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J Environ Radioact. 2004;74(1-3):19-30.

Ethics, genetics and dynamics: an emerging systematic approach to radiation protection of the environment.

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Environmental Systems Science Centre, The University of Reading, PO Box 227, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 6AB, UK.


There is now a general consensus of opinion that an explicit approach is necessary to demonstrate radiation protection of the environment, and that this approach needs to be developed in a systematic way. The framework that is emerging links ethical and moral issues (anthropocentric, biocentric, and ecocentric) to broad-based principles and objectives of environmental protection (sustainable development, maintaining biological diversity, and habitat protection) and then links these, in turn, to the needs of current environmental management practices, such as environmental exploitation, pollution control, and nature conservation. The relevance of this to radiation is that its effects (such as causing early mortality, morbidity, reduced reproductive success, as well as resulting in observable (scorable) cytogenetic damage) are those that may have a bearing on these same environmental management practices. The devise that would appear to be most useful to bridge the gap between our disparate data on radiation effects and the needs of environmental management, is that of adding to the concept of Reference Man in the shape of a small set of Reference Animals and Plants. This approach has now been adopted by the ICRP, adding new dynamics-the motive forces, both moral and physical-to the subject. The way is now clear for rapid progress to be made on a number of fronts.

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