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Senate receives bill for researching the effects of low doses of radiation

[JURIST] The US Senate [official website] received HR 4675 [text] on Wednesday [actions list] regarding providing funding for researching the health effects of low doses of radiation.

The bill, known as the Low-Dose Radiation Research Act of 2018, will provide $100 million between 2018 and 2021 for researching the effects of radiation exposure under 100 mSv (10 Rem). The bill passed the House of Representatives [official website] on Tuesday by voice vote.

If the bill is enacted, the Secretary will have 180 days to transmit a four-year research plan "that identifies and prioritizes basic research needs relating to low-dose radiation." The goals of the research program are to "enhance the scientific understanding of, and reduce uncertainties associated with, the effects of exposure to low-dose radiation; and inform improved risk-assessment and risk-management methods with respect to such radiation."

The bill was introduced by Congressman Roger Marshall [official website], who has stated [press release] that the bill is necessary because although there is data regarding harmful effects of high doses of radiation, "as it stands today, there are few measurements or studies seeking to understand low-dose radiation's effects. This absence of evidence does not give the medical community or government regulators the ability to accurately assess and make the very best decisions for their patients." Marshall states that understanding the health effects of low doses of radiation are necessary to aid doctors in the use of x-rays, CT scans, and cancer treatments.

Similar bills passed the House in 2015 [HR 35 action list] and 2014 [HR 5544 action list]. Neither previous bill made it past the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources [official website].

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