Radiation risks in perspective

Edward Pochin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    The main difficulty in presenting radiation risks in their proper perspective is that they must, in most cases, be estimated predictively. This contrasts with most other occupational and public risks, of which the magnitude and severity are known from past records and experience. The problem is greater at the low effective dose rates now observed in the majority of all forms of exposure, usually of less than 3 mSv per year from natural causes, from occupational exposure, and from exposure of 'critical groups' of the general public. For most of these populations there are particular problems also in epidemiological studies at low dose, in addition to those due to the very large numbers of person-years that need to be studied and the long latencies of most radiation effects. Adequate estimates can, however, now be made of the carcinogenic risk of exposure at higher dose of various organs selectively and of the whole body uniformly, and of modes of inference to the risk at lower dose. Estimates can also be made of the risks of inducing major types of inheritable and developmental abnormality. An essential step in viewing the sum of all such radiation risks in the perspective of other occupational and public risks must now be to develop an informed consensus on the relative weight that is regarded as attaching to hazards of different kind and severity.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)42-50
    Number of pages9
    JournalBritish Journal of Radiology
    Issue number709
    Publication statusPublished - 1987


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