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Re: "Beware Low-Level Radiation"

Otto G. Raabe wrote:

> "Beware Low-Level Radiation" is the heading of two letters on page A24 of
> today's Washington Post newspaper. 
> These two letter deserve careful evaluation by anyone involved in the LNT
> controversy.

I sent the following letter to the Post:

Washington Post
1150 15th Street
Washington DC 20071

Dear Sir:

Two letters about Low-Level Radiation appeared in the May 9, 1997 issue
of the Washington Post.  They were in response to the April 14, 1997
article on the same topic. The two letters contain statements that
grossly misinform the public.  The statements concern the effects of low
doses of ionizing radiation.

One statement: "Rather than devoting an article to dubious claims of
pro-nuclear groups, whose arguments are clearly self-serving ..." is
hoist on its own petard.  The authors of both letters are virulently
anti-nuclear so their letters are "clearly self-serving" also.  It's the
pot calling the kettle black.  But that's not the point; where should
one go for information about low level radiation except to those who
know what those effects are?  Some such people are even listed by the
first author: the International Commission on Radiological Protection
(ICRP).  There is a US organization, the National Committee on Radiation
Protection and Measurements (NCRP) that makes recommendations about
radiation protection standards for the USA.  Both the ICRP and the NCRP
state unequivocally in numerous publications that the effects of low
levels of radiation may be zero.  Even if the effects are not zero, they
are certainly so small as to be negligible in the face of the enormously
greater health risks faced daily by everyone.

The radiation limits recommended by the ICRP and NCRP are equivalent,
according to the NCRP.  The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has
accepted as policy the ICRP and NCRP's hypothesis, for purposes of
setting radiation protection standards, that deleterious  radiation
effects are linear with dose down to zero.  In other words, for purposes
of setting radiation protection standards, the EPA assumes that there is
no level of radiation so small as to be harmless.  But - that idea is
only an assumption, an hypothesis.  In light of current information, the
hypothesis is most likely false.

The most current analysis of the data from the survivors of the two
atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945 shows that the Japanese people who
absorbed low doses are living longer than other Japanese who did not
receive any radiation from the bombs.  The Japanese are doing research
in the field of radiation hormesis, or adaptive response to radiation. 
Their data show that low doses of radiation given to people before those
people are given much larger doses for medical therapeutic purposes,
result in less severe effects from the larger doses.  In other words,
the low doses provide a beneficial effect.  The reason seems to be that
low doses stimulate the immune response system so that it functions at a
higher level than without the radiation.  It is highly likely that the
low doses everyone receives from natural background every second produce
a similar effect.  Therefore, it is reasonable to think that radiation
doses slightly above natural background will also have a similar
beneficial effect.  The Japanese are working to demonstrate that such an
idea is reality.

An extensive study by Dr. Bernard Cohen at the University of Pittsburgh
demonstrates clearly that the linear hypothesis is incorrect.  Dr.
Cohen's data show for almost 2000 counties in the US that, as the radon
level goes up in homes, the lung cancer rate goes down.   In other
words, a little radon will result in lower cancer rates, even correcting
for smoking.

Such data support the ICRP and NCRP's statements that deleterious
effects from low doses of radiation may be zero.  In fact, low doses are
likely to be good for you.  There are may "baths" in Europe and
elsewhere, and underground mines in the USA where people go to receive
the benefits of the radiation from natural radioactive material that is
in the water and air at those places.

The bottom line is: there are no human data that demonstrate low doses
of radiation are, in fact, harmful.  The ICRP, NCRP, and other
organizations only assume low doses may have some effect for purposes of
setting radiation protection standards.  Those orgaizations, except the
EPA, do not say that low doses do have an effect.  All of those
organizations, except the EPA, admit in writing that the real harm from
low doses of radiation may be zero.  The EPA apparently believes the
hypothesis correctly describes reality even in the face of data
demonstrating that it is wrong.

Therefore, anyone who tries to tell you that a little radiation will, in
fact, harm you, is not telling you the truth, based on any information
currently available.


A. N. Tschaeche, CHP

Anyone else send anything besides Bernie Cohen?  Al Tschaeche