By George T. Mazuzan
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Extra resources for Controlling the Atom - Nuclear Regulation 1946-1962
6 The findings and recommendations of the American radiation-protection committee provided the basis for radiological health programs during the wartime Manhattan Project. The Project’s Health Division, established in the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago in mid-1942 and headed by University of California radiologist Robert S. Stone, confronted some formidable problems. Not only was existing scientific understanding of radiation from X rays and radium tenuous and problematical, but experiments with nuclear reactions created many new radioactive substances about which even less was known.
During the 1920s growing recognition of serious health problems stemming from overexposure to radium prompted professionals to devote even more attention to devising protective measures against radiation. Their activities culminated in 1928, when the Second International Congress of Radiology organized the International X-Ray and Radium Protection Committee, which was originally composed of five members from different countries. The following year, representatives of four professional societies and several X-ray equipment manufacturers in the United States formed an eight-member American counterpart of the international committee, the Advisory Committee on X-Ray and Radium Protection.
Both groups based their recommendations on evidence that they acknowledged was incomplete, and neither claimed that its tolerance dose was definitive. They believed that available information made their proposals reasonable and provided an adequate margin of safety for persons in normal health working in average conditions. The radiation experts did not regard the exposure levels as inviolable rules; a person who absorbed more than the recommended limits would not necessarily suffer harm. " Their recommendations represented a tentative effort to establish practical guidelines that would reduce injuries to radiation workers.