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Government Medicine Science

EPA Makes a Rad Decision 167

Posted by Soulskill
from the appropriate-dose-of-overreaction dept.
New submitter QuantumPion writes "The Environmental Protection Agency released draft guidelines last month that could significantly relax radiation hazard standards in the case of a radiological event in the United States by using risk-based decisions. The goal is to have limits that make sense in an emergency that are different from the limits in day-to-day life. From the article: 'Currently, the only guidance are the extremely strict standards that apply for EPA Superfund sites and nuclear plant decommissioning, which are as low as 0.010–0.025 rem/year, far below the natural background levels in the U.S. of 0.300 rem/year, and even well below the average amount of radioactive materials that Americans eat each year. And these guidelines aren’t really different from the 1992 PAG, except in the area of long-term cleanup standards and, perhaps, standards for resettlement. What’s the big deal here? As radworkers, we’re allowed to get 5 rem/year. 2 rem/year doesn’t rate a second thought. ... No one has ever been harmed by 5 rem/year, so setting emergency levels at 2 rem/year is pretty mild and more than reasonable. ... Think of it this way. The situations covered by these new guidelines are similar to someone dying of thirst who has the chance to drink fresh water having 2,000 pCi per gallon of radium in it. While the safe drinking water levels are 20 pCi/gal for Ra, 2,000 pCi/gal is of no threat, especially if you’re going to die from imminent dehydration. Of course, a bag of potato chips has 3,500 picocuries, so go figure.'"
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EPA Makes a Rad Decision

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  • by Hartree (191324) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @08:56PM (#43789381)

    They weren't free of it. The mice had only one fifth of the carbon 14 normally in them.

    That's quite an improvement and allowed tracking of tagged substances. But it's still a long way from free or near enough to do truly low radiation studies. It also doesn't address the other radio-isotopes.

    It's extremely experimentally difficult to raise animals free of radionuclides. Everything they eat drink or breathe has to be isotopically free of multiple radionuclides. You have to do that for at least a couple generations so that mothers don't pass on so much of the radionuclides from their own blood and tissues to the developing fetuses inside them, or the eggs they lay.

    It's been proposed to set up a laboratory to do this for the purpose of setting baselines for radiation standards by comparing what the effect of nearly zero radiation on life is.

    The cost would be quite high and as yet there hasn't been a lot of support for it especially from the UN.

"It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." -- Artemus Ward aka Charles Farrar Brown