Human Genetics pp 457-493 | Cite as

Mutation: Induction by Ionizing Radiation and Chemicals

  • Friedrich Vogel
  • Arno G. Motulsky


Public Interest in Induced Mutation. The preceding chapter discussed spontaneous mutations. “Spontaneous” here means that these mutations are unpredictable and without known cause, even though we know that some conditions — such as parental age — may enhance the probability of mutation. This probability increases under the influence of certain agents, such as energy-rich radiation and a number of chemicals. Since human beings in their normal environments are exposed to a variety of these agents, research on induced mutation is receiving more and more attention from the general public. Relatively large amounts of money have been allotted to this work, and scientists are expected to advise political authorities as to protective measures. In regard to radiation-induced mutations, an appropriate return from these investments has been forthcoming for a number of years. The World Health Organization, the International Commission on Radiation Protection (ICRP), the United States National Academy of Sciences, and other influential organizations have established expert groups and, with their help, have published estimates of genetic risks. There are still many gaps in our knowledge, particularly regarding the effect of low-level radiation on humans but a fairly coherent picture of the radiation threat is now emerging. Relatively little is known about the possible impact of environmentally induced mutations by chemicals.


Germ Cell Mutation Rate Down Syndrome Chromosome Aberration Atomic Bomb 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Friedrich Vogel
    • 1
  • Arno G. Motulsky
    • 2
  1. 1.Institut für Humangenetik und AnthropologieHeidelbergGermany
  2. 2.Division of Medical Genetics, School of MedicineUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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