The development and implementation of a universal, evidence-based radiation protection policy is one of the greatest challenges that we face. While different contexts and unique situations make the implementation of a global policy complex, the idea that there might be a commonly accepted set of principles around which regulation, legislation and monitoring might be built has long been accepted as desirable, if not even essential. Recent developments in radiation protection and in radiobiology have started to suggest that the current, anthropocentric approach may underestimate the impact of radiation on the environment. This, through ecosystem perturbations, may prove deleterious to humans as well as other species in a way not captured by assessing human cancer risk as the main endpoint under consideration. Our evolving understanding of other human endpoints such as cardiovascular disease and the impact of multiple stressors such as pesticides and heavy metals have started to broaden our concept of an endpoint for human radiation protection and in doing so start to draw in the importance of the non-radioactive anthropogenic and natural environments. The questions raised by considering non-medical radiation protection as primarily an issue of environmental protection, stimulated a recent discussion and accompanying paper in IJRB (Mothersill et al. 2020) and were the stimulus for this special issue.