On the genetic eff ects of low-dose radiation


Sergei V. Jargin

There is a discrepancy between the reportedly significant elevation in a minisatellite DNA mutation rate in the children of parents, who had been exposed to radiation from the Chernobyl accident, and absence of significant inherited genetic effects found among the offspring of atomic bomb survivors. At the same time, average doses received by the residents of the contaminated areas, where the studies of the children of exposed parents were performed, had been comparable to those from the natural radiation background. Several publications exaggerating medical consequences of elevated radiation background were discussed earlier. The following limitations can be found in such papers: Interpretation of spontaneous conditions as radiation-induced, indication of radioactivity or dose levels without confrontation with the natural radiation background, conclusions about incidence increase of certain conditions without an adequate comparison with a control. In conclusion, arguments in favor of inapplicability of the linear non-threshold theory to the radiation doses, comparable to those from the natural radiation background, are discussed.