Atomic Insights – Doses of radiation that are lower than about 700 mGy/yr (The same dose can be expressed as 700 mSv/yr, 70 rad/yr, or 70 rem/yr.) are more likely to reduce cancer incidence and increase life span than to decrease it. In other words, moderate radiation doses are good for you in the same way as moderate exercise is good for you.
The basis for this economy-altering assertion is documented in Dr. Jerry Cuttler’s recent paper titled Remedy for Radiation fear — discard the Politicized science
Seeking a remedy for the radiation fear in Japan, the author re-examined an article on radiation hormesis. It describes the background for this fear and evidence in the first UNSCEAR report of a reduction in leukemia of the Hiroshima survivors in the low dose zone. The data are plotted and dose-response models are drawn. While UNSCEAR suggested the extra leukemia incidence is proportional to radiation dose, the data are consistent with a hormetic J-shape and a threshold at about 100 rem (1 Sv). UNSCEAR data on lifespan reduction of mammals exposed continuously to gamma rays indicate a 2 gray/year threshold. This contradicts the conceptual basis for radiation protection and risk determination established in 1956-58. In this paper, beneficial effects and thresholds for harmful effects are discussed, and the biological mechanism is explained. The key point: the rate of DNA damage (double-strand breaks) caused by background radiation is 1000 times less than the endogenous (spontaneous) rate. It is the effect of radiation on an organism’s very powerful adaptive protection systems that determines the dose-response characteristic. Low radiation up-regulates the protection systems, while high radiation impairs these systems. The remedy for radiation fear is to expose and discard the politicized science.
Dr. Cuttler also provides some reasons why his conclusions are so different from the well known model that assumes all doses of radiation produce harm, with a straight line being drawn from measured damage at high levels through a region where there is no reliable evidence of harm to the origin at zero dose, zero harm. As he documents, the underlying reason why radiation protection organizations began applying the linear, no-threshold (LNT) dose response assumption is that it supported their effort to halt the spread of nuclear weapons and stop atmospheric testing of those same weapons.
The LNT assumption provided the scientific campaigners against nuclear weapons a rallying point. The extensive testing programs underway throughout the late 1940s and the 1950s were releasing and distributing measurable concentrations of radioactive isotopes all around the world. With the exception of a few isolated incidents, the isotopes were so dispersed that nearly all of the world’s population were exposed to doses that were not causing any detectable harm.
Next Big Future – China is back to raising its nuclear energy targets for 2020. Perhaps heading to 70-80GW instead of 58 GW
Next Big Future – Japan might restart up to 10 reactors per year. About 35 reactors operational in 2019
Next Big Future – Canada’s nuclear regulators are performance based instead of the US NRC rules based. The US NRC is based on rules for light water reactors of the late 1960s. Canada could allow the new Terrestrial Energy Molten salt reactor to be operational by 2020.