The University of New Hampshire Law Review


[Excerpt] "Few scientific issues have aroused passions more than the dispute about the health effects attributable to low levels of exposure to ionizing radiation (or radiation in short) and the currently authoritative dose response hypothesis, termed “linear non-threshold,” or LNT. Finding out whether health effects are induced by low-level radiation exposures, and if so, what they are, has become a kind of contest rather than a serious scientific inquiry. Sometimes it seems that rationality, or a methodical examination of the unknown, has disappeared from this debate. While the confrontation of different hypotheses is typical in academic discussions – at least until analysis and experimental work probes more deeply into what is more correct or plausible – it is strange that the premises under discussion differ to such an extent that they oppose each other. This is the case in the dispute known as “the LNT controversy.” One extreme is the “radiation is- good-for-you” group, advocating not only that low-level-radiation exposure is not detrimental, but that it is in fact beneficial for health. The other extreme is the “radiation-phobic” group advocating that exposure to (artificial) radiation is the fifth rider of the Apocalypse leading to the destruction of the human race. On the one side, the radiation promotion extremists presuppose that, because radiation exposure is an inescapable natural phenomenon that has existed since the beginning of time, after billions of years of life on Earth there must have been a natural – and full – biological adaptation to it (they cannot explain, however, why life has not fully adapted to other primordial harmful natural phenomena). On the other side, the radical contesters seem to believe (perhaps honestly, but wrongly) that, because (artificial) radiation exposure is a pollutant of the modern technological world, it should necessarily be highly detrimental to humans, their descendants, and their environment."

Repository Citation

Abel J. Gonzalez, The Debate on the Health Effects Attributable to Low Radiation Exposure, 1 Pierce L. Rev. 39 (2002), available at http://scholars.unh.edu/unh_lr/vol1/iss1/7