Image courtesy of Shutterstock
Human populations have always been exposed to ionizing radiation, and more so in modern life due to its use in medicine, industry and the armed forces. Whilst the risks to human health from medium and high-level radiation are relatively well-understood, the risks at lower levels are less clear. Mixed messages about the safety of low doses of radiation from different sources have created confusion for the public and for policy makers.
In a new study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, a team of experts from the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford have compiled the evidence on health risks from low-level ionizing radiation, adding a new nuance to the debate. The restatement is intended to better inform policy decisions and show where crucial gaps in knowledge lie. It clarifies the scientific evidence available from a variety of sources, and ranks them as to how much they enjoy consensus support from the scientific community. The paper concludes that the overall risk to human health from low-level radiation exposure is small, particularly when compared with general risks from modern society, such as obesity, smoking and air pollution.