The International Basic Safety Standards on the protection of radiation has specified the limitations on radiation exposure as for occupation and public exposure. Since there is no mention on the rationale of these values, I wonder if they are based on experimentally determined radiation dose.

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  • $\begingroup$ Radiation health physics has a long history by now. There are multiple technical journals devoted to understanding (and applying) radiation effects on people. What do you mean by 'experimentally', in this case? For example, do long-term studies of radiation workers fall under that term for you? How about all the studies of radiation effects on cancer and patients? Yes, there is a rational decision making process involved. $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Feb 23 '17 at 14:24
  • $\begingroup$ @JonCuster I have edited the question to include the actual values specified in the safety standards. The question is from which quantities of effective dose are these values based upon? $\endgroup$ – akino Feb 24 '17 at 2:07
  • $\begingroup$ Its not an answer, but I remember that in a biology class I once calculated the number of beta particles needed to give a certain chance of killing the cell. We did so for gamma too. So if by experiment you mean (an experiment on the human body), then the answer is likely to be yes; although it may only be on the cells. $\endgroup$ – user400188 Feb 24 '17 at 8:59
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is not a question about physics, it is a question about how the bureau of safety standards decides what values to use. $\endgroup$ – sammy gerbil Feb 25 '17 at 3:40
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    $\begingroup$ While the topic of Health Physics is appropriate for this site, how the bureau decided what figures to use in its recommendations is not, IMO. Finding the answer is a matter of historical research (as Jon Custer's answer indicates), not the application of physical principles and concepts. $\endgroup$ – sammy gerbil Feb 25 '17 at 3:50

Perhaps you should start with a journal such as Health Physics, which has existed since 1958 and bills itself as

The journal along with its quarterly supplement, Operational Radiation Safety, provides features that allow readers to understand more about the topics that interest them. These features include original papers, technical notes, articles on advances in practical applications, editorials, and correspondence that report on the latest findings in theoretical practical and applied disciplines, of epidemiology and radiation effects; radiation biology and radiation medicine; fate and transport of radioactive materials in biological systems to name just a few. Scientists, physicians and engineers alike will find useful information regarding radiation safety.

It is the official journal of the Health Physics Society, a professional society of radiation protection folks.

The bottom line is that there is a long history of radiation measurements, impact on human health, and so forth. These get codified in industry, national and international standards. While it might be fascinating to go back and delve in to the history of how we got here, it is quite clear that the standards are backed up by experimental evidence.

  • $\begingroup$ It turns out the standards has a very long history, starting at the period when epidemiologic studies indicated increased risk of hereditary effects in radiologists, and has undergone many revisions over time, based on existing and new literature (especially from data obtained from victims of the atomic bombing in Japan.) $\endgroup$ – akino Mar 22 '17 at 1:10

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