The Issue Of Linear No-Threshold Hypothesis


radiation safety standards, radiation protection, linear no-threshold hypothesis, ionizing radiation, dose limits

How to Cite

Nosovskyi, A. V. (2018). The Issue Of Linear No-Threshold Hypothesis. Nuclear and Radiation Safety, (4(80), 54-57.


Some issues concerning the effect of ionizing radiation on the human body and methodological approaches to the development of radiation safety standards are considered. It is shown that the use of the linear no-threshold hypothesis (LNT hypothesis) in up-to-date radiation safety standards is inconsistent with experimental and epidemiological dose-response data, introduces essential excessive conservatism in the safety assessment process and causes additional problems concerning nuclear power engineering development.

Due to the absence of convincing proofs for the existence of the dose threshold* nowadays, it is assumed that any ionizing radiation can lead to a certain risk of developing harmful effects and, therefore, the linear non-threshold dependence between the dose and the probability of the harmful effect is recommended. However, everyone understands that the use of the LNT hypothesis significantly overestimates the real danger. At the same time, the LNT hypothesis aggravates the existing high public fear of nuclear power, and the nuclear power industry pays extraordinary expenses to comply with radiation protection standards based on the LNT hypothesis. In order to comply with rules and regulations based on the LNT hypothesis, the nuclear energy industry invests financial resources in the creation of additional safety barriers for nuclear facilities, as well as new security and control systems. One of the reasons for increasing the cost for construction of a nuclear power plant is the increased design cost caused by enhanced safety requirements that are based on the LNT hypothesis.

The traditional engineering approach to ensure the safety of nuclear facilities is based on the increase in the number of protective systems and devices that reduce the probability of severe accidents and reduce the radiation hazard of their consequences. Implementation of this approach in practice leads to a complication and a rise in the price of a nuclear facility. Obviously, it is possible to substantially enhance the safety level of nuclear facilities by creating new and new safety barriers around them, but sooner or later the nuclear energy production will become uncompetitive compared to the generation of other kinds of energy.

It is concluded that up-to-date knowledge gives all the necessary grounds for eliminating the use of the linear no-threshold hypothesis and for revising the existing radiation safety standards of Ukraine for some isolated technological operations related to radiation hazardous activities. Such technological operations include activities related to the mitigation of radiation accident consequences, retrieval of nuclear materials and other activities related to the Shelter’s transformation into an environmentally safe system.


1. Brockman, J. (ed.) (2017) “This Idea Must Die. Scientific Theories that are Blocking Progress” [Eta ideya dolzhna umeret’. Nauchnye teorii, kotorye blokiruyut progress], Moscow, AST, 736 p. (Rus)

2. Nosovskyi A. V. (2000) “On the Principles of the Rationing of Radiation Values” [O printsipah normirovaniya radiatsionnyih velichin], Problems of Chornobyl, No. 6, pp. 104–112. (Rus)

3. Nosovskyi A. V. (2000) “Issues of Rationing of Personnel and Population Exposure” [Voprosy normirovaniya oblucheniya personala i naseleniya], Nuclear and Radiation Safety, Vol. 3, No. 3, pp. 16–21. (Rus)

4. Nosovskyi A. V. (2003) “Small Doses and the Rationing Issues” [Malye dozy i voprosy normirovaniya], Problems of Chornobyl, No. 12, pp. 17–30. (Rus)

5. Nosovskyi A. V. (2003) “The Doses Got as a Result of the Chornobyl Accident and Their Medical Effects” [Dozy oblucheniya, poluchennye v rezultate avarii na Chernobylskoj AES i medicinskie effekty], Nuclear and Radiation Safety, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 11–24. (Rus)

6. Nosovskyi A. V. (2006) “The Experience of Eliminating the Consequences of the Accident at the Chornobyl NPP and the Issue of the Radiation Rationing” [Dosvid likvidatsii avarii na Chornobylskii AES i pytannia normuvannia oprominennia], Safety and nonproliferation, No. 2 (14), pp. 11–16. (Ukr)

7. Klyuchnykov O. O., Nosovskyi A. V. (2007) “Basis of Radiation Dosimetry” [Osnovy dozymetrii ionizuiuchykh vyprominiuvan], Kyiv: ISP NPP NAS of Ukraine, 256 p. (Ukr)

8. Radiation Safety Standards in Ukraine: State Hygiene Standards [Normy radiatsiinoi bezpeky Ukrainy: Derzhavni hihiienichni normatyvy], Kyiv, Ministry of Health of Ukraine, 1997. (Ukr)

9. NRB-76/87 Radiation Safety Standards and SSP-72/87 Basic Sanitary Rules for Work with Radioactive Substances and Other Radiation Sources OSP-72/87 [Normy radiacionnoj bezopasnosti NRB-76/87 i Osnovnye sanitarnye pravila raboty s radioaktivnymi veshestvami i drugimi istochnikami ioniziruyushih izluchenij OSP‑72/87], Moscow, Energoatomizdat, 1988. (Rus)

10. Moiseev A. A. (ed.) “Radiation Protection: ICRP Recommendations: Publication 26” [Radiacionnaya bezopasnost. Rekomendacii MKRZ. Publikaciya 26], Moscow, Atomizdat, 1978. (Rus)

11. Keirim-Markus I. B. (1994) “Comments on the Book: Radiation Safety. ICRP Recommendations of 1990” [Kommentarii k kn.: Radiacionnaya bezopasnost. Rekomendacii MKRZ 1990 g.]. In: Publication 60, ICRP, Part 2, Moscow Energoatomizdat, pp. 161–207. (Rus)

12. French National Academy Attacks Plans to Change EU Radiation Rules. The World’s Nuclear News Agency, 1999, 30 June, News No. 2/16/99/A.

13. Radiation Risk in Perspective. Heath Physics Society Position Statement // HPS Newsletter, 1996, No. 24 (3).

14. Keirim-Markus I. B. (1998) “Radiation Biology. Radioecology” [Radiacionnaya biologiya. Radioekologiya], Vol. 38, No. 5, pp. 673–683. (Rus)

15. NEA/OECD No. 6360 Report. Financing of NPP Construction [Finansirovanie stroitelstva AES], 2009. (Rus)

16. Adler H. I., Weinberg A. M. (1979) “Application of the Dose Limitation System for Radiation Protection”, IAEA, Vienna.

17. Jaworowski Z. (1997) “Beneficial Radiation”. In: “What Risk?” Butterworth-Heinemann.

18. Bak Z., Aleksander P. (1963) “Basis of Radiobiology” [Osnovy radiobiologii], Moscow, Nauka, 420 p. (Rus)

19. Kidd S. (2004) “Will the era of construction of a large number of new reactors come” [Nastupit li era stroitelstva bolshogo chisla novyh reaktorov], Nuclear technology abroad, No. 12, pp. 29–31. (Rus)

20. Cummins W. E., Corletti M. M., Schulz T. L. (2003) “Westinghhouse AP1000 Advanced Passive Plant”. In.: Proceedings of ICAPP’03, Cordoba, Spain, May 4–7.