INSTITUTE FOR ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL
for further information:
6935 Laurel Avenue, Takoma Park, MD 20912
ph- (301) 270-5500 fax- (301) 270-3029 web-
Arjun Makhijani (301) 270-5500 or (301) 509-6843
M E D I A A D V I S O R Y
New Report: U.S. Radiation
Protection Regs. Heavily
Rely on "Reference Man,"
White, Male, Adult Standard,
Even Though Women and Children Are Often At Greater
Risk of Cancer
EPA tells Sen. Obama and Chairman Waxman it
does not believe in
continued use of "Reference Man"
but has made no regulatory changes
Teleconference to release major new study documenting how U.S.
radiation exposure regulations and compliance methods often fail women,
children and other more radiosensitive groups because they are based on
Reference Man, a hypothetical 20 to 30 year old Caucasian male. At
least three federal agencies -- the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA), Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and Department of Energy
-- still use Reference Man in radiation dose regulations and compliance
assessment, including the Clean Air Act and safe drinking water rules,
despite evidence that the standard is not adequate to protect many
Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D., author of the report and president of
Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER)
Wednesday, January 7, 2009 11:00 AM
Call toll-free 1-888-617-3400. Enter passcode 709890 followed by
the # key.
The use of Reference Man in U.S. radiation protection regulations and
guidelines is pervasive even though groups other than young white males
often get larger doses of radiation for the same environmental
and have a higher risk of cancer per unit of dose. Women are 52 percent
more likely to get cancer from the same amount of radiation dose
to men. Children are at greater risk than adults. A female infant has
about a seven times greater chance of getting cancer than a 30-year old
male for the same radiation exposure. Pregnant women and the developing
fetus are particularly vulnerable to radiation exposure; however,
non-cancer reproductive effects are not part of the U.S. regulatory
framework for radiation protection.
Reference Man is currently the basis of many federal radiation
protection regulations and compliance assessment guidelines, including
for workplace radiation exposure, cleanup of radioactively contaminated
sites, some limits on radionuclides in drinking water, notably
alpha-radiation-emitting transuranic radionuclides, and compliance with
1990 Clean Air Act radiation dose limits.
In May 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama and Chairman Henry Waxman sent a
letter to the EPA asking about the agencys use of Reference Man. In
its response, EPA stated that it does not believe in the continued use
of Reference Man, admitted that it is still being used in some
guidelines, but made the sweeping statement that current standards and
guidance are protective. The report concludes that the use
of Reference Man is pervasive and needs to be replaced by a more
protective framework. It provides policy guidance for the incoming
Obama Administration and Congress. It is currently being considered by
the Transition Team along with House leaders.