Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Science

MIT Study: Prolonged Low-level Radiation Exposure Poses Little Risk 142

Posted by Soulskill
from the volunteers-for-further-tests-may-raise-their-hands dept.
JSBiff sends this quote from MITnews: "A new study from MIT scientists suggests that the guidelines governments use to determine when to evacuate people following a nuclear accident may be too conservative. The study (abstract), led by Bevin Engelward and Jacquelyn Yanch and published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that when mice were exposed to radiation doses about 400 times greater than background levels for five weeks, no DNA damage could be detected. Current U.S. regulations require that residents of any area that reaches radiation levels eight times higher than background should be evacuated. However, the financial and emotional cost of such relocation may not be worthwhile, the researchers say."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

MIT Study: Prolonged Low-level Radiation Exposure Poses Little Risk

Comments Filter:
  • As opposed to... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @05:52PM (#40010619)

    ...the financial and emotional cost to the unfortunate statistical cancer patient and family.

    How about this: Do not force evacuation, but provide the necessary resources for those who want evacuation (which will be all the folks with an 80 IQ or higher).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @05:54PM (#40010641)

    Because people with an 80 IQ or higher don't understand statistics, don't trust science, or what?

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @05:57PM (#40010675) Homepage

    The article says low levels of exposure for five weeks resulted in no DNA damage. Five weeks is nothing, people living in contaminated areas will be there for years, and once radioactive material gets inside them it will be there for the rest of their lives. That is where the biggest danger is, long term internal exposure to material absorbed by the body into the organs.

  • by YodasEvilTwin (2014446) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @06:07PM (#40010785) Homepage
    Funny, but "no detectable DNA damage" is not the same as "no DNA damage or other side effects". This study would need to be much longer term and need to look for more than obvious DNA damage for me to trust it, personally. It was only 5 weeks!
  • by jminne (521597) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @06:11PM (#40010831)
    How can they really test every cell to determine if there has been damage? A longer term study monitoring cancer rates would be more useful. I'm not saying that we shouldn't question the current guidelines, but changing them because of a short study like this would be crazy.
  • by godrik (1287354) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @06:23PM (#40010963)

    Probably you should not trust that one study. Currently, that is the only study that lead to this conclusion. Public safety regulation should not be lowered based on a single study.

    Once the result has been succesfully reproduced in multiple independent labs, then the question will be different.

  • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@nOsPAm.hotmail.com> on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @07:00PM (#40011297) Journal

    This study would need to be much longer term and need to look for more than obvious DNA damage for me to trust it,

    This study will never be trustworthy.

    The danger to civilians from a nuclear accident is unlikely to come from background dose. That's more likely to be the exposure mode for workers and people very close to the incident.

    found that when mice were exposed to radiation doses about 400 times greater than background levels for five weeks, no DNA damage could be detected.

    No surprises there, but they didn't test what would happen when the mice ingested radioactive particulates, or when their entire food chain or water table was contaminated. Those are the real dangers from nuclear accidents.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @07:14PM (#40011407)

    There's nothing I detest more than some douche who has spent some time
    at a university telling us all "we have nothing to fear".

    Oddly, there's nothing I detest more than some idiot who is terribly afraid of something long after it's been proven to be safe.

    I'd happily live in an area with 200x the level of background radiation (hey, my AT&T reception couldn't get any worse). The best benefit is that I can be sure compete morons like yourself will not be neighbors.

    They said that about DDT.

    Um, yeah...because DDT is safe [freerepublic.com]. And millions have been killed from malaria that could have been saved without idiots like yourself "protecting" them.

    Moron.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:10PM (#40012895)

    The relevance of this study is not being questioned because of a concern of reproducibility but of the idea that a minor study where five weeks of exposure to a specific quantity of radiation was not found to have caused detectable disruption to genetic heredity would become equatable to saying that any low level radiation exposure is not worth being concerned enough about to inform or evacuate an area over. Their data is a single point on the scale of duration and quantity of exposure, and for each reproduction, a more statistically precise understanding can be attained.

  • by Diamonddavej (851495) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @12:20AM (#40013217)

    Interesting. But while there were very many experiments carried out in the 1960-70s, the radiation doses applied were generally much higher then the background levels we are interested in now. People are worried over a few extra MiliSieverts a year.

    Scientists in the 1960-70s were were not able to observe subtle cellular effects, typical defence and repair mechanisms, that operate at and just above background levels of radiation (20 mSv). They were mostly crude LD50 and cancer frequency tests. Very few experiments investigated doses 0.1 Gy (about 100 mSv & 0.8% increase in human cancer risk). And the few experiments that did involve low doses gave confused results because of poor statistical certainty (some even suggested Radiation Hormesis, as you alluded to).

    That's why these resent experiments are so important and interesting, they're finally investigating how organisms cope with low level radiation, and indeed they suggest the risks are grossly overestimated.

    Crump, K. S. et al. 2012. A Meta-Analysis of Evidence for Hormesis in Animal Radiation Carcinogenesis, Including a Discussion of Potential Pitfalls in Statistical Analyses to Detect Hormesis. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B 15, 210–231.
    Tubiana, M., Feinendegen, L. E., Yang, C. & Kaminski, J. M., 2009. The Linear No-Threshold Relationship Is Inconsistent with Radiation Biologic and Experimental Data. Radiology, 251, 13 –22.

  • by BlackPignouf (1017012) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @04:33AM (#40014121)

    5 weeks for a mouse is like 20 years for a human.

    Maybe, but 5 weeks for mouse's DNA is like 5 weeks for human's DNA.

    It's like the birds and rodents living happily in Chernobyl.
    Who cares if you get a cancer after 15 years of radiation if your average life expectancy is 10 years?

"I got everybody to pay up front...then I blew up their planet." "Now why didn't I think of that?" -- Post Bros. Comics

Working...