Three members of Scientists for Accurate Radiation Information (SARI)–Jeffry A. Siegel, Charles W. Pennington and Bill Sacks
–successfully submitted a letter to the Reader’s Forum section of Physics Today titled Low-dose radiation exposure should not be feared.
The letter has a powerful conclusion.
Many people, though they admit the absence of evidence, nevertheless believe that “precautions” derived from the LNT model save lives. But misguided application of the LNT model to regulation and policy have caused death and psychological damage from unnecessary mass evacuations and have created adverse health consequences from patients’ fear-driven rejection of potentially life-saving x rays and CTs. Additionally, hundreds of billions of dollars are wasted on unnecessary precautionary measures due to unwarranted fear of low-dose radiation.
Scientists have failed in the science of radiation protection. The accurate LT [linear threshold] model must become the basis of radiation regulation. Science must finally arrive at summary judgment that the LNT model is fallacious and thereby alleviate suffering and abate needless, paralyzing public fear. The LT model’s threshold with no low-dose radiation harm can free people from the grip of groundless phobias. No harm, no fear!
There is an intriguing backstory behind the publication of the letter.
Siegel, Pennington, and Sacks originally submitted the letter in September and received no response. Thinking that their letter had been rejected, they submitted a version of it to a small community newspaper called the Green Valley News.
In November, they were contacted by Physics Today with the news that their letter was being reviewed for publication. The editor apologized for having taken so long, but explained that it wasn’t out of the ordinary because Physics Today receives a large number of submittals.
The Physics Today editor informed the authors that he had read their September 29 letter in the Green Valley News–a claim that surprised the authors–but also said he had no problem printing a revised version with additional information and minor alterations.
Perhaps there really are changes afoot in scientific and public perceptions about the risks of low dose radiation exposure and the continued utility of a zero threshold dose model that is not supported by experimental evidence.