Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., passed a milestone in his service in Congress on Feb. 13 when his first stand-alone bill, H.R. 4675, the Low Dose Radiation Research Act of 2017, was unanimously passed by the House.
"Today is a great day for our medical industry,” Marshall says. “I am so proud of the support this bill has received. Radiation therapy has saved thousands of cancer patients' lives. As medical technology and techniques continue to advance it is critical that we learn more about the effects of low-dose radiation. I look forward to the Senate also supporting this bill that will help our doctors better treat their patients.”
Marshall introduced the bill on Dec. 18 with co-sponsorship from Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas and Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas. Smith serves as the chairman of the Science, Space and Technology committee, where the bill was first introduced.
"Rep. Marshall's Low Dose Radiation Research Act ensures that we develop a comprehensive understanding of any health effects of low dose radiation. This bill enables us to use the best research possible to inform important decisions in our nation's energy, medical and defense fields,” Smith says. “Dr. Marshall has a personal interest in this subject, as it is critical for physicians to know and understand the health effects associated with low dose radiation exposure. I thank him for his initiative on this important issue."
The bill directs the Department of Energy to carry out a basic research program on low dose radiation with the Office of Science; identify ongoing scientific challenges in low dose radiation research, and develop a long-term basic research plan that addresses those challenges while leveraging the existing body of scientific knowledge and engaging with the international research community.
Marshall says there is wide consensus among the radiobiology community that more research is necessary to understand the health risk of low-dose radiation.
Every day, people are exposed to low-dose radiation as the result of industrial activities, commercial processes, medical procedure and naturally occurring systems. Regulatory agencies assume that there is no radiation dose threshold below which the health risk is zero.
There is a large body of evidence on the impact of high doses of radiation from nuclear incident survivor data. However, data to directly determine the effects of exposure to low doses.
The bill also directs the DOE to provide Congress with a four-year research plan that identifies and prioritizes basic research needs relating to low-dose radiation within 180 days of the time the law is enacted and authorizes funds for low-dose radiation research from within funding provided to the Biological and Environmental Research Program within the Office of Science.