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Radiation indicator options for environmental policy

Opties voor de milieubeleidsindicator straling

Synopsis

It has proven impossible to create an indicator capable of showing the state of the art in a single figure so as to determine the progress made in the 'radiation component' of environmental policy from the trends indicated. This is the conclusion following an investigation requested by the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment in the framework of the environmental theme 'dispersion of radioactive substances and ionising radiation' to develop a radiation indicator comparable to the indicators for proprietary substances and pesticides. The most important reasons for failing to develop this indicator lie in the absence of both suitable policy targets and data for the calculations necessary for the indicator. Substituting policy targets with reference emissions, reference concentrations and reference doses would make it possible to define indicators for radiation protection. Here, environmental pressure indicators are proposed for nuclear installations and the process industry. The environmental quality indicator for radioactive substances in surface waters and suspended matter needs additional investigation. An environmental quality indicator is both possible and desirable for radium in dredged material, although no policy targets are available. However, for the time being construction of an environmental quality indicator for radon and external radiation in dwellings is impossible. Use of the population-averaged dose as an environmental effect indicator is recommended. If only one policy theme indicator for radiation is needed, the preferred choice is the environmental pressure indicator. The reference emission should be derived from the 'secondary (dose) level'. Priority is no longer given by the authorities to the optimalisation of radiation protection, defined in the ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) principle, below this secondary level.
 

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