Environment versus man radioprotection: The need for a new conceptual approach?
Actes du congrès ECORAD, 3-7 sept 2001, Aix en Provence, France
Radioprotection - Colloques, volume 37, C1-161 / C1-166.
There is a present consensus in that environment radioprotection is essentially to deal with chronic multiple exposures to low dose rates. In terms of protection, man and the environment are not similar in nature in that the environment is not equivalent to a single species community to be protected. The immediate question which arises therefore is: what do we want to protect, or what do we mean by the environment? It is proposed that the keyword here is the "ecosystem”, i.e. a complex-organized self-sustaining living entity to which man survival is fully subordinated. This leads to a new conceptual approach which also evolves from the growing public "feeling" (not yet appropriately substantiated in scientific terms, however) that if the environment is properly protected, then man would not be harmed. Along this line, the position of man with respect to the environment is to be reconsidered. As an inherent part of it he is both capable of promoting substantial change of its structure and function, but also remains fully subordinated to the life support function that it hosts. In line with this conceptual view, this paper suggests an innovative approach designed around closed artificial ecosystems, as simplified reference models prone to support experimental investigations on chronic low dose effects in controlled conditions.