Looking to the Future
EPA is working on early identification of issues that could impact on radiation protection. By identifying issues early, EPA can better respond to and take advantage of new trends, circumstances and technologies. EPA works in partnership with the Institute for Alternative Futures and the Woodrow Wilson Center on projects that look to the future.
On this page:
Future of Radiation Protection: 2025
The Institute for Alternative Futures, with the support of EPA, studied the most important radiation protection-related challenges and opportunities that may emerge between now and 2025. The project focused primarily on the needs of state, local, Tribal, and public sector organizations in meeting the challenges ahead.
The project involved discussions with thought leaders and innovators from all levels of government, public, and private sectors. During interviews and focus groups, the participants identified emerging issues and developed four alternative future scenarios for the use and management of radioactive materials. Scenario development spurred further discussions about aspirations, principles for guiding action, and innovative approaches and solutions.
Outcomes from the discussions include:
- a list of over 100 emerging issues between now and 2025 that public and private organizations can use in strategic planning
- the realization that emerging radiation protection issues were concentrated in a few key industrial sectors. This resulted in the “Key Sectors” diagram. The diagram provides a simple, yet comprehensive framework for assessing challenges and opportunities to address them now and in the future.
- the emergence of a set of principles for guiding action. They form the basis for the seven principles adopted by EPA as a guide for selecting actions and fostering innovation:
- the collection of case studies on the principles for guiding action. The case studies highlight emerging technologies and new approaches for tackling the complex radiation protection challenges ahead.
The report: The Future of Radiation Protection: 2025 describes the project’s methodology and summarizes the findings from discussions with more than 300 participants. Participants represented the U.S. radiation protection community and organizations with expertise in the broader arena of environmental protection and public health. The report also highlights emerging technologies and new approaches for tackling the complex radiation protection challenges ahead.
Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars
The Wilson Center is a nonpartisan institute for advanced study and a neutral forum for open, serious, and informed discussions. Their goal is to facilitate better long-term thinking and planning on issues potentially affecting the environment within 5 to 20 years.
The Wilson Center, with the financial support of EPA, is exploring key issues identified in the Future of Radiation Protection: 2025. This project is part of a larger EPA effort lead by the Office of Research and Development on Emerging Issues and Environmental Protection. The Wilson Center is currently exploring the applications of the principles for guiding action to emerging issues:
Application of Whole System Thinking to Products and Processes That Use Radioactive Materials
To explore the potential benefits of a whole system approach, this project will identify what happens to quantities of a frequently used radionuclide during its lifecycle from production to disposal. Exploring the flow of radioactive materials through our economy will enable us to better manage their use.
Implications of Advances in Genomics for Radiation Protection
To better understand the relationship between genomics and environmental protection, this project will explore areas of particular importance for radiation protection:
- assessing the biological response to low-level radiation
- assessing the cumulative risk (accumulation of risk) from exposure to both radiation and chemicals
- identifying effects of exposure other than cancer
- assessing risks to plants and animal
- EPA National Advisory Committee for Environmental Policy and Technology (NACRPT) Report on The Environmental Future: Emerging Challenges and Opportunities for EPA
- EPA Report on Innovating for Better Environmental Results