Since the recognition of the health risks exposure to ionising radiation poses, an internationally accepted system of radiation protection has evolved. As new scientific information and radiological challenges have been identified and addressed, the system has increasingly broadened its scope and has evolved independently from other systems aimed at the protection of public health and the environment. The radiation protection system's framework has been extended, and new portions have been added to handle each new situation. The goal has been a unified system of protection able to cover all situations. The system has now reached a stage of development, where some argue that it is too complex, even incoherent.
Of relevance to the system of radiation protection is the increasing desire and need for society to understand decisions made by governments, regulatory bodies and industry, and to participate more actively in decision-making processes that involve environmental and public health issues. To address this need, industry, governments and regulatory bodies are making their operationsincreasingly transparent. Radiation protection is no exception to this trend. The technical rationales that were once sufficient to explain radiation protection theory are no longer sufficient in today's social context.
The need to address and communicate theory, practice and the decision-making process to a wider audience, and to clearly define the role of experts, has led the radiation protection community to reassess the framework of the system of radiation protection. The very fundamentals of the system of radiation protection continue to be questioned, and many issues have been identified which could better serve and address stakeholders' priorities.
To better understand how the process of developing radiation protection risk identification, assessment and management should evolve to better address societal needs, the CRPPH organised the first Villigen Workshop in 1998 to address decision making in complex radiological situations. As a follow-up to this, and to directly contribute to the evolution of the system of radiation protection, the CRPPH organised in January 2001 the Second Villigen Workshop, "Better Integration of Radiation Protection in Modern Society". This workshop addressed the new context of risk governance, emerging expectations of society towards risk policies, experiences in stakeholder involvement in radiological risk, assessment and management, and the evolving role of international expertise in structuring the system of radiation protection.
The links above point to excerpts from the 2000 CRPPH Activity Report, Enhancing Public Health and Safety - Contributions of the OECD/NEA CRPPH (Accomplishments 1999-2001, Plans for 2001-2002)
A Critical Review of the System of Radiation Protection (pdf, 692 kb)