Journal of Medical Physics
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Year : 2010  |  Volume : 35  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 54-56


Date of Web Publication7-Jan-2010

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How to cite this article:
. News. J Med Phys 2010;35:54-6

How to cite this URL:
. News. J Med Phys [serial online] 2010 [cited 2022 Oct 7];35:54-6. Available from:

Safety limits of radon slashed by International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) and World Health Organization (WHO)

At its November 2009 meeting in Porto, the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) approved a 'Statement on Radon'. The statement will be published in the Annals of the ICRP with an accompanying report on assessment of lung cancer risk from radon. Taking into account the new findings, the Commission has reduced the upper value of reference level for radon gas in dwellings from a value in 2007 recommendations of 600 Bq m -3 to 300 Bq m -3 . It has also recommended 1000 Bq m -3 as the entry point for applying occupational radiological protection requirements in existing exposure situations.

The WHO too has slashed the safety limits of radon to a tenth of its current level based on the latest scientific data, noting that the naturally occurring radioactive gas causes up to 14 percent of lung cancer cases. The reference level will now be 100 becquerels per metric cube, down from the previous value of 1000 becquerels per metric cube, to minimize health hazards due to indoor radon exposure. However, if this level cannot be reached under the prevailing country-specific conditions, the chosen reference level should not exceed 300 becquerels per metric cube. After smoking, radon is the second biggest cause of lung cancer, killing tens of thousands of people a year, said the WHO.

From: ,  and dated September 22,2009.

White Paper on Healthcare Waste in United States (US)

Thomson Reuters, world's leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals has brought out a white paper stating that US healthcare system wastes nearly $700 billion annually which does not improve health outcomes, out of which wasteful CT and MRI alone accounting for $26.5 billion. Citing other sources, the report also mentions that as many as 20 to 50 % of the medical imaging procedures, including CT, MRI, and PET scans, should never have been done because their results did not help diagnose ailments or treat patients.

Huge rise in Birth Defects and Child Cancers in Former Iraqi Battle Zone

Iraq's war-ravaged enclave of Falluja and a few other former battle zones are witnessing an abnormal incidence, estimated to be 15 times higher than the normal occurrence, in chronic deformities in infants and a spike in early life cancers. Many suspect contamination from weapons used in years of war and accompanying chemical or radiation poisonings.

Use of depleted uranium in the weaponry used in the 1991 war and 2003 invasion is well documented, but establishing a link between the radioactive metal and health problems among Iraqis is hard, officials say. There are more than 200 square kilometers of land south of Basra containing war debris, some of which is contaminated with depleted uranium.

From:  dated December 1, 2009 and  dated November 13, and 14, 2009.

Italy Finds Wreck of Toxic Waste Ship Sunk by Mafia

Members of a mafia clan were suspected to be dumping hazardous wastes including nuclear and radioactive wastes off the southern coasts of Italy (News, J Med Phy, 32 (4), 2007). Italian authorities have now found the wreck of a ship in 500 meters of water in the Tyrrhenian Sea, sunk by the mafia with 180 barrels of toxic waste on board, one of more than 30 such vessels believed to lie in this region. Investigators used a remote-controlled submersible to film the vessel and found that at least one barrel had fallen from its damaged hull and lay empty on the seabed.

From: dated Sep 15, 2009.

Quality Care Means 'Provider Status' for Clinical Radiation Oncology Physicists

The founding members of the American Society of Clinical Radiation Oncology, ASCRO, a professional non-profit organization founded in February 2009, have announced that their organization was primarily committed to acquiring a "Provider Status" for clinical radiation oncology physicists. According to Dr. Nabil Adnani, president of the association, quality of patient care would be significantly enhanced when clinical radiation oncology physicists were given Provider Status and it would allow them to make professional decisions based solely on the best interest of cancer patients.

ASCRO would work with and seek advice from more established professional societies in its efforts to obtain this status for its members.

From:  and  dated October 1, 2009

Radiation Overexposures during Perfusion CT Imaging

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a medical device safety alert notification on October 8, 2009, concerning radiation overexposure during perfusion CT imaging to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of stroke. During the period between February 2008 and August 2009, at a particular healthcare facility, 206 patients received radiation doses in the range of 3-4 Gy to the head which were approximately eight times higher than the normal expected dose. For some of the patients, excessive dose resulted in hair loss and erythema. Reports in the news media have indicated that the overexposures could have been caused by changes allegedly made to the scanner's preprogrammed settings as part of a new brain scanning protocol that the hospital had begun using.

In its initial statement, FDA raised concerns about sub-optimal CT quality assurance programs and the resultant higher-than-expected doses which may not be high enough to cause such obvious signs of radiation injury. The agency was worried that such problems may go undetected and unreported putting patients at increased risk for long-term radiation effects. FDA encourages every facility performing CT imaging to review its CT protocols and be aware of the dose indices normally displayed on the control panel. Staff should carefully monitor the dose indices for each protocol selected and before scanning the patient.

This unfortunate event attracted intensive coverage by the media, leading to patient anxiety and to questions regarding the use of this valuable technique. Not surprisingly legal actions have been initiated against that facility and the equipment manufacturer.

The American Journal of Neuroradiology brought out a timely editorial and an informative special collection on radiation exposure related articles which can be accessed through .

On Dec 7, 2009, in a follow-up to the initial statement, FDA stated that it had identified at least 50 additional patients who were exposed to excess radiation of up to eight times. Contrary to the earlier finding, it has been now found that the cases so far involved CT scanners of more than one manufacturer. In its fresh recommendations, FDA advised facilities to assess whether patients underwent perfusion studies received excess radiation; review radiation dosing protocols; implement adequate quality control procedures; technologists check CT scanner display for the radiation dose before scanning and to adjust dose if more than one study is to be performed.

The FDA continues to work with manufacturers, professional organizations, and public health authorities to investigate the scope and causes of these excess exposures.

From:  dated Oct 8, 13, 20, Nov 13 and Dec 7, 2009

Mammography and Prostate Screening Age Limit Raised

According to the editorial published on October 21, 2009 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the incidence of breast and prostate cancers had increased after the launch of respective screening programs.

The editorial evoked strong criticism, particularly from the advocates of mammography screening. Academicians have been quick to point out that the death rate from breast cancer has decreased by almost 30% since 1990 due to mammography screening started in 1980s, after being unchanged for the 50 years prior to 1990 and it would be a mistake to group prostate and breast cancer together. In a related development, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) on November 16, 2009 changed its recommendation on mammography screening to advise women to start at age 50 rather than at 40. The American College of Radiology (ACR) raised strongest objection to the recommendations of USPSTF cautioning that if the recommendations were adopted as policy, then two decades of decline in breast cancer mortality could be reversed.


CT Screening for Coronary Artery Calcification Increases Risk of Cancer

A recent study, appeared in the July 13, 2009 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, suggests that widespread screening for the buildup of calcium in the arteries using CT would put patients at an increased risk of developing cancer over time - an estimated 42 additional radiation-induced cancer cases per 100,000 men and 62 cases per 100,000 women. However, variation in radiation doses (0.8-10.5 mSv) from such screening indicates that CT protocols can be optimized to minimize the dose and, therefore, risks.

From: .

Highest Energy Particle Accelerator Sets New World Record

On November 30, 2009, two beams of circulating particles traveling in opposite directions at 1.18 trillion electron volts at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) Large Hadron Collider facility near Geneva, Switzerland produced collisions of protons which will help scientists in understanding suspected phenomena such as dark matter, antimatter and ultimately the creation of the universe billions of years ago. It has set the record for the world's highest energy particle accelerator. However, new scientific discoveries are not expected before next year when the beams will be ramped up still higher, to 3.5 TeV.

From: .

Recent Publications of Interest from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

Quality Assurance Program for Screen-film Mammography

IAEA Human Health Series No. 2

This publication establishes a detailed set of protocols concerning the application of radiation for medical purposes within the specialty of mammography. It addresses the requirements of a quality assurance program and contains details of actions needed to install and promote the quality culture. Instructional material to supplement the knowledge of professionals already working in this field is also provided, as well as quality control worksheets.

Release of Patients after Radionuclide Therapy

Safety Reports Series No. 63

For patients treated by radionuclide therapy, uniformity in the release criteria adopted, restricting radiation exposure to their near and dear ones through advice have remained as some of the difficult areas to deal with. This publication attempts to bring newly available advice from the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) to bear on providing a more consistent approach in this area. It provides useful advice for practitioners of radionuclide therapy.

Quality Assurance for SPECT Systems

IAEA Human Health Series No. 6

The publication provides nuclear medicine professionals with detailed quality control test procedures for the scintillation camera and computer system. The publication is primarily intended to be of use to medical physicists, technologists, and other healthcare professionals who are responsible for ensuring optimal performance of imaging instruments, particularly SPECT systems.

Dose Reduction in CT while Maintaining Diagnostic Confidence: A Feasibility / Demonstration Study

IAEA TECDOC Series No. 1621

There has been growing concern about the widespread use of computed tomography (CT) scanning and the associated increase in radiation burden to population. This document, outcome of an IAEA research project, reports on how the medical community and equipment manufacturers make their respective important contributions to dose reduction in CT.


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