[ RadSafe ] Radiation exposure and the power of zero By Jeffrey Patterson | 26 April 2011

Miller, Mark L mmiller at sandia.gov
Mon May 9 11:02:44 CDT 2011

Hey John, I like your explanation.  It reminded me that LONGEVITY is lethal.  Too much of it, and you'll DIE!  It's unavoidable.  It's like gravity - it's not just a good idea.  It's the LAW.

-----Original Message-----
From: Bill Prestwich [mailto:prestwic at mcmaster.ca] 
Sent: Friday, May 06, 2011 11:42 AM
To: 'The International Radiation Protection (Health Physics) Mailing List'
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] Radiation exposure and the power of zero By JeffreyPatterson | 26 April 2011

Hi John,

This is a longer thing I sent regarding a local discussion here at Mac
arising from the 86 billion radsafe posting.

I don't think the radsafe posting was meant to be a rigorous discourse, and
neither is this reply. To set the record straight, the Linear No Threshold
(LNT) theory is really an assumption that the probability of a harmful
effect resulting from  exposure to ionizing radiation is directly
proportional to the effective dose. Ionizing radiation is the capitalist
form of radiation which evicts electrons from their molecules. Dose is
defined as the ratio of energy deposited by the radiation to the mass of the
object in which it is deposited. The adjective effective indicates that a
crude attempt has been made to take into account the variability of
effectiveness of different radiation types and the variability of radiation
sensitivity of different organs. It is not possible to make a quantitative
assessment for the scenario described in the article.
            The logical conclusion of the LNT, which has not been validated
empirically, is that any finite dose produces a finite probability for harm.
This is incorrectly translated into the statement that science has shown
there is no safe level of radiation. This is an Orwellian tactic which takes
advantage of two facts. First there is no scientific definition of safe, and
the proponents are implying it is zero probability of harm. Second the
concept of safe is generally treated as binary. Something that is not safe,
ie is unsafe, is dangerous. Hence the implication is that any radiation
exposure is dangerous. Now, given that we live on a radioactive planet, eat
radioactive food, breathe radioactive air, have radioactive bodies and are
bombarded by radiation from outer space, this means we must conclude that
the act of living is dangerous. 
            This does however open up an interesting legal possibility. It
seems to me humanity has a right to launch a class action suit against the
religious organizations as representatives of God who, after all, bears the
ultimate responsibility for all this.
            Finally the general consensus is that it is not possible to
obtain statistically significant empirical data with which to test the LNT
assumption in the range of dose equivalents below the regulatory limits. The
situation is similar to attempting to detect a signal buried in noise
without the ingenious signal to noise enhancement techniques employed by our
electrical engineering colleagues. However, given that the assumption
ignores the known complexities of biological responses and fails to predict
observed radiobiological phenomena it is clear that the assumption does not
have a substantial scientific basis.

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