1 May 2012

Unmasking the truth: The science and policy of low-dose ionizing radiation

Gordon Thompson

Gordon Thompson is executive director of the Institute for Resource and Security Studies and a senior research scientist at Clark University’s George Perkins Marsh Institute. His...

There is scientific consensus on a prevailing hypothesis that, down to near-zero levels, the occurrence of future cancer is proportional to the dose of radiation received. Some experts and professional bodies in the field, however, subscribe to this linear no-threshold (LNT) model in scientific discussions but object to the use of the model for policy-related purposes. Given the large economic interests that are affected by policy decisions, this article recommends that experts and professional bodies avoid the intermingling of scientific and policy debates and acknowledge a logical implication of the LNT hypothesis: Low-dose radiation will sicken and kill a number of people over time.