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November 13, 1981

Risks of Nuclear Energy and Low-Level Ionizing Radiation

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Environmental, Public, and Occupational Health (Dr Doege), and the Division of Scientific Activities (Dr Jones), the American Medical Association, Chicago.

JAMA. 1981;246(19):2161-2162. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03320190019018

NEUTRONS produced by the controlled fissioning of uranium at the University of Chicago in December 1942 signaled the beginning of the atomic age. Thirty-nine years later, US citizens are realizing some of the benefits of atomic energy: at present, 12% of all electricity generated in this country derives from that source.

Physicians are more involved with ionizing radiation than the average person. Not only do they use electric power, but also they prescribe medical procedures, such as the use of radioisotopes and x-rays, that add to their patients' radiation exposure. It is appropriate, then, that they be knowledgeable about the health consequences of ionizing radiation and nuclear energy. To that end, the American Medical Association has issued several reports on those subjects,1,2 and in June 1981, the AMA's House of Delegates approved the conclusions and recommendations of the most recent one, "Risks of Nuclear Energy and Low-Level Radiation." These