Answer to Question #922 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"
The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:
Are there any studies which correlate regional variations in background radiation (Denver compared with Seattle for example) with cancer rates?
Yes, there have been many such studies. Radiation is one of the most studied topics in environmental science. If you search the Internet you will find many articles on this subject, a few of which include the following.
There have been several studies published in particular on the health of people who live in the high-background radiation area of Yangjiang, China. More discussion of this can be found in the Ask the Experts Question 1254.
Even though there are significant differences in background radiation doses across the United States and the world, mainly due to different cosmic and terrestrial components, there does not seem to be a direct correlation between background radiation and cancer rates. The background cancer rate in the United States is about 25–30 percent, depending on which cancers are included, and this number seems to be fairly constant from areas that have low background radiation to areas that are much higher. This is something that would not be expected if one were to follow the linear, no-threshold hypothesis; this is one of the pieces of evidence against this concept. But there is still controversy and continuing research in this area until we can better understand the long-term effects of low levels of radiation.
Kenneth Krieger, CHP
Answer posted on 18 May 2001. The information and material posted on this website is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may alter the concepts and applications of materials and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice specific to whatever facts and circumstances are presented in any given situation. Answers are correct at the time they are posted on the website. Be advised that over time, some requirements could change, new data could be made available, or Internet links could change. For answers that have been posted for several months or longer, please check the current status of the posted information prior to using the responses for specific applications.
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