Ted Rockwell, Michael Stuart, Robert Margolis and Rod Adams discuss the Linear, No Threshold radiation dose assumption, the political controversy that it has generated, the costs it imposes and the people who think of the costs as a valued revenue stream.
There is an assumption that underlies most of the world’s radiation protection standards called the Linear, No Threshold dose assumption. This hypothesis – which has never made it to the scientific stage of being even a theory – claims that the negative human health effects from radiation exposure can be plotted on a straight line that extends from the high dose/death regime down to a minute hazard from the very lowest possible dose.
This assumption has been used to compute something called “collective dose” where exceedingly minor doses to very large populations result in a statistical prediction that the dose will cause several deaths. If the population that is assumed to be affected is large enough, the predicted deaths can even turn into rather scary numbers in the thousands.
There is no science that backs the linear no threshold dose assumption, but it remains the basis for regulations and is used to cause excessive fear of radiation, which happens to be a natural part of our earthly environment. An old friend of mine – Jim Muckerheide – has devoted a major, sustained effort to collect and provide ready access to thousands of peer reviewed studies, journal articles and even reports from the advisory committees that supposedly influence the regulatory decision bodies. You can find them at http://www.radscihealth.org/rsh/.
Here is a blurb about the organization that Jim founded, Radiation, Science and Health, an international non-profit organization.
RSH was organized by independent individuals knowledgeable in radiation health effects science, and related radiation protection, and medical applications, public policies. They know the scientific literature, misrepresented data, and wasted public funds, that do not protect public health.
- RSH seeks to change public policy in the public interest.
- It advocates for appropriate research and policy changes.
When you visit the site, remember that it is a voluntary effort produced by scientists and engineers; they are not graphic artists or web designers. (I hope I do not offend any of the members of RSH, but their site is darned ugly. However, look past that and read some of the valuable information that they have collected and made readily available. If the RSH web site was a high school student, it might be described as having an excellent personality.)
Jim was not able to join us for this show, but I did find some extremely knowledgeable guests. Ted Rockwell is the author of one of the seminal books on radiation shielding. He was Admiral Rickover’s technical director for about a decade and was a key member of the team that built the Nautilus and the Shippingport power station. Robert Margolis is a reactor engineer with 21 years of experience in the nuclear industry; he is regularly affected by the extreme conservatism imposed by the LNT based regulations. Michael Stuart started his career as a health physics specialist who was charged with finding ways to continually lower doses. He is now a technical instructor for Dominion Resources and is an exceptional communicator.
During the show we talk about the costs imposed by the LNT assumption, the logical fallacies that it imposes, the hazards that can result from excessive fears and controls of low levels of radiation and the people who view the excessive costs as important sources of revenue. We also mention the interests of nuclear power competitors in keeping the LNT obstacles in place as a way to improve their position in the very lucrative market for commercial heat and power.
I think you will enjoy this episode.