6935 Laurel Avenue, Takoma Park, MD 20912
ph- (301) 270-5500   fax- (301) 270-3029  web-

for further information: 
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
WHAT:            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 (DOE) -- 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 groups.
WHO:             Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D., author of the report and president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER)
WHEN:            Wednesday, January 7, 2009 – 11:00 AM
JOIN:               Call toll-free 1-888-617-3400. Enter passcode 709890 followed by the # key.
WHY:             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 conditions 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 compared 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 agency’s 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.