Monday, April 11, 2011
Further to the excellent letter from Neil Craig (5 April), I must put in a further complaint, about the reporting of the strength of radioactivity. It is always given as a hundred or a thousand times the "recommended" or "safe" or "permitted" dose.
This is totally unacceptable as it is utterly meaningless. For example, the permitted dose for the emissions from our nuclear power stations is 1mSv. There is absolutely solid proof that a dose 500 times that amount produces radiation hormesis, which prevents cancers and improves health.
Neil Craig's letter about nuclear contamination (5 April) is short on facts. For example, the Ukrainian health ministry estimates that more than 12,000 deaths have resulted from the Chernobyl incident; radiation-related illnesses have quadrupled since 1986.
Other scientific studies have shown similar results.
There are also deaths not included in the statistics. I know of a number of people who were outdoors when the Chernobyl cloud passed over Scotland. They were healthy people, yet a high proportion of them died from unusual cancers in the years following.
Neil Craig writes (5 April) that there is no evidence that low level radiation is bad for you and issues us a challenge to produce some.
Nearly two billion of the present world population will eventually die of cancer. They will have been smoking, using mobile phones, eating junk food, flying at high altitudes, using household cleaners and absorbing background radiation.
It is very difficult to plan an ethical, controlled, accurate experiment to attribute the cancer deaths to any cause.
A 1 per cent error would be 20 million people. However, work by Richardson and Wing on long-term health of workers at Oak Ridge does get close. They found 4.98 per cent increase in mortality per 10mSv for doses received before the age of 45 and a 7.3 per cent increase after that age.
Their report can be found in Environmental Health Perspectives August 1999 and contains 62 references.
Salter has, to his credit, actually attempted to answer the question. The report he quotes exists but, as I point out in my reply, while carefully sidestepping any accusation of deliberate fraud, has not been independently verified and the authors have the statistically impossible record of having been the only people to find such results twice. I replied:
I am pleased that my remarks about low level radiation & my challenge to anti-nuclearists to provide actual evidence for the "official" No Lower Threshold theory (LNT) that it is damaging has engendered so many replies (letter Weds).
I thank Robert Pate for his supportive remarks. It is good to know this phenomenon, while unmentioned in government circles, is understood.
Naill Walker, in quoting a Ukrainian government claim as scientific evidence is wrong. Political statements are not science, even from such estimable governments as Ukraine's. That country has received billions of pounds of foreign aid predicated on Chernobyl having been enormously destructive and can hardly be blamed if they hype it more than the facts justify. The UN Chernobyl Forum report is unambiguous that deaths have not exceeded 56. His evidence of people who were living in Scotland at the time and spent some time outdoors over following weeks (who didn't?) & subsequently developed cancer is not even as good anecdotal evidence as that behind the MMR scare - more along the lines of the correlation between bad luck and meeting black cats.
Professor Stephen Salter's case is better. The Oak Ridge study of nuclear workers did indeed claim to find a small positive correlation between radiation and cancers. The same result was found in at the Savannah River nuclear site - and by the same pair of authors.
However I'm sure Professor Salter will agree that, particularly where the evidence is purely statistical, it is easy for subjective error to creep in - just off the top of my head, where death certificates show several possible influences on death choosing which one to count is a subjective matter. A handful of such would have seriously changed the observed trend Under no circumstances can a theory be considered scientifically proven on the basis of 1 piece of research repeated by nobody else. The example of N-Rays which the physicist Blondlot, sincerely believed he had observed statistically, but which are wholly non-existent is one all scientists should be aware of.
This applies in spades where the theory in question, was muscularly adopted by government 35 years before the sole allegedly confirming evidence appeared.
By comparison the evidence for that low level radiation is beneficial (Hormesis) is overwhelming and equally importantly, comes from many unrelated sources.
There are the Taiwanese apartments built with irradiated steel which resulted in cancer among inhabitants being 96.4% below the national average; there is Professor Cohen's wide-ranging study (it includes the whole US population) showing a beneficial correlation between radon in homes and lung cancer of half the deadly correlation with smoking; there are other studies from Sweden and elsewhere with the same results; there is a century's worth of laboratory experiments showing hormesis certainly repeatably works in plants, tissue cultures and guinea pigs, rabbits and mice; there are the many areas of the world where natural background radiation is up to 17 times the "official" safe limit and has been for millions of years, without harm; their are records from generations of British radiologists showing a lower than expected cancer rate; there is evidence that "proponents of the LNT assumption consistently reject, manipulate, and deliberately ignore an overwhelming abundance of published data and falsely claim that no reliable data are available": there is the fact that the million extra cancers the LNT theory predicted for Chernobyl simply hasn't happened: that even the long term history of Hiroshima and Nagasaki contradict the official theory. And the examples go on and on.
Perhaps the most disgraceful abuse of science by the LNT supporters happened to a herd of cows. In 1946 this herd was exposed to an Atomic Bomb test causing visible injury. The US government kept them under examination to see how long it would take them to die. In 1964 they were quietly put to sleep because their survival to, or in some case almost certainly past, the longest known longevity for such creatures, was embarrassingly clear proof LNT was wrong and hormesis correct.
The entire anti-nuclear scare industry depends on the foundation of the no threshold theory. This scare has cost the human race 40 years of inexpensive electricity and at least 19 million lives. It is well past time to face the truth.
Ref - a compilation of dozens of links to the evidence given above and much more. http://a-place-to-stand.blogspot.com/2010/03/low-level-radiation-evidence-that-it-is.html
That is quite long and I did send several shortened versions down to "Both Naill Walker and Stephen Salter are quite wrong in their criticism of what I said about low level radiation being beneficial & though clearly space here precludes me saying why, you can trust me on it" which they didn't print either. The effect of this is that they have, quite incorrectly, given the impression that Salter's claims are unarguable and scientifically proven - neither of which is true.
I have previously discussed the Press Complaints Council's decision to break their own rules and precedent and state that British journalistic ethical standards do not extend to. when they have published lies, allowing the person named, any chance to report the true facts. Ah well that is British journalism for you. The PPC is funded by and represents the entire British press and therefor it can be seen that there are no circumstances under which they will not make up and maintain any lie whatsoever and thus no circumstances under which anything said by these corrupt child rapists* can be trusted.
Professor Salter is been awarded a "Saltire Prize" and is generally treated as a politically approved and rewarded "scientist" like Ann Glover our government's scientifically illiterate "Chief Science Advisor". This in a country which has the second best record worldwide of real scientists.
* There are no British news reports asserting that journalists abroad regularly buy children as sex slaves. Not even ones in Bosnia and Kosovo where we know EU/NATO officials who run the place do so. The default assumption can thus be that they do - everywhere - even the UK and that the government cover up for them as they cover up for the government.
The press loves the mantra, "Be afraid! Be afraid!" What story is there if low-level radiation is harmless? Boring!
The EPA has made a living promoting radon abatement. In an article called, "Energy, Health and the Environment for the 21st and 22nd Centuries", I specify the steps the EPA takes: 1)Create a "problem" radon, 2)"Study" the problem, 3)Scare the public, 4)Convince politicians to "fix" the problem, 5)Set standards, 6)Enforce standards. This is a great way for the EPA to load up its bureaucracy. If the EPA gets its way, the average family of four is going to be hit with a radon "tax" of $1300 to get beneficial radon out of our water.
In Europe radon is regarded as a biomedical treatment; here it is a contaminant!