Nuclear radiation is dangerous. It can cause cancer, birth defects and (in the sci-fi-movie world) 50-foot-tall humans and man-eating insects the size of buses. Such a dark view of radiation has shaped public fears, and for decades it has been part of the foundation of nuclear policies. It has been accepted by an alphabet soup of federal agencies as well as national and international scientific bodies. It has affected how old atomic-weapons sites are cleaned up, nuclear power plants operated and radiation used in medicine. The scientific basis for this view is known as the linear no-threshold model, or LNT, which holds that any amount of radiation increases someone’s cancer risk, with the danger rising along with the dose. But Carol Marcus scoffs at the LNT model. As science, it’s “baloney,” she said, essentially in the same category as “the Earth is flat.” The white-haired, 77-year-old professor of nuclear medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, with both an M.D. and Ph.D., is on a campaign to change the way America treats radiation. In a pending petition, she is asking the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to abandon the LNT model, which her filing, quoting another critic, calls “the greatest scientific scandal of the 20th century.” Two similar petitions, signed by about two dozen academics and others, are also under NRC review. Dr. Marcus advocates an approach that holds that low radiation doses aren’t harmful and could even benefit people’s health—a phenomenon known as “hormesis,” possibly reducing cancer rates by stimulating the body’s protective systems. Among other things, she wants the NRC to raise by 50-fold its allowable annual radiation dose to the public.
Wall Street Journal 12th Aug 2016 read more »