[ RadSafe ] Re:LNT and ALARA

Perle, Sandy sperle at mirion.com
Sun Jun 22 16:12:44 CDT 2008

>> Sandy, Who are these people who believe that any level of radiation
is harmless and "perfectly acceptable"?  I know of lots of people who
believe that any level of radiation is harmful, but none who think that
high level doses are harmless. Even I, a firm believer in radiation
hormesis , and that low doses (<1.0 rem/a) might be beneficial in
nature, am aware of radiation sickness and increased cancer probability
at high dose levels. Getting back to ALARA, if my viewpoint is correct
(and I believe it is) then the LNT presumption is nonsense, and ALARA
not only results in a needless squandering of limited resources with no
health benefit, but also contributes to increased public fear and
apprehension toward radiation. In the world as I see it, any human
exposure to radiation that is <5.0 rem/a is unlikely to cause any
adverse health effect, exposure to <1.0 rem /a is almost certainly
harmless, and likely to be beneficial in nature. Therefore, in my view,
ALARA is and always has been a dumb idea! If intended to assuage
unfounded fears toward radiation, ALARA in not only ineffective, but
counter-productive. If intended to ward off inappropriate legal actions,
the same is true. It seems to me that ALARA has more of a religious
basis than a scientific one - but it is hard to see which god it is
intended to appease. Jerry Cohen<<

Hello Jerry,

I suppose the definition of what "high" is probably needs to be
explored. In any event, I revise my statement that there are those that
believe any radiation dose is harmless. I was stretching my thoughts a
bit too much!

I agree that there have been extensive sums of funds spent to reduce
dose below what is considered reasonable. Even though the BRC rule that
was never implemented, and I agree that the BRC dose was too low for
real benefit, was at least an opening. During my years in NPP, we spent
a lot of time and dollars to reduce dose that would not be considered
meaningful. There were many instances where ALARA was implemented and
significant dose was reduced. Now, if the person-rem reduction is deemed
to be not necessary, then any reduction would have been seen as
unreasonable. In any business, one goal of an employee is to protect the
employer from litigation and regulatory consequences. We have all
observed litigation in many industries. Same holds true for nuclear.
Fortunately ALARA has not been the standard that must be established in
a court of law (so far). The dose limits have played a major role, and
that probably will continue. On the other hand, there has been movement
in many non-USA locales to reduce regulatory limits. I don't expect that
to happen here, for a while anyway. Therefore, radiation protection
groups do what they can to reduce dose, where reasonable hopefully, to
preclude the need for regulatory intervention, where lowering doses
would be mandated, and, that would not be good for the nuclear option in
the USA.

As far as hypocrites, my comments are directed at those who work in
radiation protection work, spending all of their time controlling doses
when they have absolutely no belief in what they are doing. This of
course assumes that all work remains within the regulatory limits. In
the NPP world it is rare that an individual ever approaches a regulatory
limit. Institutions like INPO make it a goal to reduce dose even further
below regulatory limits. There are those who don't agree with this, yet
implement the very programs that they inherently don't believe in. Those
are the individuals I take issue with. That goes for management,
consultants, etc., who earn their livelihood and don't believe anything
that they preach. 

My opinion, as yours, is that dose within the regulatory limits is more
likely than not, a dose where a significant amount of reduction isn't
necessary. I am not against reducing this dose, especially for workers
who receive this dose year in and year out. I don't know what the actual
risk is, and err on the side of being a little conservative. Doses above
the 50 mSv per year, who knows at what level someone may be injured,
even though the probability may be low.

Anyway, just some thoughts of mine.



Sander C. Perle
Mirion Technologies 
Dosimetry Services Division
2652 McGaw Avenue
Irvine, CA 92614 
+1 (949) 296-2306 (Office) 
+1 (949) 296-1144 (Fax) 

Mirion Technologies: http://www.mirion.com/ 

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