The threshold vs LNT showdown: Dose rate findings exposed flaws in the LNT model part 1. The Russell-Muller debate

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Abstract

This paper assesses the discovery of the dose-rate effect in radiation genetics and how it challenged fundamental tenets of the linear non-threshold (LNT) dose response model, including the assumptions that all mutational damage is cumulative and irreversible and that the dose-response is linear at low doses. Newly uncovered historical information also describes how a key 1964 report by the International Commission for Radiological Protection (ICRP) addressed the effects of dose rate in the assessment of genetic risk. This unique story involves assessments by two leading radiation geneticists, Hermann J. Muller and William L. Russell, who independently argued that the report's Genetic Summary Section on dose rate was incorrect while simultaneously offering vastly different views as to what the report's summary should have contained. This paper reveals occurrences of scientific disagreements, how conflicts were resolved, which view(s) prevailed and why. During this process the Nobel Laureate, Muller, provided incorrect information to the ICRP in what appears to have been an attempt to manipulate the decision-making process and to prevent the dose-rate concept from being adopted into risk assessment practices.

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