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There are reasons to be nervous of ionized radiation it’s not over reacting in my mother case. She a breast cancer survivor. She had radiation therapy 20 years ago she’s now 87 yrs old. Since she was first diagnosed she’s been out threw many ct scans, numerous mammograms, nuclear bone scans, nuclear stress test, procedures under fluoroscopy, whole body pet ct scans etc. More then anyone should ever have or so I think. She’s been injected with 3 different radioisotopes at least a couple of them numerous times. October of 2014 mom had to be hospitalized she had a whole body pet ct scan approximately 10 days prior. She had bled from her intestines her blood count had dropped to the point she had to have transfusions. Her legs appeared to be sunburned. She was disoriented and confused. Her eyes were black like a dark worm hole, her hair came out by the handfulls, etc….she was really messed up. Her stomach showed high numbers of helocabacteria that had colonized in a few areas of her stomach. The doctor’s had done an endoscopy on her and took biopsies from her stomach. At one point after the transfusions her blood count came up but 8 days later when they discharged her wanting her to go to a rest home for care her blood counts were back to where they were when she was admitted. Except now her absolute lymph count had severely dropped. She had been given a poor prognosis. It’s only by the grace of God she survived. Now she has I believe all the long term effects of radiation poisoning. She has more cumulative radiation exposure then I want to say. Her oncologist has lied and made up office appointments exams on paper making it as if he had seen her right after she was released from the hospital. But he didn’t fir over a year. He stayed that at this time it was not necessary for her to have any further imaging test donto her present condition. He knew she had radiation poisoning and didn’t speak up in fact 12 doctor’s seen her and when I brought up what I felt had happened they didn’t want to hear it.
My dad had numerous ct scans and pet ct scans he’s lungs were full of candida albicanus. He death certificate different but I was their with him I believe he died from septicemia post radiation exposure.
I believe all the ionized radiation were exposed to is killing us. Back ground radiation is one thing that we can’t get away from. But I don’t think people have a clue just how much they are exposed to. Look at the space station it was it is covered with microbes. I believe all the nightmare bacteria and all the auto immune diseases that so many if us have aren’t because of us over taken antibiotics or because if our genetics. I think it’s the radiation exposure that’s altering everything making bacteria resistant to the newest antibiotics they make and it causing all these diseases in us.
Just my opinion.
Point taken. But we don’t have to wait for Generation IV reactors for non-electric safe shutdown. Generation 3+ is already here. Westinghouse model AP-1000, at Sanmen, China.
Nailed it! The LSS is proof positive that LNT is BS.
Mark, A fabulous piece on a thorny topic. Great job noting the trade offs in risk and benefit resulting from what many say is an excessive fear of radiation in general, regardless fo whe3ther LKNT holds. I’ll be sharing it widely.
My only criticism is the lack of information about the findings from the Life Span Studies to which you only briefly refer. Unlike the speculation about the effects of various doses of various types of radiation on which the LNT argument is based, the LSS followed 86,000 actual people – the hibakusha — the survi of atomic bombs, who were exposed to various doses of various types of radiation, both at the moment of the detonation and for weeks and months afterward via fallout. From this much firmer research, following this cohort for now more than 70 years (including their offspring) we know that even at the highest doses the carcinogenicity of ionising radiation is weak; the lifetime cancer mortality rate in the entire group went up slightly less than 1% compared to 23,000 unexposed Japanese followed as a control group. It is also from the LSS that we know that below 100 Msv, no increase in any disease associated with radiation exposure can be detected against normal rates. To me, the LSS is the strongest evidence out there for how minimal the actual risk of radiation is, especially at low doses. And While Dr.s Boice and Shore note this, and how NCRP and others hold to LNTY as a precautionary position more than one based on hard evidence…the LSS powerful confirms it. In my writing I try to give that evidence more emphasis, as it lies at the heart of all of this That said..GREAT piece.
Excellent, well researched article.
It’s only missing a connected, follow-the-money analysis. As Wolverton points out, altering the No Threshold paradigm might lead to a boom in nuclear energy projects. If regulatory agencies, emergency planners and the general public accept the fact that SOME radiation can be accepted without causing measurable harm, acceptance will increase and the zero CO2 nature of the technology will help some see it as an important tool.
The losers if such a decision is made are not well meaning people like Beyea, Boice and Shore. They are the deep-pocketed interest groups who are tied to the current Hydrocarbon Economy. If nuclear energy grows rapidly, that growth will come with reduced sales of coal, oil, natural gas, wind, solar, biomass, hydro and geothermal energy. Entities that supply those fuel and power sources will either lose sales or suffer from increased expenses related to creating supporting products for nuclear power. Banks that carry the debts of hydrocarbon entities on their books as assets may need to reevaluate their stability.
Hydrocarbon interests were clearly warned in 1930 by Sir Arthur Eddington about the potential existential threat of “sub-atomic energy.” Key decision makers in the oil-dependent Rockefeller Foundation steadily supported Hermann Muller’s radiation research for decades. They directly intervened in his employment searches at least three times during his career. They provided him with generous long-term grants at the end of WWII and then gave an even more generous grant in 1956 after publication of the BEAR 1 report claiming that every dose of radiation cause irreparable harm.
The LNT didn’t gain rapid acceptance by being remarkable by being an intuitive breakthrough. It gained worldwide acceptance and regulatory agency dominance by being cleverly and effectively promoted by people with strong financial interests in slowing the development and acceptance of a formidable energy supply competitor.
Publisher, Atomic Insights
Herman Muller was extremely vulnerable to being suborned by the Rockefeller Foundation, given that he was a 56-year old with a young wife and 2-year old daughter to support, and no pension and poor job prospects (due of frequent moves and job changes resulting from his socialist beliefs: in the ’30s he had lost his job at UT Austin for contributing to a unauthorized communist publication called “The Spark”).
Even so, I suspect the financial backing was not the Rockefeller Foundation’s strongest power play with respect to Muller: that would have been when they pulled the strings of the Nobel Committee to arrange for Muller to win the Nobel Prize in spite of the basic flaws of his research (for example that the _lowest_ non-control dose of radiation in his experiments was sufficient to kill a human being). While bribery only gives you control over someone in the short term (as next time they could either get greedy or develop a conscience), _blackmail_ gives you control in the long term. And what better way to blackmail a scientist than to arrange for them to get a Nobel Prize that they didn’t really earn?
Mr Mark Wolverton lucidly describes the issues associated with radiation protection. As radiation sources caused damage to those who handled them, the best of brains started thinking about ways to protect the workers. Gradually different stake-holders started promoting their agenda .Stories based on conspiracy theories are eminently readable! Rockefeller foundation successfully “persuading” Nobel Committee to select Muller for a Nobel prize is in my opinion such an example. When one reviews the evolution of radiation protection standards and the attempt to arrive at a simple, practical, dose-effect model LNT may evolve gradually. It may by difficult to rule out the influence of Muller in the evolution of radiation protection philosophy during the early years. To begin with safe levels were chosen as a small fraction of the dose levels at which deterministic effects occurred in the exposed individuals. Discussions on genetic effects did influence the leaders of radiation protection initially, but such considerations were replaced by those due to the cancer inducing nature of radiation. Over the past several decades very conscientious groups of radiation protection specialists belonging to many disciplines participated in committees such as the ICRP, NCRP, UNSCEAR and BEIR. Every one knew the frailties of the LNT hypothesis. It is grossly unfair to argue that Muller’s work influenced all those specialists over all these years. There can be debates on the stochastic effects of radiation. We simply do not have the most accurate picture at the lowest levels of radiation. However as in many other useful fields such as the field of medicine, we know enough about bio-effects of radiation to derive benefits from the uses of radiation. Protracted arguments among specialists are not going to be helpful.
Radiation are the biggest threat to the human than the nuclear, terrorism or climate change. If we do not act fast and change our behaviour and our stupid needs. We are surely not going to leave this planet a better place for coming generations.
This is well written article. This is a topic that is bandied about in a careless fashion, but this article is an excellent summary with a good selection of cross-references.
Any discussion of nuclear power risks should include the black swan events of solar storms, both coronal mass ejections and solar proton events.
In 1989 a solar storm damaged a transformer at the Salem Pressurized Water Reactor in New Jersey. This event was much less energy* than the Carrington Event of 1859 which was likely less than the proton storms of A.D. 774-775 and A.D. 993-994 which are found in the geological record (these black swans are not nearly as rare as we’d hope).
A comparable event today is likely to destroy most of the transformers on the the power grid and eventually lead to simultaneous meltdowns at multiple nuclear plants with no hope of remediation on a meaningful time scale. Even excluding the effects of nuclear meltdowns, we can expect massive loss of life when the grid collapses.
We have a solution in the form of Gen IV nuclear reactor designs that feature “laws of physics” failsafes that do not require external power sources to provide cooling. Some of these have the added benefit of also consuming existing high level radioactive waste as fuel (and I would propose branding them ‘nuclear waste recycling facilities’ to improve public acceptance).
The catch with Gen IV technology is that it isn’t popular in the industry due to regulatory and cost risks. Governments should see the existential risk posed by solar storms and take this into account when reforming regulatory structures and budgeting to replace plants without such laws-of-physics failsafes.
I would rate the risk of catastrophic solar storm as great as climate change, and there is no reason we can’t solve both problems (as well as existing waste disposal problems) with Gen IV technology. We simply need the awareness and political will.
* “Various studies have estimated the disturbance index of the Carrington Event at approximately minus 1,600 to minus 1,760 nanoteslas, around three times lower (and therefore more intense) than the March 1989 geomagnetic storm that knocked out Quebec’s power grid and left 6 million people without electricity for 12 hours.”
Readers might find my novel “Rad Decision” an interesting look at the real world of nuclear power in the US. I was an engineer at atomic plants for over 30 years. Free online with no ads (just google the title) or hard copy or kindle available at online retails. The book addresses the whole “radiation is yucky” thing. Mr. Wolverton’s article above is a decent summary.
radiation kills. The earth would be a dead place….if we did not have ultraviolet light to kill germs. Thank God for that..When Radiation was discovered, glowing dials appeared on appliances. It was glow in the dark and thought to be a blessing. The factory workers were mostly young women. They soon started dying……..from the radiation poisoning….Radiation or X rays were over prescribed once the wonderful Xray became popular in doctors offices……and there were even devices that xrayed your feet in shoes to make sure you got a good fit when you bought your shoes…When people started getting foot cancer from the over exposure the foot xray devices were recalled. In the book”Atomic accidents”…the author poses a statistic….that more people were killed in steam powered train wrecks than by nuclear reactors. Of course he wrote the book before three mile Island, Chernobyl and now Fukushima…..I think its is a proven fact that NO nuclear reactor has ever been built on time and under budget. They take decades to get approved and built and they are always over budget. could it be the reason is that they are backed by the same Military industrial complex companies who build our ridiculously expensive defense weapons? I think so……Going back to the book ” Atomic Accidents” the author acknowledges that every type of reactor has had accidents….water cooled, air cooled, graphite….etc…and he says the fault was human error, not the design. Who does he think should operate future nuclear reactors….apes?…If you see the FrONTLINE documentary about Fukushima, you will be appalled at the failure of the Japanese gov’t and the the power company in responding to the Fukushima disaster. I think its wise that many countries are abandoning the power plants…plants that have never reduced the cost of electricity by the way….most power plants are way more expensive in producing energy than fossil fuels plants. Now that solar has been reduced in cost there is no need to keep nuclear power plants…they should all be shut down….History shows they all can fail and three have……..How many more deaths do we need to prove the danger of radiation?