1. Although I preach for the converted and have written too much, I would like to add the following:

    Seen in its historical contest, the LNT-assumption WAS a logic development.
    I have tried to analyze the background and the following development on http://wp.me/p1RKWc-1lF

    In the need to create fear, cancer was promoted to be the result of radiation.
    Also here I have tried to look at the disturbing facts: http://wp.me/p1RKWc-1iq

    This, and much more, led to the public misconception as promoted, mostly by Greenpeace.
    On http://wp.me/p1RKWc-mu , I give a “bulletproof” assessment shoving, that Greenpeace’s credibility is a myth.

    The result of this mess can be seen in Germany:
    http://wp.me/p1RKWc-11F and http://wp.me/s1RKWc-90
    But also in my native country, Denmark.

    My conclusion is that we – the pro nuclear – have neglected to defend ourselves in the media.
    Who will try to do something?
    I have tried a little
    If you want: You may find some ammunition to your gun at http://wp.me/s1RKWc-41

  2. Rod, Thanks for retelling this story, and for sequels.
    Thorkil, Thanks for the added references.

    1. Without the added requirements of LNT, could nuclear energy be an “Energy Cheaper than Gas”?

      Without these added requirements would there be the recent cancellations of large nuclear projects and could the extra savings have been enough to save some of the recent plants that have shut down?

      Years ago I worked on a coal plant project with a few Stone and Webster guys that had worked at Fort St. Vrain. They told me about the creation of good designs. A project can have its deliverables 90 percent correct and things will probably go fine. They told me that getting that last 10 percent costs more than the first 90 percent. Is the “extra” protection afforded by LNT over that which is adequate for human health a similar increase in cost?

      1. You ask, could ThorCon generate electricity “cheaper than gas? That’s tough; I’d say competitive with gas. A natural gas combustion turbine is basically just a turbine and a generator. In a ThorCon plant we have a similar costing (steam) turbine and generator, but in addition we must have the fission heat source comprising the fission reactor and heat exchanger(s) to make steam. So the higher capital cost of the additional equipment has to be balanced agains the cost of fuel: natural gas versus (relatively cheap $/joule) uranium/thorium. In the case of LNG, the cost of liquifying CH4 and transporting it means ThorCon is cheaper than LNG.

        A simple combustion turbine/generator (NGCT) ramps up/down quickly, so the renewables advocates like them, but they emit significant CO2, in excess of 454 g/kWh, which is why the EPA original CO2 limit plan was scrapped in favor of the complex clean air plan — to satisfy the wind/solar advocates’ requirements for fast backup (in my opinion). However the more efficient NGCC (natural gas combined cycle) turbines, which emit less CO2, have the added capital cost of a heat exchanger to take the NG exhaust heat and make steam, and an additional steam turbine/generator. So ThorCon could be less expensive than NGCC. Only time will tell, so I say “competitive” with natural gas.

  3. I am no fan of most foundations. However, didn’t Exxon (formerly Esso, one of the Standard Oil companies) enter the nuclear fuel business as did Gulf Oil?

    Could the push to adopt LNT be attributable to the leftist political views of Muller, the RF et al. ? I don’t know Bronck’s politics but he apparently defended Communist Owen Lattimore from McCarthy (who was substantially correct). LNT would serve to hobble development of peaceful nuclear energy and create irrational fear of further nuclear weapons development which were areas the US had superiority over the Soviets in the immediate post-war era. Did the Soviets also adopt the LNT?

    One book that addresses the subversive nature of charitable foundations is “The Foundations: Their Influence and Power” by Rene Wormser who was a chief investigator of the Reece Committee which was tasked by congress in the 1950’s to look into such matters. I have always wanted to read the book but have not yet done so.


    1. @FermiAged

      Tentative participation in a portion of the nuclear enterprise by an enormous oil and gas production company doesn’t prove anything. Neither does Nelson Rockefeller’s loudly professed support for making New York a key player in nuclear energy in the early days of the technology.

  4. “In today’s world of scientific and engineering specialization, professionals in one field generally do not spend much time questioning experts in a different field. They trust that the experts have done their job and are providing accurate inputs.”

    Hmmmmm…. Like, for instsnce, global warming?

    1. I spend a fair amount of time quizzing the denalists of anthropogenic climate change (ACC) about their knowledge of the physics of infrared radiation transport of heat through the atmosphere.

      They avoid any qualitative (let alone quantitative) discussion of this like the plague.  Science has no place in their world view.

      1. I fully understand the quantum mechanical explanations of CO2 molecules response to infrared radiation. I do not dispute the fact that CO2 and other gases can raise a planet’s atmospheric temperature above what it would be in their absence. In the global warming controversy, I challenge the way climate models are used to support claims that, without massive social restructuring and cutbacks in the use of fossil fuels that the climate will reach a cataclysmic state within a century.

      2. 9 ‘ice ages’ before industrial age. But we’re 100% sure we can control the climate. Let’s stop having kids, eating beef and send half our money to third world nations so they can prepare. We can hang out at Al Gore’s house on the weekends and enjoy some AC and his heated pool.

  5. Noted accomplishments, low recognition, poor personal finances.

    He sounds like the perfect target for the KGB’s foreign asset program. The Soviets loved preying on people like him. Now, I’m not saying he was an agent. However, I suspect his path might’ve been ‘nudged’ along a specific direction by outside forces.

    1. Many if not most of the tax-exempt foundations supported causes diametrically opposed to the values of their founders. John D. MacArthur was very conservative, yet the MacArthur Foundation supports left-wing causes. Same with the Ford Foundation which Henry Ford II essentially disavowed. There are several other examples.

      I had a post that appears lost where I pointed out that Exxon (Esso) and Gulf entered the nuclear business long after the LNT hypothesis was adopted. These ventures appeared to be efforts at making a profit or diversification. In some cases, nuclear energy was seen as a potential way to increase oil supply through efforts like Project Plowshares or using nuclear energy to supply heat for refineries.

      I suspect the RF was not as nearly concerned about oil company competition as Rob’s hypothesis suggests. Their actions ARE consistent with other actions that support leftist objectives. I think the RF sponsoring left-wing researchers who may or may not have been conscious agents of the USSR makes more sense. I wonder if Gofman, Sternglass, Tamplin etc. received any tax-exempt foundation support.

      Rob’s suggestion cannot be ruled out, however. The RF has been accused of nefarious activities in the field of medical school accreditation similar to Rob’s thesis of the LNT. Those interested should research the Flexner Report.

      1. @FermiAged

        I’m pretty sure that you are an engineering/science type and are thus naturally transparent, honest and consistent. Subtleties, disinformation, and strategic deception actions are probably foreign or incomprehensible to you.

        Consider the following aphorisms and think about how they might be extended or applied to more fully understand why oil companies might decide to invest a small portion of their capital budget into “nuclear” industry.

        1. If you can’t beat them, join them. (And then beat them from the inside.)
        2. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. (Pretending to be one of them is a great way to keep your enemies close.)

        If giant successful companies try something and cannot make it work, small, less capitalized companies should stay away.

        Here’s a story that is intended to stimulate critical thinking about oil and gas company historical interest in atomic energy.


    2. The elements that make Muller a good target for the Soviet’s intelligence program mean that he was a good target for any organization that wished to acquire him. In this case, it looks like he was the RF’s puppet, probably not the Soviet’s.

  6. Orwell said those who control the past control the future, so the past is your focus. Advancing good science brings more benefit. There is no convincing case for a generally applicable safe “threshhold” for people, or you would present it front and center.

    1. March 1996: “cancer incidence of male United States Air Force (USAF) aircrew (342 cancers, 532,980.97 man-years) with non-flying Air Force officers (827 cancers, 1,084,370.08 man-years) between 1975-89.. statistically significant excesses of aircrew cancers for all sites, testis, and urinary bladder. Previous studies ..may have been biased by the use of external comparison groups. ..we detected notable excess aircrew cancer risk for cancers of the testis, urinary bladder, and all sites combined.”
      Cancer incidence in United States Air Force Aircrew, 1975–89.
      ( http://www.researchgate.net/publication/14370325_Cancer_incidence_in_United_States_Air_Force_Aircrew_1975-89 )

      1. “We don’t know what causes most health problems that could be linked to radiation, including some forms of cancer and reproductive health issues like miscarriage and birth defects. If you are exposed to cosmic ionizing radiation and have these health problems, we can’t tell if it was caused by your work conditions or something else.
        We don’t know what levels of cosmic radiation are safe for every person.”
        ( http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/aircrew/cosmicionizingradiation.html )

      2. November 2004: “epidemiologic data on cancer risks from eight cohorts of over 270 000 radiologists and technologists in various countries. The most consistent finding was increased mortality due to leukemia among early workers employed before 1950, when radiation exposures were high…”
        Cancer Risks among Radiologists and Radiologic Technologists: Review of Epidemiologic Studies
        ( pubs.rsna.org/doi/abs/10.1148/radiol.2332031119?journalCode=radiology )

      3. You left off this part:

        “All other aviator cancer classifications were not significantly different from the comparison cohort; most notably, cancers of the colon and rectum, skin (both malignant melanoma and non-epithelial), brain and nervous system, Hodgkin’s Disease and leukemias. Previous studies of commercial pilots that demonstrated excesses of these cancers may have been biased by the use of external comparison groups.”

      4. 100 cancers difference in a tens thousand+ pop is static. Like 1%.

        Enviro factors easily explain difference. Eg different diets, sleep routine for pilots etc etc

      5. Here’s one thing we do know, with scientific certainty, there is no difference in biological impacts between ionizing radiation from nuclear power sources and ionizing radiation from natural sources (or from medical, or air travel, etc..). Dose (rem) is dose.

        Given this, the salient facts are that natural background levels vary by factors of several (or more) and no correlations between background levels have ever been established. And this is with enormous statistical samples, millions of people living in different areas with different natural background dose levels. Based on this alone, we *know* that radiation doses within the range of natural background have no measurable or remotely significant impact on cancer rates. Meanwhile, fossil fuels are killing millions annually and causing global warming….

        Studies on much smaller groups of people, which are actually seeking to establish an effect from a specific source/agent (nuclear industry radiation), are nowhere near sufficient to refute the iron clad argument given above, especially given that even their predicted increases are tiny (e.g., ~1%). So many factors could explain a blip like that. Too small to measure, too small to matter, especially given the horrendous impacts of the (fossil) alternatives to nuclear.

    2. @Pu239

      I assume that you are referring to the initial article. If you read it again, you may recognize my position is that the 1934 recommendations from the ICRP worked well enough to protect people.

      Your citing of epidemiology isn’t convincing considering the many uncertainties that get hidden in the statistical analysis and summarized conclusions. Statistical correlations are not evidence, especially when there is no real control of confounding factors.

  7. Playing devil’s advocate here: LNT does have one advantage: easy to use and execute. Lots of data support hormesis, but it is tough to implement esp. From reg viewpoint.

    Perhaps a politically and scientifically reasonable compromise can be achieved.

    Think Pareto. 80% of the problem with LNT is exagerration of small doses on large populations. The most extreme example: LNT predicts around 1 million deaths per year from natural background Radiation!

    This can be fixed with a threshold.

    Based on the available data on humans and animals, a 2 mSv/day threshold appears reasonably Defensible. So in the interest of being conservative, let’s set a strongly defensible 1 mSv/day threshold and treat the excess as LNT. So a Linear Threshold model. Fixes the biggest problem, and easy to use, and politically less finicky than hormesis. Seems like a good shot to me.

    1. Cyril,

      Hell, I’d be happy with a threshold of ~1 Rem/year (i.e., near the top of the range of natural background, for most places on earth).

      That allows use of the ironclad argument I mentioned in another post (i.e., the absurdity of spending huge sums to reduce radiation levels within the range of background).

      That by itself would have enormous impacts. Many applied dose limits are as low as a few mrem/yr (e.g., decommissioning standards for most exposed individual – not kidding).

      For accidents, a high limit would need to be applied. The rationale being that limits for emergency situations should be higher than those applied for normal operations, etc.. (i.e., “deliberate” exposures). For accidents, perhaps 10 Rem/year. That would have made a huge difference at Fukushima.

      1. Dose per year is difficult to defend, it doesn’t make much sense.

        Dose should be on a relevant biological repair timescale. This is done with medicine, e.g. daily or 6 or 8 hourly recommended maximums for aspirin. a 1000 pills of aspirin a year limit would not make sense and would be even dangerous. Taking 1000 pills in 1 day is rather different than 3 pills a day for a year, obviously. The former would kill you, the latter has nil effect on health despite being a bigger dose (3*365=1095 pills).

        We should be pushing daily limits, in my opinion.

        I don’t think we need a different limit for accidents. But there is no need to evacuate an area if there are doses above 1 mSv/day expected. Evacuation is always worse in terms of human impact than a nuclear accident, even for the more serious ones like Fukushima this is the caase. Rather I would recommend a polluter-pays scheme where the nuclear plant (owner or operator, that is up for discussion) that causes greater than 1 mSv/day in an accident is forced to pay up to anyone receiving more than 1 mSv/day, for every additional mSv of dose.

      2. “When was the last time you were accidentally exposed to aspirin?”

        Just this morning Brian! and yesterday and the day before, and just about every other day. When I had a glass of water from the tap.

        It’s amazing how many pharmaceuticals traces are in drinking water. Aspirin’s the least of my worry though. Such tiny amounts in the tap water.

        When dose is so low that no harm is done, the accidental vs. voluntary dose argument is not relevant.

      3. Cyril,

        I’m not disagreeing with anything you say, from a scientific point of view. I’m just saying that, as justified as it may be, setting such high dose limits may be politically impossible. It seems to me that it would be much easier to get the public to go along with the notion that dose rates within the range of natural background are clearly not a problem. That is, if millions of people are happily living in certain areas of the planet that have always had annual doses of ~1 Rem/yr, without higher cancer rates, etc.., then people should be comfortable be exposed to doses lower than that. And such a limit is high enough to reduce most of the unnecessary costs, with the exception of accidents.

        As for accidents, I suggested 10 Rem/yr because that’s the dose at which statistically significant increases in cancer rates *begin* to occur (according to what I’m hearing many people say). Given that, as Fukushima showed, many areas may be over 1 Rem/yr, the limit I suggested for normal operations is too low and would result in unnecessary over reactions.

      4. Hmm I don’t know James, 1 mSv/day sounds lower to me than 100 mSv/year. 1 sounds less than 100 even though there are 365 days in a year.

        What would you prefer: 99 mSv on the first minute of January 1 and then nothing for the rest of the year? Or 1 mSv per day for a year?

        Having a per day limit rather than per year would be an extreme leap forward, in my opinion. Both from political viewpoint as well as scientifically.

  8. @gmax137,
    “You left off this part”

    Because I was being limited but a comment length filter, which appears to give more space for selected individuals. Just 1 more way to control the “discussion” here.

    1. @Pu239

      If there is a way to adjust comment length on an individual user basis, I am not aware of it.

      I make no secret of the fact that the discussion here is moderated, “controlled” if you will.

      The 1st amendment not only prevents the congress from passing laws that abridge the right of free speech, but it also gives everyone the freedom to peaceably assemble.

      In my understanding, that means we can get together with like minded people if we want and we can disinvite others.

      1. As structured, the best analogy is not invited guests gathered in your private living room in a quaint little town where you need not lock your doors. The better analogy is a rented booth along a public sidewalk in or near the International Nuclear Shopping Mall. As a “for-profit, tax-paying, publishing company” on the interwebs, you and your company are subject to many more international laws and regulations than just the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution and how it applies to small private groups.

        >I am not aware

        This excuse is also “adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines,” along with “a foolish consistency.” But really, who can fully understand the workings of the site software…

        >I make no secret of the fact that the discussion here is moderated

        You also don’t “distribute accurate information” about this topic or related policies, to my knowledge.

        1. @Pu239

          Are you calling me a liar?

          Why do you consider a web site to be analogous to a rented booth on a public sidewalk?

          Please identify the laws that you think I’m not paying attention to. Would your identification be any different if Atomic Insights was organized as an “environmental charity,” which is how The Economist described Greenpeace in a recent article.

      2. The policies, site rules on commenting, and details on deleted or rejected comments occurrences and reasons are not clearly posted, as they are on some sites. If you want to extrapolate that to lying by omission or something, that’s up to you. Ignorance of how your own site software works is not a great excuse, but is understandable.

        Public sidewalks allow anyone to walk by; this site allows anyone to surf by. You presumably rent your site hosting. You engage with your visitors/customers much like someone at a promotional booth would, giving out opinions and having discussions, and the donation jar or hat is visible to all.

        There are more anti-discrimination and publishing regulations in the world than I’ll ever know, and I’d bet a lawyer could make a case of some kind, in some jurisdiction, if motivated. Sorry, I didn’t have anything too specific in mind, other than very arbitrary suppression of views you don’t support.

  9. Having studied the BEIR VII report, from that there is no statistical evidence for LNT for solid cancers. The statistical inference method used was biased in favor of the standing hypothesis, LNT. For leukemia even the method used favored a quadratic relationship for low doses.

    A properly done Bayes factor analysis would show the same for solid cancers. In any case, BEIR VII did not consider actual low dose data as there was none known to the committee. More recent studies suggest a hormetic effect at low dose rates.

  10. Rod, I think you meant 80 times………in your aside.
    ‘His lowest level of 400 R is 8 times as high as the annual occupational worker… ‘.
    you’re welcome.

  11. Thanks, as always, for the clear and interesting synopsis on the LNT. I’m sad to see nuclear slowly dying while most people seem to see it as a good thing or simply don’t care. I’m sure its the ideas behind LNT that drive public perception, even if the general public doesn’t even know what it is.

  12. The demand for near perfect protection from all radiation (including radiation levels that are a fraction of natural background) is indeed the main cost driver for nuclear. However, while LNT should be rejected, that may not be enough by itself.

    I’ve asked (before), if LNT were replaced by a threshold model, would NRC react by saying that meltdowns are OK? While there are some costs associated with low dose limits, the majority of nuclear’s costs are due to (extreme) meltdown prevention efforts. This is not tied to any dose limits, but instead a conviction that any significant release (or accident) is “unacceptable” and “must never happen”. Thus the standards of perfection.

    And the real truth is that much of this conviction is based on what the public reaction will be to any such release. Look at what happened in Japan. The public is essentially demanding that coal (which is thousands of times more dangerous and harmful) be used instead, even though Fukushima caused few if any deaths. It is true that sane dose limits would have greatly reduced most of Fukushima’s “impacts” (long term evacuations, etc..), but still, it’s not like NRC would abandon efforts to prevent meltdowns at all costs. Getting that to change in an effort distinct from rejecting LNT.

    1. This hits the nail on the head. The FAA does not say airlines must never crash, the NHSTA does not say there must be no car accidents, and the FDA does not require new drugs to have no side effects. I can imagine if the FCC regulated like the NRC it would require each new version of the iphone to have an analysis showing how the technology advancements will not increase the likelihood of the AI “singularity”.

      1. Exactly, Robert. In the article, Rod talks about how everything is required to be based on the assumption of the worst-conceivable release, or the worst conceivable set of events in general, dreamed up by people (regulators, etc..) with very active imaginations. Whether there is actually any significant probability of such things happening in the real world is not considered. Then you have to spare no expense ensuring that that set of events is impossible, even if the actual likelihood of it happening is negligible.

        NRC may try to respond that if you rigorously show that the probability is negligible, they will accept that. But therein lies the rub. The exhaustive analyses they require (to prove such a negative) is so difficult and expensive that its easier to just swallow the absurd, bounding assumption and deal with it. I know this because I used to do nuclear analyses. I’ve made plenty of unrealistic (“bounding”) assumption for precisely that reason.

      2. continued….

        My impression is that no other industries work this way. At the risk of being simplistic, they are simply allowed to proceed (w/ few if any regulations). Then, *when* something bad happens, specific regulations to address that accident or event (based on the evaluation of what went wrong) are put in place. In other words, it is all completely reactive. They let experience in the field determine what bad results actually have any real chance of happening. No money is spent on avoiding things that, while theoretically possible, experience shows never happen in the real world.

        My impression is partly based on how I often hear newspapers referring to a technology (e.g., drones or self-driving cars) “getting ahead of regulations”. Think about what that implies. Those things (drones, etc..) were simply allowed to be deployed, w/o and before development of any significant regulations. (We later hear about some regulations being passed, reactively, in response to events.)

        Here’s another example. My understanding is that the *majority* of man made chemicals/materials that are used in consumer products, etc.., have *never* had any testing or epidemiological studies to demonstrate that they are not harmful to human health. That is, wide scale use was allowed w/o demonstration of these materials’ safety. Again, it’s all reactive at best.

  13. Also, as I’ve said before, the use of LNT isn’t as much of a problem as its selective application. Current policy does not demand near perfect protection from all radiation. It only demands that for radiation from the nuclear power or weapons industries.

    According to LNT, negative impacts (deaths, etc..) scale directly with *collective exposure*. Well, the truth is that mankind’s collective exposure from nuclear power, including accidents, is negligible compared to other sources of exposure (natural background, medial, air travel, etc..). I think the nuclear power may be as low as one millionth of man’s collective exposure. Despite this, almost no efforts are being made to reduce those vastly larger collective exposures. Suffice it to say that the expense per man-Rem avoided imposed on the nuclear power industry is thousands to millions of times what is being spent on reducing other sources of exposure.

    Pointing out this clear double standard should be a more unassailable approach than scientifically questioning LNT. And it should be more than sufficient to do the job. Stated as simply as possible, how can one justify going to extreme lengths to reduce nuclear industry public radiation exposures well within the range of natural background, while doing nothing at all to reduce any other sources of exposure?

    1. I often bring this up: collective human population exposure to natural background radiation is at least 7 billion times 0.002 Sv/year = 14 million person-sieverts. LNT predicts 1 cancer per 10 Sv so 1.4 million cancers. This would put natural background radiation in the top 10 causes of death worldwide. It is also about 10% of all cancers; and background radiation varies by a large factor globally. Therefore, LNT expects a significant correlation of background radiation difference with cancer rates. This clearly does not exist. By deduction, LNT is wrong. Further use of LNT need not be executed: the hypothesis is already rejected.

  14. Telling the public that cancer risk scales directly with radiation exposure, all the way down to zero, is bad enough, but the message chosen by nuclear opponents that there is “no safe dose” of radiation is far more pernicious. They try to claim that their carefully chosen phrase is merely an expression of LNT, but they know better.

    They know that while LNT says:

    High dose = high risk
    Low dose = low risk
    Negligible dose = negligible risk

    the public interprets “no safe dose” to mean:

    Even negligible dose = significant risk

    To think of it graphically, imagine a plot of excess cancer risk vs. radiation dose, where the Y value of the line is not zero at X=0 (as LNT would suggest), but still has a significant positive value at X=0. (The Y-intercept? is significant.)

    That is how the public interprets “no safe dose”. Something that is “not safe” does not equate to negligible risk. It means significant risk (even at ~zero dose). A complete lie, even if LNT were true.

  15. BTW, I’m posting this concerning the proposed Fukushima release of tritiated water, in case any of you find it helpful.

    I was told that there is a total of ~17 quadrillion Bq of tritium that is now distributed within 777,000 tons of water (in the tanks). I did some calcs based on the ingestion dose conversion factor for tritium, of 1.73E-11 Sv/Bq (from EPA Federal Guidance Report #11).

    The calcs show that if a person drank 1 liter of water directly out of the tanks (i.e., no dilution, in the Pacific, etc..), they would get a dose of ~4 millirem. The average person drinks ~1 liter of water (or other fluids) per day. So, even if I got all my annual hydration from the water in the Fukushima tanks, my annual dose would be ~1.5 rem, which is not much higher than the range of natural background and far too small to have any health impact.

    Please spread the above facts far and wide. I have to ask, how come nobody has tried to put this whole “issue” to bed by drinking water directly out of the tanks, in front of TV cameras, etc…

    This whole episode is an example of how often things depart from any scientific basis (or dose limits) at all, whether the basis is LNT or not.

    1. Very good!

      Interesting trivia to add: there are no harmful bacteria in the water either, as it has been gamma sterilized by the reactor and subsequently filtered extensively…

      Another bit of trivia is the water is orders of magnitude safer to drink than seawater…

  16. There is another explanation that deserves examination.

    There was a widespread horror within the scientific community towards nuclear weapons. At that time nuclear weapons were being tested via above ground explosions and these explosions were injecting radioactive materials into the atmosphere.

    Unfortunately for these activist scientists, the amount of radiation from nuclear testing was insufficient to cause alarm given the 1950’s radiation standards. It was only after the radiation standards were tightened that the air testing of nuclear weapons became an issue.

    Some support for this theory is provided by the quote
    “The RF provided Bronk’s NAS with nearly $300,000 to cover the costs of organizing the BEAR I and preparing the desired reports. It continued to be the sole source of support for the BEAR committee until the committee was disbanded 1963. That year, the Atomospheric Test Ban treaty was signed by the U.S. and the USSR.”

    1. @Stephen Duval

      There were many reasons why the no threshold dose model was created. The existence of one does not preclude the existence of others.

      The historical record, however, suggests that well connected people with economic interests were laying the groundwork for excessive fear of radiation long before there was an atmospheric testing program. Stories of the Radium Girls and Evan Byer received sensationalistic coverage in major newspapers in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Hermann Muller was chosen to receive the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1946. He used the world stage provided by that to make a firm declaration of the “no safe dose” assumption even while admitting that the lowest doses that he had used in experiments was 400 R.


      Both earlier and later work by collaborators (Oliver, Hanson, etc.) showed definitely that the frequency of the gene mutations is directly and simply proportional to the dose of irradiation applied, and this despite the wave-length used, whether X- or gamma- or even beta-rays, and despite the timing of the irradiation. These facts have since been established with great exactitude and detail, more especially by Timoféeff and his co-workers. In our more recent work with Raychaudhuri (1939, 1940) these principles have been extended to total doses as low as 400 r, and rates as low as 0.01 r per minute, with gamma rays. They leave, we believe, no escape from the conclusion that there is no threshold dose, and that the individual mutations result from individual “hits”, producing genetic effects in their immediate neighborhood.

      The RF began its generous support of Hermann Muller in the 1930s. Without the support of the RF, Muller would have been driving a truck or performing some other kind of menial labor not requiring any security clearance during WWII. Instead, he was placed as an instructor at Amherst College, which was given financial support to cover his salary. The reasons he couldn’t otherwise locate a university job or a war-related research job are well documented, so I will not repeat them here.

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