In a paper to be published in November’s issue of Health Physics entitled “Does Scientific Evidence Support a Change From the LNT Model for Low-Dose Radiation Risk Extrapolation”, by D Averbeck, the author challenges the conventional thinking about radiation and risk. Citing both molecular biological evidence of efficient repair mechanisms working well at low doses and an absence of animal or human epidemiological data to support the no threshold risk model Averbeck concludes that the linear no threshold assumption “appears to be scientifically invalid in the low-dose range.”
The same linear no threshold assumption is, of course, the basis for claims that each fiber of asbestos or molecule of benzene imposes a significant risk and would, assuming a population large enough to detect it, be causative for mesothelioma or leukemia, respectively. Conflating risk and causation plaintiff lawyers go beyond risk to argue that each fiber or molecule was actually causative in every case of each disease. There was, of course, never any evidence to support such claims; just a conservative regulatory position that is now on increasingly shaky ground.
The November issue of Health Physics contains several articles fleshing out this issue of what risk, if any, is associated with low-level exposure to radiation.