Hormesis is entering the mainstream

Even if you read nothing else today, please take the time to visit Environmental Toxicologist Hopes Hormesis Hypothesis May be Acknowledged by U.S. Regulatory Action.

The story offers a renewing tale of the value of persistence in the pursuit of truth in the face of sometimes hostile opposition. It is a press release from the University of Massachusetts Amherst about Dr. Ed Calabrese, a man whose pioneering work in studying dose response in both chemical and radiation toxicology has been the focus of numerous Atomic Insights articles and at least one Atomic Show podcast.

Calabrese has long argued that for a variety of reasons, the LNT model has never been properly validated and current federal and international rules on human exposure to chemicals, drugs and low-dose radiation based on it were adopted without rigorous testing. He says that in “substantial validation tests, only the hormetic (biphasic) dose-response made consistently accurate predictions.” He is pleased to see that the regulatory agency may finally acknowledge this.

Perhaps I will soon have the experience of an off the shelf computer application that recognizes how to spell hormesis. It’s quite frustrating to have to repeat myself to the autocorrect features I have enabled – yes, I really did mean hormesis and not not horses.

Here is another important quote from the story:

Another reflection is more personal, the toxicologist says. He is extremely grateful for the academic tenure system that allowed him to take a risk and even offer encouragement to continue this line of study. “We need to leave room for ourselves to be surprised in science,” he notes. “It’s important, even when it doesn’t seem plausible, to keep an open mind and pursue the facts. Without this academic freedom I would not have been able to keep going forward. I’m very glad to have seen the day when others, many others, are now taking hormesis seriously and applying it to help people and the environment.”

Though I have not been a professional academic working under a formal system of tenure, I had a similar experience as a staff officer working at what I knew was going to be the highest rank I could obtain. It gave me the freedom to ask hard, but necessary questions and to offer sound decision support advice that was certain to upset powerful people.

I’m happy that I live in a country where there are people who have sufficient independence to challenge the powers that be. It is one of the things that distinguishes us from so many other powerful nations that were unable to sustain themselves in the face of a rapidly changing and developing global environment.

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