[ RadSafe ] Radiation Risk / Perception etc

Mark Ramsay mark.ramsay at ionactive.co.uk
Mon Jan 11 06:48:12 CST 2010

Afternoon All.

It is not often that the media carries a debate regarding exposure to
ionising radiation - particularly when the debate is on whether we are
too cautious in our risk estimates. The debate was kicked off by an
article by Simon Jenkins in the Guardian:

"The proliferation of nuclear panic is politics at its most ghoulish"


Part of this article relates to a book by Prof Wade Allison that I let
the list know about a few weeks ago :

"Radiation and Reason"


I have the book by Allison and it is well written although I do not
support all the conclusions (not that I am an expert in all this as I
would never have the time to read all the research that leads ICRP to
its current recommendations etc).

Following the above mentioned article by Simon Jenkins, I wrote a small
blog piece which can be found here:


The point of my blog entry was to make clear that there are two sides to
this story and I do not think there is just 'black and white'. Much of
the public, and media, demand back and white and like cases to be
wrapped up in neat packages. This is not the case here - obviously. 

Following this, the Guardian put out the following article:

"Irrational fears give nuclear power a bad name, says Oxford scientist"


As you might expect there are loads of comments on this article - some
sensible (for and against) and some silly etc. 

Finally, an hour agi the following was also released from the Guardian:

"Nuclear radiation risk: The current consensus"


It is very easy to knock Allison for what he is doing (e.g. a new dose
limit of 100mSv, or 100 mSv / month etc). It is also very easy to knock
Greenpeace for their stand on nuclear / radiation issues.

However, whilst I'm not convinced that anything will come of this
(positive or negative), I do think it is encouraging that this type of
debate gets into the media - whatever you think. However, as indicated
in my own blog entry, I think the problem is that there are
'stakeholders' on either side of this debate and there is so much
hysteria (again, for and against) that I am not sure that anything
useful will arise. Furthermore, there are some I think that will use
radiation risk (negatively) regardless of what they really believe to
meet other goals (e.g. those that do not want x-ray screening at
airports). However, that same comment could be applied to Allison in a
pro-nuclear way!

I hope perhaps that the HPA / SRP in the UK may choose to comment at
some point.

Anyway, just for those that might not have caught these stories.




Mark Ramsay
Radiation Protection Adviser

Ionactive Consulting Limited
EAS Building
Silwood Park Campus
Buckhurst Road
Berkshire, SL5 7TE, UK

Telephone: 0800 043 9985
Mobile: 07841 435377
Fax: 0871 7333945
Email: mark.ramsay at ionactive.co.uk
Web: www.ionactive.co.uk
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