Harvard Doctors Call for More Radiation Study

Two specialists at the School of Public Health yesterday called for further investigation into the effects on atomic workers of exposure to low levels of radiation.

Dr. George B. Hutchison '43, professor of Epidemiology at the School of Public Health, said yesterday, "It is necessary to ascertain whether the effects of low-level exposure cause cancer."

The Boston Globe reported last month that several workers in the Portsmouth naval yard now suffer from cancer, but experts have stated there is no conclusive evidence linking exposure to low levels of radiation with a high incidence of cancer.

Dr. Richard R. Monson, associate professor of Epidemiology, said yesterday there are "problems with studies on low- level exposure--because if there is any harm, it is low."

If the cancers are related to the radiation at all, they may not appear for ten to 20 years, Monson added.


Hutchison said one difficulty in radiation studies occurs because scientists need large numbers of subjects to obtain conclusive results. "We would like to make a mathematical extrapolation to predict the rate of induced cancers, but almost 20,000 workers would have to be tested," he said.

"Atomic workers are not the only ones affected. Anyone who has received an x-ray is susceptible as well," Monson added