effective dose (person-Sv) 835,000 1,870,000
Effective dose per individual in the US population (mSv) 3.6 6.2
Background Radiation 83% 50%
Medical* 15% 48%


*The main increase in medical radiation is that the use of CT in diagnostic procedures has increased from a few million procedures per year in the 1980s to over 60 million procedures in 2006.  

The other interesting piece of information to glean from the report is that commercial airline crews are the workers who received the highest annual individual dose at a little above 3 mSv. Another occupational category to note are the workers in nuclear power plants who received about 2 mSv. All other occupational categories received average annual dose exposures of less than 1 mSv.

For more information on this report go to the NCRP website.

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