As the Fukushima nuclear reactors continue to send low-doses of radiation outward and calls intensify to review the American nuclear plant fleet, a key research program that studies the health impacts of small amounts of radiation exposure could face elimination.
Columbia biologist David J. Brenner, who studies radiation but is not funded by the DOE program, told The Atlantic that losing the low-dose radiation program "would really hurt our capabilities, moving forward, either to figure out how to respond sensibly to a large scale radiological event in this country or to figure out the best way forward in terms of the future of nuclear power."
Sadly, one way or another, it seems the low dose program is in trouble. The House budget would effectively leave the entire Biological and Environmental Research division within the Office of Science with no budget for the rest of fiscal year 2011. By capping its spending at about half of its budget from last year halfway through the year, there would be almost no money left to run the scientific operations. House Republicans appear to have targeted the division because of its emphasis on the basic science of climate change, according to a March 18 article in Science Magazine.