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Perspectives on the health risks from low levels of ionising radiation – Background information for DEBATE PAPERS

SAFEGROUNDS documents generally represent consensus guidance on best practice on the management of radioactively and chemically contaminated land on nuclear and defence sites in the UK. However, SAFEGROUNDS is not a scientific committee; it is a forum where individual stakeholders express their views and agreement will not be reached on every topic. The aim is to build consensus around common needs and concerns but no one stakeholder’s views take precedence over others’ legitimate needs or concerns in the consensus building process, provided that the process has been properly conducted.

Where consensus cannot be achieved, the role of SAFEGROUNDS is therefore to raise awareness of the differences of view and encourage resolution through appropriate channels rather than make its own judgements. One of these topics is the health risks from low levels of ionising radiation and so SAFEGROUNDS invited four authors to contribute debate papers for publication on the website as part of the awareness raising process.

Unlike SAFEGROUNDS guidance documents, the purpose of these four debate papers is to explore differences in view rather than areas of agreement. They were not intended as consensus papers; they have not been endorsed by the Steering Group; and in each case individual Members may well disagree with some of their contents.

The first three debate papers were independently written by members of the SAFEGROUNDS Project Steering Group . Although there are naturally conflicts between papers, each can be taken as fully representing the views of the author’s organisation.

See Other guidance for the three papers above.

See SAFEGROUNDS information for the overview paper.

This fourth paper was written by David Collier, an Independent Consultant. Its purpose is to offer a framework for understanding different perspectives on the potential impact on human health of levels of ionising radiation below current regulatory limits. It attempts to summarise the key points from the three position papers and the main differences in perspective, but is not a substitute for them. SAFEGROUNDS therefore encourages all those seeking an understanding to also read the source documents, which are concise and written to be accessible to a wide audience, and are supported by detailed references to the literature.

Although drafts of this paper were reviewed by the other debate paper authors to help ensure the positions being expressed had been properly understood, the subsequent analysis of the competing arguments is that of the author alone. It was commissioned by CIRIA (as managers of SAFEGROUNDS) but cannot be taken as representing the views of CIRIA or any SAFEGROUNDS member organisation.

It was also the author’s decision to set the arguments out side by side without commenting explicitly or implicitly on their validity, on the basis that it is a guide to the arguments and not an assessment of them. This approach has value but means that consensus support for the publication of the paper from all sides of the argument could not be obtained. CIRIA recommends reading the comments from the other three debate paper authors in the Foreword of the debate paper before reading the individual perspectives.







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