Problems and Solutions in the Estimation of Genetic Risks from Radiation and Chemicals

  • W. L. Russell
Part of the Environmental Science Research book series (ESRH, volume 21)


Extensive investigations with mice on the effects of various physical and biological factors, such as dose rate, sex and cell stage, on radiation-induced mutation have provided an evaluation of the genetics hazards of radiation in man. The mutational results obtained in both sexes with progressive lowering of the radiation dose rate have permitted estimation of the mutation frequency expected under the low-level radiation conditions of most human exposure. Supplementing the studies on mutation frequency are investigations on the phenotypic effects of mutations in mice, particularly anatomical disorders of the skeleton, which allow an estimation of the degree of human handicap associated with the occurrence of parallel defects in man. — Estimation of the genetic risk from chemical mutagens is much more difficult, and the research is much less advanced. Results on transmitted mutations in mice indicate a poor correlation with mutation induction in non-mammalian organisms. On the one hand, mice show little or no mutagenic response to several compounds that are highly mutagenic in other systems. On the other hand, recent results with ethylnitrosourea show that a single injection of 6 mg per mouse of this compound induces a mutation rate 75,000 times greater than that considered as a maximum permissible level of risk from a whole year of exposure to radiation. Further investigation in mice is obviously needed, not only on the screening for mutagenicity of other chemicals, but also on the nature of the mutagenic action of ethylnitrosourea.


Dose Rate Genetic Risk Mutation Frequency Mutational Response Radiation Dose Rate 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. L. Russell
    • 1
  1. 1.Biology DivisionOak Ridge National LaboratoryOak RidgeUSA

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