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Archive for the ‘In the News’ Category

Editorial-When scientists fail at science: why low-dose radiation exposure is not to be feared

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

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 – 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.

Nuclear Radiation and Health Effects

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Radiation | Nuclear Radiation | Ionizing Radiation | Health Effects.

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.”


Hot Spots: Earth’s 5 Most Naturally Radioactive Places | WebEcoist

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

Hot Spots: Earth’s 5 Most Naturally Radioactive Places | WebEcoist.

A Sane and Sober Look at the USS Reagan Radiation Contamination Incident

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

A Sane and Sober Look at the USS Reagan Radiation Contamination Incident.

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.”

The 25 Best Nerd Road Trips | Popular Science

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

The 25 Best Nerd Road Trips | Popular Science.

Free Enterprise Radon Health Mine
Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley/
Boulder, Montana N 46.271749 / W 112.154152 Visitors to this former uranium mine pay to sit in lounge chairs 85 feet belowground and breathe the radon gas seeping from the tunnel’s rock walls. The facility, founded in 1952, is one of four radon-therapy sites in the U.S., all in Montana.

Scientists study using low-dose radiation –

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Scientists study using low-dose radiation –

POSTED: September 08, 2013

In very rare cases, using radiation to kill the primary tumor of a patient with metastatic cancer leads to the disappearance of tumors throughout the body.

Scientists can’t explain this amazing collateral effect, but it seems to activate an antitumor immune response.

Mohan Doss, a medical physicist at Fox Chase Cancer Center, believes the distant tumors melt away because of incidental low-dose rays emanating from the high-dose therapy. And that bolsters a theory he has researched for years: radiation at or slightly above natural background levels can stimulate the body’s disease-fighting defenses.

“When you have high-dose radiation, it suppresses the immune system,” he said. “Low doses actually enhance the immune system.”

Toxicologist says NAS panel ‘misled the world’ when adopting radiation exposure guidelines

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Toxicologist says NAS panel ‘misled the world’ when adopting radiation exposure guidelines.

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.

Why Everything You Know About Cancer And The Environment Is Wrong – Forbes

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Why Everything You Know About Cancer And The Environment Is Wrong – Forbes.

by Patrick Michaels, Forbes contributor – Aug. 8, 2013

Perseveration on global warming naturally inclines one to seek out other areas of  “science” where things aren’t exactly what they so obviously are, which brings me to the remarkable work of the most important toxicological scientist you have never heard of,   Dr. Ed Calabrese of the University of Massachusetts.

His work, painstaking and seemingly obscure, is upsetting just about everything we “know” about cancer and other illnesses commonly associated with environmental “pollutants.” If taken to its logical conclusion, it could derail much of Washington’s regulatory bureaucracy, particularly the EPA’s. Not that this is going to happen overnight, but as Calabrese’s work is increasingly accepted (as has been happening in recent years), the current regulatory paradigm will be forced to adjust.

The 25 Best Nerd Road Trips | Popular Science

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

The 25 Best Nerd Road Trips | Popular Science.

Radon bill will not make it through the legislature |

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

Radon bill will not make it through the legislature |

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill sparked by a KSL investigation into Utah’s non-existent radon gas laws will not make it through the legislature.

The bill’s sponsor, Senator John L. Valentine, R-Orem, said the Radon Gas Provisions bill request hasn’t even been drafted. It’s apparently stuck in line at the drafting office with hundreds of other unprocessed bill requests.

“We made budget cuts over the last number of years just like all the agencies did, so we’re seeing a very slow process in getting bills through our offices,” he said. “It’s very much jammed in the system.”

Now, instead of a law to help protect Utahns from exposure to radon gas, Valentine has crafted a concurrent resolution asking for voluntary compliance.

“I don’t like to do laws just to mandate laws just for the sake of mandating. I do like to have people do voluntary things that are in their best interest,” Valentine said. “I think that’s where we start with the concurrent resolution.”