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Keywords:

  • linearity;
  • threshold;
  • mutagenicity;
  • ionizing radiation;
  • risk assessment;
  • dose-response

Abstract

This paper reassessed studies conducted under the leadership of Drosophila geneticist Curt Stern which played a pivotal role in the acceptance of the linear dose-response model by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences Biological Effects of Atomic Radiation (BEAR) I Committee and the subsequent generalization of their recommendations on the linearity dose-response paradigm for ionizing radiation and chemically induced cancer. The analysis finds serious concerns and flaws in important aspects of these experiments, their assessment, and interpretation. Of particular concern was the failure of Stern's group to provide the necessary and promised experimental documentation to support the findings of three critical summarized experiments published as a brief technical note in Science. While this analysis questions the validity of the reported findings and their interpretations, it raises an even more serious concern about the process by which leaders in the radiation genetics community accepted such findings without requiring the necessary documentation and then used this information to support the acceptance of the linear dose-response in public policy matters as affected by risk assessment practices that have continued to the present. Environ. Mol. Mutagen. 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.