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Am J Public Health. 1981 Nov;71(11):1247-52.

Choosing populations to study the health effects of low-dose ionizing radiation.


In January 1978, the United States Congress requested information about the utility of additional epidemiologic studies for quantifying the health effects of low-dose ionizing radiation. In our judgment, no single population can be recommended for study on purely scientific grounds, since the largest group offers only a small chance to obtain a definitive result. On the other hand, if social pressures and regulatory agencies mandate that such studies be attempted, we would recommend prospective cohort studies of occupational populations. We propose that a national worker registry be developed using ionizing radiation as the prototype for studying other occupational exposures. The problems related to studying low-level radiation are not unique, but apply equally to investigations dealing with a great variety of toxic agents. A national plan for collecting information on workers' exposure and health could provide a cost-efficient means to answer public health questions posed by the Congress, scientists and the public.

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