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NCRP Report No. 160 on increased average radiation exposure of the US population
Date:3/3/2009

COLLEGE PARK, MD (March 3, 2009) -- Scientists at the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) are offering additional background information to help the public avoid misinterpreting the findings contained in a report issued today by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP), a non-profit body chartered by the U.S. Congress to make recommendations on radiation protection and measurements. The report is not without scientific controversy and requires careful interpretation

NCRP Report No. 160 updates the 1987 publication, NCRP report No. 93, on the sources of ionizing radiation to the general public in the United States. It examines the various sources of ionizing radiation in the United States, estimates the total amount of radiation delivered in 2006, and compares those amounts to the estimates published in 1987. Among other findings, the naturally-occurring amounts of radiation have changed little in the last two decades. However, a key finding of the report is that there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of radiation from medical imaging procedures, including computed tomography (CT) and cardiac nuclear medicine examinations.

The report does not, however, "attempt to quantify the associated health risks nor specify the actions that should be taken in light of these latest data," and AAPM experts are cautioning that these data do not necessarily indicate that the U.S. population is at any higher risk due to this increased use of medical imaging. They caution that the new report should not deter patients from getting medically-appropriate imaging exams. The NCRP findings on average population dose could be easily misinterpreted if applied to an individual patient's medical situation.

"Tens of millions of CT scans are performed each year in the United States, and their benefits are enormous," says Gerald A. White, M.S., FAAPM, FACR, Chairman of the Board of the American Association
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Contact: Jason Bardi
jbardi@aip.org
301-209-3091
American Institute of Physics
Source:Eurekalert

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