My goal for this Blog site is to share with you various news and current events, views and insights, topics and personal comments related to the Health Mine, radon, radioactivity and fun stuff. Content will mirror most of the postings on the Mine’s Facebook page and those alerts that may be sent via our newsletter at TinyLetter.com. Hope you will enjoy. All comments will be reviewed to weed out spammers.
September 30, 2015
By Jeffry A. Siegel, PhD Charles W. Pennington, MS, MBA and Bill Sacks, PhD, MD
The following op-ed was rejected by a popular physics journal and seven of the country’s leading newspapers, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, and LA Times. It is at least as important to know that the mass media, with the notable exception of our own Green Valley News, generally refuse to acknowledge that, for the better part of a century, the science of radiation biology has been corrupted by special interests, such as self-perpetuating regulatory agencies and certain radiologists whose reputation rests on being harbingers of doom and protectors of the populace. This has caused untold harm to hundreds of thousands of people, who have suffered from unwarranted forced evacuations near nuclear power plant accidents and fear-driven refusal to have necessary and potentially life-saving X-rays and CT scans.
As a radiologist (now retired), Dr. Bill Sacks was trained to fear low-dose radiation, until he began to study the issue some years ago. It is no wonder that so many people outside the field also fear exposure to medical imaging studies and nuclear energy. But the good news is that the fear is entirely misplaced. Natural background radiation from ground and sky far outweigh exposures from medical imaging and nuclear power plants (even after accidents). Furthermore, damage from everyone’s normal metabolic processes outweigh that from natural background by factors of a few million(!). As a result, all plants, animals, and bacteria have evolved repair and defense mechanisms that protect us from radiation damage at these low exposures (though much higher exposures most assuredly sicken and kill). And a growing number of scientists, including the authors of this op-ed, are now trying to protect us from those regulatory agencies, and others, who refuse to admit the truth.
Scientific achievement displays a muddled, disordered topography, with landscapes of wonderful pinnacles, but deep, mysterious crevices denoting failure.
We examine one such crevice that remains uncorrected: the linear no-threshold (LNT) model of radiation-induced cancer, relied upon by governments and advisory bodies as the basis of regulatory policy for 70 years. High-dose radiation can cause cancer, but this has never been shown at low doses in the range of X-ray and computed tomography (CT) examinations or in the vicinity of nuclear power plants.
The proven consequence of high doses has simply been assumed to apply even near zero dose, with no threshold below which it is harmless, producing predictions of cancer at all doses. But the body responds differently to radiation at high and low doses, as proven in many studies: at low doses the body eliminates the damage through a variety of protective mechanisms, evolved in humans from eons of living in a world bathed in slowly delivered but sometimes high-dose natural radiation.
Based on the unwarranted fear of cancer, residents were evacuated from around the Fukushima nuclear plant rather than being sheltered in place, resulting in more than 1,600 deaths. Simple sheltering would have saved many lives. Recently, the Japanese Cabinet has decided to lift evacuation orders; whether residents will actually return is uncertain due to the radiophobia instilled in them over the past four years. Reliance on the LNT model has resulted in even larger health and economic impacts at Chernobyl. All such devastating results of the LNT model have prompted three recent petitions to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to reject this falsehood. Let’s examine how the original formulation of this fear-inducing LNT model came into being.
Fruit fly mutations
Nobelist Hermann Muller, a founding proponent of the LNT model, investigated X-ray effects on fruit fly gene mutations. By the 1940s, emphasized in his 1946 Nobel lecture, he claimed the mutation rate was a linear function of dose down to zero, independent of dose rate, with no threshold below which there is no effect. Muller based his claim upon testing at doses that are quite high (at least 4,000 mGy). (For comparison, U.S. natural radiation exposure averages 3 mGy annually, and a typical CT scan is 10 mGy.) Thus, Muller’s claim of harm down to zero dose was a fiction posing as science.
In 1948-9, Muller’s colleagues’ research found that below 500 mGy flies often had similar or even lower mutation rates than unirradiated flies, especially when dose rate was low enough, suggesting protective responses and a no-harm threshold somewhere below 500 mGy. Some of their results were inconsistent, but rather than continue testing, they arbitrarily and unjustifiably decided that there was no threshold and that dose rate was irrelevant, reinforcing Muller’s false claim.
Fortunately, these researchers left a trail of published data that, when examined today, does confirm a threshold, contrary to their claim. Apparently this result was neither noticed by these investigators nor by any others, until recently discovered by us.
Many, while admitting this absence of evidence, nevertheless believe LNT model-derived “precautions” save lives. But misguided regulation/policy applications of LNT-based hypothetical harm have themselves caused death and psychological damage from unnecessary evacuations following the Chernobyl and Fukushima events, and adverse health consequences from patients’ fear-driven rejection of potentially life-saving X-rays and CTs. Additionally, hundreds of billions of dollars are wasted due to unwarranted fear of low-dose radiation.
Scientists have failed with regard to the science of radiation protection. Unless the accurate LT model, showing no harm from low-dose/dose-rate radiation below thresholds, becomes the basis of radiation regulation, the public will remain exposed to the LNT threat. Science must finally arrive at summary judgment that the LNT model is pure fallacy, thereby alleviating suffering and abating needless, paralyzing public fear. The LT relationship’s threshold with no low-dose radiation harm can free people from the grip of groundless phobias: no harm, no fear
Jeffry A. Siegel, Charles W. Pennington and Bill Sacks belong to Scientists for Accurate Radiation Information (SARI – www.radiationeffects.org). SARI’s members come from 14 countries and are organized around the effort to address what they consider foundational fallacies surrounding radiation that create phobic responses to nuclear energy. Sacks lives in Green Valley.
Caoimhín P. Connell
Forensic Industrial Hygienist
Forensic Applications Consulting Technologies, Inc.
185 Bounty Hunter’s Lane, Bailey CO 80421 Tel: 303 903-7494
A large portion of the general population is under the impression that the scientific community has concluded that exposure to indoor radon conclusively causes cancer, and that there is scientific consensus of this “fact.” Most people are not aware of the fact that there are actually no conclusive studies that have ever demonstrated that exposure to indoor radon, as commonly seen in the overwhelming vast majority of houses, increases the risk of cancer by any amount, and in fact, in the larger and better studies, what we see is that the risk of cancer actually goes down with increasing radon concentrations; to a critical elevated level (not seen in houses) wherein the risk then begins to rise. But those kinds of radon levels where risk increases is virtually never seen in houses.
In fact, even the EPA, buried deep within its risk estimates,3 very clearly reports that it has no evidence that the risk increases, and that even their studies conclude that as radon concentrations in in homes go up, lung cancer rates go down.
The elevated estimates of risk typically reported to the general population have come exclusively from (discredited) mathematical models, supported by a billion dollar radon industry (including academia), for which there is actually very little to no actual scientific support.
The purpose of this discussion is to demonstrate that what people think a scientific paper says, and what the scientific paper may actually say, may in fact be two very different things.
Some visitors who have read our general web discussion on radon wherein we discussion some of these issues, ask about the validity of using risk assessments (mostly by the US EPA), that were published ten or more years ago. Regardless of the date of the risk assessment article, radiation remains the same, human physiology is still the same, and no new profound advances have been made in Euclidean mathematics. As such, although our general web discussion on radon references EPA documents written perhaps ten years ago, the gravamen of the original discussion remains pretty much the same and current with today’s thinking
Some people in the radon industry reference newer articles arguing that newer scientific studies are available that conclusively prove, beyond any doubt, that exposure to residential radon, at concentrations normally seen in houses causes cancer. As an example, one individual, who earns his living by selling radon testing services – and therefore has a vested interest in promoting the notion that indoor radon causes cancer- pointed to three new published studies claiming the new studies prove that residential radon exposure causes cancer. FACTs agreed to provide a critical review of the papers; and we have presented those reviews here.
The reviews presented here have been written for a non-scientific audience. As such, in some cases, the specific language used may lack our normal precision for the sake of clarity. As will be seen, none of the papers support the argument that exposure to radon, as typically seen in residences, poses a demonstrable or significant threat to public health.
The presentation of these papers as a supposed “proof” is a symptom of our society wherein information is presented by people who have never actually read the scientific data or studies, and have no real idea as to what is actually being said by the technical authors. We see this happening more and more, especially in the area of environmental issues such as global warming, wherein the general public has been duped into thinking that there is a scientific basis for the proposition, and that there is a scientific consensus; for which there is no science to support the claims, but there is a lot of emotion created by heavy handed politics. As such, a large fraction of western society presumes that if their government has made a policy regarding the risks of some particular event, then by that very fact, there necessarily must be credibility in the claims.
Read more here:
from World Nuclear Association – Updated January 2015
“Low-level radiation effects”
A lot of research has been undertaken on the effects of low-level radiation. The findings have failed to support the so-called linear no-threshold (LNT) hypothesis. This theory assumes that the demonstrated relationships between radiation dose and adverse effects at high levels of exposure also applies to low levels and provides the (deliberately conservative) basis of occupational health and other radiation protection standards.”
“Increasing evidence suggests that there may be a threshold between 100 and 700 mSv below which no harmful effects of radiation occur. However, this is not yet accepted by national or international radiation protection bodies as sufficiently well-proven to be taken into official standards. However, at low levels of exposure, the body’s natural mechanisms do repair radiation and other damage to cells soon after it occurs, and some adaptive response is stimulated which protects cells and tissues, as with exposure to other external agents at low levels. The ICRP recommends that the LNT model should be assumed for the purpose of optimising radiation protection practices, but that it should not be used for estimating the health effects of exposures to small radiation doses received by large numbers of people over long periods of time.”
“In addition, there is evidence of beneficial effect from low-level radiation (up to about 10 mSv/yr). This ‘radiation hormesis’ may be due to an adaptive response by the body’s cells, the same as that with other toxins at low doses. In the case of carcinogens such as ionizing radiation, the beneficial effect is seen both in lower incidence of cancer and in resistance to the effects of higher doses. This potential hormetic effect is most clearly evident in the data (see Appendix) for over 50,000 survivors of the Hiroshima bomb 1.5 to 3 km from the hypocenter, with dose range 1 to 100 mSv, compared with a large control group.”
by Brian Hanley, February 6, 2014, International Policy Digest (.org)
“The proposition that the USS Reagan crew were contaminated with significant doses of radiation is not credible. Suggestions that the US Navy is somehow hiding something because the ship was not brought back to a US port are equally so. The idea that the crew of the ship are suffering radiation related injury or cancer caused by Fukushima fallout is fantasy. It is just not possible based on what science knows.”
Philadelphia Inquirer article on “Scientists study using low-dose radiation” – email@example.com – GmailSeptember 10th, 2013
Response by Mohan Doss – used with permission:
Sep 9 (1 day ago)
By Marie McCullough, Inquirer Staff Writer
Aug. 13, 2013 — In two recently published peer-reviewed articles, toxicologist Edward Calabrese of the University of Massachusetts Amherst describes how regulators came to adopt the linear no threshold (LNT) dose-response approach to ionizing radiation exposure in the 1950s, which was later generalized to chemical carcinogen risk assessment.