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Radiation Protection and Release Prevention

Assistant Director's Office

25 Arctic Parkway
PO 420 (Mail Code 25-01)
Trenton, New Jersey 08625
(609) 984-5636 (voice)
(609) 633-2210 (FAX)

Paul G. Orlando
Assistant Director

Radiation Exposure

The Radiation Protection Program (RPP) is the state agency responsible for protecting New Jersey residents from the potentially harmful effects of ionizing and nonionizing radiation.

Radiation is part of everyday life. The average person in the United States receives about 80% of their radiation exposure from natural sources like cosmic rays, and rocks and soil. Radon gas contributes 55% to this exposure.

X-ray machines or radioactive materials are used for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes by physicians, dentists and other medical practitioners. X-ray machines and radioactive materials also are used at public and private laboratories for a variety of industrial, engineering and commercial applications. Radioactive materials are even used in some household products, such as smoke detectors. These sources contribute 18% of the average person's exposure to radiation.

At nuclear power stations, nuclear reactors produce steam to generate electricity. The nuclear fuel cycle only contributes 0.1% to the average person's exposure.

While the citizens of New Jersey receive many benefits from its use, radiation can also harm humans if uncontrolled or used improperly. RPP staff work to ensure that radiation and radioactive materials are properly used and controlled in New Jersey, so that citizens receive the benefit of radiation without unnecessary risk.

Figure 1 provides a graphical illustration of these sources of radiation exposure.

The History of RPRP

The RPRP began operation on October 1, 1986. Several factors led to the formation of the program, among them:

  • confronting the possibility of an accident at any of the nuclear power plants in New Jersey;
  • the need to register and inspect the increasing number of x-ray machines, other radiation-producing devices, and radioactive materials users in the state;
  • the need to accredit the individuals who operate radiation-producing devices and use radioactive materials in the medical field; and
  • the need to monitor, and in some cases clean up, contaminated industrial facilities.
  • the need to protect the environment from the release of hazardous substances.

The new program consolidated the radiation responsibilities of several state agencies, commissions and boards.

RPRP Today

Today, with a staff of about 100, RPRP has one of the foremost radiation protection and release prevention programs in the nation. The department is well equipped and has a superbly trained staff which enforces radiation, discharge prevention and toxic catastrophic prevention act regulations to protect the citizens of New Jersey. The agency is nationally recognized as a leader in remote monitoring of nuclear power stations, emergency preparedness, and inspecting and licensing users of radiation-producing machines and radioactive materials and inspecting facilites that handle extrodinary hazardous substances.

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Last Updated: February 25, 2016->