Leukemia and Ionizing Radiation

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Science  17 May 1957:
Vol. 125, Issue 3255, pp. 965-972
DOI: 10.1126/science.125.3255.965


Leukemia in man can be induced by ionizing radiations and also occurs spontaneously. For the "average" individual in a population, the probability of developing radiation-induced leukemia is estimated to be 2 x 10–6 per rad (unit of absorbed dose of radiation) per year. The available data from four independent sources make it likely that this estimate is valid within a factor of about 3, giving a range from 0.7 x 10–6 to 6 x 10–6 per rad per year. It is pointed out that 10 to 20 percent of the spontaneous incidence of leukemia (Brooklyn, 1943-52) may result from radiation from natural background sources. It is estimated that a 5- to 10-percent increase in the current spontaneous incidence of leukemia would occur if the population were to reach and maintain a body level of Sr90 amounting to one-tenth of the "maximum permissible concentration."

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