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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 36  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1-2  

Challenge for the future: NORM

Editor, RPE Journal, Ex - BARC, Mumbai, India

Date of Web Publication21-Nov-2013

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Editor, RPE Journal, Ex - BARC, Mumbai
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-0464.121799

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How to cite this article:
Pushparaja. Challenge for the future: NORM. Radiat Prot Environ 2013;36:1-2

How to cite this URL:
Pushparaja. Challenge for the future: NORM. Radiat Prot Environ [serial online] 2013 [cited 2022 Sep 26];36:1-2. Available from: https://www.rpe.org.in/text.asp?2013/36/1/1/121799

Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM) is terrestrial source of radiation constituting radionuclides of natural origin, present in products and residues from the processing of ores and minerals. As per the recent International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) recommendations (ICRP-103, 2007), the exposures from these materials (where the activity concentration of no radionuclide from uranium or thorium series exceeds 1 Bq/g) are covered under the category of existing exposure situations, i.e., situation that already exists when regulations are considered. Radon in dwellings is also a well-known example of the existing exposure situation.

Hence, it is required from the regulators or the government to ensure that such existing exposure situations need to be identified and evaluated from radiological safety considerations. The ICRP provides reference levels (1 mSv to 20 mSv a year projected dose band) for existing exposure situations. However, the levels should be taken as upper bound and the ICRP recommends optimization below the set levels.

NORM is distributed widely at different concentration levels. Radon in homes is one occurrence of NORM, which needs to be controlled. In some situations, the natural radionuclide concentrations are enhanced and significant and recycle or disposal of such materials can contribute to the doses to humans and the environment. Such situations could be considered as planned exposure situations. Practically all countries face challenges related to safe NORM management. A typical example is thorium mineral processing facility. Enhanced levels of NORM can also be a challenge in commodities such as building materials, food, drinking water, etc., leading to increased external and internal doses to the public.

International harmonization of acceptable limits for NORM in industrial wastes and in building materials and suitable economically viable NORM management options should be debated and accepted taking into account the uncertainty in measurement of the radionuclides in the waste, quantity of the material and the associated risk to humans and environment. Dose levels to the members of the public in the range of 0.3 mSv to 1 mSv a year may be appropriate for the NORM disposal considerations.

Many of the countries would benefit from international cooperation and expertise in terms of NORM measurement; identification of NORM related issues including exposure to radon at home; appropriate risk assessment methodology and effective regulation to manage the situation safely in global scale.

The knowledge of distribution of the radionuclides and radiation levels in the environment is important for assessing the effects of radiation exposure to human beings. In recent times, there were more papers in the field of environmental radioactivity in the RPE issues, mainly NORM measurements. In this issue also there are NORM related papers.

Geological significance of radon gas in soil and underground water in Himachal Pradesh was investigated and reported by Sharma et al., Nagaraju et al. have reported measurements done in Karnataka. Nguelem et al. from Ghana studied the natural alpha and beta gamma activity in ground water samples and compared them with the WHO standards.

Environmental quality in terms of the heavy metal pollution and the natural radionuclide concentration in the soil, at Assiut zone in central Upper-Egypt, was studied by Uosif et al. Concentration of natural radionuclides in construction materials such as cement and the associated radiological hazards to the members of the public in Yemen is brought out by Farid et al.

The results of a case study of Dissolved uranium and 226 Ra in uranium mine water effluent in Jaduguda, India is reported by Sethy et al. from BARC. The results indicated that the uranium mining and ore processing activity has not significantly modified the aquatic environment due to effective effluent management system.

Effect of gamma irradiation on germination, growth and biochemical parameters of Terminalia arjuna, one of the potent medicinal plants was investigated and reported by Akshatha et al. from Mangalore University.

This article has been cited by
A. Kumar,M. Kaur,S. Sharma,R. Mehra,D. K. Sharma,R. Mishra
Radiation Protection Dosimetry. 2016; : ncw062
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


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