GET IMMEDIATE HELP

(301) 657-2652

Report No. 153 – Information Needed to Make Radiation Protection Recommendations for Space

Report 153

ISRP and the International Standard for Radiological Protection (ISRP)

It is important for operational nuclear weapons specialists and for space radiation protection specialists to share information on what is needed to make radiation protection recommendations for space missions. Since space radiation can make it extremely difficult to function in outer space, protecting oneself from this harmful radiation is absolutely essential. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, has issued a set of guidelines for safe spaceflight that every nation should implement. These guidelines are specifically designed to minimize the negative effects of space radiation.

NASA has published a series of papers that explain why radiation exposure is so important. One study shows that astronauts who spend a month in space without adequate protection will contract serious diseases such as cancer. Two-thirds of all astronauts developing bone cancer and osteoporosis eventually die from the consequences of this radiation exposure. It is impossible to protect every astronaut from this deadly radiation environment, but shielding is the most important aspect of preventing long-term health hazards.

The Radiation Safety and Environmental Protection Act (SPACE) are the primary U.S. federal source of radiation protection information. This acts as a national standard for the amount and type of radiation that are allowable in space. This standard is also used for determining limits for the thickness of space suit materials as well as determining whether certain types of radiation are acceptable in space. The U.S. national laboratory has been one of the most consistent and reliable sources of information needed to make radiation protection recommendations for NASA and the space program. The NALP information provided for this purpose is used by the American Nuclear Society, the Space Watch Foundation, the Aerospace Medical Association, the National Space Society and the National Academy of Sciences. While NALP information is available in books and peer-reviewed journals, there is no substitute for having a qualified and trained radiation safety specialist make an individual recommendation based upon personal experience.

The NALP recommends two methods of determining radiation exposure limits: one is the cumulative limit and the second is the cumulative dose equivalent. The cumulative dose equivalent method is more accurate, as it takes into account the number of times a person has been exposed over time. A high-dose or chronic radiation exposure may not affect you for several years, while a low-dose exposure would show a significant decrease in a person’s lifetime risk. To take these into consideration when making radiation protection recommendations, an experienced and trained radiation safety specialist should be consulted.

Another key source of information needed to make radiation protection recommendations for space missions is the National Air and Space Transportation Safety Board (NASSPB). The NASSPB has been required by law to maintain a registry of all regulated space radiation. This registry is updated on a regular basis and provides updates on past and ongoing space radiation exposure research. The registry can be accessed online.

The International Committee for Standardization (ICRPC) also maintains a database of space radiation protection recommendations. This organization has an International Standard for Radiological Protection (ISRC) that can be searched using a standard name search. Both the ICRP and the NASSPB provide information on the status of compliance for products throughout the world. An individual selling a product that needs information about the global safety requirements for his product to comply with the law must inform consumers about the global positioning system or GPS. Sellers are not required to mention the additional information needed to make radiation protection recommendations for space missions.

The International Standard for Radiological Protection (ISRP), on the other hand, does not require the individual selling products for radiation protection to give information about the safety of the product. If an individual sells products to consumers, however, he is obligated to provide the necessary information to make radiation protection recommendations for space missions beyond low-earth orbit. The ISRP allows companies and individuals to work together to reduce the threat of radiation exposure from space. Its core purpose is to establish guidelines and recommendations for the design and construction of space radiation protection systems. The organization is a non-profit organization whose mission is to standardize radiation protection procedures and to promote the use of radiation protection equipment in the workplace.

When individuals to sell products to the public about radiation protection during space flight, they are not required to inform consumers of the International Standard for Radiological Protection (ISRP). An individual selling an ISRP-compliant product is not required to disclose that he is providing radiation protection equipment. The International Committee for Standardization and the United States Environmental Protection Agency both maintain databases on ICRP reports. An individual who is concerned about radiation exposure while working outside low-earth orbit should first consult an ICRP report and, if it is found that the material being sold does not meet the guidelines outlined in the report, he should buy the appropriate radiation protection equipment. ISRP allows astronauts to follow recommended safety guidelines and to provide the necessary information needed to make radiation protection recommendations for the astronauts.