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First published online December 1, 2015

The future of ICRP: towards a centenary and beyond

Abstract

The International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) has been in existence for 87 y, since its establishment in 1928. It remains a leading authority in radiological protection, and its role is to provide recommendations and guidance on all aspects of protection against ionising radiation. The published recommendations of ICRP form the basis of radiation safety standards worldwide. Modernisation of the organisation in recent years has led to new initiatives and changes. These have included writing a strategic plan and code of ethics for the first time. Elections for committee membership have been through open nominations, a process which will shortly be repeated for the membership in the next term, commencing on 1 July 2017. Biennial symposia started in 2011, and the success of the first two symposia has secured this venture as a regular part of the ICRP calendar. ICRP has also revised its method of working with other organisations by establishing ‘special liaison organisation’ status. This has improved collaboration with the ever-expanding number of organisations working in radiological protection, with whom it is important that ICRP has essential links. ICRP is also looking to review its legal basis and governing documents in the future, in order to ensure that best practices are being followed as ICRP evolves. In addition, the strategic plan will be reviewed and updated regularly. Other ways of working with organisations will be considered to further strengthen engagement with the wider radiological protection community. ICRP aims to make its publications available at low or no cost, and to produce both a plain language overview of the system of radiological protection and a summary of the recommendations. These activities will require additional financial resources, and ICRP has embarked on a fundraising campaign to support such efforts. ICRP can be proud of its history of maintaining its independence and preserving the wide respect earned over many years. Despite long traditions, ICRP has evolved and will continue to do so to perform as a more modern organisation as it heads towards a centenary and beyond.

1. INTRODUCTION

The International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) was established 87 y ago in 1928 and, hence, is approaching its centenary. The organisation remains a leading authority in radiological protection, and continues to provide recommendations and guidance on all aspects of protection against ionising radiation by studying the progression of scientific knowledge, by assessing incidents that occur involving radiation, and by making balanced judgements.
For many years, the recommendations of ICRP have formed the basis of radiation safety standards worldwide. The objective of the work of ICRP is to contribute to an appropriate level of protection against the detrimental effects of ionising radiation exposure without unduly limiting the benefits associated with its use, and this fundamental aim has not changed.
ICRP is a fully independent, not-for-profit organisation that is registered with the UK Charity Commission. Excluding the salaried Secretariat, the work of ICRP is performed by members who are experts in the field of radiological protection, and give their time and efforts voluntarily for the success of ICRP.

2. RECENT EVOLUTION

ICRP has undergone several changes, mainly operational, in the last 5 y. A strategic plan was developed extending to the end of the term of membership in 2017, and many of the initiatives included in this have been achieved. A code of ethics has been written for the first time in the history of ICRP.
The process of election to ICRP Committees has been restructured with a call for open nominations. In 2013, over 200 nominations were received and many new members were recruited. It is anticipated that the same process will be repeated for membership selection for the next term, commencing 1 July 2017.
The strategic plan of 2011 included the establishment of biennial symposia, and the success of the first two symposia, held in the USA and Abu Dhabi, has secured the venture as a regular event in the ICRP calendar. These are aimed at presenting the work of ICRP to a wider global audience, and to promote discussion of topical and challenging issues in radiological protection. The Fourth International Symposium on the System of Radiological Protection is already being planned, to be held in Paris in October 2017.
ICRP has revised its method of working with other organisations involved in radiological protection. The number of such organisations has continued to expand, and ICRP felt that it was important to give the opportunity of liaison to a wider field. Hence, ‘special liaison’ status is granted to organisations whose work is relevant to ICRP's mandate; at present, this includes 18 organisations maintaining formal relations with ICRP. Dedicated sessions are arranged at each ICRP symposium to discuss specific and timely topics with representatives of these organisations. In addition, opportunities are provided for representatives of these organisations to meet with members of the ICRP Main Commission to discuss progress in areas of cooperation and mutual interest. Representatives from these organisations may be invited to provide expertise in specific ICRP Committee sessions, and may also be invited to participate as members of ICRP task groups where their expertise is considered contributory to the objectives of the group.

3. THE FUTURE

In order to maintain its position in the field of radiological protection, ICRP recognises the need to review its practices and embrace change where relevant. In a modern technological society, an organisation requires a prominent profile, and its voice needs to be heard.
ICRP will be considering different ways of working with other organisations to strengthen engagement with the wider radiological protection community. ICRP publications are often complex technical documents, and part of ‘wider engagement’ is to produce a plain language overview of the system of radiological protection and a summary of recommendations. The last fundamental recommendations of ICRP, Publication 103, were published nearly a decade ago in 2007 (ICRP, 2007), and were obviously in development for many years prior to this. In the near future, ICRP will be reviewing and, where necessary, updating the system of radiological protection to ensure that it remains appropriate for the protection of society at large. It is hoped that ICRP will be able to make some of its publications available at either low or no cost in the near future.
At a time of global financial austerity, many of ICRP’s proposed activities require additional financial resources; as such, ICRP has embarked on a fundraising campaign to support these efforts. This is already showing some success, which will have a definite benefit for the operation of ICRP. The governing documents, structure, and legal basis of ICRP are to be reviewed to ensure that best practices are being followed as ICRP continues to evolve. The strategic plan is in the process of being updated, and this will continue on a regular basis.

4. CONCLUSION

Since its establishment, ICRP has a long history and long traditions, but has evolved over the years, particularly more recently, to embrace the challenges facing radiological protection in the 21st century. ICRP can be proud of its history of maintaining its independence and preserving the wide respect it has earned over many years. However, in current society, there is no room for complacency, and changes often have to be made to remain relevant and ensure survival. ICRP wishes to listen and learn from others so that it continues to make sensible and appropriate decisions. ICRP has commenced the process of evolution, and will continue to do so, in order to perform as a more modern organisation as it heads towards its centenary and beyond.

Reference

ICRP, 2007. The 2007 Recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection. ICRP Publication 103. Ann. ICRP 37(2–4).

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Published In

Article first published online: December 1, 2015
Issue published: June 2016

Keywords

  1. ICRP
  2. Radiological protection
  3. Recommendations

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History

Published online: December 1, 2015
Issue published: June 2016
PubMed: 26626284

Authors

Affiliations

Department of Radiology, Box 218, Addenbrooke’s Hospital NHS Trust, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 0QQ, UK

Notes

This paper does not necessarily reflect the views of the International Commission on Radiological Protection.

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