Bulletin Board
Rants, Raves, Interesting Science & Awful Puns
September 4, 2003

Radiation Hormesis Update

Some Findings In Recent Years

It's been a while since I posted anything on low-level radiation hormesis. The phenomenon of hormesis, whereby substances that are lethal in large amounts can be not only harmless but often actually beneficial in small doses, has long been recognized in chemical toxicology. That it applies also to ionizing radiation has been known to the medical and health physics community for over 20 years, but as yet it is politically unacceptable to say so.

Mike Flagg calls attention to BELLE -- Biological Effects of Low-Level Exposures -- an organization of scientists from government, the private sector, and academia, formed to encourage reassessment of standards and public policy. In particular, a set of papers published as part of the proceedings of a conference entitled "Non-linear Dose-Response Relationships in Biology, Toxicology and Medicine" hosted by BELLE last summer reports some of the interesting findings in recent years. In one, an incident occurred in Taiwan, in which 1700 apartments were contaminated with Cobalt-60, exposing 10,000 residents to doses that by the conventionally accepted model should have induced many times the norm of leukemia deaths and solid cancers. In fact, cancer deaths of the residents reduced to only 3.6 % that for the general population.

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