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Nuclear Medicine: Introduction to U.S. & International Regulations and Clinical Practice Resources: Special Reports

Overview of Special Reports

Special Reports produced by recognized committees of respected experts are authoritative sources for information on radiation protection and other facets of nuclear medicine.  These are very useful references for the topics they cover.

The National Academy of Sciences and the National Council on Radiation Protection & Instrumentation are U.S.-based organizations that produce highly regarded special reports. 

The International Commission on Radiological Protection and the United Nations Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation are also sources of respected special reports.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has a wealth of publications, including special reports as well as many other publications relevant to clinical nuclear medicine.

Although some of the reports must be purchased, others are available for free online. 

National Academy of Sciences

National Academy of Sciences

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) was established by President Lincoln to provide expert services to the United States.  The NAS has gradually expanded to meet the increasing demands for information and now includes a section on Nuclear and Radiation Studies in the Division of Earth & Life Studies.  Highly regarded experts produce these special reports on topics of interest.  The full reports (in entirety or by chapter) may be purchased for PDF download or in book form. The books are available for purchase from the NAS Web site or Free downloads are available for an executive summary or a report-in-brief (look under the "Free Resources" section for the "Download Free" box). 

The reports can be read online in HTML format for free online. Look for the "READ THIS BOOK ONLINE, FREE" tab just above the picture of the book cover on the page offering purchase options.  You will be able to select the chapter to read, and the book will be displayed page-by-page.   

The BEIR reports (by the Committee on the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation, Board on Radiation Effects Research, Commission on Life Sciences, National Research Council) are especially well-respected.  The most recent report is available is:

BEIR VII, 2006, Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation.

Another recent report of interest: 

Advancing Nuclear Medicine Through Innovation (2007)

NCRP Reports

The National Council on Radiation Protection & Measurements (NCRP) produces consensus reports that are highly respected.  These reports compile information, guidance, and recommendations concerning radiation protection and measurements. Their reports span the full spectrum of radiation issues from naturally occurring radiation to nuclear power and nuclear medicine.   Reports may be purchased in PDF format. Some are also available in print.  Those related to radiation protection in medicine are grouped together for easy access.  Because reports are regularly updated, consulting this master list of radiation protection in medicine reports is advised. The recent reports of special interest to clinical nuclear medicine are:

Report No. 161 - Management of Persons Contaminated with Radionuclides: Handbook 

Report No. 155 - Management of Radionuclide Therapy Patients (2006)

Report No. 099 - Quality Assurance for Diagnostic Imaging

Report No. 073 - Protection in Nuclear Medicine and Ultrasound Diagnostic Procedures in Children

Report No. 070 - Nuclear Medicine - Factors Influencing the Choice and Use of Radionuclides in Diagnosis and Therapy


The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) issues reports to the U.N. General Assembly regarding global levels and effects of ionizing radiation. The Committee reports provide scientific evidence for the radiation protection recommendations. 

Besides Annual reports to the U.N., the Committee periodically issues special publications on radiation protection topics. These major reports are available for free in PDF format on the UNSCEAR Web site. Only twenty of these special reports have been issued since UNSCEAR was established in 1955.  Although infrequent, they are highly regarded.  The most recent report, 2008, discusses Sources and Effects of Ionizing Radiation. Annex A of this report discusses the current status of Medical Radiation exposure.  Volume II of this report is expected in 2011.


For those who have an interest in radiation accidents, the UNSCEAR site has extensive information on the Chernobyl accident including a freely downloadable 2008 report about the health effects due to radiation from the accident.


The International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) is a world-renowned organization of over 200 volunteer experts from thirty countries.  The ICRP leads the international community in radiation protection standards, legislation, guidelines, programs, and practice.  Since 1928 the ICRP has worked to minimize the harmful effects of radiation and protect the environment.  The ICRP has produced over 100 radiation protection reports which are published in the Annals of the ICRP.  Each issue of this journal is devoted to one named topic.  Interestingly, the most recent available issue is from August 2009.  The Web site does not explain the delay in posting more current volumes.

 View current issue

Articles are available for free in PDF format via a link with each article. Issues are currently numbered with a "Publication" (P) number as, for example, P106. Issues that may be of special interest to the clinical nuclear medicine community include:

P106:  Radiation Dose to Patients from Radiopharmaceuticals: A third amendment to ICRP publication 53 (Feb. 2008) 

P105:  Radiation Protection in Medicine (Dec. 2007)

ICRP 95: Doses to Infants from Ingestion of Radionuclides in Mothers' Milk (2004 No. 3-4)

ICRP Publication 94: Release of Nuclear Medicine Patients after Therapy with Unsealed Sources (June 2004)

ICRP Supporting Guidance 2: Radiation and your patient - A Guide for Medical Practitioners (2001 No. 4)


The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has a vast collection of valuable resources including special reports, as well as many other publications.

The Agency's annual Nuclear Technology Reviews survey the global status and trends in fields of nuclear science and technology. These reviews, available via free download, include nuclear medicine as well as all other areas of nuclear technology.

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