Nuclear Cheerleaders Use Voodoo Science to Pretend Low Levels of Radiation Are Safe … Or Even Good For You

Dr. Peter Karamoskos – a nuclear radiologist and a public representative on the radiation health committee of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency – wrote in the Sydey Herald last year:

You have to hand it to the nuclear industry and its acolytes. In the middle of the second-worst nuclear power disaster in history at Fukushima, and with still no end in sight, you would think they would respond with contrition, humility and profuse mea culpas. Not on your life. The industry representatives and its acolytes came out swinging in full denial attire.

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But more insidious and objectionable is the creeping misinformation that the nuclear industry has fed into the public sphere over the years. There seems to be a never-ending cabal of paid industry scientific ”consultants” who are more than willing to state the fringe view that low doses of ionising radiation do not cause cancer and, indeed, that low doses are actually good for you and lessen the incidence of cancer.

It is not only the nuclear companies who are pushing this junk science.

The Department of Energy is responsible for the design, testing and production of all U.S. nuclear weapons.  DOE also promotes nuclear energy as one of its core functions.  As such, it might not be surprising that DOE has been covering up nuclear accidents for decades.

DOE is also trying to replace the widely-accepted model of the dangers of low dose radiation based on voodoo science. Specifically, DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley Labs recently used a mutant line of human cells in a petri dish which was able to repair damage from low doses of radiation, and extrapolated to the unsupported conclusion that everyone is immune to low doses of radiation:

Another DOE-funded study published yesterday– which is being widely publicized in both the mainstream and alternative media – found that mice exposed to low-level radiation suffered no “apparent” genetic damage.  Sounds impressive, until you realize 3 basic facts.

First, the mice were only studied for 5 weeks.  The whole danger of low-level radiation is from repeated exposure over a long period.   A 5-week study is therefore scientifically meaningless.

Second, the study didn’t distinguish between radiation coming from outside the body and particles of radiation ingested into the body: what are known as “internal emitters”.   Internal emitters – say airborne radioactive dust which we breathe in or radioactive fish which we eat – are much more dangerous than general exposures to radiation. See this and this.

For example, the head of a Tokyo-area medical clinic – Dr. Junro Fuse, Internist and head of Kosugi Medical Clinic- said this month:

Risk from internal exposure is 200-600 times greater than risk from external exposure.

This is not some abstract, theoretical issue. For example, radioactive dust from Fukushima hit the West Coast of North America days after the accident.

Third, the DOE-funded researchers only:

Tested for several types of DNA damage, using the most sensitive techniques available.

However, DNA damage is only one of the two primary ways in which low level radiation causes damage.  The second – and perhaps more important – way that low level radiation causes damage is through lipid peroxidation.  Specifically, several studies have shown that the main culprit for the damaging effect of low-level radiation is its ability to cause radiolysis of water and formation of reactive oxygen species, resulting in lipid peroxidation in the body.   The DOE-funded study didn’t test for this mechanism at all.

As such, the new study is garbage and junk science.

Real Scientists: Low Levels of Radiation Can Cause Cancer, Genetic Damage and Other Serious Illness

The overwhelming consensus among radiation scientists is that repeated exposure to low doses of radiation can cause cancer, genetic mutations and other severe health problems.

A major new study of atomic bomb data by the official joint U.S.-Japanese government study of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors found that low dose radiation causes cancer and genetic damage, and debunks the radiation “hormesis” claim (the ridiculous claim that a little radiation is good for you) once and for all:

As Dr. Karamoskos notes:

Ionising radiation is a known carcinogen. This is based on almost 100 years of cumulative research including 60 years of follow-up of the Japanese atom bomb survivors. The International Agency for Research in Cancer (IARC, linked to the World Health Organisation) classifies it as a Class 1 carcinogen, the highest classification indicative of certainty of its carcinogenic effects.In 2006, the US National Academy of Sciences released its Biological Effects of Ionising Radiation (VII) report, which focused on the health effects of radiation doses at below 100 millisieverts. This was a consensus review that assessed the world’s scientific literature on the subject at that time. It concluded: “. . . there is a linear dose-response relationship between exposure to ionising radiation and the development of solid cancers in humans. It is unlikely that there is a threshold below which cancers are not induced.”

The most comprehensive study of nuclear workers by the IARC, involving 600,000 workers exposed to an average cumulative dose of 19mSv, showed a cancer risk consistent with that of the A-bomb survivors.

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IARC states that ”by 2065, predictions based on these models indicate that about 16,000 cases of thyroid cancer and 25,000 cases of other cancers may be expected due to radiation from the accident and that about 16,000 deaths from these cancers may occur”. Whether we will be able to detect them when there will also be more than 1 million other cases of cancer over this period is debatable. But every one of these excess cancers is a tragedy for each victim and their family, and is no less so simply because cancer is a common disease.

Many studies have shown that repeated exposures to low levels of ionizing radiation from CT scans and x-rays can cause cancer. See this, this, this. this, this, this, this, this, this and this.  (Remember, the radiation from CT scans and x-rays are external emitters – the radiation emanates from outside the body.)

Research from the University of Iowa cconcluded:

 Cumulative radon exposure is a significant risk factor for lung cancer in women.

And see these studies on the health effects cumulative doses of radioactive cesium.

As the European Committee on Radiation Risk notes:

Cumulative impacts of chronic irradiation in low doses are … important for the comprehension, assessment and prognosis of the late effects of irradiation on human beings …

And see this.

A military briefing written by the U.S. Army for commanders in Iraq states:

Hazards from low level radiation are long-term, not acute effects… Every exposure increases risk of cancer.

(Military briefings for commanders often contain less propaganda than literature aimed at civilians, as the commanders have to know the basic facts to be able to assess risk to their soldiers.)

The briefing states that doses are cumulative, citing the following military studies and reports:

  • ACE Directive 80-63, ACE Policy for Defensive Measures against Low Level Radiological Hazards during Military Operations, 2 AUG 96
  • AR 11-9, The Army Radiation Program, 28 MAY 99
  • FM 4-02.283, Treatment of Nuclear and Radiological Casualties, 20 DEC 01
  • JP 3-11, Joint Doctrine for Operations in NBC Environments, 11 JUL 00
  • NATO STANAG 2473, Command Guidance on Low Level Radiation Exposure in Military Operations, 3 MAY 00
  • USACHPPM TG 244, The NBC Battle Book, AUG 02

Why was the military advising commanders on radiation in Iraq? Presumably because the American military used depleted uranium in Iraq (see this, this, this, this, this and this).

Indeed, the top government radiation experts – like Karl Morgan, John Goffman and Arthur Tamplin – and scientific luminaries such as Ernest Sternglass and Alice Stewart, concluded that low level radiation can cause serious health effects.

Low levels of radiation cause not only cancer, but heart disease, stroke and other serious illness.

And it’s not just humans:  scientists have found that animals receiving low doses of radiation from Chernobyl are sick as well.

Nuclear Cheerleaders Just Trying to “Keep People Calm While They’re Being Poisoned”?

This is actually part of the trend of governments worldwide raising acceptable radiation levels based upon politics.

No wonder one medical doctor asks whether acceptable radiation levels are being raised “to keep people calm while they’re being poisoned”.

Indeed, while counter-intuitive, many preeminent scientists believe that repeated doses to low level radiation can cause more illness than short, high-dose exposures.  And see this.

Category: Energy, Think Tank

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

4 Responses to “Department of Energy Pretends that Low Levels of Radiation Are Safe”

  1. johnl says:

    Before one starts running about thinking their hair is on fire, look into how much exposure you have to ionizing radiation on a day to day basis from natural sources ie. when you fly or sit in your basement.
    You may find it interesting that coal fired power plants are one it not the largest radiation emitters on the planet……..look into it you’ll be surprised with what you find. It may make some “news” stories seem rather alarmist, but that sells papers I suppose.

  2. Old Rob says:

    Radionuclides both natural and man-made are hard to avoid. Every time you take that extra long shower with water from wells (northeast), or that old smoke detector with an alpha emitter that sloughed off and you might have breathed in are examples of internal exposure. The key word is exposure; dose rate times time. People in the ‘business’ know what to do to minimize their exposure. The ‘civilians’ are at the mercy of government.
    The only thing that can be done is to educate oneself and examine what government agencies do in the way of mitigation. The one thing to realize is that there is no escaping radiation exposure. Just be sensible and have an awareness of the issues.

  3. inessence says:

    @ Washington Blog, ever read the “fiction novel” by Michael Crichton titled”State of Fear”?

  4. DeDude says:

    It is actually fine to detect DNA damage after 5 weeks even though disease (cancer) can take much longer to develop. The underlying hypothesis is that radiation exposure causes mutations that eventually together with natural mutation will cause cancer. The radiation in itself does not persist, it is the mutations it caused that persist. So the scientists looked at certain levels and dose schedules of radiation to see if it had caused measurable increases in mutations and did not see that. Without increase in mutations it would be hard to argue that the radiation was responsible for cancers appearing decades later. You may argue with how the dose schedule for mice with a 2-year life-span compare to human exposure after a nuclear accident, or the sensitivity of their detection method (can it detect the radiation damage of normal Radon exposure in our houses?). But it is pretty silly and ignorant to complain that they didn’t wait longer – because that would just have drowned any potential real signal in all the natural mutations that are induced by indoor Radon exposure.