Current regulation of ionizing radiation is based on the linear no-threshold (LNT) model where any radiation dose increases cancer risk and is independent of dose rate, resulting in large amounts of time and money being spent protecting from extremely small radiation exposures and hence extremely small risk. There are animal studies which demonstrate that LNT is incorrect at low doses, supporting a threshold or hormesis model and thus indicating that there is no need to protect from very low doses. This has led to a sometimes bitter debate between pro-LNT and anti-LNT camps, and the debate has been at a stalemate for some time. This commentary is not aimed at taking either side of the debate. It is likely that the public, workers, and the environment are adequately protected under current regulation, which is the most important outcome. Until those on one side of the debate can convince the other, it would be sensible to move forward toward a graded (risk-based) approach to regulation, where the stringency of control is commensurate with the risk, resulting hopefully in more sensible practical thresholds. This approach is gradually being put forward by international radiation protection advisory bodies.
Bibliographical noteCreative Commons Non Commercial CC BY-NC: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License
(https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission
provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).
- risk assessment