All doses of radiation are harmful. A landmark study of the survivors of the atomic bombings in Japan in 1945 has just been published this week. (‘Studies of the Mortality of Atomic Bomb Survivors, Report 14, 1950–2003: An Overview of Cancer and Non-Cancer Diseases’. Radiation research. 177, 229–243 (2012))
This study presents the strongest evidence to date that the risk of cancer exists at smaller per unit doses of radiation than ever thought. The study also demonstrates for the first time that radiation causes not only cancer but non-cancer diseases such as respiratory, circulatory and digestive diseases. The Radiation Effects Research Foundation in the USA together with the Japanese Government published their fourteenth study as part of an ongoing assessment of the cohort of atomic bomb survivors from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings in 1945.
Previous data have found non statistically significant effects of radiation exposure causing cancer below 100 milliseiverts. A justification used to support the argument in advocating radiation safety programmes around the world thus allowing for greater public exposure to radiation. Report 14 (2012) now shows for the first time that the radiation hormesis theory (that low levels of radiation are not harmful and may even be helpful – via heat shock protein activation) are irrelevant. Interpretation of the study results suggest there is no known threshold below which radiation is safe for humans, even in single, acute exposures.
The implications for public health and safety the world over is astonishing given that government policy for radiation safety is based on the fact that humans can tolerate low levels without causing harm. As Noel Wauchope reports in her article in the Independent Australian this study comprehensively disproves that low levels of radiation are harmless and that promoting public acceptance of low levels of radiation exposure surely requires inquiry.
This will surely shed a new light on the startling facts that less than 5% of cancers treated by radiation therapy are effective. As I write this, the current situation in Fukushima is reaching dire proportions with latest reports suggesting the possibility that as many as 40 million Japanese people are in “extreme danger” of radiation poisoning, and many eastern cities, including Tokyo, may have to be evacuated in the next few weeks or months to avoid extreme radiation poisoning. Remember folks, not any level of exposure is now safe!
It’s now just over a year since the tragic Fukushima disaster. So the nuclear lobby thinks that it’s time to restart the nuclear renaissance, and to get people to stop worrying about ionising radiation. To this end, the industry, and particularly the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have projects under way. In particular, there are two important projects going on — seemingly unrelated ones. But they are, as a matter of fact, closely related. Both aim to dampen the public concern about ionising radiation — indeed, to promote acceptance of “low level radiation”: One sets out to downgrade nuclear emergency procedures. The other aims at discrediting the scientifically accepted model on the cancer risk of low level radiation — known as the Linear No Threshold model (LNT), which states that there is no level below which ionising radiation is not harmful, with risk increasing with each added unit of radiation.
Project 1 – weakening emergency safety standards.
The USA’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have, in recent times, quietly downgraded nuclear emergency procedures. In particular, the new rules almost entirely ignore the radiation hazard. Among the changes to the original 1979 program for nuclear emergency action, they have eliminated the requirement that local responders always practice for a release of radiation.
Also, there is a new requirement that some planning exercises incorporate a reassuring premise — that no harmful radiation is released. As this article comments: 1. many state and local emergency officials say such exercises make no sense in a program designed to protect the population from radiation released by a nuclear accident … and (sic) ‘… The Japanese disaster reinforced such worries when officials told some towns beyond 12 miles from the disabled plant to evacuate.
The U.S. government recommended that Americans stay at least 50 miles from the plant. Soil and crops were contaminated for scores of miles around. At one point, health authorities in Tokyo, 140 miles away, advised families not to give children the local water, which was contaminated by fallout to twice the government limit for infants. ” And the NRC and FEMA plan to review their procedures soon — in all likelihood, to continue their history of watering down safety standards, even to wholly ignore problems hen encountering violations at the nation’s aging reactors. (This is detailed by David Worthington in ‘US nuclear safety regulations softened by industry influence’.)
Project 2 – discrediting the radiation risk model The U.S. Department of energy funds research projects worldwide that promote the theories of “radiation hormesis” and “adaptive radiation”. Radiation hormesis holds that, at a low level, radiation is not only harmless, but actually good for human health. Adaptive radiation holds that people exposed to low level radiation, over time, become resistant to its cancer-causing effects.
It’s easy to see how well this fits in with a relaxing of the rules for safety around nuclear facilities, and a public complacency about the nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. I don’t want to spend too much time on the array of reports publicizing these DOE-funded research efforts. The latest one comes from MIT, a study that suggests that at low doses, radiation poses little risk to DNA. This study was done on mice over just five weeks, and came to the conclusion that the USA’s nuclear emergency procedures might be “too conservative”— that is, pay too much attention to radiation risks. The study ignores “internal emitters” — i.e. the effects of a speck of radioactive material that might enter the body and lodge in the lung or the gut. It also ignores other research studies, such as those on wildlife near Chernobyl.
In addition, a very small number of mice were used in the MIT study: just 112 test subjects and 112 control. In quite a bewildering array of research studies funded by DOE the same reassuring results come up — complete with the same omissions and flaws. Prominent among these are: Bobby Scott of Lovelace Institute, New Mexico, and a DOE Low Dose contractor — that is, the part of DOE called Low Dose Research, which promotes hormesis. He has written material which states that the Myak workers were protected by their radiation exposure. It is pure hormesis.
Australia’s own Pamela Sykes, whose Adelaide research on mice, which purports to show that low-level radiation is fine, is also funded by the DOE. Sykes and Scott give talks on Hormesis at Los Alamos and have published papers together. They started the journal “Dose Response”. New Low Dose Radiation report In contrast to the MIT 5 week study on 224 mice, this study has covered 86,611 human Japanese atomic bomb survivors, over a period of 62 years, carried out by a number of scientists in joint USA-Japan research.
This Low-Dose Radiation NEW A-Bomb Study is the 14th report in a series of periodic general reports on mortality in the Life Span Study (LSS) cohort of atomic bomb survivors followed by the Radiation Effects Research Foundation to investigate the late health effects of the radiation from the atomic bombs.
Source: Independent Australia