Naturally, the very notion has caused liberal heads to explode like Fat Man and Little Boy.
Here’s a sample response from the comments at New York Mag
Industrialists have been chafing at occupational and environmental protections for decades because protecting workers does the one thing that truly horrifies the rich: it reduces their bulging bank accounts a little. The Trump EPA has just hit a new low in self-serving rationalizations.
U.S. agencies for decades have followed a policy that there is no threshold of radiation exposure that is risk-free.
The National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements reaffirmed that principle this year after a review of 29 public health studies on cancer rates among people exposed to low-dose radiation, via the U.S. atomic bombing of Japan in World War II, leak-prone Soviet nuclear installations, medical treatments and other sources.
Twenty of the 29 studies directly support the principle that even low-dose exposures cause a significant increase in cancer rates, said Roy Shore, chief of research at the Radiation Effects Research Foundation, a joint project of the United States and Japan. Scientists found most of the other studies were inconclusive and decided one was flawed.
None supported the theory there is some safe threshold for radiation, said Shore, who chaired the review.
If there were a threshold that it’s safe to go below, “those who profess that would have to come up with some data,” Shore said in an interview.
But the truth is that this is just another example of the Trump Administration going with the science rather than remaining hidebound by old superstitions, shibboleths and vested interests.
Of course, everyone on the street – especially if that street is called something like Haight or Ashbury – knows that radiation is harmful and that even the smallest dose leaves you glowing green with an extra head.
In reality, there is little to no evidence to support the “no linear threshold” currently applied to radiation and other potentially harmful chemicals.
The “no linear threshold” (LNT) means that there is no safe level of exposure even at the lowest levels, and that risk increases linearly with the dose.
But the only reason we all believe this is because we’ve bought the line promoted by scientist, outspoken leftist and anti-nuclear campaigner Hermann J Muller who won the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine in 1946 and who persuaded the world, based on his research into the effects of radiation on fruit flies, that the LNT was the only safe response to radiation.
This research, though, was bunk – or “deliberately deceptive” as Edward Calabrese and his co-authors call it in their paper The EPA Cancer Risk Assessment Default Model Proposal: Moving Away From the LNT
With radiation, dose matters. Indeed, many scientists believe that in low doses radiation – hormesis – is actually good for you.
A 1991 study by Genevieve Matanoski, subsequently buried by the medical establishment because it didn’t like what she was saying, suggested that nuclear shipyard workers were actually healthier than those not similarly exposed to low levels of gamma radiation.
It’s true that at very high levels radiation causes health problems. But even this is exaggerated. According to one study, out of 120,000 monitored survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, only 479 suffered extra cancers.
Also the report’s German author noted:
“As opposed to common views – an increased frequency of genetic defects as a result of radiation has not been established despite extensive studies of children and grandchildren of the survivors of the atomic bombs.”
Often the fear of radiation causes more harm than the actual radiation. This was demonstrated after the Fukushima nuclear incident caused by the tsunami in Japan.
The number of deaths at Fukushima caused by radiation exposure was 0.
The number of deaths caused by the panicky evacuation, especially among the frail and elderly, was in excess of 1000.
As Steve Milloy wrote in 2005 – the last time a federal research panel, from the National Academy of Sciences, concluded that radiation was unsafe at any level – there is no credible evidence for the LNT. It’s just politicized junk science:
The panel employs this assumption even if the radiation is naturally occurring—that is from the ground or universe. This assumption is called the “no-threshold” model of cancer development, meaning the only radiation exposure with zero risk is absolutely no exposure—a state that is obviously impossible to achieve.
Such assumptions—known by the oxymoronic term “science policy”—are used by government regulators who want to regulate human activities and exposures but often lack supporting scientific data. In the face of scientific uncertainty, regulators typically make worst-case assumptions under the premise of erring on the side of over-protection.
Its also very expensive junk science:
Such assumptions often result in stringent regulation that is very costly, but that may not provide any, much less commensurate, health benefits. The regulations limiting human exposure to low-level radiation are not known to have prevented a single health effect in anyone despite decades of use. But they have cost more than $1 trillion in the U.S. alone, according to Radiation, Science and Health, an international non-profit group run by radiation experts who “advocate for the objective review of low-level radiation science policies.”
Overregulation has pretty much killed the nuclear power industry in most of the world. It has caused needless panic and – for those who care about such things – largely deprived mankind of one of the most powerful sources of low carbon energy.
If the EPA abandons the LNT for radiation, it will be a victory for science, for business and for the consumer. Perhaps even more importantly, it will annoy the hell out of the greenies.