United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Health Physics Questions and Answers - Question 132

Question 132: How are nuclear power plant licensees to identify the "potential" hazard using air sampling techniques as specified in 10 CFR 20.1703 (a) (3) (i)? (Air sampling is only useful in hazard identification after radioactive material becomes airborne).

Answer: 10 CFR 20.1703 (a) (3) (i), which requires that a respiratory protection program include "air sampling sufficient to identify the potential hazard . . .", uses the word "potential" with respect to the hazard because airborne radioactive material is only a "potential" hazard to a worker until the worker is exposed to it. Before workers enter an area containing airborne radionuclides, the concentrations of these radionuclides should be estimated using air sampling. This is not a new requirement (see 10 CFR 20.103 (c) (2). The potential hazard of radioactive material that may become, but that has not yet become, airborne can't be identified by air sampling. The potential hazard must be identified by other means (e.g., using the experience gained in previous similar activities that cause radioactive material to become airborne). Procedures that have been acceptable in the past for identifying potential hazards of airborne radioactive material, or of radioactive material that may become airborne, will continue to be acceptable.

(Reference: 10 CFR 20.1703)

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Wednesday, October 07, 2015