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The Bell Tolls for LNT

Higson, Don J.*

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Abstract

The linear no-threshold (LNT) model has been a convenient tool in the practice of radiation protection, but it is not supported by scientific data at doses less than about 100 millisievert or at chronic dose rates up to at least 200 millisievert per year. Radiation protection practices based on the LNT model yield no demonstrable benefits to health when applied at lower annual doses. The assumption that such exposures are harmful may not even be conservative and has helped to foster an unwarranted fear of low-level radiation. For its new recommendations, to be issued probably in 2005, the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) has said that it expects to continue the application of the LNT model “above a few millisievert per year.” National societies for radiation protection may wish to consider the need to lobby the ICRP, through the auspices of International Radiation Protection Association, to further relax adherence to the LNT assumption—up to “a few tens of millisievert per year.”

©2004Health Physics Society

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