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September 22, 1993

Disposal of Low-Level Radioactive Waste

JAMA. 1993;270(12):1424. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03510120045020

To the Editor.  —I read with interest the recent article on LLRW disposal.1 The Genesee County Medical Society of Flint, Mich, has opposed the proposals for LLRW disposal in Michigan. This state has a very fragile, water-logged ecosystem that is already under significant stress. Under current Michigan Department of Public Health advisories, our children cannot eat the fish from inland lakes because of mercury contamination and cannot eat the fish from the Great Lakes because of polychlorinated biphenyl contamination.As physicians, I think we must recognize the following: (1) We have no idea whether exposures to low levels of radiation are safe or not. Some studies suggest small, low-level exposures may be more dangerous than single, larger exposures.2 The landmark studies by Stewart, confirmed by MacMahon, demonstrate that very low levels of radiation exposure can be harmful to the fetus.3 (2) We have no idea how to