Title: Even low-level radioactivity is damaging
Source: University of South Carolina
Author: Steven Powell
Date: Nov. 13, 2012
Broad analysis of many radiation studies finds no exposure threshold that precludes harm to life
Even the very lowest levels of radiation are harmful to life, scientists have concluded in the Cambridge Philosophical Society’s journal Biological Reviews. Reporting the results of a wide-ranging analysis of 46 peer-reviewed studies published over the past 40 years, researchers from the University of South Carolina and the University of Paris-Sud found that variation in low-level, natural background radiation had small, but highly statistically significant, negative effects on DNA as well as several measures of health.
The review is a meta-analysis of studies of locations around the globe that have very high natural background radiation as a result of the minerals in the ground there [...]
[Timothy Mousseau, a biologist in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of South Carolina] and co-author Anders Møller of the University of Paris-Sud combed the scientific literature, examining more than 5,000 papers involving natural background radiation that were narrowed to 46 for quantitative comparison. [...]
The organisms studied included plants and animals, but had a large preponderance of human subjects. [...]
The scientists reported significant negative effects in a range of categories, including immunology, physiology, mutation and disease occurrence. The frequency of negative effects was beyond that of random chance.
“There’s been a sentiment in the community that because we don’t see obvious effects [...],” said Mousseau. “But when you do the meta-analysis, you do see significant negative effects.”
[...] “With the levels of contamination that we have seen as a result of nuclear power plants, especially in the past, and even as a result of Chernobyl and Fukushima and related accidents, there’s an attempt in the industry to downplay the doses that the populations are getting, because maybe it’s only one or two times beyond what is thought to be the natural background level,” he said. “But they’re assuming the natural background levels are fine.”“And the truth is, if we see effects at these low levels, then we have to be thinking differently about how we develop regulations for exposures, and especially intentional exposures to populations, like the emissions from nuclear power plants, medical procedures, and even some x-ray machines at airports.”
Published: November 18th, 2012 at 3:22 pm ET