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RSH > Documents > RSH Data Docs > 1.9 > Borstel 1995

"Low Level
Radiation Health Effects: Compiling  the Data"

Revision 1
March 19, 1998
by Radiation, Science, and Health, Inc.
Edited by J. Muckerheide



Professor R.C. von Borstel, Dept. of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, in a review of "Health Effects of Low- level Radiation", by Sohei Kondo, states (1995) that:

"Linear extrapolation from higher doses to low doses turns out not only to be a conservative way to calculate risks, but also to be errant and even misleading. Although this has been known for at least 30 years, national and international regulatory agencies are institutionalized and authoritative, and thus have left the door open for journalists and even radiation experts to predict damages to human beings from radioactivity fallout. The misjudgment based on linear extrapolation has had its consequences even when there was no radioactive fallout, such as ... at Three Mile Island: The townspeople ... were led to believe that they had been the survivors of a nuclear holocaust.

"Now we have before us an eminently logical book by Sohei Kondo. He uses the available data on irradiated human subjects to conclude that individuals subjected to low levels of radiation have longer life spans than those in control populations, and fewer cases of most types of cancer as a bonus. Low-level radiation’ is not defined precisely... but it appears to be less than about 0.1 gray (10 rad) for teratological events at the most sensitive time of pregnancy, and less than about 0.5 gray for cancer induction and mutation.

"This is a scientific book filled with 55 tables of data and 79 figures, so that original data can be studied for verification, plotting, and analysis in any way that the reader chooses. Kondo’s reasons for writing the book were to counter two dogmas: (1) that radiation is poisonous, however small the dose, and (2) that tumor-causing mutations depend on DNA replication. He succeeded in dispelling the first dogma. His argument against the second one is profound, but more experiments are necessary to fully establish his thesis; nevertheless, he asked testable questions."

"This book is clearly written by an extremely wise man. Let us hope that regulators of nuclear policy around our planet can use the compiled data and its conclusions in an equally sagacious manner."


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