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Radiation – facts, fallacies and phobias

I note a recent article in Opinion Online by Dr Helen Caldicott was linked to in the Is Our Future Nuclear? comments thread, and this subsequently generated a fair amount of heated discussion. The focal claim from Caldicott in this piece is that it is dangerous to live near to nuclear power plants (NPP), because they supposedly increase rates of leukemia.

My basic response to such a claim is quite simple, and I think useful, because it cuts through the somewhat arcane and context-laden epidemiological arguments. It’s this: The additional radiation exposure of those living in the vicinity of NPP is ~0.0002 millisieverts (mSv), versus a background level of 2 to 4 mSv (depending on where you live) — the latter due to everything from cosmic rays, to ground-derived radon emissions, to eating bananas (this last one gives you more radiation than the NPP). So that’s 1/15,000 of your total yearly dosage coming from the ambient levels produced by nuclear power (in the US). Living near a coal-fired power station would give you 100 to 300 times more radiation exposure, and even that is trivial and not the reason coal burning is damaging to your health.

So, here is an apparently straightforward intellectual challenge. Can proponents of such an argument as Caldicott’s explain how something which adds 0.007% to an existing effect (background radiation) is somehow critically important, when adding 100 to 300% (or more) to an effect by simply moving from a house built on sedimentary rocks to one built atop granite, or moving from the state of New York to Colorado, is irrelevant? More here. Remember, radiation is radiation (principally alpha particles [helium nuclei], beta particles [high-speed electrons], x-raysgamma rays [high-energy electromagnetic radiation] and neutrons), whether it comes from exploding stars, naturally decaying heavy metal atoms, CAT scanners, fission reactors, bananas, granite boulders, whatever. There is no unique ‘signature’ to the radiation from NPP.

Indeed, the Caldicott argument reminds me of the one used by proponents of the theory that it’s the sun causing recent global warming. As I’ve pointed out here, for a solar explanation to work, you not only have to explain why a climate forcing agent would be exerting a directional effect on the climate system when it itself is NOT changing — you also have to explain how that stationary agent is also able to negate another climate forcing agent that IS changing. It’s basically the same deal with the claimed link between NPP and radiation — what’s ‘special’ about its radiation from the background, and how is its effect amplified when that of other sources is not? I’ve never yet seen an answer (even an unsatisfactory one!) — to either of the above critiques, grounded in Socratic logic as they are.

But getting back to some of the statistical detail, if you want to understand more about the epidemiology of radiation exposure, I find it hard to go past recommending the huge body of work on this subject compiled by Prof Bernard Cohen, who summarised it extremely well here: “How dangerous is radiation?”, “Risks of nuclear energy in perspective” and “Plutonium toxicity“. The other recent review you should definitely read is “Radiation: Facts, fallacies and phobias” by Prof David Wigg, a clinical radiobiologist at the University of Adelaide. This is a 5-page review article published in 2007 in the peer-reviewed journal Australasian Radiology, but it is available free online (see link) and was written quite deliberately for a general audience. Here is the abstract:

There is frequent debate in the media and the scientific published reports about the use of radiation for diagnosis and treatment, the benefits and risks of the nuclear industry, uranium mining and the storage of radioactive wastes. Driving this debate is increasing concern about reliance on fossil fuels for power generation for which alternatives are required. Unfortunately, there is generally a poor understanding of the relevant basic sciences compounded by widespread irrational fear of irradiation (radiation phobia). Radioactivity, with special reference to uranium and plutonium is simply described. How radiation affects tissues and the potential hazards to individuals and populations are explained. The origins of radiation phobia and its harmful consequences are examined. Whether we like it or not, Australia is heavily involved in the uranium industry by virtue of having one-third of the world’s known reserves, exports of which are worth approximately $470m annually. As this paper has been written as simply as possible, it may also be of interest to readers who may have had little scientific training. It may be downloaded from the web using references provided in this article. It is concluded that ignorance and fear are major impediments to rational debate on radiation issues.

And his conclusion:

Over the last 100 years or so, the growth in understanding of radiobiology, radiation physics and many scientific disciplines associated with the nature and effects of radiation have been profound and continues to proceed rapidly. One example is the demonstration of the relatively harmless effects at low doses, doses that are most likely to be of interest to the general population and radiation workers. Failure to adapt to this knowledge by institutions, including the media, has led to many unfortunate consequences, one of which is widespread radiation phobia and its effects.

Yet Helen Caldicott continues to perpetuate long-discredited myths, despite knowing full well that her extreme views are contrary to all relevant evidence. A good summary of her recalcitrance on the matters of science and evidence is provided here, in a series of exchanges — again, this is well worth reading. The conclusion from Dr Michael Baker was particularly apt:

Her book, Nuclear Madness, is so full of half truths and blatant lies that it is hard for a scientist to read. You will note that her references include very few peer reviewed scientific papers and when they do they frequently do not support her conclusions. I believe that she hopes the reader will not take the time or have the resources to look up the scientific papers. I would conclude by encouraging the people that read her book and papers to do just that.

Gee, now, what does that remind me of?

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By Barry Brook

Barry Brook is an ARC Laureate Fellow and Chair of Environmental Sustainability at the University of Tasmania. He researches global change, ecology and energy.

388 replies on “Radiation – facts, fallacies and phobias”

@Meyerson: the preponderance of geeks and wannabes on this blog are domiciled left and right of the Pacific and not within immediate wind range of Chernobyl. This explains eg the intemperate rage directed at renewables policy in Germany (with possibly the extra US flavour of AIPAC-driven Stateside suspicion of that country, oy vey)

Note however the following European NGOs at:

http://www.chernobyl.info/index.php?userhash=759429&navID=182&lID=2

You will see that (to take the WNA or IAEA line), these gullible people in W. Europe wanting to look after Chernobyl children will all have been conned by cunning post-Soviet Belarussian or Ukrainian scammers into providing gratis R and R for local cancer victims.

Assuming, as BNC nukies must, that this scam exists and that the only health effects from Chernobyl are those flowing from nocebo, the BBC video praised by you and Brook fails utterly to address 24 years of “hysterical Green propaganda.”

This is why I said that it was missing any interview with doctors/toxicologists. It need not have been the much-hated Caldicott, Gofman (deceased, I think) or similar would have sufficed. Or Prof. Wade Allison at Oxford, to show why all the medicos are wrong about Chernobyl.

Either nukies want to make videos that refute “hysterical Green LNT nonsense” and get those naive west European NGOs closed down, or they want to make emotionalist blurbs. It is up to them.

If the latter, then quit claiming the high ground of rational numeracy .

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Put Chernobyl aside for a moment and focus on the LNT. what do you think of the map?

Rational numeracy is a high ground, btw. should we abandon this? what is your view of “rational numeracy?” Is it nothing but “technological or instrumental rationality” tied to business as usual?

If we abandon it, in favor of what? contrarian insinuation, guilt by association and scare words?

btw, I don’t think Germany is on AIPAC’s shit list (I might be though–joke, I hope).

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btw, peter, it occurs to me that you are perfectly content yourself to assume the “high ground of rational numeracy” in defense of climate scientists at Real Climate (I’m with you there).

Yet with respect to the LNT business, you get all pop Marcuse (absent his rational hi ground).

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If we abandon it, in favor of what? contrarian insinuation, guilt by association and scare words?

Yes, that appears to be the consensus.

Certainly over at quiggin.

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John Morgan

If we abandon it, in favor of what? contrarian insinuation, guilt by association and scare words?

Yes, that appears to be the consensus.

Certainly over at quiggin.

The comments at Quiggin’s web site are a reminder of just how sure people are that they are right. They are so sure that they do not need to consider facts. They just believe.

Anti-nukes that come to this web site see many of us here in the same way (ie locked into our belkiefs, closed minded, won’t consider the evidence that has persuded them of their beliefs).

Seeing the posts on the Quiggin site in response to yours, mine and other posts makes me feel that these people (and people with their ideological persuasion) are dishonest and will say and do anything because they believe the end (furthering their cause) justifies any means to achieve it.

I expect they think the same about me.

The problem is I cannot help but see the posts on the Quiggin site (and elsewhere and predominantly in the media) as a continuation of the greenie agendas of the past 40 years. I see them as mostly irrational, destructive, damaging to society and to human well being.

I suspect many rational people (in fact the majority of voters) have a similar perception to me. This extends to other things these groups and those of similar ideological persuasion believe in. And because they seem to habitually exaggerate, and play the scare cards, they create scepticism and resistance to the causes they advocate.

I think it is a real pity that John Quiggin doesn’t moderate his web site better thn he does. He actually seems to encourage the nonsense that is posted. For example he allows incessant nonsense posts from anti-nukes, yet shuts down Finrod. Hes cuts off comments on nuclear discussion threads. He makes comments occassionally that are clearly anti-nuclear which further encourages many nonsense posts.

I wonder: Is the western world past the Enlightment Period and heading back into the next dark ages? Are China and India leading the next Enlightment Period?

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@Peter Lang – Would it be that it was so simple. Antinuclear stands are not in anyway that homogeneous, and many of those holding them and promoting them know full well that their position is not supported by fact. Oh there are a few think as you describe, but they are far from the majority.

Here in Quebec Canada this summer there was a sudden flare up of antinuclear activity after years of relative silence. The reason was a lot of activity in uranium prospecting in the Provence. The instigators were a vocal group of physicians that had practices in the outlying regions. At one point they were threatening to resign en mass.

However when the real motives of these people were examined, it became very clear that they were using this issue as a wedge in their negotiations with the government, and they had pick this issue because they knew they could use their positions to whip up a frenzy.

Look closely at a lot of antinuclear activity, all over the world and you can find the same thing to a greater or lesser extent. Trying to hit these people with logic is ineffective, what one must do is look to the real reasons they object.

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DV82XL,

I agree with all this. I don’t have the skills, patience or interest to try to work out what is the underlying agenda of most of these people. I believe many do it to further other causes as you suggest. I think many do it because it as a way to get the polical party they support elected into government and therefore to achieve the other policies they believe in. Who knows what else is driving these people. It needs litterate but innumerate people to understand what is driving them.

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Radiation Releases from Coal Plants Tom Blees & Alex Gabbard

http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/rev26-34/text/colmain.html

Annual releases of 5.2 tons of uranium would only be expected to have an activity of about 1.75 curies. Likewise with 12.8 tons of thorium; it would likely have a similar total amount due to its much lower decay rate (thorium 232 has a half life of 14 billion years). So in total, about 3-5 curies would be expected from the amounts given in statement (2) above.

In comparison, a NRC official after the TMI accident, stated that about 1,000 curies a month (gases) are released from a LWR plant. Even if we allow for some recent improvement, there would be still at least 100 curies expected to be released due to all causes – normal, unplanned & accidental releases.

Furthermore, there are the additional liquid releases from nuclear plants (c) that are also significant in view of tritium not being actively involved in human biology. In fact, by itself, tritium oxide water cannot support organic animal life & can then be regarded as another pollutant.

Alex Gabbard is engaging in a simple exercise of distraction using basic multiplication of low levels of radiation to make it sound worse than nuclear power. We can arrive at similar multiplied figures for nuclear plants to reveal even larger radiation releases to the environment.

“Radioactive elements in coal and fly ash should not be sources of alarm.” (d)

Although coal plants certainly have enough waste products released (or captured), they do NOT have any fission products being released as do nuclear plants (gases). Of course, A. Gabbard hasn’t mentioned these. They are known to impact upon organic life-forms in different ways than just low-level background radiation has over the millennia due to their internal radiochemistry in humans.

The nuclear industry gurus can keep their heads in the sand as long as they like, but this evasion tactic will return to bite them where it hurts, because it appears genuine, that radioactive fission products have no place in the environment in ANY amounts. Background radiation from the normal environment is NOT the same as fission product radiochemistry. How many more people need to suffer before they are forced to acknowledge that with even more evidence? We cannot therefore afford to continue the reckless & irresponsible experimentation on the public, when there is already enough data available about nuclear plant emissions & their effects upon humans. The evidence has now reached a point where anyone who blatantly ignores it while using irrational denial & abuse will appear as dysfunctional & definitely NOT scientific or concerned about public health. Even Tom Blees has suggested using the precautionary principle on one occasion – with hydrogen. Yet that principle for nuclear power is ignored. But the nuclear industry wants to enlarge their reactor base & subject many more people to the subtle radiation effects while denying any harm until the casualties become convincing enough. And they still wonder why people think their industry is insane. Already, the lead, mercury, beryllium, asbestos, DDT, Dioxin, PCB, CFC, silicon, smoking & pharmaceutical industries have used the same unacceptable approach, contributing to many needless deaths or injuries due to incredible human failures, before many products were finally acknowledged to be unsafe.. Why not learn from those mistakes instead of repeating them? Apparently, governments cannot even cope with more familiar health issues (e – h). In view of (g), it seems likely, all the nuclear industry has to do is to lobby the government to convince them that really low (or zero) radioactive releases are not achievable (or any other risk), for the gov’t to cave in & allow the industry to have its way – just like the desal & E.coli issue. So much for public health being a priority.

(c) http://www.nirs.org/factsheets/tritiumbasicinfo.pdf
(d) http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/1997/fs163-97/FS-163-97.html
(e) http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/womans-death-shows-ambo-system-is-not-perfect-andrews-20101112-17qhl.html
(f) http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/state-election-2010/stats-reveal-dysfunctional-hospitals-20101109-17m55.html
(g) http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/watchdog-ditches-unrealistic-ecoli-zero-tolerance-target-on-water-quality/story-fn59niix-1225950426419
(h) http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/viruses-can-remin-in-drinking-water-after-desal-treatment/story-e6frg6nf-1225949639518

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Partly because multinational bureaucracies do not readily admit they have been talking out of their arses for generations & reverse course. Partly because the entire anti-nuclear case ultimately depends on low level radiation being dangerous & there are an awful lot of political careers, political capital & indeed bureaucrat’s careers tied up in that.

Machiavelli that figure is obtained by calculating using the LNT theory & is therefore not proof of itself – in fact the long term life expectancy in Hiroshima & Nagasaki is better than average (as mentioned in the links) & this is a small part of the overwhelming evidence for hormesis. For someone with your name you should be less trusting of official sources.

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Neil Craig, on 24 November 2010 at 8:49 PM

“Partly because multinational bureaucracies do not readily admit…….”

Your just using unsupported abuse & denial. There have been enough examples of the nuclear industry themselves being caught out with important safety & design issues, being reckless in the workplace (a, b) with unnecessarily high radiation limits while continuing to resist reducing them & even falsifying some claims & records – especially during the insane atom bomb testing programs. By comparison, how often has any member of standards authorities been found acting inappropriately? The whole nuclear industry reeks of varying levels of evasion, dishonesty & carelessness, with some examples already included on BNC. Even the US govt with-held knowledge of radon’s ill-effects from many of their early uranium miners (c). We don’t want any part of such practices. The industry must be utter rubbish when such tactics are used to sell their product. They even use public relations companies to improve their image while still manipulating us with their half-truths & misleading propaganda with hundreds of billions of dollars a stake.

“Partly because the entire anti-nuclear case ultimately depends on low level radiation being dangerous…..”

This is definitely NOT so. There are several examples included on BNC of additional failures of nuclear power. It is a multiple failure of scientific & engineering that is easily capable of embarrassing the entire industry. It is even founded on flawed principles, where it has been known for a decades that the Rutherford – Bohr model of the atom is pure fiction. It is still being used ONLY as a convenient theoretical model for the public but has NO resemblance to reality.

“that figure is obtained by calculating using the LNT theory & is therefore not proof of itself – in fact the long term life expectancy in Hiroshima & Nagasaki is better than average….”

I have adequately covered in the given links recently, the likely reason why the LNT is still being used. It is a significant health issue, & more consistent & repeatable evidence has to be produced to convince the BEIR committee (d). But they are still prepared to consider more research into hormesis (e). Some ‘official sources’ cannot be ignored.

“Until 1950, it was believed that there was a ‘threshold dose’ of radiation exposure, below which no harm would occur. Then the industry & its regulators decided to accept the safety-first concept of there being no really safe dose level. That is an extremely prudent assumption, that carries with it important considerations for the way in which society at large is ordered, as humans live within a naturally radioactive environment, not just how safety in the nuclear industry should be managed.”

“As a result of the vast expenditure at Sellafield, routine discharges of radioactive materials to the environment, (land, sea & air) are now (1996) less than 1% of the levels reached at their peak during the 1970’s. Well over 300,000 curies a year were released at one stage, & was considered safe by the regulatory authorities at that time.”

“But active & toxic materials like plutonium must be completely enclosed & prevented from reaching employees even in the smallest amounts. This has not always been possible to achieve.”
“For the industry workforce, there has been a reduction from 15 rems a year in the early 1950’s to 5 rems a year now, while BNFL voluntarily operates a stricter regime prompted by the Gardner report in 1990. Although the earlier 15 rem limit now looks far too high, it was exceeded fairly frequently in the early days of the industry, usually due to unplanned incidents rather than routine operations.
Despite the best efforts of the regulators, unplanned incidents do & will occur.” H. Bolter 1996

Even the US EPA has stated:

“ It should be pointed out that radiation effects, including carcinogenesis, have been reported at doses 2 to 100 times the annual background dose for both high & low LET radiation. Chromosome aberrations & other radiation effects which, if not health effects per se, are closely related, have also been reported at dose-rates slightly above background & in areas of high-level background for high & low LET radiations.”

(a) https://bravenewclimate.com/2009/09/19/radiation-facts-fallacies-and-phobias/#comment-101696 (The case of Bill Sherwin & plutonium injury)
(b) https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/06/18/21c-nuclear-renaissance/#comment-92269
(Peter Bradford & Laurie Garret)
(c) The Myths of August by S. Udall
(d) http://health.dailynewscentral.com/content/view/0001165/48
(e) http://dels.nas.edu/resources/static-assets/materials-based-on-reports/reports-in-brief/beir_vii_final.pdf (see ‘Research Needs’ on last page)

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Regular commenters here do not usually condescend to reply to the garbled nonsense you usually post here Macca, but the following strikes me as having sufficient comedic value for me to indulge myself this once:

This is definitely NOT so. There are several examples included on BNC of additional failures of nuclear power. It is a multiple failure of scientific & engineering that is easily capable of embarrassing the entire industry. It is even founded on flawed principles, where it has been known for a decades that the Rutherford – Bohr model of the atom is pure fiction. It is still being used ONLY as a convenient theoretical model for the public but has NO resemblance to reality.

So you’ve edified us with the revelation that the Rutherford and Bohr models of atomic structure are not the latest in thinking on nuclear physics. Thanks so much for that insight, Macca, We’re eternally indebted to you for that.

If you’re in the mood for a really far out head trip, google quantuum chromodynamics. Should be a real eye-opener.

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Machiavelli my assertion that organisations do not litely admit to bebeing massively wrong for decades did not specify any organisations & was thus not abuse. I think it will be evident to anybody putting a few seconds thought into it that it is generally true. Though, since you deny it, you should certainly, if being honest, be able to give a couple of examples of byureaucracies erver, lightly, saying that. Or not as the case may be.

Your reply to my remark is, obviously, nothing but the “abuse & denial” which, if you are in any way honest, we have your word you never engage in..

The entire anto-nuclear case does indeed depend on low level radiation being dangerous (LNT hypothesis) since the minor measurement errors, far lower than measurement errors allowed in any other industry, being assumed dangerous depend on there being danger. I can only agree with Finrod about your astonishment in finding that physics have moved on in the last 60 years.

Your assertion that LNT is true is simply to say because it is so, & those with political power say so, so there. I challenge you to produce some credible experimental evidence for it, something which nobody else in the world has been able to do. Through my links I have produced a vast amount for the Hormesis, which says it is beneficial. That is how science works.

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On the US based social-media list run by Dan Yurman, this was recently poisted as related to US standards on “Radon”.


The radioactivity of a liquid is measured in picocuries per liter (a liter is a little more than a quart). The proposed US regulatory limit for the radium level in tap water, for example, is 5 picocuries/liter, and 300 picocuries/liter for radon in tap water. Nuclear plant discharge water is only about 10, in contrast. Whiskey (1,200 picocuries/liter), beer (1,300), milk (1,400), and salad oil (5,000) all have far greater radioactivity levels than one might expect. And the natural radioactivity levels of some health spa waters can be as high as 300,000!
http://www.cosmos-club.org/web/journals/2002/rockwell.html

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Finrod, on 27 November 2010 at 4:06 PM

“So you’ve edified us with the revelation that the Rutherford and Bohr models of atomic structure are not the latest in thinking on nuclear physics.”

I am referring to the general idea of atomic structure (having electrons, protons & neutrons) that is still being used today, even though that concept is false. Modern science has fallen into the same trap when epicycles were invented to explain planetary movement in Aristotle’s day. The theory was surprisingly good at predicting positions of the known planets & our moon, but it eventually was shown to be totally wrong. Likewise with some current theories. But I will leave it there, as you do not seem to be any frame of mind to consider alternatives, but prefer to ridicule with your “garbled nonsense” claim. Is that how to counter scientifically? Apparently, you are one of those who will need to learn the hard way.

Neil Craig, on 27 November 2010 at 8:23 PM

“my assertion that organizations do not lightly admit……”

You were still making a very broad criticism against a large body of professionals, (while deliberately not naming any of them) suggesting they were boofheads or worse. That still isn’t acceptable.

“The entire anti-nuclear case does indeed depend on low level radiation being dangerous….”

There has been ample evidence provided on BNC of the basic 5 objections to nuclear power not being adequately rebutted. There is more out there. You are acting like an unmovable ‘flat-earther’.

“Your assertion that LNT is true is simply to say because it is so….”

That’s not correct. You obviously haven’t read my earlier reference links. I have used the BEIR VII report to justify my current stand, & if you noticed, I have even allowed for a possible hormesis effect & commented on it.

For the time being, until better consistent evidence is produced to modify BEIR commissioners, the LNT model is the best one to use. To do otherwise is irresponsible.

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Broader than that Mac. I hereby assert that it is general condition of the human race that people do not readily admit to talking out of their arses for long periods. If you wish a specific example check the mirror. I note that despite denyong that this is true you have been unable to find significant evidence of counter examples.

As regards your claim that the anti-nuclear case does not largely depend on small levels of radiation being dangerous & that I was wrong to accuse you of merely making assertions without being able to produce any specific evidence you merely assert I am wrong without giving any7 specific evidence.

If you wish to produce actual evidence here I am perfectly willing to knock it down.

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David Walters, on 28 November 2010 at 2:31 AM said

“The proposed US regulatory limit for the radium level in tap water, for example, is 5 picocuries/liter, and 300 picocuries/liter for radon in tap water. Nuclear plant discharge water is only about 10, in contrast.”

10 pCi/L? …..Oh sure! Maybe under the best of conditions, but not while there are serious leaks. This highlights a feature many people have objected to about nuclear power. Equipment will always break down, while fallible humans have anything to do with it. It isn’t possible for everybody in the industry to be alert all the time & do the right thing. Therefore failures will continue to occur. Why do you think many residents wanted the Vermont Yankee plant to close?

http://www.boston.com/news/local/vermont/articles/2010/02/24/nrc_confirms_2005_tritium_leak_at_vermont_yankee_plant/
http://news.slashdot.org/story/10/02/06/156236/Tritium-Leak-At-Vermont-Nuclear-Plant-Grows?from=rss
http://nuclear-news.net/2010/10/16/radioactive-tritium-leaking-from-20-usa-nuclear-plants/
http://healthvermont.gov/enviro/rad/yankee/tritium.aspx
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/harvey-wasserman/vermonts-radioactive-nigh_b_457849.html
http://www.countercurrents.org/baker010310.htm

Click to access VYTritiumData_080410.pdf

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did the leak get into drinking water? what was the dose in millirem?

you can’t explain the non correlation between variation in natural background radiation and cancer incidence. you just bombard people with unconvincing half arguments and multiple links that don’t answer the key questions.

you cite harvey wasserman: “Vermont’s radioactive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

I’m totally convinced by that.

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Neil Craig – The Continuing Use of Unscientific Criticism

“Your reply to my remark is, obviously, nothing but the “abuse & denial” which, if you are in any way honest, we have your word you never engage in.”

You accuse me of failing to include examples when in fact they have been added in previous entries. Now you imply I have used abuse & denial without YOU giving the example where it was done. I do not go out of my way to use personal abuse or unsupported denial.

“Your assertion that LNT is true is simply to say because it is so, & those with political power say so, so there. I challenge you to produce some credible experimental evidence for it, something which nobody else in the world has been able to do. “

I accept the BEIR VII view on hormesis until it is proven false. I have already provided supportive evidence, using indirect examples. If you feel so strongly about it, why don’t you write to the BEIR Committee & submit your links to them, asking them for their best evidence on the hormesis rejection?

“Through my links I have produced a vast amount for the Hormesis, which says it is beneficial. That is how science works.”

I could also say I have submitted significant links to support the opposite view. As it happens however, the BEIR VII committee is currently NOT supporting hormesis. You really need to SHOW why their approach is incorrect. They have had access to previous hormesis evidence & have not found it convincing enough yet, but have still recommended further research in that area, so they can hardly be regarded as having a closed mind. You have already indicated your one-sided opinion about them. Let the readers decide how rational & scientific your attitude really is.

You seem to have a misunderstanding of how good science is supposed to work. Bludgeoning people with insults, abuse or unreasonable denial isn’t going to work. There is a systematic vetting procedure involved (preferably by independent researchers having no financial connection to the nuclear industry) before evidence can be confirmed & accepted.

“But what convinces scientists most of all is lab-to-lab reproducibility. Consistency between independent experimental results & consistency with theory, over time, usually carries the day in science.” P. Chambers Ph.D.

.

“In science, if other scientists are to take conclusions seriously, it is essential to describe the methodology of what was done to reach them in detail.” P. Chambers Ph.D.

Several key references have already been included earlier in this column as evidence for generalised potential harm to humans from low-level radiation. In order to minimise repetition, I have assumed you have read those previous entries before you have responded – but apparently you have not. Or perhaps you do not understand their significance.

The LNT assumption is well supported above a certain dose rate. The questionable zone is the very low region. Adequate evidence of risk has been given for this zone, where the more vulnerable people will more likely be affected. It looks like you do not understand the subtleties of these effects.

“I can only agree with Finrod about your astonishment in finding that physics has moved on in the last 60 years.”

Another example of an incorrect interpretation designed to malign me. If you return to my statement, you will not find anything about being ‘astonished’ at physics having advanced, but I was instead just drawing attention to the inaccurate electron, proton nuclear atomic structure model which is STILL BEING USED. I suggest you cease adding additional false interpretations of people’s statements to suit your own unbalanced critical agenda & pay more attention to what is actually said.

“I hereby assert that it is a general condition of the human race that people do not readily admit to talking out of their arses for long periods. If you wish a specific example check the mirror.”

“ridicule is not a legitimate tool of honest skeptics” Joel M. Kauffman

Yes, scientists have human failings, but your approach is still a completely incorrect attitude to take in any scientific discussion & is a certain recipe for failure. If you do not understand that, then you had better leave the subject alone. It is causing you to start insulting people which isn’t acceptable either. Just because pro-nukes submit results for hormesis that conveniently support their case, doesn’t mean they can be, or should be automatically accepted without independent verification, especially in view of the known previous examples of rigged studies & falsified figures.

“I note that despite denying that this is true you have been unable to find significant evidence of counter examples.”

Wrong again. Many examples of harm from low radiation have been given from a variety of sources, which collectively has adequate weight. Here is some more evidence (a, b). You are just ignoring them & using invalid criticism instead. If you guys are backing the wrong horse, than that is hardly my fault.

“As regards your claim that the anti-nuclear case does not largely depend on small levels of radiation being dangerous & that I was wrong to accuse you of merely making assertions without being able to produce any specific evidence you merely assert I am wrong without giving any specific evidence.”

As I have said earlier, adequate evidence has already been given in the Five Main objections to nuclear power, so that the combined weight of all the disadvantages becomes significant. The PM has recently used an economic argument to reject nuclear power & not radiation.

“If you wish to produce actual evidence here I am perfectly willing to knock it down.”

Here is the classic admission of unscientific denialism, where before even considering any new evidence, you are boasting you can destroy it. Is that your idea of good science?

If it was good enough for a former Sellafield director to view occupational radiation exposure as important…….

“Then the industry & its regulators decided to accept the safety-first concept of there being no really safe dose level. That is an extremely prudent assumption…..” H. Bolter

…..then why would you object to his caution? Hasn’t he had far more experience working in the nuclear industry than yourself?

“But even though he believes the data now strongly favours the “no-threshold” hypothesis, Monson said he expects that “some minds will be changed, while others will not.” (c)

Having openly confirmed your unbalanced rigid views about radiation effects, then I suggest you go & live in a country that has nuclear power – you should be very happy. Let Australians try some new ideas.

The ‘White Light, Black Rain’ casualties are more likely to be derived from just the known survivor data-base. Don’t forget however, the US performed some nuclear bomb tests in the 1980’s to learn more about the likely radiation strength from the WWII bombs, & found their 1950’s estimates were a bit too low. So the population was likely subjected to greater radiation levels than expected. Furthermore, the survivor data-gathering has been upset (d), & don’t forget the age difference for radiation tolerance (e).

(a) http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg17723770.200-background-radiation-enough-to-trigger-cancer.html (May have to subscribe to view it or visit a public library for the magazine)
(b) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19923647
(c) http://health.dailynewscentral.com/content/view/0001165/48 (bottom of page)
(d) http://www.mindfully.org/Nucs/Radiation-Threshold-Gofman20jun94.htm
(e) http://www.ippnw.org/Resources/MGS/V1N1Scholz.html

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greg meyerson, on 5 December 2010 at 2:16 PM said:

“you can’t explain the non correlation between variation in natural background radiation and cancer incidence. you just bombard people with unconvincing half arguments and multiple links that don’t answer the key questions.” GM

You couldn’t be looking too closely. Several included links have shown a link between low-level radiation & ill-effects in health. Even the KiKK study has been accepted by the German govt as being adequately done.

“and by t
he way, solartopia is close to the dumbest book ever written” GM

I have never made any comment on that book. You’re confusing me with someone else.

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Mac asserts in his long, obfuscating but void of any new fact, post that he disapproves of “abuse & denial” having previously asserted tbhe nuclear industry “reeks of varying levels of evasion, dishonesty & carelessness” & still rests his entire denial of hormesis not on a criticism of the overwhelming evidence but on the grounds that people he supports rely on it so there.

Once again I ask him to produce some actual scientific evidence for the official LNT theory rather than just saying it has been discussed elsewhere. Science is a matter of examining evidence. As with most frauds carried out in the name of “science” I do not expect Mac to produce real evidence but am open to being proven wrong.

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Neil Craig, on 6 December 2010 at 12:20 AM said:

“……but void of any new fact……..& still rests his entire denial of hormesis……….”

You still seem to be missing the details. There have been FOUR NEW relevant links included above (5 Dec) to support low-level radiation harm, while in an earlier entry (24 Nov – 2 sub-links), I openly allowed for a possible hormesis effect & added why it won’t likely help the nuclear industry. So I am NOT denying hormesis outright, but just saying if it is good enough for BEIR to reject it for the moment, then that is acceptable to me.

“Once again I ask him to produce some actual scientific evidence for the official LNT theory rather than just saying it has been discussed elsewhere.”

“…….I do not expect Mac to produce real evidence…….”

In the interests of minimising repetition, it is better to refer back to previously added links – & they ARE there – from a variety of sources. Perhaps you had better get started on your letter to the BEIR Committee, as that seems to be the only way to provide the best evidence.

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Mac none of these links prove anything you say. They all simply assume LNT & thu8s “prove” it. One is deliberately dishonest in claiming the Hiroshima/Nagasaki long term results support LNT when in fact they show a lower cancer incidence than elsewhere in Japan. One of them is an interview in which the author says he predicted 475,000 liong term deaths from Chernobyl using LNT but doesn’t point out that zero have been detected statistically.

Your claim that Hormesis & LNT could both be true is clearly disingenous since they are exact opposites. If there is even a tiny hormesis effect no damage could be LINEAR & thus not LNT.

At the risk of repitition “Once again I ask him to produce some actual scientific evidence for the official LNT theory rather than just saying it has been discussed elsewhere. Science is a matter of examining evidence. As with most frauds carried out in the name of “science” I do not expect Mac to produce real evidence but am open to being proven wrong.”

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greg meyerson, on 5 December 2010 at 2:16 PM said:

“did the leak get into drinking water? what was the dose in millirem?

The concern is that the leaks have gone too far into groundwater, possibly threatening drinking water sources, not to mention the inadequate pipe repairs & denials of there being pipes below the plant anyway. What seems to be forgotten is that both deuterium & tritium in their water forms, do not support organic life like H2O does. Therefore it is a potential pollutant, when ingested, having both a chemical AND radioactive means of disrupting cellular processes.

http://nuclear-news.net/2010/10/16/radioactive-tritium-leaking-from-20-usa-nuclear-plants/
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2690545/vermont_yankees_radioactive_waste_likely.html?cat=3
http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20101203/NEWS02/101203025/More-tritium-found-at-Vermont-Yankee
http://www.masslive.com/metrowest/republican/index.ssf?/base/news-24/1266049018177780.xml&coll=1

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I just heard that canadian nuclear plants plan to release billions of picocuries of dangerous tritium poisons into our beloved atmosphere.

how can anyone support this dangerous technology!

because it spews millions of piconanos into the atmosphere (beloved).

one drop of tritium is a lethal dose. don’t take my word for it. Here’s Theodore Rockwell, a nuclear pioneer:

It may be physiologically impossible to kill someone with tritium. In the body, it generally takes the form of water, and the lethal dose calculates to be something like 100 gallons per day—not an easy diet!

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Finrod, on 7 December 2010 at 6:58 PM

I HAVE provided a straight answer in a brief entry. The links speak for themselves. Any mrems are unknown at this stage. Just from first principles however, we wonder how you guys can justify releasing ANY amounts of foreign, radioactive molecules into the environment when no long-term experience has been gained in assessing their biological effects when ingested? Nuclear power will NOT be the last remaining base-load option. There have been too many known poisons been recklessly released over the decades. We don’t think it is very bright to continue with nuclear power when it has far too many suspect features. If there is concern about small amounts of chemicals in our food, why aren’t we allowed to object to un-natural tritium in the environment?

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/cancer-risk-found-in-food-colourings/story-e6frea83-1225893418510

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@ Macca:

There’s a concern about possible cancer risk from food colouring agents, therefore we shouldn’t use nuclear power.

Nice one. Now why didn’t this eminently reasonable objection occur to me before?

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“Any mrems are unknown at this stage.”

If your natural water in a particular part of the world contains tritium at a certain natural concentration (it varies a little from place to place), we know how much water an average person drinks, and assuming that all their water comes from that place, we know how much tritium they consume and what the corresponding committed effective dose is. (in millirems or microsieverts or whichever unit you would like to pick.)

Tritium has one of the lowest radiotoxicities of any radionuclide.

http://www.ncsu.edu/ehs/radiation/forms/nuclide_sheets.pdf

The Committed Effective Dose Equivalent for ingestion of tritiated water is 1.73 * 10^-11 Sv/Bq of ingested tritium.

The limit set in the US for any tritium in water, according to the Safe Drinking Water Act, is 740 Bq/L.

So, if you’ve got 740 Bq/L, and you drink, say, 1000 litres of water per year (that’s a nice round number made up on the spot, if you would like to figure out some more accurate number please do) you get a dose of 1.28 millirem per year.

The total average background radiation dose for people from all sources is something like, roughly, 300 millirem per year – although this has quite a lot of variance associated with it from place to place, and in some places it is far, far higher.

“Just from first principles however, we wonder how you guys can justify releasing ANY amounts of foreign, radioactive molecules into the environment when no long-term experience has been gained in assessing their biological effects when ingested?”

These aren’t “foreign molecules”. The molecules in question are usually just water. The biological effect when ingested is that you get a tiny bit of ionising radiation dose, which is indistinguishable from the large variance in the significant background ionising radiation dose which people receive.

“why aren’t we allowed to object to un-natural tritium in the environment”

There’s plenty of naturally occurring tritium in the environment, and in all living things and in people’s bodies.

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Luke, there’s a strong argument (and I’ll defer to Prof. Wade Allison on the details) that any radiation exposure works whatever damage it does within a month at most. (Continuing exposure has a continuing effect, if any, of course, but not cumulative with exposure of more than a month ago). So tallying up exposure for a year doesn’t actually mean anything – either on the tritiated water intake or the background exposure numbers. It doesn’t affect the ratio between the two numbers in your example, of course.

And backgorund radiation is not some magically dangerous level, either. In fact background can basically be taken as very safe, well clear of danger, and exposure limits below this are incomprehensibly tight. Unfortunately, this is how most limits are right now.

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Neil Craig, on 6 December 2010 at 8:41 PM said:

“none of these links prove anything you say”

They may not appear to, only if you have a closed mind. They DO provide varying levels of supportive evidence to readily & collectively (together with previous links) support the currently accepted LNT model. You’re still in denial mode or you’re not understanding the detail. A significant case can be made for low-dose ill-health effects simply by gathering evidence for child leukaemia. Recall that Sir Douglas Black (UK) was eventually convinced of cancer risks near nuclear installations (a). The German government has gone even further & accepted the recent KiKK leukaemia study results, possibly because they were independently checked for any procedural investigative errors. There are several authorities acknowledging that NBR contributes to other varying ill-effects. In order to continue with the hormesis model, a suitable mechanism needs to be identified to account for its subtle effect, yet still explain why NBR can still cause some harm (amongst the more vulnerable, i.e. birth defects) . The nuclear advocates have attempted to present radiation issues in the simplest way possible, whereas it is really more complex.

A 1976 US group investigating nuclear power from both sides has said:

“The current dose rate however, is not a comprehensive measure of the eventual health effects of current nuclear power activity. Releases of radioactive materials in nuclear fuel cycle activities may continue for years after power generation occurs & gradually build up in the environment or in human tissue. The tailings from uranium mining & milling activities continue to emit radioactive materials for many thousands of years at a nearly constant rate. Moreover, radioactive materials may remain in both human bodies & in the environment, delivering radiation doses to individuals over a period of a few years, over a lifetime or to subsequent generations. “ (c)

“One is deliberately dishonest in claiming the Hiroshima/Nagasaki long term results support LNT when in fact they show a lower cancer incidence than elsewhere in Japan.” N.C.

You haven’t identified which source you have used for that claim or which time period you are referring to. It needs confirmation. The current dose-response model will still be expected to be PREDOMINANTLY linear, with the lowest corner being in some doubt.

“Dr John Gofman had used the ABCC published data to show that the official risk factors deduced from it were in error by up to 20x, & had pointed out that the results showed a concave (downwards) dose-effect curve in contrast to the LNT model.” Dr C. Busby (UK)

The concave curve (low-dose) would then tend to cancel out a subtle hormesis effect; another likely reason why the LNT model is being used as a compromise.

“The most damning criticism of the Life-Span study was that both the irradiated & the control groups would have been significantly contaminated by fission-product fallout. The ‘non-exposed’ control group had over twice the general Japanese population leukaemia rate until about 1955, tapering off slowly.” Dr C. Busby (UK)

Scientific Honesty

I suppose altering the survivor data part way through the study, & manipulating other factors is regarded as honest science is it (b)? That looked like a deliberate attempt to make low-level radiation appear benign since the US government didn’t wish to appear ruthless so they claimed all radiation deaths had already occurred in 1945. The Life-Span study has been subjected to excessive manipulation, ruining any real opportunity for low-dose analysis, unless uncorrupted data is still available. On pdf page 6 (b), you will see how many survivors, who were believed to have received about 1 rad dose, were deliberately reassigned to a zero dose. Yet alternative methods of assessment indicate that 1 rad (or rem for our purposes) CAN have a noticeable effect despite the additional cancer casualties from other causes.

Therefore, how can 1 rem (or rad) be regarded as negligible if the following points are valid?

“…..where in a million people a 1 rem exposure would result ultimately in 90-470 excess cancer deaths, depending on the assumptions about risk model & plateau.” (c)

“An early estimate (BEIR, 1972) was that 1 rem of radiation administered continuously over a long period, induced an average rate such that the human doubling dose would taken as 20-200 rem. The doubling dose can then be used to estimate the number of genetic diseases in first & subsequent generations due to exposure of a population to a given amount of radiation.” (c)

Sir Richard Southward, as the Director of the British National Radiological Protection Board, spoke to the Royal College of Radiologists in 1993 about low-level radiation risks & ‘honesty’:

“With nuclear power, there are additional factors…..
Distrust, because neither the radiation nor the radionuclides can be detected without special equipment, reliance has to be placed on experts but they are not to be trusted because in the past they have been shown to be economical with the truth.” Dr C. Busby (UK)

From the 1976 US nuclear energy policy study group again:

“Health risks potentially involve deaths, injuries & illness arising at all stages of the nuclear fuel cycle, from uranium mining to plant decommissioning. The extent of these risks is uncertain & the subject of considerable controversy. Radioactivity is encountered at most stages of the nuclear fuel cycle. Small quantities of radiation are released at each stage, affecting workers (primarily during refuelling or repair operations) spreading beyond facilities to reach the public locally or even globally. The radioactive materials released however, may be trapped in body tissues or remain in the environment for centuries, acting as a continuing source of radiation exposure.” (c)

The informed public can’t possibly be expected to support this technology where at least some authorities have openly acknowledged uncertainty, disagreement & minimal safety margins in radiation guidelines.

(a) https://bravenewclimate.com/2009/09/19/radiation-facts-fallacies-and-phobias/#comment-103595
(b) http://www.du-deceptions.com/downloads/HiroshimaStudy.pdf
(c) Report of the US Nuclear Energy Policy Study Group (pub 1977)

“One of them is an interview in which the author says he predicted 475,000 long term deaths from Chernobyl using LNT but doesn’t point out that zero have been detected statistically.” N.C.

That interview was in 1994, so long-term ill-effects were less apparent then. But more recently, additional searches through European medical records suggests at least 1m deaths from Chernobyl radiation releases. That link has also been given more than once before. Also, an online 1st Ed book about Chernobyl (Dr C. Busby) has been mentioned earlier.

“Your claim that Hormesis & LNT could both be true is clearly disingenous…” N.C.

It may appear so to anyone who is missing the detail. I have never said that they could BOTH be simultaneously correct, but have instead, simply written about one given model at a time. There is still a third possible model. You are misinterpreting again. The LNT designation is used only for convenience because it is STILL officially accepted & therefore is valid for now. Since the hormesis effect has to be INDEPENDENTLY PROVEN first, then any mention of it does NOT invalidate the LNT yet. Once it IS proven, then we can use the new official term for the modified dose-response model. Even if a small hormesis effect is confirmed, the over-all relation will still be expected to be PREDOMINANTLY linear, then that feature should still figure in the new name, ie: Linear – Low Level Hormesis (LLLH) or perhaps Linear Hormesis Threshold (LHT).

What you haven’t noticed is that the BEIR committee has already accommodated the nuclear industry’s needs with previously generous guidelines over many years. The BEIR V review appears to have been their first acceptance of a no-threshold model. For them to now continue agreeing (BEIR VII) there is no threshold & that even natural background radiation can cause SOME cancers, indicates a more significant acceptance of the LNT model. The challenge for the industry is now to provide consistent, repeatable & INDEPENDENT evidence to confirm your other links, rather than to denounce the BEIR committee as all fools. Just SAYING your links prove hormesis isn’t enough, as they have to be genuinely proven. There are also abundant examples of other vested interest groups providing convenient ‘evidence’ or ‘proof’ to support their case. Big Tobacco, Big Pharma & the US Radium Corporation, have all funded their own slanted studies to provide supportive ‘evidence’ for their claims. As shown today, all three groups have been exposed as being wrong, with one in particular (d).

“Once again I ask him to produce some actual scientific evidence….” N.C.

Don’t waste your time with needles repetition. There has already been adequate evidence provided, & professional testimony from those who HAVE researched the evidence themselves – you’re just ignoring it or not understanding it – but there will likely be more coming. You have already revealed your rigid denialism, being as bad as the official who refused to look through Galileo’s telescope about 400 years ago. If you really want good evidence, then you will follow my suggestion about the BEIR letter, or write to Dr Gofman’s research group for their evidence (Dr Gofman is now deceased). But you have already made up your mind without using good science while not identifying precise links to support your specifically related claims.

“It is a big mistake to confuse science with dogma. Dogma is a collection of rigidly held views that don’t change regardless of the evidence challenging them.” Dr Gillian Deakin 2007

(d) http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/corrupt-drug-firm-practices-exposed/story-e6frea83-1225824876965

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Luke Weston, on 8 Dec 2010 at 3:55 PM said:

These aren’t “foreign molecules”. The molecules in question are usually just water.

What you seem to be missing is the DUAL nature of tritium releases (similar to all the nuclear fission products) where both the radiation AND the chemistry is involved in its health & environmental impact. BOTH deuterium & tritium are not known to perform ANY useful function in organic life forms & in fact ARE known to NOT support organic life when tritiated water is used to the total exclusion of H2O. They are therefore foreign in that sense, & have no place in our bodies possibly disrupting enzyme systems etc. There is a simple explanation for this – in some quarters, deuterium & tritium are NOT regarded as isotopes of hydrogen at all. (Yeah, I know, Finrod will love this one) They were called isotopes largely because they were discovered AFTER the periodic table had been decided on for the early groupings, & there was no place for them to fit. During the early ‘Hydrogen’ bomb tests, there was concern for the oceans to react because of the H2O content. But their bomb wasn’t really using hydrogen isotopes, but really different elements altogether. Perhaps you can find for me a RDA figure for tritium intake somewhere in a biochemical text. Tritium is known to become organically bound, so we really need to know from you guys how tritium can possibly benefit organic life processes when it internally decays to helium which also has no known biochemical use to us, in addition to the radiation dose.

Cardiff & the Amersham Isotope Factory (UK)

It has been discovered in the last few years that Tritium from the Amersham plant has been concentrating in plants, fish & shellfish to an enormous degree.
There seems to be some way the Tritium gets into living systems to a much greater extent than the Tritium released by Sellafield. In the RIFE 2000 report concentrations of Tritium in flounders caught near the pipeline were 105,000Bq/kg of which 51,000 Bq were organically bound, & therefore more dangerous owing to a longer biological half life. Fish caught in the river Taff contain 6,000 to 23,000 Bq/kg of organically bound tritium. Land produce also contains Tritium. Cabbage contains 860Bq/kg of which about half is organically bound. Dr C. Busby 2006

There’s plenty of naturally occurring tritium in the environment, and in all living things and in people’s bodies.

Especially if you are living near a CANDU reactor I suppose. Care to locate a reference to support your claim for OTHER areas far away from nuclear reactors?

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The Case Against Tritium in the Environment

“An Ontario government panel recommended in 1994 that the province set a drinking water limit of 100 Bq/L and then lower it to 20 Bq/L over a five-year period.” (c)

Even though it was recommended, it apparently wasn’t achievable, since CANDU reactors release larger amounts of tritium than other designs.

“It is clear from the wealth of tritium data now available that relative biological effectiveness values for tritium radioactive decay are higher than the quality factor of one (unity) generally used in radiation protection calculations.” (e)

“From 1960 through 1970, annual tritium gas releases exceeded 100,000 Curies,…..” (e)

“releases of tritium from nuclear power plants to the atmosphere have reached as high as tens of thousands of curies in one year” (f)

How does the natural banana radioactivity comparison stand up now?

“tritium packs 1.5 to 5 times more relative biological effectiveness (RBE), or biological change per unit of radiation (one rad or 0.01 gray), than gamma radiation or X-rays.” (f)

Dr Rosalie Bertell presents her argument for lowering drinking water tritium pollution limits (g, h)

Tritium releases into air & water from Nuclear Power Plants (i)

(a) http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/content/canada/en/documents-and-links/publications/tritium-hazard-report-pollu.pdf
(b) http://www.odwac.gov.on.ca/standards_review/tritium/Tritium_Radiation_Risks_Additional_Note_for_ODWAC_Fairlie.pdf
(c) http://www.cleanairalliance.org/node/418
(d) http://www.nirs.org/factsheets/tritiumbasicinfo.pdf
(e) http://www.clarku.edu/mtafund/prodlib/miamisburg/radioactive_tritium.pdf
(f) http://www.nirs.org/radiation/tritium/tritiumhome.htm
(g) http://iicph.org/files/health-effects-of-tritium.pdf
(h) http://iicph.org/health-effects-of-tritium-appendix-1
(i) http://www.ieer.org/sdafiles/16-1/tritium_releases.html
(j) http://www.sierraclub.ca/national/documents/tritium-on-tap.pdf
(k) http://www.odwac.gov.on.ca/standards_review/tritium/presentations/Alexandra_Bennett_Precautionary_Principle_Canada.pdf

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Atomic Bomb Data (Basics)

This quote was recently included on 18 Dec 2010

“Dr John Gofman had used the ABCC published data to show that the official risk factors deduced from it were in error by up to 20x, & had pointed out that the results showed a concave (downwards) dose-effect curve in contrast to the LNT model.” Dr C. Busby (UK)

https://bravenewclimate.com/2009/09/19/radiation-facts-fallacies-and-phobias/#comment-109448

It is unknown at this stage if the following basic curve was being referred to by Dr Gofman in the above quote, so it is included as it MAY have been, since it does have a small concave portion near the lower end.

http://www.rerf.or.jp/radefx/late_e/leukemia.html

For additional interest about atomic bomb fallout mentioned by C. Busby (18 Dec 10), see the several menu listings given at:

http://www.idealist.ws/atomicclock.php

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Huw Jones, on 5 August 2010 at 4.58

“People who are exposed to higher rates of radiation on a regular basis – air traffic workers for example, are exposed to a much higher rate of radiation than Nuke workers.” H. Jones

https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/07/28/nuclear-power-yes-please-for-cc/#comment-88240

This would seem to suggest otherwise however:

A study of NRC statistics published in the industry journal, Nuclear Engineering International in 1977, showed that the average exposure of workers in each nuclear reactor complex had steadily increased from 178 rem in 1969 to 457 rem in 1975. About 70-80% of that dose was due to reactor radiation build-up encountered during maintenance. Dr Jim Falk 1982

greg meyerson, on 8 October 2010 at 21.56

one death per 300,000 mrems would mean that one of every three people in northeastern washington state would die from radiotoxicity? (1700 mrem/person/year) before they were 70.

G.M.
https://bravenewclimate.com/2009/09/19/radiation-facts-fallacies-and-phobias/#comment-102679

In addition to the basic points made at:
https://bravenewclimate.com/2009/09/19/radiation-facts-fallacies-and-phobias/#comment-103419

The possible 120 rems accumulated over 70 years in NE Washington state becomes more interesting in view of the above extract from Dr Jim Falk. Some workers were apparently receiving as much as 450+ rems in just 12 months, where N.E.W. residents may be getting about 120 rems over 70 years. The workers would be in a somewhat worse position due to the different types of radiation being encountered during a much shorter period of time (fission products, different radionuclides, different Linear Energy Transfer rates, likely inhalation etc) while the residents would have greater time for any cellular damage to be repaired from different radiochemistry & possibly mainly external exposure. However, there has been some evidence of higher Down Syndrome rates in parts of India (Kerala).

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v262/n5563/abs/262060a0.html

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Machiavelli, on 11 January 2011 at 1:43 PM — I live in eastern Washington state and I assure you that there are no significant sources of radiaion over here.

If you are talking about the Hanford reservation that is central Washington, about a 2+ hour fast drive away.

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David B. Benson, on 11 January 2011

The N.E. Washington State reference was give by a previous contributor, apparently coming originally from the G. Cravens book ‘Power to Save the World’. You will see it further back in this column. See my G.M. link included on 11 Jan 2011. If you don’t agree with that background radiation claim, take it up with the book’s author.

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Nuclear Industry Safety III

“A study of NRC statistics published in the industry journal, Nuclear Engineering International in 1977, showed that the average exposure of workers in each nuclear reactor complex had steadily increased from 178 rem in 1969 to 457 rem in 1975. About 70-80% of that dose was due to reactor radiation build-up encountered during maintenance.” Dr Jim Falk 1982

“ At a press conference to explain the changes, the NRPB’s new director Dr Roger Clarke, admitted there were about 2,000 British nuclear workers in 1987 occupationally exposed to more than the new limits, while thousands more had been similarly overexposed in earlier years. What he was in effect saying was that for the last 40 years, ever since the dawn of the nuclear age, the Government’s advice had been wrong. Radiation was in fact far more dangerous at lower doses than had been thought earlier.” J. Cutler & Rob Edwards 1988

“An important factor is the difficulty & duration in repair work. In high radiation environments, a welder may receive his permissible (3 mth) dose in only a few minutes. Thus several hundred welders may take several months to do a job that may only take two welders 2-3 days in a fossil-fuel plant.” F.P.J. Robotham 1979

The number of workers required for major repairs on nuclear reactors can reach an impractically large figure. In the US, the Indian Point #1 reactor near New York developed problems with its steam generator. It eventually took 1,500 men to repair the defective welds. Virtually every qualified welder in the area was required to be exposed up to the dose limit within about 20 minutes. Nearly all qualified ultrasonic testers in the country were also required. Dr Jim Falk 1982

Where are more unexposed welders going to come from to repair other major nuclear projects, while the above 1,500 are excluded from further nuclear work for their entire dose allowance period?

“By the second decade of radiology, reports of pernicious anaemia & leukaemia in American radiologists began to appear. It has been estimated that some of these early radiologists received doses greater than 100 rad/year.”

Radiological Science for Technologists Stewart Bushong 2008 Chap 36

Despite the different radioactivity characteristics between the radiologist’s & nuke worker’s exposures, the apparently similar dose range suggests some nuke workers will experience ill-effects. So much for a ‘safe’ industry.

Let’s see how safe & environmentally friendly nuclear power was elsewhere:

The successes in the area of atomic power plant safety as a whole have been so great that the selections of locations for atomic power plants at the present time is not limited by safety requirements, being determined only by technical & economic factors. (A.N. Komarovskiy)

This being so, it might be expected that Soviet regulations would be designed to keep reactor emissions of radiation to a much lower level than is permitted in the USA. However, this is not the case. In the 1960’s, a Soviet pressurised water reactor was permitted to release 12x as much radiation from noble gases, & 100x as much radioactive iodine-131 as in the USA. The resulting thyroid dose could’ve been over 4x that permitted by US regulations. Dr Jim Falk 1982

Dr Rosalie Bertell comments on the US releases during this period for comparison:

Small particulates & some radioactive gases escape from the fuel rods into the air or water within the reactor. This water as either steam or liquid effluence, needs to be periodically released into the environment. They are supposed to be held back in decay tanks until the short-lived radio-isotopes have decayed sufficiently. It is not possible to operate a nuclear plant without any releases of fission fragments & activation products. Typical release figures for one operating (1,000 MWe) nuclear reactor, would be between 10,000 – 100,000 curies of radioactive gases, 1 – 10 curies of halogens & particulates & 100 – 10,000 curies of tritium each year, assuming no abnormal operation.

(Radiological Quality of the Environment in the United States 1977: EPA520/1-77-009)
See graphs on pages 156-159, where PWR & BWR differences are very obvious.

The banana radioactivity comparison is looking a bit weak even for US figures. Soviet releases must have been enormous (12x). They obviously couldn’t care much about public health.

At the ‘back-end’ of the nuclear fuel cycle, although the uses of plutonium has been admitted as being hazardous & capable of leading to proliferation of nuclear weapons, the desire to use nuclear energy is considered sufficiently strong to make its use ‘obligatory’. The Soviet strategy for handling reactor waste is based on reprocessing it & recycling the plutonium. The highly radioactive liquid residues from this process have been pumped under pressure into deep boreholes in the ground, a practice that would be considered highly controversial elsewhere.

The reluctance of the Soviet authorities to publically admit the 1957 disaster in the Urals was matched by a reluctance to any nuclear accidents whatsoever. In 1979, the Power & Electrification Minister admitted that at least two serious accidents had occurred in Soviet plants. These involved fractured cooling pipes & an exploding steam generator. In October 1979, Soviet scientists publically admitted that in all their experimental fast-breeder reactors the liquid sodium coolant had at one time or another caught fire. Unofficial reports vividly describe a major fire which occurred in the Beloyarsk fast-breeder reactor (early 1979) & almost led to an evacuation of nearby villages.

According to the Czech human rights group Charter-77, employees at the Soviet-built Jaslovske Bohunice nuclear power station had been compelled (under loss of premium payments) to expose themselves to radiation levels well above the safety standard. In January 1976, an error occurred in the manual fuel rod mounting process – the electro-mechanical fuel loader was never built. A fuel element shot out of the reactor under a pressure of about 60 atmospheres, along with large amounts of radioactive CO2 (gas coolant). Since an escape door had been locked at the time, two workers had been suffocated inside. Six weeks later another accident led to radioactive material entering a drainage system & contaminating a stream. Dr Jim Falk 1982

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Mac last time I said “Mac none of these links prove anything you say. They all simply assume LNT & thu8s “prove” it.” Despite all your bouilerplating you have, yet again, made no attempt to do so & the assumption must be that you knopw you cannot.

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Low Dose Ionisimg Radiation & Cancer Risk

The linear no-threshold model has gradually developed during the approximately 100 years that has passed since the first discovery of the carcinogenic effect of ionizing radiation in 1902. Before the Second World War radiation protection was based on the assumption of a “tolerance dose” below which no demonstrable harm could be measured. However, in light of the emerging effects seen in the atomic bomb survivors, the concept of a threshold was abandoned and the current belief is that exposure to ionizing radiation, no matter how small, carries a risk of detriment with the risk being proportional to the dose accumulated. (a, p22)

History of ICRP Standards for Radiation Workers (The Ecologist Nov 1999)
1931 – 73 rem (approximate dose for the early erythemal dose standard)
1936 – 50 rem
1948 – 25 rem
1954 – 15 rem
1977 – 5 rem
1990 – 2 rem

In the early years, it is readily seen why they thought there might be a threshold level, since 50-70 rem was much higher than natural background levels.

There has been extensive debate as to the shape of the dose response curve at doses below levels where effects could be measured. It has been postulated that by exposing cells to a low dose of ionizing radiation would make them less susceptible to a later high dose exposure. Animal studies have shown prolonged latency periods for leukaemia and more efficient DNA repair in mice previously exposed to an adapting dose compared to those not pre-irradiated. Even a beneficial effect of low dose of ionizing radiation, termed hormesis, has been discussed and the belief is that metabolic detoxification and cell repair benefits from doses in the range of 1-50 mSv. It has even been suggested that atomic bomb survivors have had a beneficial effect of the exposure to ionizing radiation. The hormesis hypothesis is intriguing, especially in the light of the adaptive response findings, but data must still be considered inconclusive. (a, p22)

Possible Hormesis Explanation (Dr Martland’s finding)

The US Radium Corporation assured investigators that radium was not harmful at the minute levels being used compared with the erythemal dose (as much as 70 rad) from an X-Ray machine. They attributed their ill-health to poor dental hygiene. Also in 1924 a consultant dentist who had treated one dial-painter in 1923, had published a paper in the JADA. The article was noticed by the Medical Examiner of Health, Dr H. Martland for Essex County, home of the radium factory. A Prudential Life Assurance statistician also became involved. He later reported to the AMA in 1925, adding his suspicion that some factor related to the work at the Radium Company was killing the dial-painters. The company continued to argue that this was impossible, that the exposure was too low. What no-one knew outside the Radium Plant’s management however, was that they had already commissioned their own study using the Harvard School of Public Health, who had readily identified radium as the culprit, well before the Essex Examiner of Health did. Dr Martland even found that the early stages of internal irradiation made the victims feel well, attributing that to the greater stimulated production of red-blood-cells. Even the Radium Company’s chief chemist died of acute anaemia. Radioactivity was found in his bones & lungs. Since he had not painted dial faces, he acquired his fatal dose from inhalation. The Radium Company refused to accept the radiation poisoning hypothesis. They commissioned new studies that exonerated them & blocked unfavourable reports using legal pressure. Eventually, some cases were settled out of court. Dr C. Busby UK 1995 C. Caulfield 1989

Stimulated red-blood-cells could readily be interpreted as a hormesis effect. But is it really appropriate to prescribe small doses of radium medicine to improve people’s blood count, when the safety margin can be narrow? Unfortunately, there are many drugs in use that also have such a narrow safety margin. There are better ways to improve blood cell count. So to pass off radiation as therapeutic in small doses for wide application to the public is a gross misapplication in view of the many variables that will affect the radiation response in people. Improving nutrition would be a much safer way to optimise blood cell count. Similarly with Botox treatment for wrinkles – it has a narrow safety margin.

R. M. Sievert, the famous radiologist, who had supervised radiation therapy since 1926 at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, pointed out at an international meeting in 1950 that ‘there is no known tolerance level for radiation’. A tolerance level is a level below which there is no damage (threshold). A safety level is ordinarily a fraction (one-tenth) of the tolerance level. Dr Rosalie Bertell 1985-86

All available experimental evidence shows that ionising radiation has NO beneficial effects on the exposed cells. The situation is best summarised by ICRP (1956): “While the values proposed for maximum permissible exposure are such as to involve a risk that is small compared to the other hazards of life, nevertheless, in view of the unsatisfactory nature of much of the evidence on which our judgements must be based, coupled with the knowledge that certain radiation effects are irreversible or cumulative, it is strongly recommended that every effort be made to reduce exposures to all types of ionising radiations to the lowest possible level.”

Nuclear Explosions & Their Effects (Govt of India -1958)

For R.M. Sievert & the ICRP to adopt their above views so early in the 1950’s seems highly significant, even after the ‘red-blood-cell’ apparent hormesis effect was suggested in the tragic dial-painter investigation. It appeared to be that initial effect that mislead many buyers of the ‘Radiothor’ waters to continue drinking them, certainly to the fatal detriment of one US businessman in 1932. His body had serious demineralisation.

Since it also appears likely that any subsequently identified threshold tolerance level will be fairly low & possibly only valid under very specific conditions, like Linear Energy Transfer, radionuclides & types of radioactivity, then a safety margin of just 10% of that isn’t going to give any room to operate safely for the nuclear industry. One can therefore see why the industry is ‘encouraging’ the highest possible hormesis level to be adopted.

In the atomic bomb survivors, nuclear workers, and in children exposed to external photon radiation developing thyroid cancers it has been shown that the risk of cancer is increased even at doses below 100 mSv. We don’t know if there are radiation doses below which there is no significant biological change or below which the damage induced can be effectively dealt with by normal cellular processes. The Japanese data could not exclude a threshold of 60 mSv. (a, p30)

Some researchers think the Japanese LSS has some significant flaws however.

Click to access HiroshimaStudy.pdf

Research will focus on understanding cellular processes responsible for recognising and repairing normal oxidative damage and radiation-induced damage. If the damage and repair induced by low-dose radiation is the same as for other oxidative damage, it is possible that there are thresholds of damage that the body can handle. On the other hand, if the damage from ionizing radiation is different from normal oxidative damage, then its repair, and the hazard associated with it, may be unique and a threshold will never be identified. (a, p31)

This would seem to imply that cellular repair mechanisms have evolved for oxidative damage instead of damage from more recently arrived fission products. If it can be shown how nuclear fission products might affect cell performance differently, then the above statement would be strengthened.

(a) http://ec.europa.eu/energy/nuclear/radiation_protection/doc/publication/125.pdf

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Unique Internal Radiation Effects

Linear Energy Transfer is a measure of the rate at which energy is transferred from ionising radiation to soft tissue. It is another method of expressing radiation quality & determining the value of radiation weighting factor (WR) used in radiation protection. The LET of diagnostic x-rays is approximately 3 keV per micrometer. When LET is high, ionisations occur frequently, increasing the probability of interaction with the target molecule. Stewart Bushong 2008

Two important high-LET particles from the nuclear industry are alpha particles & neutrons. Keep in mind however, other low-LET emitters can still have additional factors that make them threatening.

Radiation interacts randomly with matter, following a statistical law called the Poisson distribution.

‘Radiological Science for Technologists’ Stewart Bushong 2008

The activity of a sample of radioactive material obviously depends on the isotope’s half-life & the quantity present. It is not always appreciated how small a quantity of material is involved in low-level radiation transfer processes, especially with high activity isotopes. Just 1 KiloBecquerel of Sr-90 represents about 1.3 x 10E12 atoms (approximately 190 picograms).
This inconceivably small quantity of Sr-90, invisible to the naked eye, when diluted into 1 kilogram of sheep meat represents the present (1995) hazard cut-off level for the sale of radioactively contaminated lamb in the UK. In Nth Wales, following the Chernobyl fallout, there were still restrictions on the sale of animals that remained contaminated above the cut-off level 8 years after the accident occurred 1,600 miles away in the Ukraine. The estimated amount of Sr-90 (or Cs-137) represents about one atom for every five cells in the 1 kg of sheep tissue. Dr C. Busby UK

Strontium-90 has an activity of about 140 curies per gram, while radium has 1 curie per gram. The bone cancer rate in the radium dial-painters was about 80x normal. Even though the type of radioactivity is different, Sr-90 will still be dangerous.

Insult from ionizing radiation is always in the form of individual structured tracks. At the cellular level the possible responses are limited by the numbers & variety of them & on the time interval between them. Most situations of practical interest in radiation protection are characterised by single tracks well separated in time from any other tracks in the same cell.
A wide variety of initial damage is possible at the DNA level due to the traversal of just one single track. Therefore no dose threshold can be expected for such molecular damage. A crucial question is how the cell may respond to such damage, received in isolation & how this response may be modified by additional uncorrelated damage elsewhere in the cell but received a considerable time either earlier or later.

From NBR, there is on average about one track per year through each cell nucleus. Therefore it is highly unlikely there will be multiple tracks in the short times (< 1 day) over which repair of cellular radiation-induced damage is usually observed to occur. As a result, the tracks should act independently of one another for inducing single permanent changes (e.g. mutations, chromosome aberrations) in the cells. The main exceptions to this might arise when larger total doses are received or the dose-rate is considerably higher. A worker at the 50mGy (5 rad) annual limit for low LET radiation for example, will receive J50 tracks per cell nucleus during the year, which is about 1 per week on average.

Available experimental & epidemiological data on radiation mutagenesis or tumorigenesis can be considered in terms of three regions of the dose-response, defined by the average number of radiation tracks per cell. In the low-dose region, there are so few radiation tracks that a single cell or nucleus is very unlikely to be hit by more than one track. D. Goodhead UK

Professor Goodhead has also provided a useful general update recently.

“There exists, at least some, scientific support for each of the diverse shapes of dose response illustrated”. (fig #1)

Click to access 109.full.pdf

Even though there could be a case for each one of the curves shown in fig #1 above, (depending on all the experimental variables involved), a single given curve will unlikely apply in all other conditions of exposure. Therein lies the current prudent logic of the LNT model for general use. The number of identified variables could therefore prevent a rigidly accurate ‘universal’ dose-response curve from EVER being established for application to EVERY type of exposure circumstance with the introduction of nuclear power.

Therefore, for the nuclear industry to be willing to spend huge amounts of largely government funds based on very tenuous hormesis health claims, would be irresponsible at best, since radiation issues are NOT as simple as the industry implies despite their continuing blatant attempts to blur the distinctions between all the variables in radiation analysis & still claim “radiation is radiation”. Nuclear power will NOT be the final option, so the nuclear industry can go ‘jump in a bog’. Just because their economy is about $14 trillion in debt, does not mean we have to accept their heavily flawed technology.

http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/obamas-debt-bell-tolls-20110126-1a5ee.html

http://www.icrp.org/docs/Low-dose_TG_rept_for_web.pdf (p12, lines 9-15)

The pattern of change in radiosensitivity as a function of phase in the cell cycle is called the age-response function, varying among cells. Stewart Bushong 2008

Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation – keiserstudents.tripod.com (slides 19-22)

Radiosensitivity is based on several factors, including the stage of the cell cycle, cell age, oxygen content, state of repair mechanisms, amount and type of radiation, amount of damage, genetic susceptibility & stability, cell differentiation, and presence of other protecting chemicals. In many cells, the cell cycle and what stage the cell is in are the major factors in radiosensitivity. Certain cell cycle stages (i.e., stages M and G2) are more sensitive to radiation than others (i.e., stage S), so cells that spend more time in the sensitive stages are more sensitive to permanent damage.

https://hps.org/publicinformation/ate/q910.html

Another example of previously held beliefs on threshold doses being incorrect: (p 26)

Click to access icrp_konf2007_vortrag_mueller.pdf

More detail (in passing) for Greg Meyerson
https://bravenewclimate.com/2009/09/19/radiation-facts-fallacies-and-phobias/#comment-101138

“These deaths mentioned from release of fission products. How are they calculated? Extrapolations from collective dose?” G. Meyerson

http://www.e-radiography.net/radsafety/rad_biology.htm (particularly Table 2-3)

Cell Cycle Repair Vulnerability

It is already known, from cell culture experiments where the cells are irradiated with short doses of X-rays, that there is a very sensitive period in the cell division cycle. Once initiated, the repair sequence & the resulting cell division cannot be stopped without killing the cell. Unfortunately, the repair system can only cope with damage that occurs once. Sub-lethal damage incorporated into the DNA during this period is not repaired. The attack on a cell by the first of two sequential decays will put the cell into its replication cycle, preparing it for a second event during a critical high sensitivity period. Dr C. Busby (UK)

Since 1945, isotopes that are extraordinarily efficient at causing this kind of damage have been created by nuclear fission. Sr-90 is arguably the most dangerous example of a second-event emitter, & is almost a million times more likely to interfere with the 20-minute (mutation sensitive) G2-M period in the cell cycle than external radiation at the same dose. Dr C. Busby (UK)

For radiation impinging on a body externally, the probability of a second event is much less. NBR delivers only about one event/cell/year (usually low LET external radiation), a rate that is easily repairable. One single atom of Sr-90 delivers two events in the cell it inhabits & in cells in the path of its decay particle track, doubling the dose those cells would receive from NBR. Internal natural radioisotopes (Carbon-14 & Potassium-40) are single event emitters, while others can be single or multiple alpha emitters. Dr Goodhead has noted the probability of (external) NBR hitting a cell twice within the 10-12 hr repair period is about 1 in 10,000. If the shorter 20-minute mutation sensitive G2-M cell cycle period is used, then the probability of a second track into the same cell is about 1 in 3 million/year. Dr C. Busby (UK)

For internal irradiation, the situation is different. It is possible that internal immobilised isotopes with sequential decay pathways can be considered to deliver their own split doses under optimum conditions & that they can thus bypass the repair mechanisms which have evolved to deal with single hits (from external NBR). To do this, the isotope has to remain inside its own decay particle radius over the 12 hrs of the repair cycle for any significant effect. Dr C. Busby (UK)

What it all means is, the existence of repair cycles was at first hailed as a great idea by the nuclear establishment since it meant low levels of dose might have no effect & there could be a threshold defining a range of low dose in which nuclear pollution would be harmless. Unfortunately, the repair cycle can itself be attacked (by multiple-decay internal emitters). Initial evidence for this came from the split-dose experiments having serious implications for the nuclear industry. The split-dose experiments identify a critical weakness in the defence systems provided by evolution to resist damage from external radiation or from internal singly decaying isotopes, both of which have very low probability (in the normal range of NBR) of attacking the nuclear DNA and/or the repair structures twice inside the cell-replication cycle of 12 hrs. Dr C. Busby (UK)

See also page 10, lines 17-25, for a similar recognition of overwhelmed repair mechanisms:

Click to access Low-dose_TG_rept_for_web.pdf

Anomalous Biological Responses to Sr-90

Stokke, Oftedal, & Pappas in 1968, investigated (internal) Sr-90 effects on rat bone-marrow. Levels of radiation involved in the production of pathological changes were as low as 0.01 mGy. This involved mean dose-rates as low as 0.005 times NBR. Results show loss of bone cells in the rat femur plotted against the Sr-90 dose in mrad. Note the effects are occurring well below the NBR level. A 25% reduction in cellularity is produced by a dose of only 10 mGy (1,000 mrad) over 12 weeks. This, like the mouse foetal deaths, was a totally unexpected finding. Dr C. Busby (UK)

See also a 10% cellularity decrease for only about 20 mrad internal dose over 12 weeks.

http://informahealthcare.com/doi/pdf/10.3109/02841866809133205 (fig 3)

So why should 5x NBR be still expected to be harmless.

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Your last quote is interesting though it would, in the proper scientific manner, have to be replicated. As it says the result is unexpected even under the LNT theory & may well be due to some other effect or to statistical sample size.

The rest is yet more biolerplating of people saying LNT must be so because people say it is so.

Regarding the radium paint deaths – there were certaiobnly deaths among people who had had high doses – that is predicted by hormesis & is thus not evidence against it.

Note that the LNT theory, described in your quote above as “the possible responses are limited by the numbers & variety of them & on the time interval between them” predicts that large multicellular animals like elephants will have far more exposures than flies and will thus die like flies, whereas flues won’t. There seems to be little experimental evidence for this :-)

You have previously claimed, in support of the LNT theory, that Chernobyl killed 1 million people. Since this is 250,000 more than even the strongest LNT proponents predicted while I have said there is no evidence of subsequent excess deaths perhaps this is a point where producing your ecidence, if any, would decisively help your case.

Or perhaps tou could deal with the evidence i previously linked to.

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How the US Government Treated the Early Nuclear Workers & Residents

Eventually the Manhattan Project no longer needed the processing plant in Canonsburg, & in 1960 the factory was closed down. The nuclear industry had become the concern of the AEC, which decided in 1965 to bury about 4,500 tons of uranium-contaminated material alongside the town. The Union of Concerned Scientists said that the waste was at least 100x more radioactive than the AEC’s own minimum regulations permitted, & they must have known it at the time.

The waste was bulldozed into a swamp where for years radioactive sludge had been poured. The whole lot was then covered over with earth & rubble, on top of which was poured porous waste from steel mills. The land was finally flattened out & part of it became a recreational facility & baseball pitch. Then in 1963, Robert Gallagher, a health physicist who specialised in radiation safety, was asked to survey part of the area for industrialists who wanted to build on it. ‘A person would’ve got a dose of radiation in 10 hours that was more than the acceptable exposure for an entire year. And that was based on average readings, where some were much higher.’ He told his clients that the ground was heavily irradiated & unfit for industrial use except at vast cost, but his findings were never made known.

Janis Dunn, a housewife, was so concerned at the number of illnesses among her family & friends that she did a small survey of her own. She lived in a street of houses built in 1957, right next to the dump. In 1980, she began knocking on doors, where she found 67 cancer cases behind 45 of them. In one street with 59 people, she found 20 cancers. ‘Every house on the three streets nearest the site had at least one cancer case or related death. The national leukaemia rate is 3-4 in 100,000. I found four cases in one street of only10 houses’ she said.

At one house in Payne Place, almost next to the dump itself, Mr K. Davis produced all the family death certificates for her to see. About 14 husbands & wives had died of cancer. The Pittsburgh Press found that 37 residents of Payne Place, spanning three generations, had died of cancer. They found another three current sufferers. In the next street they found 13 cancer-related deaths in 10 houses. It transpired that from 1977 low-flying aircraft were making radiological surveys, & in 1979 government test on soil samples had revealed huge amounts of radioactive contamination. At this stage however, government experts were still telling Canonsburg residents that there was nothing to worry about. According to the US government’s own figures, soil samples from the Canonsburg dump showed concentrations of radium-226 ranging from 21,800 picocuries per gram, & concentrations of uranium proper as high as 51,000 picocuries per gram. Radon gas from the dump showed an average of 106.5 picocuries per litre, when about 0.3 picocuries per litre of air would be the natural rate. Some of the readings were 757x the natural background level.

Nor was it just the dump that caused anxiety. For years people had been using rubble from the site as hardcore for garage floors & porches. Scientists had found a further 130 radioactive hotspots all over the town, including bedroom walls, tool sheds, bathrooms & children’s sandpits. One resident simply walked out of her house for good after her front steps & porch were found to be heavily contaminated, & she was told not to use her front door. She had sat for hours on that porch & her son had played in the sandpit. In 1984, Dr Rosalie Bertell was called in by residents where she agreed to co-ordinate a special testing programme to be carried out by a scientist at the US Argonne Laboratory, but before it could get underway, the laboratory’s funding was cut & the scientist was sacked. The man in charge of the clean-up operation, David Bull from the US Department of Energy, insists there is no evidence that low-level radiation damages health. He has assured residents that the new dump with its clay cap, fence & warning signs will be regularly checked & be safe for 1,000 years. If the state & federal governments didn’t think there was a real health hazard, then why the clean-up operation? Judith Cook 1986

http://www.usatoday.com/news/poison/001.htm
http://www.usatoday.com/news/poison/002.htm
http://www.usatoday.com/news/poison/004.htm
http://www.usatoday.com/news/poison/005.htm
http://www.usatoday.com/news/poison/006.htm
http://www.usatoday.com/news/poison/008.htm
http://www.usatoday.com/news/poison/009.htm
http://www.usatoday.com/news/poison/010.htm
http://www.usatoday.com/news/poison/012.htm
http://www.usatoday.com/news/poison/014.htm
http://www.usatoday.com/news/poison/015.htm
http://www.usatoday.com/news/poison/016.htm
http://www.usatoday.com/news/poison/017.htm
http://www.usatoday.com/news/poison/018.htm
http://www.usatoday.com/news/poison/019.htm

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“she began knocking on doors, where she found 67 cancer cases behind 45 of them”

This is exactly the sort of personal anecdotal evidence that convinced people the MMR jab had to be dangerous or indeed that little old ladies were in league with the devil to make their hens stop laying.

It is not science.

I assume Macc knows this perfectly well.1

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Neil Craig, on 9 February 2011 at 3:43 AM said:

“This is exactly the sort of personal anecdotal evidence that convinced people the MMR jab had to be dangerous or indeed that little old ladies were in league with the devil to make their hens stop laying. It is not science.” N.C.

Assuming the 67 cancer cases were accurate, then that is very adequate statistics to start with, because there is a much better known association between radiation & cancer than any devil influencing the hen-laying relation. Cherry-picking your data again. There were other figures given for cancer cases too.

Deliberately trivialising such tragic cancer clusters is despicable, when in the same breath relating them to your ‘hen-laying’ nonsense. That grubby diversionary tactic can hardly be called science. How about actually supplying a good SCIENTIFIC reason why all those cases could not be caused by the nearby waste dump or the uranium dust released from the factory, instead of the junk argument you have just given? Here’s another chance to see what you can do using just SCIENCE. How many more opportunities do you need?

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Neil Craig, on 8 February 2011 at 2:49 AM said:

“Your last quote is interesting though it would, in the proper scientific manner, have to be replicated.” N.C.

I have also made that comment in an earlier post using other statements from different scientists, having included enough extracts & links to show that NBR is NOT completely benign. You are ignoring them or do not understand them. “A proper scientific manner” has also been pointed out to you earlier, yet you continue to ignore it. Background radiation effects have been studied for decades. The one below shows a weak connection with papillary thyroid cancer in young European children, while another recently included link showed a possible Down’s Syndrome effect in India. All you are doing is clutching at straws while scratching around for anything to criticise regardless of its validity.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg17723770.200-background-radiation-enough-to-trigger-cancer.html (May have to subscribe to read full article, or see library copy)

“As it says the result is unexpected even under the LNT theory & may well be due to some other effect or to statistical sample size.” N.C.

Another misinterpretation. If you are referring to the rat-bone marrow comments from Dr C. Busby (27 Jan 11), then it really means the results were a surprise to people who supported the safe threshold theory & were likely not familiar enough with internal radiation effects. Dr Goodhead’s graph (fig 1) in the ‘oxford journal’ link will also apply here with four model curves. The LNT is not a foregone conclusion yet & is certainly not mentioned as such in the extract. It isn’t clear yet which precise model the rat-bone marrow example follows, so the LNT is ASSUMED by many.

“The rest is yet more biolerplating of people saying LNT must be so because people say it is so.” N.C.

Not so again. The included quotes are from people well qualified to comment on such controversial issues. Until you can show you have similar expertise in radiation biology or physics as the scientists I have included, then their views & research will have much greater weight than your untrained (& obviously biased) opinion. You invoked a ‘proper scientific manner’ above – how about using it yourself. Likewise as above, Dr Goodhead’s fig 1 shows the LNT model is NOT automatically applicable to EVERY circumstance.

“Regarding the radium paint deaths – there were certainly deaths among people who had high doses – that is predicted by hormesis & is thus not evidence against it.” N.C.

You miss the point – I wasn’t trying to argue your above theme, even though I don’t totally agree with your ‘predicted by hormesis’ comment. My example wasn’t included as evidence against hormesis at all. The title reveals why it was included – ‘Possible Hormesis Explanation’. It was included to show what Dr Martland found, which is really the opposite to what you have said in your criticism. An additional reason for including it, was to demonstrate the typical way industry responds to a total employer stuff-up in protecting the painter’s health. Then they resort to all the dirty tricks to minimise their responsibility – just what the nuclear industry continues to do now.

“Note that the LNT theory, described in your quote above as “the possible responses are limited by the numbers & variety of them & on the time interval between them” predicts that large multicellular animals like elephants will have far more exposures than flies and will thus die like flies, whereas flies won’t. There seems to be little experimental evidence for this.” N.C.

It appears you have misinterpreted the situation yet again. Dr Goodhead has not included the LNT theme in that paragraph, & has already included a good graph (fig 1) showing how there is evidence for all the curves, so again, the LNT is not necessarily a foregone conclusion as you seem to think.

Your extraordinary ‘elephant-fly’ prediction reveals a failure in the understanding of basic radiation from internal emitters in living organisms & is invalid if just being based upon your chosen brief quote as it appears to be. If you really feel your prediction is valid, then kindly provide some detailed logic & reasoning for it to support your case.

“You have previously claimed, in support of the LNT theory, that Chernobyl killed 1 million people. Since this is 250,000 more than even the strongest LNT proponents predicted while I have said there is no evidence of subsequent excess deaths perhaps this is a point where producing your evidence, if any, would decisively help your case.” N.C.

Firstly, I have already included a comment earlier about Dr J.Gofman’s prediction of 950,000 delayed deaths. He was also an MD. So there WAS someone else predicting more than 250,000 delayed casualties. Apparently you have missed that, along with the New York Academy of Sciences book giving the evidence for such figures published in March last year. I have also given a link to another similar online book from Dr C. Busby. I suggest you read them.

You seem to have misunderstood another point. My inclusion of links about the Chernobyl delayed deaths (mid 2010) was not done specifically to promote the LNT, but more to illustrate further that nuclear power fission products are sufficiently different from natural background radiation to make them a more serious threat to complex organic life forms. Additional points to support this theme have been included recently to complement the earlier ones. The approach used by your side to oversimplify radiation complexities by saying “radiation is radiation,” will be seen as obvious evasion by many others who are more familiar with radiation. Just like the pro-nuke ‘averaging’ approach also used to hide greater amounts of radioactivity in certain areas. All the amateur nuclear power fanatics (as opposed to the more rational but mislead supporters) are well out of their depth as they have limited experience & training in medicine or biology or the effects of radiation on organisms. All they can do is to conduct an intellectually dishonest ridicule approach because their industry is threatened with extinction.

“Or perhaps you could deal with the evidence I previously linked to.” N.C.

Again, I have already adequately countered the theme implied in your earlier links with all the included material in this column since I began in mid-2010, without detailed reference to each of your links. You are just continuing your unscientific denial & hypocrisy while claiming to promote a ‘proper scientific manner’. All my included industry scientist & engineer quotes clearly show the nuclear power option is also dangerous, inefficient & expensive insanity. If you still cannot see that (even from just my excerpts & links), then you had better return to whatever you were doing prior to visiting this site. They are some of the best representatives in the early & recent nuclear industry, & all you can say is ‘because people say it is so’ while others try to rubbish experienced professionals (MD) like Helen Caldicott. Their professional opinions are of much greater value than anything I have seen from the pro-nuke side on this blog.

If you want more detailed attention to some particular points, then you had better specifically refer to such key points here, with no more than 1 or 2 points at a time (to keep the response brief). But you need to do some homework before you ask some questions, as your comments betray too many misunderstandings & an obvious lack of an open mind. If you think my included extracts & links are numerous, then you are in for a surprise – there is a lot more out there in the history & reference texts. All the radiation experts I have quoted from are definitely more qualified than pro-nuke people like Wade Allison (UK) who has no known training in medicine or biology as compared with Dr Gofman. After a very lengthy experience with the radiation Health Physics department, Dr Karl Morgan was very satisfied there was no threshold level, as was Dr R. Sievert as long ago as 1950. Apparently, you’re not interested in their established expertise. If that is the case, then you might as well give up on your education, as it will be just as likely someone else someday will treat you the same way as you are treating previous generation experts – as nobody’s who must be wrong. If that is what the world is coming to, where blatant denial, irrational fanaticism & vested interests count overpower rational debate & the health of the planet with its people, being defended by many independent qualified researchers, then we are truly heading for disaster. Let’s hope the illogical ones wake up real soon, because we cannot possibly afford to get this major undertaking wrong. Many western countries are currently in significant financial debt, so the best possible choices for energy generation need to be made, & nuclear is definitely NOT the best choice for MANY reasons.

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Three Mile Island (Lesser known points)

The aftermath of the accident seems to show that few people have learned anything from it. In April 1979, it was estimated that the containment building was ‘bathing in a radiation level of up to 30,000 rems’, a level far above the 500 rem lethal dose. Efforts to clean up the plant caused a series of leaks & spills resulting in considerable anxiety among the local population.

In March 1980, the team sent to inspect the cleaning-up operation reported more problems to the NRC. It appeared that the monitoring instruments inside the damaged Unit 2 reactor building were malfunctioning one after the other. It was becoming increasingly difficult to know what was happening. The area was still far too dangerous to enter. By this time the NRC were becoming very worried about the slow pace of the clean-up operation, fearing that the longer it took, the more the plant would deteriorate. There were still huge amounts of radioactive krypton-85 gas floating around the reactor core which might be accidently released.

Before any gas could be released, the staff involved, were told that they had to complete an environmental impact survey which requires forecasts of any short or long-term hazards. When the clean-up team reported that to the NRC, one of the commissioners exclaimed: ‘You can’t sit around here & calculate environmental impact while we have a disaster waiting to happen.’ He continued saying they should’ve entered the containment building somehow months earlier.
The NRC wanted to release the radioactive gas into the atmosphere over a period of a few months, saying that the quantities would be so tiny at any one time that there would be no risk. The wrangles over this continued for a considerable time.

There were now also considerable problems with Unit 1 which had remained shut down since the Unit 2 accident. It was found that Unit 1’s steam generator was badly corroded & would take at least 12 months to repair. This problem affects all PWR’s resulting from a previously unsuspected chemical reaction between the radioactive cooling water & the steel pipe-work carrying it.
Then an undergraduate at Cornell University, came up with another finding about the corrosion. He discovered that one element added to strengthen the steel piping turns into highly radioactive niobium-94 which emits powerful gamma rays with a half-life of 20,300 years, adding to the problems of maintenance, repairs & decommissioning.

Dr E. Sternglass began studying the perinatal death rate in Pennsylvania & nearby states. He found a clearly indicated dramatic increase in the number of infant deaths after the accident in areas of the path of the wind-blown plume. In Pennsylvania, the infant mortality rate rose about 92% in the summer after the accident, when the perinatal death rate is at its lowest. During those four months there had been about 240 baby deaths above the average, altering Pennsylvania’s position from one of the lowest death figures in the US to the highest east of the Mississippi.

An independent study carried out against the wishes of the Pennsylvania state government showed that infants in the area have a 4-fold increase in hypothyroidism. This corroborates the idea that babies were not dying from major radiation exposure but from a slight retardation of the thyroid function which inhibits growth so that babies born full term are not really ready for life. He visited a Hospital in Pittsburgh & others in Harrisburgh, going through every paediatric record, finding ‘that they all died, not of infections or gross congenital defects, but specifically of prematurity & respiratory disease at birth, or both, which is exactly what I predicted.’

On October 2 1985, TMI Unit 1 was started up again amidst wide protests. Litigation had been carried on to the bitter end, but the private owners of the plant had been assisted by the appointment to the US Supreme Court, during the intervening years, of judges by the pro-nuclear Reagan administration. Protestors included among many local residents, the Union of Concerned Scientists, anti-nuclear lobbyists, the republican governor & Pennsylvanian senators. However, the reopening of TMI was crucial to the nuclear industry’s credibility. Judith Cook 1986

http://www.radiation.org/press/pressreleaseThyroid100121.html

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Yet again a vast amount of boilerplating and no evidence.

If you sincerely believe my refusal to accept unverified anecodatal evidence as my being heartless you will, in turn, be publicly on record as saying that you think the witchburners were all right because of the far greater amount of anedotal evidence about witches flying about.

If you are not remotely sincere you won’t.

I gave you what would be, if your claims were remotely true, an open goal in saying evidence of what you allege has been proven – 1 million deaths at Chernobyl> You absolutely failed to produce anye4vidence at all and merely rely on some other econ-Nazi making a marginally less ridiculous claim.

I am forced to accept, since you are maintaining it, that this claim of a million deaths represents the very highest standard of honesty to which you, or any member of the eco-Nazi movement not willing to call you a liar, can ever aspire. The truth is that the evidence shows only just over 50 deaths.

Therefore the very high4st standard of honesty to which MacH can aspitre is to be 0.00005 honest. Can you name any part of the rest of your boilerplating which is 20,000 times more honest than you are capable of, with support – so that it might, conceivably, be worth somebody’s time.

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Neil Craig, on 11 February 2011 at 10:21 PM said:

“Yet again a vast amount of boilerplating and no evidence” N.C.

Anyone who is wide awake & not biased will see that virtually all my entries contain evidence in some form or another as supportive extracts or links. The combined effect of such evidence is more substantial. If key evidence is not available at the time, then I have included a source title for readers to pursue. You’re in total denier mode still & are deliberately using a very restricted definition of ‘evidence’ to suit yourself, just like other restricted (& misleading) definitions used by the nuclear industry. I have suggested you follow certain avenues of research for yourself in order to clarify some points mentioned herein, but instead you continue your ridicule approach. The evidence IS increasing showing nuclear power is burdened with far too many disadvantages. Look at all the (included) industry scientists & engineers who have publicly agreed on basic dangers or economic points.

Take the apparent1 million delayed Chernobyl deaths for example – I have already provided a very adequate explanation why reactor fission products will behave differently to NBR (based upon other expert opinion) & included a further link with comments from a qualified researcher as to why he thinks the total casualty figure MUST be significantly higher using just existing statistical expectancies. That information is based upon well known principles of radiological science. Even though you have had adequate time to read the Academy of Sciences book to see their more detailed evidence, you still keep you head in the sand & deliberately ignore the delayed deaths. Many of your camp then hypocritically refer to the delayed deaths in the coal industry while ignoring radiation delayed affects. If nuclear power radiation dangers REALLY had been overstated, then the error would’ve been noticed by now, considering the elapsed time. The nuclear industry is clinging to the hormesis model like a drowning man from a shipwreck. I have already pointed out why it will not likely save the industry. Even after 55 years of many errors, the industry still claims they have it all under control now – they have learnt. Then how come errors are still occurring?

Your track record exposes you as an extreme denier, hell-bent on personal attacks (even though I am often only reporting other research) & unscientific claims & arguments (devil, witches & eco-Nazi rubbish). You should take a closer look at the wide range of dishonesty displayed in some claims from other NUCLEAR supporters before you make any unsupported accusations against me. I have included some examples already. Some time ago, Prof Brook referred to anti-nuke supporters as being “lazy”, yet you exhibit laziness yourself in not following up on sources of key evidence that I have included. You are not interested in REALLY learning the other side at all, so your debate opinion is heavily biased & therefore worthless. There is much more evidence AGAINST nuclear power than there is FOR it – & the trend is continuing. So you guys are forced into using cheap-shot ridicule. Is that part of scientific debate? Then go & live in a country that uses nuclear power, along with the other extreme nuclear contributors – you should all be very happy, & if you are already living in such a country, then your ‘head in the sand’ approach will be your undoing. Just because you cannot think of any better way to generate truly clean, cheap & safe power doesn’t mean that others cannot.

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“deliberately using a very restricted definition of ‘evidence’ to suit yourself”

What you mean is I am demanding scientific evidence rather than you just boilerplating various people saying it must be so.

I am happy to thus restrict myself to real evidence.

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coal pollution kills people. low levels of radiation don’t.

otherwise there would be a clear correlation between variations in natural radiation and cancer incidence and SMRs.

there isn’t. and because there is not, it’s prima facie reason to reject the bogus one million number.

the number is a fabrication. why accept such stupidity over the chernobyl forum numbers, itself based on LNT, a standard not based on epidemiological evidence.

Please for your entertainment read B Cohen’s article on radon and the LNT, 1995. explain this to us.

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Neil Craig, on 19 February 2011 at 9:22 PM

“What you mean is……….” N.C.

Not at all…….I meant exactly what I have written & definitely NOT what you have suggested. Trying to reinterpret what I meant isn’t part of a scientific debate either?

You still do not follow the more appropriate procedures yourself despite my several invitations to do so. So now your hopeless denialism involves changing the interpretations of my clear wording to suit yourself, rather than confront the greater likelihood that nuclear power has serious hazards & disadvantages – which have been acknowledged by key industry insiders. You must be really hard-up for a counter argument. Contrary to your continuing denial, all my included evidence HAS readily shown up the many weaknesses in pro-nuke claims – you are still continuing to deliberately ignore & ridicule it with false criticisms. The many experts I have used for evidence & professional opinions are well qualified to do so, far more so many contributors on this site. There has been so much evidence included that you choose the lazy approach & resort to unsupported & generalised ridicule. The nuclear dream is such a mess, that some pro-nuke supporters & organisations are readily trying desperately to fool the public with deviously worded claims – designed to mislead. Even the WA Liberal premier isn’t fully convinced yet (a). Here are some questions for you then:

Have you been able to read even some of the American Academy of Sciences book about the Chernobyl death toll yet (b)? It is a specially prepared summary of thousands of medical reports mainly from the countries affected & compiled by experts in their fields. Or do you have such a ‘command’ of the subject that you are not even going to bother? If so, then give us some good technical explanations why the experts I have used for reference cannot possibly be right – without using abuse, ridicule or evasive nonsense. I have included many such explanations to support my case. Here’s your big chance.
(a) http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/nuclear-power-not-an-option-for-wa-premier-says/story-e6frg13u-1225964000361

(b) http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=20908

Gregory Meyerson, on 20 February 2011 at 1:28 AM
In order to answer you more fully, it would help to clarify your SMR abbreviation & give the source for the B. Cohen radon reference. In the meantime however, you can look at my previous entries that still cover all your points adequately, but not all in one place. It would appear you have not really read or understood them, judging from your latest reasoning. The LNT model has already been adequately dealt with recently (c). Then tell us if you have read any of the Chernobyl book from the American Academy of Sciences yet (b).
(c) https://bravenewclimate.com/2009/09/19/radiation-facts-fallacies-and-phobias/#comment-111357

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Mac you missed out what I had actually said what the meaning of your “evidence was” Here it is:

““deliberately using a very restricted definition of ‘evidence’ to suit yourself”

What you mean is I am demanding scientific evidence rather than you just boilerplating various people saying it must be so.

I am happy to thus restrict myself to real evidence.”

Despite the length of your post you have still failed to produce any actual evidence and are still engaged in argument from authority when your “authority” is alarmist activists like Brave New Climate (who unlike this site depend on censoring dissent).

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(Deleted – violation of citation rule)
MODERATOR
As per BNC Comments/Citation rules, (see About page), please re-submit with your refs/links and demonstrate that you have read and assessed the material.

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A friend has challenged me on my claim that there were no radiation deaths from Three Mile Island, referring me to the study of Stephen Wing, who reports measurement of an increased rate of various cancers that correlates with radiation distribution from the accident:

Click to access envhper00314-0052.pdf

Wing’s work is mentioned in comments above, but there is no specific discussion or appraisal.

Can anyone comment on this work? Do I need to back off on my claim?

I note the wikipedia page on TMI health effects describes some back & forth on this study between Wing and other researchers, the outcome of which appears inconclusive. I would expect that if it contentious as to whether or not there is an effect, that even if there is an effect, it must be close to statistical noise.

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Looking up the basic wiki page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Mile_Island_accident_health_effects#Columbia_epidemiological_study I see that there are a number of studies both before and after Wings, all of which find nothing. Add in the fact that Winmg’s was paid for by lawyers trying to sue for “compensation” and I can think of no impartial reason why your driend should wish to put more credence in him than everybody else put together. It is a legal maxim that expert witnesses called by one side in a court case invariably discover that their client’s case is correct.

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