Low-level radiation and LNT examined at Chicago ANS meeting

This is a really excellent ANS report from nuclear physicist George Stanford. George  summarizes the presentations of a half-dozen researchers working on low-level radiation :

At the ANS Annual Meeting in Chicago held June 24–28, I attended the “President’s Special Session on Low Level Radiation and Its Implications for Fukushima Recovery,” and also the follow-on panel “Health Effects of Low-Level Radiation.” The two sessions together could well have been subtitled “The Tragedy of LNT.” In case you’ve forgotten, LNT stands for “Linear No Threshold”—the popular misconception that radiation risk is proportional to dose all the way down to zero.

(Note: The units of radiation exposure are confusing even to professionals in the field. In this discussion, I will assume that all the radiation is low-LET, so that 1 cSv = 1 cGy = 1 rad = 1 rem. If you don’t already know what LET means, you don’t need to. For orientation, the average American gets about 0.3 cGy every year, background plus medical exposure. Some people in other countries get a lot more.)

The roster of speakers at the two sessions was impressive, and they seemed unanimous in the belief that basing policy and regulations on LNT has no empirical justification, and moreover has turned out to be a very costly blunder. They backed up their conclusions with data from a gamut of disciplines. Below is a brief synopsis. Some of the speakers participated in both sessions; in those cases I have lumped the two together.

{snip} Do read the whole thing

1 thought on “Low-level radiation and LNT examined at Chicago ANS meeting

  1. Probably they are right that the LNT approach makes no sense and is a tragedy. However, there is obviously a level at which radiation does become a hazard. Dumping the LNT approach could also be a tragedy if it leads to rationalizing carelessness.

    It may be best to endeavor keeping radiation to the lowest practical level recognizing that unless we do so, it is more likely to exceed the point at which it does cause health risks.

Comments are closed.