Radiation Risks in the Context of Multiple Stressors in the Environment – Issues for Consideration

Conference paper
Part of the NATO Science for Peace and Security Series book series (NAPSC)

Abstract: The field of multiple stressors is highly complex. Agents can interact in an additive, antagonist or synergistic manner. The outcome following low dose multiple stressor exposure also is impacted by the context in which the stressors are received or perceived by the organism or tissue. Modern biology has given us very sensitive tools to access change following stressor interaction with biological systems at several levels of organization but the effect-harm-risk relationship remains difficult to resolve. This paper reviews some of the issues, using low dose ionizing radiation as a common stressor and chemicals known to act through similar mechanisms, as examples. Since multiple stressor exposure is the norm in the environment, it is essential to move away from single stressor based protection and to develop tools, including legal instruments, which will enable us to use responsebased risk assessment. The problem of radiation protection in the context of multiple stressors includes consideration of humans and non-humans as separate groups requiring separate assessment frameworks. This is because for humans, individual survival and prevention of cancer are paramount but for animals, it is considered sufficient to protect populations and cancer is not of concern. The need to revisit this position is discussed not only from the environmental perspective but because the importance of pollution as a cause of non-cancer disease is increasingly being recognized. Finally a way forward involving experimental assessment of biomarker performance coupled with modeling is discussed.


Genomic Instability Multiple Stressor Bystander Effect Relative Biological Effectiveness Radiation Risk 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Medical Physics and Applied Radiation SciencesMcMaster UniversityCanada

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