New Calabrese Paper Continues Criticism of NAS

Edward Calabrese
Edward Calabrese

Edward Calabrese, environmental health sciences, continues in a recent paper to question the legitimacy of the linear no threshold (LNT) model for risk assessment for ionizing radiation exposure as adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and many others. This time, he offers evidence that he says shows National Academy of Science (NAS) panel members ignored human data that challenged their already-set conclusions.

He asserts that the science used to support of the LNT model adopted by the NAS’s 1956 Biological Effects of Atomic Radiation (BEAR) I Genetics Panel is tainted by its leaders, who he says deliberately refused to include evidence from NAS’s own Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission human genetic study, also known as the Néel and Schull 1956a report.

Calabrese says Néel and Schull showed “an absence of genetic damage in offspring of atomic bomb survivors in support of a threshold model,” but this was not considered for evaluation by the genetics panel, “thus could not figure into its decision to recommend the linear non-threshold (LNT) dose-response model for risk assessment.”

Writing in Environmental Research, his article explores correspondence among and between BEAR panel members, including Néel and other contemporaries to assess why the panel failed to use his data and how the decision to recommend the LNT model affected future cancer risk assessment policies and practices.

Calabrese suggests that the panel’s work was undermined by Hermann J. Muller and BEAR I chairman Warren Weaver, who “feared that human genetic studies would expose the limitations of extrapolating from animal, especially Drosophila,to human responses and would strongly shift research investments/academic grants from animal to human studies.”

He adds, “The country expects its scientists to be honest and to follow the data. The BEAR 1 Genetics Panel failed on both counts, being loyal only to their ideology and then hiding it. They were hailed by many media outlets as the Genetics Dream Team, giving them further cover so that their deceptions would never be known. They got away with it for 70 years.”

“This history should represent a profound embarrassment to the U.S. NAS, regulatory agencies worldwide, and especially the U.S. EPA, and the risk-assessment community whose founding principles were so ideologically determined and accepted with little if any critical reflection.”