Health Effects, Dosimetry and Radiological Protection of Tritium

About the report

The Health Effects, Dosimetry and Radiological Protection of Tritium report is one of a series of research studies being produced by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) under its Tritium Studies Project. The goal of the research is to expand the body of knowledge on tritium and to further enhance regulatory oversight of tritium-related activities in Canada.

Highlights

The report draws the following conclusions:

  • Tritium beta radiation is about 1.4 times more effective in causing biological effects than x-rays and 2.2 times more effective than gamma rays. This means that the health risk of tritium is respectively 1.4 and 2.2 times higher than for these other types of radiation.
  • The use of a radiation weighting factor of one in the current International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) radiation protection framework has not decreased the level of protection afforded to workers or members of the public. This is because implementation of optimization has resulted in exposures to tritium that are very low and well below doses at which an increased risk of cancer has been observed.
  • Current dosimetry and biokinetic models for assessing dose are acceptable for radiation protection purposes.
  • Studies have shown that tritium exposures at current levels in Canada are highly unlikely to cause adverse health effects.
  • Canada's current regulatory framework has effectively controlled tritium exposures.

Read the report: Health Effects, Dosimetry and Radiological Protection of Tritium (PDF)