Making sense from radiation protection controversy
During the past two days, I’ve spent 20-30 hours listening to and participating in a sometimes heated and often polite discussion about the health effects of low dose radiation and the rules established or needed to ensure adequate protection.
It’s part of a controversy that has deep roots and stubbornly entrenched sides with a much larger universe of uncommitted or not yet interested observers.
The two entrenched sides are clearly divided between those who support the established radiation protection model known as linear, no-threshold (LNT) and those who oppose the continued use of that model as the basis for radiation protection standards and public communications efforts.
I may be overly optimistic, but it appears that there may be some opportunity for agreements that could end the 62 year-old war.
Before I go much futher, I should admit my bias and confess that I am no longer uncommitted. In fact, I made a choice in 1995 to join the rebel side struggling to change the status quo.
If I was attempting to earn a living as a journalist or as a reporter, I would have to recuse myself and stop writing on the topic.
But I’m not a reporter.
Basis for agreement?
Near the end of the second day of discussions at the joint ANS/HPS meeting titled “Applicability of Radiation Protection Models to Low Dose Protection Standards” an informal straw poll was taken that revealed a possible basis for agreement among the gathered subject matter experts.
We were asked, “Suppose you received a knock on your door in the middle of the night and were greeted by a government official. That official told you it was time to evacuate to avoid a radiation emergency. How high would the level need to be to stimulate you to leave your home?”
Not a single person would leave to avoid 1 mSv/yr, the current radiation protection standard for doses to the general public. No one would leave to avoid 20 mSv/yr, the current internationally accepted (minus the US and a few other holdouts) radiation protection standard for occupational exposure to radiation.
No one would leave to avoid 50 mSv/yr, the occupational standard in the US.
One or two out of the nearly 200 attendees indicated they might leave to avoid 100 mSv/yr. There are reliable studies indicating that the potential delayed cancer risk for a person receiving an acute dose of 100 mSv is statistically different from zero, though at that level the incremental risk to an individual is less than 1%.
Note: That means that a US resident who has a 40% chance of developing cancer during their life would have something less than a 41% chance of developing cancer after the exposure.
If the hypothetical government official indicated that the projected dose over the next year would be 200 mSv, the number of people who said they would leave rose to perhaps 8-10 out of 200. At that point, the unofficial poll devolved into a humorous discussion about how the departure decision would be significantly influenced by the answer to the question “Where would I go?”
Most indicated agreement with laughter when someone suggested they’d leave earlier if offered temporary accommodations at a fancy Las Vegas hotel. Others said that it would require much higher projected doses before they would agree to leave everything they owned if the destination was an evacuation center supplied with bare necessities.
There was nothing official about the poll. All of the reported choices were made with a show of hands. There was no attempt at accountability that would identify someone who might be contradicting an official policy.
The result, however, demonstrated that a diverse group of 200 professionals with expertise in various aspects of the health effects of radiation do not fear exposure to 100 mSv/yr enough to take the currently recommended protective action of evacuation.
Even at a dose that is 100 times higher than the current annual standard (1 mSv) for public exposure and 2500 times higher than the Hanford cleanup standard (0.04 mSv) set for radioactivity in ground water that might reach the Columbia River, 99% of the experts polled would remain in place.
It’s worth noting that the recently updated Protective Action Guide issued by the EPA in 2017 after a prolonged review tells responsible public officials to relocate the public in the intermediate phase of a radiation response event if the projected first year dose exceeds 20 mSv with years 2 and 3 exceeding 5 mSv.
According to the footnotes of the relevant table (Table 1-1 pg 6), evacuation efforts should begin if the projected doses exceed 10 mSv. Immediate evacuation isn’t the same as relocation; relocation is a long term action lasting months to several years.
Description of the current sides in the battle about LNT (no safe dose)
Though the poll described above indicates that both sides in the radiation protection battle personally believe that 100 mSv/yr is safe enough to continue living with it, their officially dug in positions are more sharply divided.
One side is the establishment that accepts the LNT, with its “no safe dose” corollary, as the best available model for radiation protection standards. Most of the radiation professionals that are members of this side are radiation epidemiologists that lean heavily on the reported conclusions of statistical studies involving accidental exposures to relatively large numbers of human beings.
Traditional respect for the potential negative effects of radiation exposure since 1934 has limited the number of available study groups. As one of the epidemiologists who spoke during the past two days described it, his profession leans on taking advantage of information made available by human misfortune.
The study population that is held up as the gold standard is the group of roughly 95,000 people that were present in Hiroshima or Nagasaki when those Japanese cities were destroyed by atomic weapons in August 1945. (There are a few especially unlucky people who were present for both bombings.)
Other available groups include residents of the closed, former Soviet city of Mayak and people exposed to radioactive isotopes as a result of living near or drinking from the Techa River in Russia.
Statistical studies have also been conducted with smaller, less exposed populations of people who received one of several different medical treatments involving radiation, residents of a few specific geographic locations where there is especially high natural background radiation and a group of Taiwanese residents who occupied apartments in buildings containing steel that was found to be contaminated with Co-60.
The pro-LNT side also includes strong representation from bureaucrats, regulators and health physicists who are tasked with official responsibility for radiation protection.
The other side of the discussion includes radiation biologists, radiologists, radiation oncologists, nuclear engineers specializing in radiation, and health physicists. This group of professionals, which is occasionally described incorrectly as “scientific outliers”, generally lean on evidence from experiments involving various animal or tissue models exposed to carefully measured doses of specific types of radiation at specifically chosen dose rates.
They also point to indications from a large body of studies involving relatively small groups of humans that received radiation exposures as a result of accidents, occupational exposure, medical imaging, or medical treatments. Though the statistical power of these studies is often limited by the small numbers of subjects, the anti-LNT group points out that the documented responses do not support the assertion that all radiation doses are harmful.
In fact, many of the professionals believe that the preponderance of the evidence shows that radiation at low to moderate doses and doses that are delivered at low to moderate dose rates have a moderately positive effect on human health. They put low dose radiation in the same longevity and health enhancing category as eating a balanced diet or moderate, regular exercise programs.
This side also includes a fair share of bureaucrats and regulators who recognize that the no safe dose assumption has perhaps outlived its usefulness, especially in light of tragic examples indicating that strict adherence to the status quo can result in situations that harm rather than protect public health.
One deeply experienced radiation health specialist told a moving story yesterday about his transition from being a compliant LNT supporter to being opposed to its continued use as the basis for regulations and decisions. He was in charge of a cleanup at a Pacific atoll that was contaminated to a level at which a population of 1000 living on the island for 30 years might experience one extra cancer death.
He told us how he had to bring six members of his cleanup crew home in body bags because they had been killed in the kinds of accidents that are common in heavy construction and earthmoving operations. The cleanup also resulted in approximately 54 lost time accidents. He said he “hated the LNT” because of the way it transferred risk from hypothetical, computed harms to real harm to real people.
A second commonly used example of unintended consequences of our current application of “no safe dose” is the forced evacuation and subsequent long term relocation of Fukushima area residents. Somewhere between 1500 and 2000 real deaths have been attributed to the evacuation and the effects of relocation; estimates from responsible radiation protection organizations estimate that even using the risk coefficients associated with the currently accepted model, there is only a tiny chance that any individual would have developed an accident-related cancer.
Though the poll described above gives some reason to believe that an agreement may be achievable, the two sides seem stubbornly firm in their current positions. There are leaders on the pro-LNT side who believe that only direct, incontrovertible evidence should result in a change that would be perceived as reducing public safety.
There are also leaders on the anti-LNT side who believe there is plenty of evidence available now to support prompt elimination of the model.
The pro-LNT side answers that confidence with doubts about the strength of the evidence and a challenge to the opposition to provide a more acceptable model before any change can be made. They claim that there is still too much uncertainty to move away from a precautionary approach that assumes there is a risk, even in dose ranges where it cannot be statistically separated from zero.
Today, the meeting agenda includes additional presentations and talks followed by two unstructured panel discussions. One will attempt to identify requirements that must be met before updating regulations and one will attempt to produce some kind of outcome and path forward.
Perhaps coincidentally, at about the same time that those panel discussions occur, there will be a related hearing held by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight.
That hearing, titled “Oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Implementation of Sound and Transparent Science in Regulation” isn’t limited to radiation protection, but advance coverage of the hearing indicates that might be one of the more contentious topics discussed by the witnesses.
You – and anyone – can download my new update of Unintended Consequences: the Lie That Killed Millions and Accelerated Climate Change from the home page of http://www.tundracub.com.
George Erickson 218-744-2003
Some of my observations from the meeting:
The LNT has no scientific basis, but we got stuck with in (and its unintended consequence of radiophobia and all the unfortunate and needlessly expensive things that follow from that). For REGULATORS it really is irrelevant, since doses of regulatory concern really don’t occur until doses “well above (~100 times)” the ultra-low doses studied by epidemiologists. (Whose studies are interesting and academicially desirable, but not critical for regulations.)
Something like “below regulatory concern, BRC” or something like that would be practical and understood and accepted by the public. Leave LNT debates to academecians.
ALARA(as low as reasonably achievable) implies “risk down to zero dose”, which causes radophobia. For that reason alone it should be abandoned. Simply replace it with a “precautionary approach” (NOT precautionary PRINCIPLE), which is how we all naturally potentially harmful things.
To use a saying from my Dad:
This is harder than trying to “put socks on a chicken”.
On the other hand, we know instinctively that it make no sense to try to put socks on chickens!
The LNT debate is completely unneeded and counterproductive to a meaningful path forward.
It’s just straightforward to regulate using LNT; that is why it gained and kept traction. Just bump the yearly occupational limit to 350 rem not to exceed 80 rem in 30 days. Set a threshold for “below regulatory concern” (descendant of ALARA) at 0.5 rem/hour (160 hours @ 0.5 rem/hour) and carry on.
IMO the hormesis idea is simply an indication that incidence of cancer is fully independent of dose – this would imply that the general consensus or publicly known ‘fact’ that radiation causes cancer is actually not a fact and is wrong. Radiation can kill you with acute dose. Radiation can cure you with acute local dose by cooking tumors locally and doing it slowly enough that the spleen and kidneys can clean up the mess. The only known effect of radiation on biological tissue is leaving tracks of ions – that is damage. I’ve always thought hormesis was just spooky statistics. Look for coincidences and you’ll find them. In the case of hormesis the coincidence is false – the incidence of cancer and radiation exposure are simply unrelated in contrary to popular knowledge.
Hormesis is real. For example, the following experiment:
Two species of bacteria, one from a low rad environment and the other from a higher rad environment were placed in a very low radiation eenvironmental chamber, both with ample food. Neither did as well as the portions kept in the lab as measured by growth rates.
Also, consider the number of people in Europe who go annually for radioactive hot springs baths. Many go annually to obtain symptomatic relief.
Regarding Rod’s blog above: ” his transition from being a compliant LNT supporter to being opposed to its continued use as the basis for regulations and decisions. He was in charge of a cleanup at a Pacific atoll that was contaminated to a level at which a population of 1000 living on the island for 30 years might experience one extra cancer death.”
LNT does not just say any amount of radiation is harmful, it comes with an easy to apply rule to calculate how much harm. The calculated amount, one extra cancer death in this case, becomes a certainty in peoples mind.
Am I wrong to say that this is a unique way of treating a toxin?
Unique and fallacious…
Read what Wade Allison has written. Available on his website and also his book, “Radiation and Reason”.
a big part of the problem is that dose rate, more than dose, sets the hazard. So, these “per year” dose limits make no sense at all, neither biologically nor from risk management viewpoint. The bomb survivors, on which LNT is largely based, did not receive their dose “per year”. They received it in mere seconds!
I’d like to see a tiered approach instated, with a timeframe cycle that captures the actual risk of radiation exposure properly, and doses that can be defended by controlled animal experiments in this dose rate range. For example:
Tier 1: below 10 mSv/week. “BRC” tier (Below Regulatory Concern). No action, no alara, no waste of money, reduce ridiculous regulatory artifacts such as rem fodder crews.
Tier 2: 10 mSv/week to 100 mSv/week. “Pollutor pays” tier. These doses should not occur by design and operations, may have small effects on life expectancy, but do not require drastic actions, sort of a grey area. Whoever is responsible for the dose pays the victims $$/mSv. This will keep industry on its toes without becoming draconian.
Tier 3: Over 100 mSv/week. Not allowed except in life saving circumstances. e.g. medical (rad therapy) or workers performing emergency operations in a nuclear accident event.
I think this will solve most of the problems and produces a defensible regulatory policy rather than undefensible ratcheting to ever lower and lower microsieverts ranges.
I do not believe that your recommendations, as sensible as they might be, can influence any official discussion unless you can reveal your real identity and participate openly, patiently and credibly in the process.
That said, your suggestion makes some sense, but I would offer somewhat different specific numbers and time frames.
I’m not yet ready to document my alternatives, but they are not too far off from yours.
The straw poll you mentioned is a real eye-opener. How can those who accept the LNT feel anything but embarrassed to admit that they don’t really believe it, but would be happy to sit at home in comfort while the ‘everyday folk’ run for cover?
They can say there is a real risk of harm but the risk is not yet high enough to justify leaving. That is different to saying there is zero risk.
I saw this biased reporting linked to on Facebook.
I say biased because of the phrase ‘scientific outliers’ in the first paragraph.
Here is my comment on the Facebook post.
Actually look up ‘Radiation Hormesis’. Also the controversy over ‘Linear No Threshold’. Also see https://xkcd.com/radiation/ and note the 100 mSv ‘lowest one year dose clearly linked to increased cancer risk’. Instead of worrying about tiny doses we should have been working with a ‘worth worrying about threshold of at least 10 mSv. Even the Trump administration can have a stopped clock moment.
It occurs to me that 100 mSv in July and nothing at all the rest of the year would be different from 10 mSv every month from February to Nuvember, but only if the LNT conjecture is false.
Zoomies! We’re doomed!
(For the proper pronunciation of “doomed”, please see: )
I would like to know what these respected organizations (ANS, HPS, etc.) are planning to do in response to the “scientific outliers” characterization (of them?) in several high profile newspapers. Some kind of formal published response? A request for an Op-Ed? Perhaps a retraction request is a bit much.
I realize that the characterization was more directed at hormesis than those casting doubt on LNT and suggesting the possibility of a threshold, but that distinction should at least be made clear (it wasn’t in the articles).
My personal opinion. as a radiation worker with over 35 years experience, is that LNT is not the best model and actually raises risk as it is currently implemented. Meanwhile, the EPA finally moving towards more reasonable regulation, gets derided and humiliated on late night television. https://www.cbs.com/shows/the-late-show-with-stephen-colbert/video/46o8J5TQftLsqWDHBOs5XaMkHB9A0_N5/the-epa-says-radiation-isn-t-so-bad/
That’s an unfortunate aspect of the fact that the Trump EPA is doing it. When the Obama EPA made similar reforms (the PAG Rod referred to), there was no such outcry or ridicule. This is very much a tribal thing, and Trump and his EPA don’t have any environmental cred. Not with their tribe, anyway.
Sure radiation can make it shiver down our spine.
But we and our forefathers have lived happily exposed to radiation.
I dare to bring some facts. http://wp.me/s1RKWc-83
Before anything was known about radiation “health-seekers” frequented baths with high level of radiation from radon.
And a humoristic, but somehow realistic assessment of the Linear No Threshold assumption can be found here http://wp.me/p1RKWc-14I
To make matters worse, I refer to Radiation Hormesis: http://wp.me/p1RKWc-6e
Radiation biologists have come up with an intriguing range of studies at the micro level (cells, laboratory experiments on mice) that point to radiation below 100 mSv having no effect or, in fact, bringing benefits. Theory is starting to explain why this should be so, but it is not fully there yet. Nor is there yet any easy way to compare the results from radiation biology with those from epidemiology so as to make the all-important link-up to allow the former to take over from the latter at low doses. Any such development is likely to take time, and we can expect regulatory change to lag further still. But this does not mean that we cannot do things now to improve nuclear low-dose decisions.
I led a study, called NREFS, that involved five UK universities in exploring how best to cope with a big nuclear accident. NREFS reported on 20 November 2017, 11 months after the EPA Protective Action Guide came out, in a special, open-access issue of Process Safety and Environmental Protection: https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/process-safety-and-environmental-protection/vol/112/part/PA. The new J-value method (J for Judgement) showed the relocation measures instituted after the Fukushima accident were excessive. In fact, none of the 111,000 people asked to relocate should have been moved, not even from Tomioka Town, where inhabitants would have experienced a radiation dose (external and internal) of 51 mSv (5.1 rem) in the first year if they had stayed in their homes. The point relevant to this discussion is that we used the existing regulatory standard in our calculations, that is the linear-no-threshold model. The J-value, which balances life expectancy against cost, was validated against pan-national empirical data during the course of the study. It showed that relocation would not be justified until the loss of life expectancy reached 4.5 months, while the actual loss from the dose (including its decay over future years) was calculated to be less than 3 months in the worst-affected town of Tomioka. In fact, rather than waiting a long time for a possible change in regulatory stance, the J-value offers right now the possibility of producing decisions on nuclear safety that can be trusted while avoiding the gold plating that has been a characteristic of the sector for many years.
I want to thank you for that great research you and your colleagues did, with respect to evacuation policy and the J-value. I’ve referenced it quite often.
With respect to your point about how your analysis showed that evacuation was unjustified even if one assumes LNT, I’ve often stated that while LNT is problematic, its selective application is an even bigger problem, and one that should be even easier to make a case against (as it is obviously hypocritical).
The facts are that under LNT, health impacts (number of deaths, etc..) scale directly with *collective* exposure (man-Sv), and nuclear power (including accidents) contributes a negligible fraction of mankind’s overall collective exposure. Man’s collective exposure from natural sources (e.g., radon) as well as medical procedures is tens of thousands of times higher, if not millions. And yet, no efforts are made to reduce those exposures. It’s not even discussed (much, anyway). No dire warnings about radon or suggestions that people move away from high natural background areas (like Cornwall?).
Even more annoying is how collective exposures from those other sources (radon, etc..) could be reduced at a cost per man-Sv that is orders upon orders lower than what we spend on nuclear safety (reducing the frequency of nuclear releases) and on extreme measures to reduce exposure after any release. I’m not really arguing that we should take measures to reduce radon, etc.. (in part because I question LNT, and after all, no health impacts are being seen), but these facts should make it obvious that current, extreme policies to reduce exposure from nuclear power only are hypocritical and unjustified, even if LNT is assumed.
Love the term “gold plating”. Spot on.
Thank you, Jim, for the compliments on the NREFS study!
The fact that the linear, no-threshold (LNT) model seems to have been applied on a selective basis is attributable to several factors, including socio-political pressures. At bottom, however, I suggest that there are two reasons why decision makers are deflected from making consistent decisions.
The first concerns the expression of radiation’s effect as the probability of death from a radiation cancer. The problem is that almost no-one understands probability, not nuclear managers, not politicians, not the media, not the public and not even most scientists, even if they try to say otherwise. By “understands” I mean “has an intuitive feel for”. The decision maker’s shaky grasp of the concept will mean he/she will inevitably be poorly placed to resist pressure. But people at all levels of society will have a pretty sure feel for loss of life to come.
For example, a one-off dose of 0.1 mSv will lead to a 5 x 10-6 probability of death using the ICRP coefficient. This is difficult to comprehend for just about everyone. But people immediately see how small is the equivalent loss of life expectancy: 1 hour.
The second point is that, until now, decision makers have had no objective yardstick against which to measure their responses. Put baldly, they have had no way of defending their actions after the event at the court of inquiry. After all, one man’s “reasonably achievable” may be different from the judge’s! This is where the J-value comes in, as it can say objectively how much money ought be spent on the safety measure for any given reduction (possibly to zero) of the loss of life expectancy that it brings about. Importantly, the J-value has been validated against the behaviour of billions of people in the world.
My feeling is that the use of life expectancy, with its clear message to public and politicians alike, as well as the J-value, with its clear guidance to decision makers, regulators and lawyers, will allow immediate progress. Nuclear safety decisions can be made more reasonable without delay, to the benefit of the industry and the public alike. Furthermore, the J-value applies to all human activities, from nuclear through chemicals, oil and gas, through health provision to transport. The nuclear industry has long wanted to be granted a level playing field on safety. Now the opportunity exists!
I don’t disagree with the thrust of Jim Hopf’s comment above, other than to point out that in northeast USA, the “threat” of radon appears in real estate transactions. These days when selling a home, a radon inspection is de facto necessary. The inspector places a couple of filter units in your cellar for a few days and then sends the filters to a lab. Result: a thumbs up or down. Lucky for me, when selling my house I got the “thumbs up” and didn’t have to learn what the cost of the abatement would be. I can’t imagine what they would do, other than ventilating the cellar. The radon seeps up from the granite ledge.
Wait, it gets worse. I was at a town fair not too long ago, and along with the newspapers, banks, pizza joints and other vendors hawking business was a new one: testing for uranium in well water. The Connecticut river valley soil has measurable uranium content. The concentrations are too low to support extraction but someone finally figured out how to make a buck off it. Fear mongering.
If my memory serves me right, the NRC was forced to withdraw the Below Regulatory Control (BRC) soon after the NRC proposed it because of stiff public opposition.
There is universal agreement that that cancer incidence in exposed individuals increases steadily above 100 mSv level. As is the common practice, if we accept safety factors for ( sensitivity differences adult vs infant, unknown genetic susceptibility factor etc) we may see that the present ICRP numbers are acceptable for normal conditions. (Issues such as drinking water limits etc need separate discussion!)
I am immensely pleased to note that the participants (pro LNT and anti LNT) of the conference behaved sensibly as far as their views on evacuation at different radiation levels are concerned. Is it not primarily because they have the correct information on radiation risks? What if the participants were highly educated individuals with no knowledge on rems, riddles or sieverts and related fields? We need not discuss the merits or demerits of LNT or other models with public. If we do, do a thorough job to undo the unhealthy “sensitization” we unjustly did for decades. We never thought of carrying the public with us. Meaningless, loud discussions and unwanted controversies, we create, can unnerve any one. This includes conspiracy theories!Let us have consensus on issues while we are within the four walls of the conference rooms before venturing out. We know that we have disagreements on many concepts and numbers. We know that three international agencies gave different numbers for dose and dose rate factors! Of late, there are wide differences between US National Academy of Sciences and the French Academy of Sciences on LNT . The way forward is back to basics! If we do a good job discerning public will understand it.
@K S Parthasarathy
Though I agree that it would be best if we did not have to have a contentious discussion about “unwanted controversies” that “unnerve” the public, I fear that is the only way to overcome our current situation.
People who recognized the value of radiation and treated it with the respect it deserved by limiting doses to the tolerance level recommended by the ICRP in 1934 did not cause any public controversy or work to spread fear of a useful source of energy (both in the sense of massive quantities for power production and almost infinitesimally small quantities for sensing and healing at incredibly small scale).
Creation of fear and spreading the myth that radiation was a dangerous carcinogen was a purposeful action taken by a relatively small and identifiable group.
Some of their motivations might have been pure – like the choice to exaggerate harm as a way to stimulate public attention to hazards of growing thermonuclear yields, open air testing programs and massive-retaliation war plans that Oppenheimer called “the goddamndest thing I ever saw.”
Other motives very likely included a desire to keep nuclear energy under tight control so that it did not make too many inroads into the world’s enormous fuel markets. It’s also possible that there was a certain desire to limit the use of radiation in medicine – its use has the potential to dramatically alter monetary flows in the business of treating symptoms for sick people.
This is not “conspiracy theory.” It is historical fact supported by deep research and original source documentation. Muller had no EVIDENCE for his repeated assertions that radiation – with no lower limit – caused gene mutations.
Ed Lewis and others had no evidence for their assertions that gene mutations explained the reason that there was a modest correlation between people who were exposed to substantial doses of radiation and early deaths from leukemia. There is still no understanding of how radiation “causes” cancer and no one has detected any radiogenic markers that can identify a radiation induced cancer.
I believe we must expose the truth about how a small group of financially motivated and dishonest scientists chose to produce papers and reports used to teach the world that radiation causes cancer and then asserted that EVERY dose of radiation has a risk of causing cancer.
Since science is derivative and since the original liars were clever enough to choose an assertion that is extraordinarily difficult to disprove, many honest and intelligent professionals have been helping to maintain the myth for about seven decades. That’s roughly three generations of science.
Understanding that historical truth will help convince the public that we have enough understanding and evidence to support establishing tolerance dose limits at far higher levels than those in place today. Those who have recognized that there is no truth in the LNT are not scientific outliers, though they may not be a part of the current radiation science establishment.
Those who have accepted the “no safe dose” model that LNT implies are not necessarily villains or liars; they have worked hard to learn what they were taught and have reported correlations that their math told them were “significant” even if that meant often ignored end points that did not support their assumed model.
If people continue to stubbornly defend the LNT even after they learn how it was created, it will become more difficult to describe them as honest and hardworking.
I’m not advocating that we stop treating radiation with the care and respect it deserves. We know that it is a powerful force of nature. Like any powerful force, it can be deadly at intensities that are easy to exceed if we are careless about shielding, time and distance.
I am advocating a huge change in the unreasonably costly and detrimental habit of treating radiation as a scary, incomprehensible monster that can do undetected damage from great distances and over vast expanses of time.
We have large areas of total agreement. Yes, I do have some reservations on your ideas on the way radiation phobia developed. Presently It is of no real consequence.
The overly enthusiastic support to genetic effect as popularized by Muller had and has its influence on many specialists. But the way radiation protection standards developed was influenced by many other factors. Let us leave it at that!
I wrote about some of these issues a few months ago.
Here is the link: http://www.eurasiareview.com/17052018-radiation-doses-their-limits-related-issues-of-public-perception-analysis/
Controversies are happening every where. You may recall the debates on dietary guidelines. The role of fats, sugar, cholesterol among others.
Is it not happening in genomics? Fast, less expensive genome mapping tools are helping in fostering the controversies. I shudder the day when microbiologists armed with advanced genomic tools join nutritionists and find all sort of correlations with food and diseases. I am very grateful to you for the great summary of the recent meeting on low dose radiation. I was impatient to know. I got the link to your summary thanks to Dr Bobby.
In your summary of the ANS/HPS meeting, you admitted with disarming honesty that around 1995 you joined the “rebel” group. Shortly after the ICRP published its Publication no 60 in 1991, I wrote an article on Radiation Hormesis, in the official quarterly Newsletter of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, India’s equivalent of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The following link reproduced the article:http://www.angelfire.com/mo/radioadaptive/parthasar.html
At least a few consider me as a hormesis enthusiast!
As a person with a regulator’s background during most of my career, I am very keen to have practical, applicable radiation safety standards. I have been asking some of the specialists including the so called ” scientific outliers” to provide some numbers. I believe that with 100mSv as the level at which we start seeing cancer in Hiroshima-Nagasaki survivors, there is not much to gain as we have to introduce some safety factors. Some pro-LNT enthusiasts such as Dr Roger Clarke, former Chairman of ICRP believe that cancer is seen with wide uncertainty at doses as low as 50 mSv
( Please see the last article in the link: https://dae.nic.in/?q=node/173)
Even the French Academy of Sciences which criticized the LNT hypothesis could not find evidence for a clearly identifiable threshold value of radiation above which only cancer induction occurs.
I was told that there is a possibility of getting funds for more research. Frankly, this may be of academic interest unless such results lead to a threshold say 10-20 mSv
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