[ RadSafe ] Re: LNT= "practical" regulation?

howard long hflong at pacbell.net
Wed Mar 15 13:02:07 CST 2006

  Closer analogy than air pollution regulation (and I considered being LA Public Health AP Control Officer 45 years ago) should be radiation in the wave length of ultra violet.

  Like ionizing radiation and unlike air pollution, UV is not visible or smellable, but burns in high dosage (sunburn and sunlamp overexposure) but is needed in lower dosage (vitamin D absorbtion to prevent osteoporosis, etc).
  Regulators, stop your lazy, frightening, horribly expensive, nuclear power inhibiting LNT fraud and expedite anything (like full-body CT scan) up to 10 rem/year!
  Howard Long MD MPH
  Bernard Cohen <blc+ at pitt.edu> wrote:

Franz Schönhofer wrote:

>John, as usual I agree with you. The LNT is a valuable tool for Radiation
>Protection Legislation - if not the only one acceptable and administrable. 
I hardily disagree with this statement, as explained in my note in 
the Bulletin of Canadian Nuclear Society a few years ago:

The alternative is to treat radiation as we treat chemical 
pollutants. Using air pollution as an example, we limit concentrations 
of SO2, nitrogen oxides, particulates, ozone, etc. Osborne says that 
this is equivalent to assuming that dose rate, rather than integrated 
dose determines the risk --a rather different scientific model-- but 
that is a misinterpretation. For example, air pollution regulations 
limit the number of days per year that specified pollution levels can be 
exceeded. They were designed basically to make them practical to 
implement. They are admittedly a very crude way of limiting exposures 
without being specific about whether the important risk parameter is 
dose rate, total dose with or without a threshold, or some combination 
of these with other factors. But crude as it is, its crudeness is 
consistent with the crudeness of our scientific understanding.

Using LNT for regulating radiation is very clearly a more 
quantitative approach, much less crude than the air pollution method. 
But that does not mean that it is better; the problem is that it is not 
consistent with the crudeness of our scientific understanding. The fact 
that it is more quantitative is a deceptive veneer of false pretense, 
hiding the fact that it has no scientific basis. Osborne claims that it 
is "prudent", but prudence is best judged by the results achieved. Let's 
compare them on that basis.

The air pollution regulations, crude as they are, prevent 
catastrophes like the 1930 Meuse Valley, the 1948 Donora (Pennsylvania), 
and the 1952 London incidents, and they generally avoid identifiable 
deaths. Most importantly, they give the public confidence that it is 
being protected. The Mayor of Pittsburgh, a strong advocate for 
environmental causes, will go to great lengths to attract new 
industries, so long as they comply even marginally with air pollution 
regulations, and the Pittsburgh public, which is highly sensitized to 
air pollution problems, supports him on this. The Media give scant 
attention to studies indicating that tens of thousands of Americans die 
prematurely each year from air pollution; no one seems to be interested 
as long as no victims are identifiably tied to the pollution..

How unsatisfactory is this situation? It allows our 
technology to progress and to increase Society's wealth, and technology 
and wealth create health, far outstripping the harm to health done by 
the pollution. Air pollution may reduce our life expectancy by something 
like 30 days, whereas technology and the wealth it has created have 
increased our life expectancy by 30 years in this century, and life 
expectancy is continually increasing

How well has the radiation-LNT approach to regulation worked?

For every little bit of radiation, we calculate the number of deaths, 
and killing is something the Media are quick to report. People are moved 
by such reports and view these deaths as real, perhaps even afflicting 
themselves or their loved ones. The public has thus been driven insane 
over fear of radiation, losing all contact with reality. As a result, we 
have largely lost the benefits of nuclear power which could be averting 
tens of thousands of deaths per year from air pollution (and also 
solving other environmental problems like global warming, acid rain, 
etc). We are losing many other benefits of radiation such as food 
irradiation which could be averting millions of cases of food poisoning, 
saving thousands of lives, each year. We are wasting our Society's 
wealth on ridiculous clean-up programs at nuclear facilities; this 
wasted wealth could save thousands of lives each year if it were spent 
on biomedical research, on public health programs, or on highway safety.

In the light of these comparisons between the results of the 
air pollution vs the radiation-LNT approaches to regulation, which is 
the more prudent?

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