Radiation and Environmental Biophysics

, Volume 52, Issue 3, pp 293–298 | Cite as

Uncomfortable issues in radiation protection posed by low-dose radiobiology

Controversial Issue


This paper aims to stimulate discussion about the relevance for radiation protection of recent findings in low-dose radiobiology. Issues are raised which suggest that low-dose effects are much more complex than has been previously assumed. These include genomic instability, bystander effects, multiple stressor exposures and chronic exposures. To date, these have been accepted as being relevant issues, but there is no clear way to integrate knowledge about these effects into the existing radiation protection framework. A further issue which might actually lead to some fruitful approaches for human radiation protection is the need to develop a new framework for protecting non-human biota. The brainstorming that is being applied to develop effective and practical ways to protect ecosystems widens the debate from the narrow focus of human protection which is currently about protecting humans from radiation-induced cancers.


Radiation protection Non-targeted effects Chronic radiation exposures Non-human biota 



We acknowledge support from the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Canada Research Council Canada Research Chairs Program, the CANDU owners Group (COG), AREVA ltd and Cameco Ltd.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical Physics and Applied Radiation SciencesMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

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