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Brant Ulsh, skeptic on radiation limits, to head EPA radiation panel via The Japan Times

The Environmental Protection Agency has appointed a scientist who argues for easing regulations on lower-level radiation exposures to lead the agency’s radiation advisory committee.

Acting EPA head Andrew Wheeler on Thursday announced the appointment of Brant Ulsh, a health physicist, as one of the EPA’s science advisers and the panel’s chairman. Ulsh has been a leading critic of the EPA’s decades-old position that exposure to any amount of ionizing radiation is a cancer risk.

In a paper he co-wrote last year, Ulsh and a colleague argued that the position was based on outdated scientific information and forced the “unnecessary burdens of costly clean-ups” on facilities working with radiation.

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U.S. agencies have long maintained there is no threshold for radiation exposure that is risk-free.

The National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements reaffirmed that assertion last year after reviewing 29 public health studies on cancer rates among people exposed to low-dose radiation.

The EPA last year proposed a rule that would have instructed regulators to consider “models across the exposure range” when it comes to dangerous substances.

Environmental groups and some scientists expressed concern then that the directive could open the way for an agency retreat from its long-standing no-tolerance rule for ionizing radiation exposure. But the proposed rule did not mention radiation, and EPA officials denied it would have applied to radiation. It said the agency still follows its no-tolerance guidelines.

But the EPA’s proposal last year did specify consideration of a particular scientific model, called the U curve, put forward by Edward Calabrese, a toxicologist and leading proponent of the theory that exposure to radiation and other hazardous substances can actually be healthy at low doses

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