Table 1: Examples of initial questions to consider when performing an assessment

1 January 2000

Question Relevance
Why is the assessment being performed? Different models and parameter values may be required for assessments of, for example, to determine if contaminated land requires designation or delicensing.
Which type of exposure situation is relevant? Different dose and risk criterion are used when assessing existing or planned exposure situations.
What type of contamination is present? Is radioactivity associated with discrete objects, uniform contamination or patches of contamination? Does the probability of exposure need to be assessed?
Which radionuclides are present? The radiological impact will depend on radionuclide-specific characteristics such as radioactive decay rates, environmental transfer factors, emitted radiation, behaviour in the body, and so on.
What level(s) of radioactivity is (are) present? This will directly affect the estimates of the radiological impact. Selection of an appropriate activity concentration to use within an assessment will also depend on the type of assessment being performed.
What is the physical extent of the contamination? Knowledge of where the contamination is, in relation to the site area or other physical boundaries, could be used to define the area being assessed. This will also allow certain parameter values, such as occupancy, to be defined. The extent of each type of contamination needs to be defined. If applicable, the effects of migration of radioactivity from the site should also be included.
What is the land being used for? This will allow the exposure scenarios, pathways and exposed age groups to be defined.
What exposure pathways are applicable? Determines the exposure pathways to be considered in the assessment.
Will the assessment be using mostly generic parameter values, or are site-specific values available? Use of generic values will mean that the assessment is unlikely to represent the site to any great degree, and suitable caution should be used when interpreting the results. However, such an initial assessment is valuable in scoping the potential level of dose. If suitable site-specific data are available, then greater confidence can be attached to the results.
Is there the potential for deterministic effects? Previous experience may show early in the assessment whether deterministic effects are likely if exposure occurs. In such situations assessing exposure to individual tissues or organs is required.

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