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Cancer Risks from Low Doses of Radiation, or BEIR and Blight

Event Details

Event Dates: 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 10:00am

Speaker Name(s): 

Tom Johnson

Speaker Affiliation(s): 

Colorado State University
Seminar Type/Subject

Event Details & Abstract: 

Ionizing radiation is unavoidable, and has been a particular issue in Boulder due to the proximity of the Rocky Flats plant. The physics community should be a source of factual information and context for the public. Recently the National Academy of Sciences released the “Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation Report VII” (BEIR) in 2006. The BEIR report provides a comprehensive examination of the risks of “low” levels of ionizing radiation. The goal of this talk is to provide a brief review of radiation risks within the context of background radiation and occupational radiation exposures. We will examine how the BEIR numerical estimates of cancer risks (blight) have been cited, used to set policy, as well as abused. Additionally, a brief review of background radiation, regulatory limits, and high dose effects will be provided. Next, an overview of the BEIR committee recommendations and the source of the recommendations will be presented. Recommendations on how to best use and abuse the risk estimates will round out the lecture.