AW: [ RadSafe ] Re: LNT/threshold/hormesis - what do HPs really

Franz Schönhofer franz.schoenhofer at
Thu Jul 21 16:50:48 CDT 2005

Dear Andy,

I have many times deposited my opinion on the LNT-question at RADSAFE. Since
I am not an (American) Radiation Protection Celebrity my opinion has
obviously not been taken serious. My opinion was: If it is so difficult, or
rather impossible, to demonstrate either hormesis or LNT, if one needs
millions of cases, influenced by dozens if not hundreds of cofounding
factors, where usually not even the Gauss error propagation rules are
applied, then I do not believe that there will be any possibility to prove
either LNT nor hormesis. This still is my opinion and any cry for further
financial support of research to clarify these questions I have ridiculed. 

If one compares risk and death in other circumstances like for instance the
war in Afghanistan or in Iraq, traffic accidents, tsunami victims, then any
"academic" discussion of risks of low-level radiation becomes ridiculous.   

So, Andy, I may conclude that, though a certain interest in the opinion of
the Health Physics Community is justified, I do not think that any result
could be of further help. I rather fear, that, whatever the result would be,
either the pro-nuclear lobby or the anti-nuclear lobby would use the

I do not know of any discussion in Europe on LNT, which does not mean, that
health physicists would not have an opinion. 

I personally regard LNT as a very valuable tool for regulatory purposes,
whether it is right or not. 

Best regards,


Franz Schoenhofer
PhD, MR iR
Habicherg. 31/7
A-1160 Vienna
phone -43-0699-1168-1319

> -----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
> Von: radsafe-bounces at [mailto:radsafe-bounces at] Im
> Auftrag von A Karam
> Gesendet: Mittwoch, 20. Juli 2005 18:57
> An: Rainer.Facius at; radsafe at
> Betreff: RE: [ RadSafe ] Re: LNT/threshold/hormesis - what do HPs really
> I have received several comments to this effect, to the point where it
> makes sense to post to the entire list.
> In his 2004 Sievert Lecture, Abel Gonzalez presented a very interesting
> figure showing the number of research subjects needed to prove, or
> disprove LNT as a function of the dose each person received.  Using
> current epidemiological and statistical tools, he made a fairly
> convincing case that to show the presence or absence of effects at low
> levels of exposure - less than a rem - takes so many subjects that such
> studies are virtually impossible to perform or to fund.
> So; epidemiological science seems unable to prove or disprove any
> particular model of radiation dose-response at low levels of exposure.
> Radiation biology seems able to point us towards an answer, but seems to
> somehow leave many people unsatisfied that studies of individual cells
> are applicable to entire organisms.  So, at present, I get the
> impression that no scientific community will be able to prove (or
> disprove) its case to the radiation safety and radiation biology
> community as a whole. In addition, we must admit that, even in the most
> limiting case (LNT), the risks from radiation do not warrant the public
> health precautions that are taken and funded - the radiation safety
> agenda (on a national and international scale) is driven by politics and
> opinion rather than science.
> That being the case, I'm simply interested in knowing where the
> professional, well-informed opinions fall out.  We hear a lot of heated
> debate, but since the great majority of Radsafe members sit quietly at
> their computers, I have no idea how the radiation safety community as a
> whole feels on the matter.  And, let's face it, you're not going to get
> a true feeling for that in a public forum because so many feel
> constrained by peer pressure, employer requirements, not wanting to look
> like an idiot, and so forth.
> Best regards,
> Andy
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