The Endless Stand-off: ECRR vs. ICRP

There is a wide disagreement between two groups of scientists and activists over the effects of long-term exposure to low levels of radiation. One would expect there to be controversies over minor points, or quibbling over how to quantify effects and so on, but the gap between the two groups is enormous.
On one side are people who generally align themselves with the conclusions of the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR), while on the other side are those who generally agree with the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). The ECRR has a more negative view of the effects of radiation, and it is supported by those who are against the use of nuclear energy. The ICRP is supported by the nuclear industry, the IAEA and others who believe radiation is much less harmful than the public has been led to believe. Both groups have a body of peer reviewed studies that they refer to for support of their claims.

In the table below I have created my general description of these two views that I have developed by reading arguments from both sides. I stress that the table is my interpretation, not the official view of either the ECRR or the ICRP.

Supporters of the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR) tend to believe…
Supporters of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) tend to believe…
internal contamination needs to be considered as a separate, and often more serious danger than external radiation
external dose is the main consideration. There is no evidence that previous accidents have produced health effects caused by internal emitters such as cesium and strontium
non-cancerous health effects equal or surpass the suffering caused by cancer
cancer is the only proven health effect, but the effect in historical accidents is almost impossible to detect because cancer arises from so many other natural and man-made causes
Chernobyl caused 1 million deaths, millions more suffered severely diminished health
Chernobyl caused less than 10,000 deaths, most of them were among emergency workers, no other illnesses were proven as caused by radiation
Chernobyl had a massive environmental impact. Animals appear to be thriving only because we don’t see the shorter life spans, higher rate of stillbirths, and high infant mortality
wildlife in the Chernobyl area is thriving again

we should follow the precautionary principle while there is disagreement about the science after a nuclear accident, a wide evacuation area is needed, affected citizens need to be relocated and supported in every way
the precautionary principle is too costly and harmful to residents. Residents should be returned to their homes as quickly as possible after decontamination and remediation
relocation of residents will ultimately be less costly than treating diseases and remediating a contaminated territory
relocation of residents is more costly and harmful to residents. The urge to flee is based on emotion, not reason.
radiation poses a much higher and unacceptable risk to fetuses and children
There is no distinction between risks to adults and risks to fetuses and children
evacuation should be favored because human procreation will not be possible, or at least advisable, in the affected communities (unacceptable level of stillbirths, birth defects, higher rates of morbidity, poor health, genetic damage)
resettlement should be encouraged without taking account of whether human procreation will be desirable in the contaminated territory
we should take account of the damage to reputation of the contaminated land and people – they will face ostracism, discrimination, diminished property values, economic stagnation, regardless of, or in addition to, the actual effects of radiation
there is little need to compensate for the victims’ suffering and economic damage – the only harm that would count is a provable case of cancer
the catastrophe is a crime of negligence – guilty parties should face penalties and fully compensate the victims
the catastrophe is an accident – there are no criminal charges, no involvement of the courts or legal system in deciding compensation. Victims must be educated, taught to control their emotions, their expectations must be managed
the World Health Organization should be free of its subordination to the International Atomic Energy Agency
the present situation is acceptable - the IAEA should be the UN voice on the health effects of radiation and nuclear accidents
a large number of people in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine have suffered from internal radiation (birth defects, metabolic disorders, cancer), and this is evidence of a large-scale effect of a nuclear reactor meltdown – the denial of this nuclear holocaust is a failure of the scientific community to free itself of the biases of the nuclear industry
the assistance given by international charities to Chernobyl victims, and their sympathetic portrayals in documentary films, amounts to a massive fraud - people who are unwell for other reasons besides radiation poisoning have leapt at the opportunity to get assistance as Chernobyl victims

I started studying these issues and writing about them because of one simple question I had to ask myself: are my children going to be safe living 200 kilometers away from Fukushima Daiichi? I’ve come to agree more with the ECRR view that the Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe amounts to a massive, long-term destruction of human habitat over roughly a 50 kilometer radius around the plant. The people there are being given a very raw deal, and this story is going to end badly because of the poor decisions made this year by authorities.

Nonetheless, I’ve also made an effort to study the ICRP view with an open mind. On many points, it’s sensible. There is some research that shows adults suffer no harm from radiation below 100 mSv/year, and yes, a small dose of radiation (given in controlled amounts in clinical or experimental settings) does stimulate DNA repair and strengthen the immune system (see studies on the phenomenon called hormesis), but the US government Committee to Assess Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation does not feel that this research warrants a revision of their present recommendation that radiation exposure should be minimized in all situations.

If we had followed the doomsayers, my wife and I would have fled with our children and given up all the advantages of a home and stable employment that we had here. Instead, we stayed, but this was not to say that we were not mad as hell that there is cesium and strontium in the local parks (orders of magnitude lower than in Fukushima prefecture) and we had to go out of our way to obtain uncontaminated food. We could take some comfort in the fact that we were outside Japan until mid-April and thus didn’t have to breathe the heavy fallout that was in the air for the first few weeks after the explosions at the nuclear plant. Still, we won’t know if this was the right decision until decades have passed.

While we feel safe enough here in Chiba, for the time being (barring any further negative developments), the ICRP view of nuclear hazards and nuclear accidents still leaves me feeling cold. The findings that radiation isn’t as harmful as was once believed are not really that comforting to victims of a nuclear accident, even if they are correct conclusions.

The way the catastrophe is perceived by the nuclear industry, and other partisans who want to minimize its severity, calls to mind the most hideous rationalization for another kind of crime. In fact, this other crime is similar to human-inflicted radioactive contamination in the way that it is an assault on an individual’s genetic heritage and personal integrity, things which are, by the way, protected by UN charter (and lest I need repeat, the IAEA is an branch of the UN). Rape is a horrific crime because of its violence, and also because it deprives a woman of the right to control her genetic destiny. And likewise, an irradiated person has had her genes fucked with in a way she didn’t ask for. Sociopathic rapists have been known to say things like, “I understand she was afraid, but I’ve felt fear before, too. It’s no big deal.” They are incapable of understanding the suffering of the victim. In this rationalization, rape is seen as a crime with no apparent injury. In this view, if the victim didn’t get pregnant, didn’t get a disease, and recovered full physical function, no harm done.

I know that the people defending the nuclear industry, and others trying to minimize the perception of the harm caused the Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe, would not make this defense of rape, but I do think they haven’t realized the ugly nature of the rationalizations they are making for what has been done to the people of northern Japan. The Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe is a crime of negligence. There was a promise that nuclear energy was safe, and the people in charge failed to keep it safe from known dangers. There are millions of victims, and their mental suffering and the damage to their land and their livelihoods should be compensated by the guilty parties. As it is, adherents of the ICRP view have often seemed to suggest that if no one gets cancer, all is well.

Yet, it is obvious that if an individual spilled nuclear waste on his neighbor’s property, he would be subject to criminal and civil punishments for all mental suffering and loss of value of that property, regardless of whether the nuclear waste ever caused disease in the future.

This is why it is generally understood that you can’t tell a rape victim to just go back to her life and get over it because the harm done was minimal, and the possible future harm will be minimal or with no proven causal link to the assault. You also can’t caution her against “over-reacting” by pursuing justice because it will be too costly herself, her family, and others drawn into the case. Advocates for the nuclear industry are, in a similar ways, too ready to exculpate the perpetrators of the crime and dismiss the victims with a message about the perils of over-reacting. Their expectations must be managed. They must be “realistic,” just go back to their previous lives and not complain if they don’t get cancer (like a rape victim who didn't get pregnant).

The excerpts below are from two recent studies that exemplify the views described in the table above. Links to the full articles are included. The bold highlighting has been added, and my comments appear in red font italics inside brackets [ ].

C. Busby, University of Ulster, European Committee on Radiation Risk
April 24, 2011. Green Audit

The two methods show approximately 492,000 [deaths] in the 10 years following exposure and 1.4 million incident cancers in 50 years [caused by Chernobyl fallout]. There is good agreement between the results. The yield of about 1.4 million cancers worldwide also agrees quite well with independent calculations by John Gofman, Rosalie Bertell and Alexey Yablokov… [The ECRR supporters could avoid the accusation of sensationalism and exaggeration here by adding that a good portion of the deaths and illnesses were among the emergency workers who stabilized the reactor. The general public was not as severely exposed as they were. Also, much of the damage could have been avoided with timely interventions and compensation after the accident (potassium iodide, food aid, a wider circle of evacuation, honest reporting to the public.]

This study has focused only on cancer. ECRR2010 also predicts significant harm from a wide range of conditions and causes of death, including heart disease, strokes, diabetes, congenital illness in children, infant mortality and loss of fertility as a result of damage to sperm and ova. In general it is now clear that radiation causes a general loss of lifespan through premature ageing and therefore, as in the areas heavily contaminated from Chernobyl, the overall increases in cancer predicted here on a linear basis may be truncated at higher doses by competing causes of early death. 

The agreement between the ECRR2003 method employed and real data on cancer from ex-Soviet Union areas contaminated by Chernobyl, from weapons fallout and Sweden after Chernobyl suggests that the current approach to modelling radiation risk based on the ICRP dependence on the external exposures of the Japan A-Bomb survivor cohorts is erroneous. The Committee has previously criticised the ICRP model. These matters have significant implications for policy in the case of Fukushima. 

Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems MIT,
July 26, 2011, p. 12-16
[One lesson that could be learned by the nuclear industry is that one should welcome criticism from the most apparently unwelcome critic. The earthquake-tsunami-meltdown syndrome was predicted by anti-nuclear activists and scientists in other fields, but their warnings were dismissed.]

A few closing thoughts

The initial response of the nuclear industry and the U.S government to the Fukushima accident has been measured and rational (see Appendix B) [The Japanese bureaucracy and the prime minister’s office sat on their hands for the first week of the crisis because they didn’t like each other. American diplomats had to intervene to get them to work together. TEPCO and government agencies continually lied and concealed information from the public. How could anyone call this response measured and rational?]. However, the risk of over-reacting to an accident, particularly one as dramatic as Fukushima, remains high. The industry is concerned about the near-term effect of Fukushima on the process of life extension of current plants and the support for new construction projects. Under the pressure of the public and the media, the government may be compelled to push for sweeping policy and regulatory changes, which may ultimately prove to be unnecessarily onerous on existing and future plants. Decision-making in the immediate aftermath of a major crisis is often overly influenced by emotion. [This is patronizing. The authors assume here that it is they who are measured and rational, while those whom they must work against are likely to over-react and become too emotional. But the concern about the threats to support of nuclear power belies a certain emotionality on the part of people in the nuclear industry.]
Therefore, the following questions should be addressed after searching for vulnerabilities at existing plants, but before enacting significant changes in nuclear energy regulations and policy. Does an accident like Fukushima, which is so far beyond design basis, really warrant a major overhaul of current nuclear safety regulations and practices? The answer is country-dependent; for example, the design-basis selection process for tsunamis in Japan will likely require some significant changes, in particular regarding the use of historical tsunami “data” in estimating the risk of future large tsunamis. However, the critical question is: how, in the design-basis selection process, do we establish when safe is safe enough? Where do we draw the line? It seems that a rational approach to this question would ultimately need to be based on a risk-informed comparison of nuclear energy with other energy sources (particularly its most credible competitors, such as coal and natural gas), including their effects on climate change, global economy, stability and reliability of the energy supply, and geo-politics. But can the decision makers take a risk-informed approach to energy policy?

When it comes to safety, it is important to bear in mind that all engineered structures (e.g. power plants, bridges, skyscrapers, dams, highways) will fail if subjected to loads far enough beyond what they were designed for. Are the design basis selections of energy industry structures posing high environmental hazard, such as oil drilling platforms offshore, coal mines and water dams, consistent with those of nuclear plants? If not, are we as a society irrationally accepting higher risks from certain technologies than others? [The nuclear industry can hardly claim that it always behaves rationally while opponents do not. Here is a rational proposal: 15% of the world’s electricity comes from nuclear. Eliminate nuclear while stopping population growth, reducing consumption by 15% and investing in renewable and fusion energy. Other rational actions that are possible: arranging for long-term, safe storage of all nuclear waste, decommissioning aging nuclear plants, shutting down nuclear plants in zones of high seismic activity.]


Radionuclides of Concern

While there are many radionuclides that can be released at the time of a reactor accident, not all have the potential to impact public health because of issues related to: abundance, decay scheme, half-life, and chemistry (which ultimately affects route into the body, anatomical area of concentration, and residence time). Noble gases such as krypton and xenon rapidly disperse in the atmosphere; heavy elements are non-volatile so, if released outside the containment, tend to stay at the plant or in the near vicinity [One of these heavy elements, plutonium, identified as not from nuclear weapons tests, has been found several tens of kilometers from Fukushima Daiichi]. The isotopes of particular concern are 131I and 137Cs. Both decay by a combination of beta and gamma emission, which means they can represent both an internal and an external hazard. They are released in relatively high abundance and their half-lives (8 days and 30 years, respectively) are sufficiently long that they do not decay before being widely distributed in the local environment, yet are sufficiently short that enough nuclei will decay to result in significant and measureable doses in the time scales important to human life…

It is 137Cs that represents the most significant long-term hazard of a contaminated environment. Chemically it behaves like potassium which is found in all of our cells, so it is readily taken up and used if available. Like iodine it will settle out of the radioactive cloud onto fields and crops.

Since it binds tightly to moist soil it is not readily taken up via the root structures of plants;
however, it can enter plants upon falling onto the surface of leaves. Elevated levels of 137Cs in several foodstuffs required restrictions on consumption and prompted a number of countries to limit imports from Japan for some time. All drinking water interdictions were lifted in early May however several foodstuffs still showed radiation levels that exceed regulation values set by Japanese authorities.

Radiation Doses

Attempts are ongoing to keep the cumulative radiation doses to the Japanese public below 20 mSv in the first year following the reactor accident. (Doses will be substantially lower in subsequent years due to environmental dispersion and physical decay of residual 137Cs.) This effort involves (i) monitoring radioactivity levels in foodstuffs and water and prohibiting sale and consumption where necessary , (ii) recommending sheltering indoors in areas where cumulative dose-rates over one year are expected to be > 10 mSv, and (iii) relocation of residents from within a 20 km radius zone around the plant. [Wishful thinking. Japanese authorities failed on several occasions to take these precautions. Residents near the nuclear plant evacuated to a town farther inland which was actually known by the government to be more highly contaminated. Farmers were not stopped from planting on contaminated lands, highly contaminated beef went to market and got into school lunches, and false labeling of food is as common now as it was before the disaster] 70,000-80,000 residents were relocated in the first month after the accident but relocations are continuing in areas where residents are predicted to receive doses in excess of 20 mSv in the first 12 month period.

Doses to people living further from the Daiichi plant are much lower. In Tokyo, 240 miles away, residents can expect an additional cumulative radiation dose of 1 mSv from the first year, a 40 % addition to the 2.4 mSv they already receive from natural sources. As of the first week of May, external gamma-dose rates in Tokyo are 0.09 μSv/hr, a factor of almost two above natural gamma dose-rate levels (0.05 μSv/hr). Since external gamma dose contributes ~ 20% to the total background dose (the remaining dose components are cosmic rays, internal radionuclides, and radon daughters), this increase in gamma ray exposure added 16% to the daily radiation dose to Tokyo residents [This study omits any mention of the problem of disposing of massive amounts of radioactive sewage sludge and incinerator ash that are accumulating all over northern Japan].

Health Implications

The impact of low doses of radiation on our health is assumed to be an increase in the probability of being diagnosed with cancer. No other natural disease shows a significant elevation following exposure to low dose radiation and no unusual or unique diseases are created. [On this point, ICRP adherents are like the proverbial drunk who will look for his keys only under the street lamp. They won’t find out about a significant elevation of other diseases if they don’t pay attention to the studies that show it, or advocate for funding of the necessary research questions. Numerous scientific papers, documentary films and journalistic reports from Chernobyl have reported on a long list of health effects caused by low level radiation. International charities have been in operation for years which do such things as send children overseas for “discorporation of cesium,” while American surgeons have gone to Belarus to repair the “Chernobyl hearts” of children born with defects. It takes a willful effort to ignore this body of evidence that has accumulated over twenty-five years.] Radiation-induced cancers have a latent-period of 20-30 years (shorter for leukemia) and tend to appear at the same time in irradiated as in unirradiated populations. Since the cancers induced by radiation are the same types of cancers observed ‘naturally’, determining the number of additional cancers caused by a small dose of radiation when baseline cancer rates are already high has not been possible for doses in the 20 mSv range (or even higher) [But what if you’re only two years old when you get irradiated? It is uncontroversial that fetuses and children are much more prone to damage from radiation. Again, a scientist must be willfully ignorant to not mention this in a report on a nuclear disaster].

Although no data have ever demonstrated that 20 mSv over 1 year results in measureable harm, this dose range has long been relevant to the occupational radiation protection field and thus there has been a need to generate radiation risk estimates, even in the absence of actual data. These estimates come primarily from the long-term evaluation of the A-bomb survivor population and are a result of adopting a hypothetical model of extrapolating the risk per unit dose at high dose levels down to the low dose range. While some models incorporate a threshold dose below which no radiation-induced cancers will be diagnosed and others predict health benefits rather than health detriment from small doses delivered over time (eg. factors of several times natural background doses) the model adopted for use in occupational radiation protection is a simple linear model that assumes the risk of harm per unit dose is the same at all doses. Use of this extrapolation model in the generating of risk estimates incorporates a number of assumptions appropriate to radiation protection in the workplace but not appropriate to determining the hazards of an environment contaminated with a long-lived radionuclide. Accordingly, scientific bodies evaluating risk often specifically caution against extending these strategies to predicting the long term effects of small doses to a large population. Unfortunately, more applicable risk estimates do not exist and so this caution is routinely ignored when the potential impact of low doses is of interest. [This was a dumb move on the part of the nuclear industry. The allowable level for workers should be the same as the allowable level of long-term, low level radiation after an accident. If they did it this way, they wouldn’t be accused of rigging the levels for convenience after the accident has occurred. But this would be advisable only if the higher level really is safe for the workers].

The linear extrapolation model has long been viewed as a conservative approach to estimating radiation risk at low doses and, in particular, for low doses accumulated over long periods of time. It can be used, however, to generate an upper estimate of the risk posed by the radiation doses encountered from a contaminated environment. Using the linear extrapolation model, the U.S. National Academies of Sciences’ BEIR VII committee estimates that 1 cancer could result if 100 people received a single dose of 0.1 Sv (a risk of 0.01/0.1 Sv), with lower doses resulting in proportionally lower risk. Thus, a dose of 20 mSv (if delivered acutely) x 0.1 per 0.1 Sv =0.002. In other words, the 20 mSv dose ceiling pursued by the Japanese authorities represents a 0.2 % chance of being diagnosed with cancer later in life, in addition to a 42 % risk an individual already faces from ‘natural’ causes. [In other words, radiation is off the hook. As far as we know, it could be an additive cause in that 42% risk, but it gets hidden by other causes like smoking, dioxin, PCBs, endocrine disruptors, particulate exhaust, X-rays, ozone depletion, alcohol, pharmaceuticals etc… Even if their calculations are correct, they are cold comfort for the irradiated.] This estimate is expected to be high by a factor of 2-10 and possibly more, according to NCRP 64, to account for the reduced impact of protracted radiation delivery, relative to the same dose received all at once.

20 mSv over the course of a year represents a factor of 8 times the average natural radiation background level. It is the equivalent to 2-3 abdominal CT exams for a lean individual, or equivalent to one CT exam for someone who is overweight. However 20 mSv received over the course of one year is expected to have significantly less biological impact than the same dose received via medical imaging since the dose is protracted over time [This is a valid point, but still I’d want to avoid the CT scan anyway].

The Cost of Dose Avoidance

Permanent and long-term relocation can reduce exposure to radiation to essentially zero levels above natural background. What is gained is the elimination of any possibility of the tiny additional risk of cancer (maximum risk of 42.2 % instead of 42.0 % at 20 mSv) predicted by the linear extrapolation model. This cancer, if it appears, will be diagnosed many years, perhaps decades, in the future. But this gain comes with very significant costs. The costs include loss of home or farm (48,000 homes and over 400 livestock or dairy-farming households are in the evacuation region), loss of privacy (shelters are crowded and residence time is expected to be measured in months before alternative temporary housing will be available), and loss of community (whole towns and villages have been evacuated). Prohibition against consuming contaminated food and water results in no additional internal dose but, for a country already facing food shortages following a devastating earthquake and tsunami, the loss of valuable foodstuffs and interdiction of farmlands are a significant price to pay. [This is all true, but this paragraph makes no mention of the tremendous cost of decontamination and economic revitalization of an area that is sure to be stigmatized, regardless of the actual harm done by radiation.  And, as mentioned above, it takes no account of mental suffering and the distaste victims have for living on land contaminated with cesium, strontium and various other dangerous radionuclides that don’t belong inside living organisms. The victims of this crime have the right to demand zero exposure to these substances, regardless of what the hypothetical risks might be. A just outcome would be subsidized relocation and compensation for lost assets, as well as for present and future lost income. But it is painfully obvious now that what has happened to Fukushima is not much different than what would happen after a nuclear bomb went off over a large city. Just compensation for all the victims is not possible.]

The costs of dose avoidance are high. A clearer understanding of the actual risks represented by, say 20 mSv, would help residents and government officials engage in a productive dialogue regarding how to make the tradeoff between dose avoidance and loss of important aspects of daily life (home, food, and community). [It is possible that this “productive dialog” might result in an angry but totally rational desire on the part of citizens to eliminate nuclear reactors from their communities.] It is also critical that the public gain a wider understanding of the bases on which our radiation risk estimates are derived. The inherent protection of radiation workers built into our estimates of radiation risk have been effective in ensuring that employers keep dose to their workers very low, and thereby the need to actually know the hazard from radiation levels that are 5, 10, or even 50 times background has been avoided. However, this approach is not useful in the situation of a contaminated background where conservative estimates of risk force residents to make significant sacrifices to avoid all dose.

It is also important that residents understand the manner in which protection limits are based on risk estimates. For instance, a limit imposed on employers to restrict exposure of the general public does not correspond to a declaration that doses below this limit are safe but above this limit are not. [Seriously, what would a rational person expect residents to conclude about this limit? The nuclear industry seems to have set itself up for a severe credibility problem by having to add these extra explanations after an accident has occurred.] Concerns have been raised regarding elevated dose-rates at schools in Fukushima prefecture, almost 170 of which have been forced to relocate or close. Raising the maximum allowed annual radiation limit from 1 mSv to 20 mSv in schools led to a significant uproar and prompted one government advisor to resign in protest. Governmental ministers defended the increase from 1 mSv to 20 mSv/year as a necessary measure to guarantee the education of tens of thousands of children in Fukushima prefecture. However many members of the public viewed this step as regulators changing their mind regarding what levels are safe, rather than seeing the situation as a choice between two undesirable situations. Given that the environment has been contaminated, the choice to residents of Fukushima prefecture involves accepting the possible 0.2% additional chance of getting cancer in 20-30 years, or delaying the resumption of normal schooling (and a normal life) for an extended period of time. [The calculation of 0.2% made above was based on one government study, but there are numerous studies of this question that conclude the cancer risk is higher (for example, The 15-Country Collaborative Study of Cancer Risk among Radiation Workers…) And then there is a risk of other ailments (denied by the ICRP), the much higher vulnerability of fetuses and children, which they always avoid mentioning (see, for example, the studies on the effects of in utero exposure to strontium 90), and the unknown effects of the unknowable amount of radionuclides an individual will absorb internally. Residents had always been told by the nuclear industry that nuclear energy was safe. Can they be blamed now for being suspicious of a habitual liar who now tells them that the new 20 mSv limit is safe? And why couldn't education be available to families if they were relocated to a clean environment? The writers of this report express no contrition for the failings of their own profession. Instead, they imply that it is the ignorant residents who need to be properly informed - by an industry that has betrayed them!]

In the United States the EPA recommends implementation of a return home dose rate that would lead to a maximum dose of 20 mSv in the first year following a reactor accident; many states have adopted this recommendation. This is the same level that has prompted such emotional response from frightened members of the public and even from advisors to the government during the on-going crisis in Japan. [Again, the authors attribute emotionality to the public with the word “frightened,” but I suggest that since March 11, 2011, it is the nuclear industry that has been running scared. Let’s just admit that there is no clear line between emotion and reason on either side of this debate. We all begin from emotions to protect our interests, and for these emotions we try to develop convincing and rational arguments. If we are wise, we are capable of seeing when our rationalizations make no sense. The authors have to get over their conception of themselves as being ruled by reason, while the public that they want to protect are ruled by emotion.] Once an accident has taken place and the environment is contaminated, we need to be equipped with the most accurate estimates possible of harm from living with elevated background radiation levels. These can then be weighed against the benefits and drawbacks of dose avoidance strategies. We are not there yet. [This we can all agree on. Definitely not there yet!]


Video summary of recent studies on low level radiation: Goddard Report

Committee to Assess Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation
Board on Radiation Effects Research, Division on Earth and Life Studies
National Research Council of the National Academies
Washington, D.C.

Toxicologist Janette Sherman interviewed about the Chernobyl catastrophe.

Dr. Andrew Weil, best selling author of many books on health. He notes, "Throughout history, irresponsible politicians and commentators have cited the hormetic effect to justify reducing restrictions on pollution... This is dangerous nonsense. Hormesis appears to be of value only when dosages are very carefully controlled, which does not describe releasing random mixtures of toxins, especially synthetic ones, into general circulation."

Science 17 October 2003: 378.DOI:10.1126/science.302.5644.378

Hirose Takashi, 'Japan’s Earthquake-Tsunami-Nuclear Disaster Syndrome: An Unprecedented Form of Catastrophe,' The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 39 No 1, September 26, 2011.

Ishibashi, Katsuhiko, Why Worry? Japan's Nuclear Plants at Grave Risk From Quake Damage The Asia Pacific Journal, August 11, 2007.

Wald, Matthew, Study of Baby Teeth Sees Radiation EffectsNew York Times, December 10, 2010.

Mark J. Eisenberg, Jonathan Afilalo, Patrick R. Lawler, Michal Abrahamowicz, Hugues Richard, Louise Pilote. Cancer risk related to low-dose ionizing radiation from cardiac imaging in patients after acute myocardial infarction. CMAJ February 7, 2011, doi:10.1503/cmaj.100463

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