Keywords: low doses, ionising radiation, nuclear industry, nuclear workers, standard mortality ratio, SMR, Bayesian analysis, hormesis, healthy worker effect, low radiation, cancer deaths
Ionising radiation and the health of nuclear industry workers
The data on deaths from all causes and cancers among workers in the nuclear industry are considered in the light of the data published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2007 (Vrijheid et al., 2007; Thierry-Chef et al., 2007; Cardis et al., 2007). The dose-effect relationship is assumed to be linear with an arbitrary sign of the slope. A zero effect of the dose is also considered. Conventional and Bayesian analysis are used. It is shown that in spite of the large cohorts studied by the IARC (Vrijheid et al., 2007; Thierry-Chef et al., 2007; Cardis et al., 2007), the data for overall mortality reveal such a large scattering that arriving at definite conclusions is not possible. These data, however, are consistent with the earlier findings (Luckey, 2007; 2008b; Rockwell and Muckerheide, 2008) that irradiated workers exhibit lower Standardised Mortality Ratios (SMRs) than the control group. A similar situation is found in the case of cancer deaths. While no convincing support for the Healthy Worker Survivor Effect (HWSE) is found, SMRs lowered by about 25% turn out to be not easily attributable to the Healthy Worker Effect (HWE).