Radiation Detriment Calculation Methodology
ICRP Consultation response: Roger Coates, in consultation with the IRPA Executive Council
The concept of detriment in radiation protection is very complex and highly theoretical, with many components taken into account, including risk of cancer incidence, risk of death, loss of quality of life and several other parameters.
However, in practice radiation detriment is often interpreted simply as the risk of death from radiation, with many presentations, papers and guides quoting the well-known ‘5x10-2 per Sv’ as the risk of death from radiation-induced cancer.
This figure is then often used to compare the risk from radiation with the risk of death from other hazards. For example, this is the basis of considerations such as Tolerability of Risk. In reality this is equivalent to comparing ‘apples with pears’ – i.e comparing a complex multi-faceted parameter on radiation with data on death rates from other hazards.
The current draft ICRP report on detriment should therefore include an additional section on the relationship between radiation detriment and the risk of cancer death from radiation. This would then allow the possibility of a more valid basis for the comparison of risks from various hazards.