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March 19, 1982

Radiation and Human Health

JAMA. 1982;247(11):1637-1643. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320360071051

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This remarkable and important book enables any intelligent person with a high school education to understand the complexities involved in assessing the risks to man from low levels of ionizing radiation. Gofman not only demonstrates his mastery of this complex subject but carefully explains the basic concepts of epidemiology, genetics, birth defects, carcinogenesis, radiobiology, physics, chemistry, and even mathematics, which are necessary to an understanding of the subject. This material is made interesting by frequent references to radiation applications. Gofman uses a rational and innovative model to calculate the risk of induced cancer for each year after exposure to ionizing radiation. Using a number of assumptions and estimates that are clearly identified as such, Gofman calculates the risk of cancer, birth defects, and genetic hazards from the various types and sources of ionizing radiation. His calculations are sufficiently clear so that if the reader disagrees with Gofman's assumptions or estimates,