The linear-no-threshold model predicts that the cancer risk from radiation exposure is linear in the dose. Therefore, in this model excess population mortality is proportional to collective dose, in units of [person * Sievert]; 1 person exposed to 1 Sv is the same as 1,000 exposed to 1 mSv each, or 1,000,000 to 1 uSv: the expected number of deaths are the same.
As far as I understand, the LNT is considered highly suspect. For instance the HPS position is that it cancer risks should not be extrapolated linearly below 5-10 rem:
In accordance with current knowledge of radiation health risks, the Health Physics Society recommends against quantitative estimation of health risks below an individual dose of 5 rem in one year or a lifetime dose of 10 rem above that received from natural sources... Radiogenic health effects (primarily cancer) have been demonstrated in humans through epidemiological studies only at doses exceeding 5–10 rem delivered at high dose rates. Below this dose, estimation of adverse health effect remains speculative.
Yet often the LNT hypothesis is extrapolated to doses thousands of times lower. In particular, LNT plays a vital role in the Green-sponsored TORCH report (BBC article), a study on the long-term health effects of the Chernobyl meltdown, which accuses the IAEA and WHO of engaging in a cover-up:
The IAEA statement was widely disseminated by the international media and raised an outcry amongst independent experts and environmental organisations that considered that the release scandalously downplayed the true scale of the disaster. However a solid scientific critique was missing.
I decided to commission an independent analysis of the IAEA/WHO reports in order to clarify the science basis for the assertions. You are holding the result of the study, The Other Report on Chernobyl or TORCH, by Ian Fairlie and David Sumner, in your hands. It becomes clear from their conclusions that the IAEA had indeed issued a seriously misleading statement about the WHO findings on health impact that forecasts, rather than 4,000, close to 9,000 excess cancer deaths. However, other evaluations estimate the death toll from cancer alone to between 30,000 and 60,000, most of them outside the most intensely affected countries Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. In fact, the TORCH report also shows that more radioactivity was released from the reactor than previously thought and that more than half of the fallout came down in Europe outside the former Soviet Republics.
The LNT model is TORCH's key methodological difference. Using LNT, they add up very tiny doses among hundreds of millions of people to obtain their death toll. Specifically, they use (chapter 6) the BEIR VII figure of 0.05-0.10 excess deaths per person-Sievert, and a worldwide population-dose of 600,000 person-Sieverts, hence 30,000-60,000 deaths.
And these are tiny doses. They don't explicitly tabulate their distribution of deaths, but it is trivial to reconstruct from table 5.4, the collective dose estimates (they use the UNSCEAR/Bennett figures). According to their methodology, a majority of the deaths (16,000-32,000) are nowhere near Chernobyl (Belarus+Ukraine+Russia), but scattered all over continental Europe. That is, 318,000 person-Sieverts over 400 million Europeans - an average (table 5.c(i) can refine this) lifetime (75-year) dose of just 0.8 mSv (80 mrem), compared to the 225 mSv of background radiation over the same time interval. (Obviously the distribution isn't uniform - ~1/3rd of this dose is in the 1st year (5.c(i)), or an average of 17 mrem (compared with 300 mrem background over that same year).
This is the the key: with the LNT model, trivial doses over extremely large populations are far more deadly than significant doses to a few.
Under the same assumption, the 1979 Three Mile Island pressure chamber venting killed someone, somewhere. According to the NRC page, a naive reading would suggest no serious health effects, with no individual dose higher than 100 mrem (1 mSv). But with LNT statistics, a different conclusion emerges: the average excess dose of 1 mrem (one day's background radiation), multiplied by 2 million persons, gives a collective dose of 20 person-Sieverts, hence (under TORCH methodology) 1-2 deaths. (IIRC there was a study which did this exact calculation - the "1 or 2" figure is familiar.)
Clearly, we need to take immediate action against the ongoing radiological massacre. No, not the modern nuclear power (even under the LNT hypothesis, it is benign). I refer of course to the poisonous effects of the corporate airline industry.
For deadly, deadly ions from the stars - galactic cosmic rays - menace our very existence. Normally we are safe; the atmosphere impedes their villainy. But above the shielding cloak of the air - in the flying death tubes - the radiation levels are thousands of times higher!
And, though Big Air refuses to acknowledge it, their unshielded aircraft prove to be to be death traps to their victims. Consider: with 3 trillion passenger-miles per year, at typically 40,000 ft altitude and 600 mph cruise speed (A380), there are about 3.1 billion person-hours/year spent in a toxic 7 microSievert/hour radiation field (NOAA link), or a staggering 22,000 person-Sieverts/year in collective dose!
And, taking a page out of the TORCH study (p. 70 to be precise), this means 1,100-2,200 radiation deaths per year!
We can not afford to let Big Air get away with this atrocity. Swift action must be taken against unsafe airplanes: no plane should fly until it is safely retrofitted with 36 inches of lead.