EPA adopts LNT: New historical perspectives.


Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Morrill I, N344, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, 01003, USA. Electronic address: [Email]


This paper provides an historical assessment of how the linear non-threshold (LNT) model became adopted as policy by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) in 1975 [1] and how prior United States National Academy of Sciences (US NAS) radiation advisory panels may have affected this EPA decision. The paper highlights a generally unrecognized set of recommendations of the 1960 Biological Effect of Atomic Radiation [2] Genetics and Medical/Pathology Panels that did not support LNT for cancer risk assessment due to their judgements of its scientific limitations and unacceptable uncertainties. These convergent, independent and high profile recommendations were not promoted by the sponsors (i.e., Rockefeller Foundation and the NAS), and were ignored by the media, Congress and the scientific community in contrast to the vast attention directed to the linearity recommendation for germ cell mutation by the BEAR Genetics Panel in 1956 [3,4]. The subsequent Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR) I Committee (1972) [5] report ignored these BEAR Panel (1960) [2] recommendations, only commenting on the BEAR 1956 linearity supporting recommendation [3,4]. These actions are documented and assessed for how they influenced why and how EPA adopted linearity for cancer risk assessment based on the BEIR I report.


Cancer risk assessment,Dose response,Environmental protection agency,LNT,Somatic mutation,Threshold dose response,