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A Little Radiation May Be Good for You, EPA Witness Argues for Rule Change
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=37599"><span class="small">Beth Mole, Ars Technica</span></a>   
Wednesday, 03 October 2018 13:03

Mole writes: "A vaguely worded proposal could change regulations for low-dose exposures."

Radiation warning sign. (photo: Mitchell KrogGetty)
Radiation warning sign. (photo: Mitchell KrogGetty)

A Little Radiation May Be Good for You, EPA Witness Argues for Rule Change

By Beth Mole, Ars Technica

03 October 10

A vaguely worded proposal could change regulations for low-dose exposures.

he Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward with a vaguely worded proposal that may lay the groundwork to zap current federal regulations on low-dose radiation exposures.

Today, Wednesday, October 3, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works is holding a hearing to discuss the proposed rule, titled Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science (PDF), which the agency first introduced in April.

Though the proposed rule does not explicitly mention radiation exposure regulations, a press release from the agency announcing the proposal makes clearer the agency’s intentions, the Associated Press first reported. The release quotes toxicologist Edward Calabrese of the University of Massachusetts, saying:

“The proposal represents a major scientific step forward by recognizing the widespread occurrence of non-linear dose responses in toxicology and epidemiology for chemicals and radiation and the need to incorporate such data in the risk assessment process.”

Calabrese is the lead witness in today’s Senate hearing on the EPA’s proposal. Though his early research focused on pollutants, he is best known as a long-standing critic of the widely accepted methods for modeling cancer-causing effects of radiation exposure. Specifically, he has railed against the federal agency’s reliance on the linear nonthreshold (LNT) model, which essentially backs the idea that there’s no safe or risk-free level of radiation exposure.

Instead, Calabrese is a strong proponent of the notion of hormesis, which suggests that some toxic substances have a biphasic dose response—they can be beneficial at low doses and toxic at higher doses. A common example used by proponents is sunlight, which aids in the synthesis of Vitamin D but can also cause DNA damage leading to cancer. Calabrese argues that hormesis applies to low-dose radiation exposures, which may be encountered at places such as nuclear facilities, oil and gas operations, medical centers with imaging equipment, and Superfund sites.

Calabrese’s take is heavily contested. The National Research Council and the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) both continue to support using LNT for radiation protection and exposure modeling. In fact, the NCRP just this year doubled-down on its support of the model. It conducted a review of epidemiological studies on cancer rates in people exposed to low doses of radiation and concluded:

[T]he available epidemiologic data were broadly supportive of the LNT model and that at this time no alternative dose-response relationship appears more pragmatic or prudent for radiation protection purposes.

The Environmental Protection Agency appears to be moving forward with Calabrese’s take on things, however. The AP reports that an EPA website on guidelines for radiation effects read as recently as March that: “Current science suggests there is some cancer risk from any exposure to radiation.”

Whereas, now the site has been edited to read: “According to radiation safety experts, radiation exposures of 5–10 rem (5,000–10,000 millirem or 50–100 millisieverts) usually result in no harmful health effects, because radiation below these levels is a minor contributor to our overall cancer risk.”

In a 2016 interview with The Breakthrough Institute, a California-based think tank, Calabrese laid out his vision for what such a regulatory shift could mean, saying:

Getting rid of regulations based on the LNT theory would result in an increase in the acceptable dosage by at least several hundred fold. And that would have a huge impact. This would have a positive effect on human health as well as save billions and billions and billions of dollars. The regulatory agencies are kind of a cult, but they don’t know they’re part of a cult.

Other supporters of hormetics and critics of current regulations are applauding the changes that seem to be underway. Brant Ulsh, a physicist with the California-based consulting firm M.H. Chew and Associates, told the AP that “right now we spend an enormous effort trying to minimize low doses… Instead, let’s spend the resources on minimizing the effect of a really big event.”

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+7 # dotlady 2018-10-03 22:59
Isn't it curious that this question is raised just as the telecom's "5G Rollout" is underway across the country, a broadband expansion to run apps, gadgets and self-driving cars. Because 5G wave lengths are shorter than the current 4G,this new technology requires microwave cell stations to be installed every 500 feet. Hundreds of thousand of them will be put on on posts and buildings that emit frequencies that have proven harmful and we will be bathed in it 24/7. The radiation is particularly harmful for children and elders with lowered immune systems. Studies from way back to the present show that microwaves in low doses provoke not only cancer, but DNA breakage, blindness, headaches, body discomfort and confusion.
So let's take off all the controls on radiation and suck it in. The acceptable levels of radiation in drinking water have already been raised while Obama was president I believe, because of increased runoff from fracking and fracking wastewater dumped into rivers.
+4 # draypoker 2018-10-04 11:38
I think the US should be reclassified as an undeveloped country, where education is so underdeveloped that its ruling groups are devoted to fantasies from superstition rather then science.