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Frequently asked questions on ALARA


Radiation protection specialists often state that they have to answer questions from the workers, employers and other interested parties from all sectors that work with radioactivity on the subjects of "why do we have to implement ALARA?" and "what can we do to implement it properly?". This list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) intends to provide information to these specialists so that they can answer quickly and correctly the most frequently asked questions.

List of Frequently asked questions on ALARA

Part 1: Introduction

1. Why ALARA?

Part 2: Scientific and regulatory background

2. The radiation protection system
3. Health effects of ionizing radiation
4. Absorbed dose, equivalent dose and effective dose

Part 3: What can we do to implement ALARA properly?

5. When should an ALARA approach be implemented?
6. What is an ALARA study?
7. What is an ALARA dose objective?
8. What is dose constraint?
9. Is ALARA implementation achieved by...?
10. How is ALARA implemented?
11. ALARA and design, dismantling phases
12. ALARA and good practices
13. Commitment on the part of various stakeholders
14. How should a licensee take into account service providers' workers in an ALARA approach?
15. ALARA tools
16. ALARA and taking account of exposure times
17. ALARA and decision aiding techniques
18. A special tool: the monetary value of the man.Sievert


The first version of the FAQs was written in French and was issued in 2002 by the French Atomic Energy Commission. This revised version is the result of the work of the IAEA consultancy meeting held in March 2010 for reviewing, updating and extending the scope of the first version.

It turns out that the document also can provide useful information directly to the workers, employers and other interested parties. In order to facilitate the search for information, a list of questions is available at the beginning of the document, and an index with keywords is available at the end.

There are three distribution formats for the FAQ document:

  • A paper version that will be made available in three languages (English, French and Spanish);
  • The web version on the IAEA "ORPNET" site in English;
  • A CD version containing also the references mentioned in the text

For those who want to go more in depth, a bibliography is added at the end, and links on the web version are provided within each answer. The links go directly to material provided by international organisations (regulations and recommendations) or provided by the end users (practical examples).

The document intends to be a living document, and will incorporate the feedback from the readers of both the printed document and the web version on the existing questions and answers as well as on new questions to be answered.

The IAEA would also like to acknowledge the kind permission of the European Commission Research Directorate-General and Ms. Pamela Stockell for the use in the document of the ALARA drawings and cartoons which help us to grasp the underlying concepts so well.

| Last update: Wednesday, 01 July, 2015.