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Risk Assessment
Risk Assessment and Federal Guidance Programs:  

Blue Book: EPA Radiogenic Cancer Risk Models and Projections for the U.S. Population

Risk Assessment

The EPA Radiogenic Cancer Risk Models and Projections for the U.S. Population (PDF) (174 pp, 1.4MB About PDF), also known as the Blue Book, is a revision of EPA's methodology for estimating radiogenic cancer risks.

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What is the Blue Book?

The EPA Radiogenic Cancer Risk Models and Projections for the U.S. Population, also known as the Blue Book, is a revision of EPA's methodology for estimating cancer risks from radiation exposure. These updates are based on the National Research Council's latest report on the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR VII) as well as other updated science.

The Blue Book uses the best science available to calculate cancer risk estimates separately by age at exposure, sex, and potentially affected organ. More specifically, the Blue Book presents new EPA cancer incidence and mortality risk coefficients for the U.S. population from exposure to low doses of ionizing radiation. The document also presents the scientific basis for the estimates.

The Blue Book is an important intermediate step towards updating Federal Guidance Report No. 13 - Cancer Risk Coefficients for Environmental Exposure to Radionuclides (FGR-13) (PDF) (335 pp, 3MB About PDF) which allows for straightforward calculations of risks from ingestion and inhalation of radioactive substances.


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What type of review process has the Blue Book undergone?

The Blue Book has undergone an extensive peer review process, which included opportunities for the public and stakeholders to provide comment.

The document takes into account recommendations made by EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB), which completed its review in January 2010. The SAB relied on advice from its Radiation Advisory Committee panel of non-EPA scientists chosen for their objectivity, integrity, and expertise in radiation science and protection.


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How will EPA use the Blue Book?

EPA will use the scientific information on radiation risks provided in the Blue Book, together with information from other sources, when considering potential modifications and updates to radiation protection rules and guidance.

One of the documents that will be updated based on the new science in the Blue Book is Federal Guidance Report No. 13 - Cancer Risk Coefficients for Environmental Exposure to Radionuclides (FGR-13) (PDF) (335 pp, 3MB About PDF). FGR-13 provides methods and data for estimating risks due to both internal and external radionuclide exposures. It includes coefficients for assessing cancer risks from environmental exposure from about 800 radionuclides. It is anticipated to take at least two to three years to complete this revision.

The update to FGR-13 will allow us to confirm or adjust estimates of health effects related to EPA’s rulemaking activities and make updates based on those findings.


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How does the Blue Book compare to BEIR VII?

As in BEIR VII, the models in the Blue Book describe how radiogenic cancer risks depend on such factors as:

  1. age of exposure
  2. at what age a person might get cancer
  3. sex and;
  4. type of cancer

However, a number of extensions and modifications to the BEIR VII models have been implemented

  1. risk estimates for alpha particles,
  2. risk estimates for basal cell carcinomas, kidney cancer, bone sarcomas, and cancers from prenatal exposures, and;
  3. more extensive analysis of uncertainties associated with the radiogenic risk estimates.

A large body of epidemiological and radiobiological data support the risk models. In general, results from these data are consistent with a linear no-threshold (LNT) dose response model in which the risk of inducing a cancer in tissue irradiated by low doses of radiation is proportional to the dose received.


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How can I obtain a copy of EPA’s updated Blue Book?

EPA has established a docket for the release of the Blue book under Docket ID No.EPA-HQ-OAR-2011-0436. When making regulatory decisions, EPA and other federal agencies use dockets to make documents publicly accessible.

Electronic Version

Hard Copies

Blue Book Docket Location

Official EPA Air and Radiation Docket
Docket and Location
Hours of Operation Contact

Reading Room:

Air and Radiation Docket and Information Center
Room 3334, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1301 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460-0001

Mailing Address:

Air and Radiation Docket
EPA Docket Center (EPA/DC)
Mail Code 2822T
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20460

Monday-Friday:
8:30 am - 4:30 PM

(except federal holidays)

Phone: 202.566.1742
FAX: 202.566.9744

Attention:
EPA Docket Clerk
E-mail: Docket-CustomerService@epa.gov

As provided in EPA’s regulations at 40 CFR Part 2, and in accordance with normal EPA docket procedures, if copies of any docket materials are requested, a reasonable fee may be charged for photocopying.

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