Monday, February 02, 2009
This morning your representative on the BBC Radio phone in stated that radioactive particles found at Dalgety Bay had, beyond dispute, been identified, presumably by chemical or spectroscopic means, as consisting of paint. Can you please confirm where these results have been publicly published & how many of the particles, in numbers & as a proportion of total particles found, have been so positively identified. I would also be interested to know by how many mSv or portions thereof, the radiation level at Dalgety Bay has been pushed up by these particles & what it does measure compared to the adjoining stretches of coast.
Radio Scotland's phone in today was a disgraceful scare piece about "Scotland's unknown radioactive contamination sites" which we were told exist in abundance though only 2 were mentioned - Dalgety Bay & a place at Balloch where a factory using radium once existed. I phoned in & was on after science writer Steuart, a regular in the Scotsman's letter columns on things nuclear. We both said pretty much the same though I was perhaps less restrained.
I said that this was a disgraceful example of the sort of eco scare stories the BBC so often present & that the total lack of figures gave it away. I mentioned that background radiation existed everywhere (approx 1.5 mSv in Ayrshire, 2.5 in Grampian & 50 on Guarapari beach in Brazil) & that there was no evidence that this low level radiation harmed anybody indeed that the hormesis theory was better. The SEPA representative refused to say what background radiation at Dalgety Bay was saying it was all about the particles which were artificial & more dangerous. I said that all background radiation is made up of particles & that all reports merely referred to them being found in bits of rock which sounded like natural ones. He replied that they had been identified as radium which doesn't occur in nature (this could be done by reading the proportions of types of radiation given off) & chemically identified as paint (which seems at best on the edge of possibility since it would first require a sub microscopic piece of matter to be extracted from the surrounding rock & then analysing it). Hence the questions I just sent to them. I have asked for the response to be by email (of their listed alternatives) & will, of course, publish it.
I was sorry I did not get to push the point about radiation hormesis further - there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support the official linear no lower limit to damage theory (LNT) & a lot to support Hormesis but the latter doesn't keep eco-scare investigators in jobs.
Graham admitted that in their research of the programme they had been unable to find conclusive evidence either way. In fact, as I replied, that just means there is no conclusive or indeed actual evidence of any risk whatsoever - inherently there is no sort of evidence that can prove the absence of risk, apart from an absence of measurable deaths & there is quite certainly such an absence, but if there is no evidence of it one should assume it doesn't exist, in which case the environmentalists have to depend on rubbish like the Precautionary Principle. Graham called me on my claim that the Precautionary Principle was "rubbish". I gave as an example that if I were to say that Radio Scotland's airwaves might conceivably induce cancer, without any evidence (I can conceive of a possibility that a particular wavelength might resonate with some body molecule that way) the Precautionary Principle would require them to close down, which isn't going to happen.
Interestingly Graham was able to dispute another caller's point by giving, off the cuff, the half life of radium which shows he has researched his stuff & therefore presumably does know what scare mongering rubbish he is being told to put out.
However he said I must be a scientist from the way I was talking which makes me willing to forgive am awful lot.
Perhaps, for balance, the BBC would be prepared to do a discussion on the evidence for Hormesis (that low level radiationn actually improves health). Perhaps not.