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LAURISTON S. TAYLOR LECTURE: RADIATION PROTECTION AND PUBLIC POLICY IN AN UNCERTAIN WORLD

Land, Charles E.*

doi: 10.1097/HP.0b013e318227e822
Lauriston S. Taylor Lecture: Paper

Ionizing radiation is a known, well-documented, and reasonably well-quantified human cancer risk factor based on a remarkably consistent body of dose-response information from epidemiological studies of exposed populations supported by experimental studies using animal and cellular models. This fact is largely ascribable to the relative ease, compared to other carcinogens, of estimating radiation dose to organs and local tissues. Statistical models for radiation-related cancer risk are increasingly relevant to both radiation protection policy and the adjudication of compensation claims for cancers diagnosed following occupational and environmental exposures to ionizing radiation, as discussed in a number of expert committee reports of national and international organizations concerned with radiation-related risks. These and other publications increasingly emphasize the relevance of well-quantified uncertainties in radiation-related risk projections, including upper and lower confidence or uncertainty bounds, for radiation protection. Finally, the wealth of detailed information provided by such quantitative uncertainty analysis approaches is highly relevant to radiation protection, which might be viewed as a political process that involves a diverse group of stakeholders who, individually, may be primarily concerned with avoiding possible radiation-related risks or with avoiding possibly unnecessary costs of risk reduction or unnecessary denial of benefits that require some radiation exposure, or with balancing both considerations to some degree.

* Avenida de Saboia 914E, Apt. 4F, Monte Estoril 2765-579, Portugal.

For correspondence contact the author at the above address, or email at landc@mail.nih.gov.

(Manuscript accepted 24 May 2011).

©2011Health Physics Society