Keywords: ionising radiation, genotoxic chemical carcinogens, low doses, low radiation, regulation, regulatory agencies, linear response
2009 Marie Curie Prize lecture: Linearity at low dose is a religious belief
Health standards for ionising radiation and genotoxic chemical carcinogens are based on the assumption of a linear response at low doses. Exposures to such agents are therefore harmful regardless of how low the exposure is. The belief in linearity at low dose is also directly tied to and inseparable from two other concepts, that is, such exposures result in cumulative damage and are always deleterious. Thus, the Trinitarian mantra of the modern regulatory agency is linearity, cumulative and always deleterious. The author suggests that this is no less than a religion even though its followers have deluded themselves into believing it is a science. But science is not religion and religion is not science. In the end, humanity will be better served if our scientists and regulators would know the difference and act accordingly.