Sunday, May 8, 2016

Radiation Myths Harming Public Health

Radiation Myths Harming Public Health by Jay Lehr, February 24, 2010

I was recently invited to lunch by the editors of Newsweek magazine in New York City to discuss with them my views on what should be included in their next special issue on the nation's environmental priorities.

They were quite shocked when I told them that one of my top three, just behind applying DDT to stamp out malaria and improving drinking water supplies for impoverished nations, was reducing the unwarranted fear of low-level radiation that grips most of the world's population.

I was determined to call this issue to Newsweek's attention, because I had recently read Ed Hiserodt's new book, Underexposed. I cannot recommend this book too strongly, nor can I praise it articulately enough.

Identifies False Theory

Let us first examine the Linear No-Threshold (LNT) theory, by which we have been held hostage for so long.

To take it to an absurd extreme so you will easily understand it, the theory basically says that if 100 percent of a given population will die from a fall from a 100 foot cliff, and 50 percent would die when falling from a height of 50 feet, then we can expect that one person of a hundred would die when falling from a height of one foot.

Silly as this seems, we use the same theory when studying the effects of chemicals and heavy metal intake by humans. Substances such as mercury, lead, tin, cadmium, oxygen, fluorine, arsenic, and selenium are toxic in large quantities, yet critical to our health in small quantities.

We call the phenomenon of harm at high doses and help at low doses "hormesis," derived from the Greek word "hormo," which means to excite. Thus, a substance that excites a positive bodily response at a low dose and is harmful at high doses is considered hormetic. Vitamins and trace minerals clearly show the difference a dose makes. The same is true of sunlight, noise and stress.

Radiation Fears Unwarranted

A common measure of nuclear radiation is the millirem, or mrem. The average background radiation in the United States is 300 mrem per year, though higher at altitudes well above sea level, like Denver.

Low-level radiation is a "green issue." The media tends not to criticize their green friends who oppose any and all forms of radiation. Indeed, if low levels of radiation are realized to be benign, then there goes a central argument of anti-nuclear activists.

There is in fact no scientifically credible evidence that low-level radiation is harmful, yet there is substantial evidence that it actually inoculates the body to resist the negative effects of future high doses. At the same time, low-dose radiation appears to have positive effects in increasing immune system competency.

Hiserodt informs us that if we want to avoid our natural annual background radiation, we would have to move to Antarctica or live underwater in a nuclear submarine. We could also encourage people to move from the high plains of Colorado - where the cancer rates are low - to states where background radiation is low, but cancer rates are high.

But of course we are not going to do any of these things, because if an increase in low-level radiation caused any problems at all we would have seen the evidence long ago, in the form of dead bodies. If low-level radiation harmed human health, Deadwood, Colorado (elevation 11,000 feet) would be well known for its citizens' short life spans, but that is not the case. In fact, the opposite is true.

According to Hiserodt, the only people who think there is any real danger from low-level radiation are the regulators, antinuclear activists, environmental zealots and government scientists who cling to the Linear No-Threshold hypothesis.

Background Radiation Cuts Cancer

Hiserodt recounts how Dr. Bernard Cohen proved conclusively that geographic areas with slightly elevated levels of naturally occurring radon have a reduced incidence of lung cancer. The first of Cohen's studies was published in 1990, and an even more comprehensive study was reported in 1995. The wealth of evidence rocked the scientific community, most of whom had never bothered to question the Linear No-Threshold model.

Hiserodt exhaustively describes the many mice studies showing conclusively that the LNT model is absurd and that mice actually benefit from low-level radiation. He then explains that similar exposure among humans proves the very same thing.

The greatest proof, worth repeating, lies among the citizens of Nagasaki and Hiroshima - who were exposed to low-level radiation and went on to experience longer and healthier life spans than Japanese living elsewhere.

Study after study of nuclear power plant workers further illustrate the enhanced health of those working in an environment of low-level radiation. The most inclusive study, which was intended to show negative impacts on our nuclear workforce, began at Johns Hopkins University in 1980 and was reported 15 years ago. It conclusively showed positive effects of low-level radiation on 72,356 workers.

Perhaps the most telling real-world evidence of the benefits of low-level radiation is how the uneven distribution of background radiation around the world parallels the variations in human cancer rates. The higher the natural background radiation, the lower the local cancer rates.

Hiserodt briefly but clearly describes nuclear reactors, saying, "The new designs are even safer than the old - but how do you get safer than no deaths, no injuries, and no negative effects to the public from several thousand reactor years of operation with thousands of gigawatt hours of life enhancing electrical energy having been generated?"

Wasting Money, Lives

The question of whether tiny amounts of radiation must be avoided, even at great cost, is neither abstract nor trivial. Hundreds of billions of dollars are targeted to remediate U.S. sites even though there is no scientific basis for claiming any health or other benefit from removing low-level radiation.

Worldwide, Hiserodt tells us, the cost of such remediation has been estimated at more than a trillion dollars. This is in addition to the unquantifiable cost of lives lost by fear and avoidance of mammograms, irradiated food, and other beneficial uses of radiation.

I cannot recommend Hiserodt's book too highly. It addresses a subject few understand, but thanks to this author's comprehensive research and clear writing ability, you are now within a few dollars and a few hours of grasping this important subject.

- Jay Lehr, Ph.D. ( is science director for The Heartland Institute

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Under-Exposed Book Review in the Journal of American Physicians & Surgeons

Under-Exposed: What if Radiation is Actually Good for You? by Ed Hiserodt, 247 pp, paperback, $14.95, ISBN 0930073355, Little Rock, Ark., Laissez-Faire Books, 2005.

The linear no-threshold (LNT) hypothesis for radiation carcinogenesis could be the costliest error in the history of science.

It was invented by Linus Pauling to win the debate with Edward Teller on banning atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons, according to Pauling's long-time close collaborator Arthur B. Robinson (personal communication). It uses the concept of collective dose to calculate huge numbers of casualties from tiny exposures. By the same reasoning, if 1,000 aspirin tablets will kill one man who takes them all, one death will also occur as a result of 1,000 men each taking a single aspirin.

Hiserodt demolishes the LNT in his brief, lucid book. Though written for the lay public in a chatty, coloquial style, the technical exposition is solid and footnoted, and it will not insult the intelligence of physicians.

Radiation, like many (if not most) chemicals, exhibits a biphasic dose-response curve, also called hormesis. While high doses of radiation are lethal, doses within a certain low range have a nonspecific stimulatory effect on the organism, enhancing growth, immune response, or DNA repair mechanisms.

Hiserodt reviews the most important animal and human data, with clear charts and graphs showing findings that will astonish those indoctrinated in the belief that any dose of radiation is harmful.

Among A-bomb survivors, longevity was increased at low-to-intermediate doses (1-199 rads). Mortality in Americans weapons plant workers was significantly less than expected. Nuclear shipyard workers exposed to radiation had lower all-cause and cancer mortality than their non-exposed counterparts. The actual evidence is consistent and convincing, as long as one looks at the data itself, and not the conclusion that prestigious committees draw for the abstracts.

The Environmental Protection Agency's campaign to reduce indoor radon exposure is based primarily on data from uranium miners, who do indeed have a higher risk of lung cancer. However, the potential role of other factors present in uranium mines, such as particulates and fumes from diesel engines, was never considered. The cancers are deep in the lungs, like those of South African miners exposed to amphibole-type asbestos, rather than concentrated in the bronchial epithelium as would be expected.

A multimillion-dollar, 5-year effort to demonstrate the harm caused by radon levels in homes, however, showed a highly significant protective effect. Bernard Cohen wrote: "It came as a great shock to me that my data ran contrary to LNT, and I didn't fully believe it until about 1993 - when I shut off the $1,200 radon reduction system in my house to save electricity." But it didn't make the news, and bureaucrats and health physicists - who have a vested interest in overzealous radiation protection - appear to pretend that the data either don't exist, or can be explained away. If radon were recognized as "Vitamin R," a lot of regulators would be looking for another job.

While the LNT-predicted radiation casualties are purely hypothetical, the deaths caused by belief in the LNT assumption are tragically real. After the Chernobyl accident, between 100,000 and 200,000 babies were aborted in Europe because their mothers believe they might be carrying "nuclear monsters." The actual dose from Chernobyl was about 1.4 SXR in Greece, and 0.5 in France: the SXR being a Hiserodt-coined unit for the dose received from one "shoe x-ray" in the days when good shoe stores had a fluoroscope to check the fit of the shoes. One could also receive 1.4 SXR from residing in Colorado instead of Texas for about 19 months.

Hiserodt includes a fascinating discussion of benefits that we have forgone because of misunderstanding radiation: the plutonium-powered pacemaker that never needs a battery change; a car that could conceivably get 5 million miles to the pound of plutonium; and small, intrinsically safe nuclear power generating stations. Promising medical benefits blocked by the LNT include low-dose radiation for cancer prevention, and even treatment; potential cure of rapidly lethal infections such as gangrene; and relief of conditions such as arthritis.

Reasons to keep this book on the reference shelf include its clear explanation of dose units; its tables of exposures from sources such as power reactors, your own blood, or jet flight; the specific activities of dangerous substances like salad oil and whisky; and the table on the manifestations of acute radiation syndrome. Even if you don't need the chapter on remedial nuclear physics, you'll probably learn something about what goes on in a nuclear reactor.

This is a good book to give to nervous patients, students, teachers, physics-challenged reporters and public officials. But do keep one for yourself.

Jane M. Orient, M.D.
Tucson, AZ

Sunday, May 1, 2016


Over the past several years I have had occasion to attend seminars and conference where I was able to meet personally with many of those I have quoted. Without exception, they have taken time for my "dumb" questions and have encouraged me to help "create understanding" about hormesis and the invalidity of the LNT theory.

Don Luckey answered my questions for hours sitting in his den in Ft. Collins, Colorado. Bernie Cohen did the same in his office at the University of Pittsburgh. I met Myron Pollycove at a conference in Ottawa and had a long dinner with Ted Rockwell in Boston. We visited the Chalk River reactor facility at the invitation of Ron Mitchel. Ed Calabrese, the first director of the International Hormesis Society, welcomed me warmly to the Amherst symposium. All these men have doctorates in the hard sciences (Pollycove is an M.D.), and I must admit to being a bit intimidated when I first approached them. Their generous assistance has been appreciated more than they know.

I owe a special thanks to Massachusetts State Nuclear Engineer Jim Muckerheide. Jim - also the president of the non-profit organization Radiation, Science and Health - and his wife Linda, have provided more information for this book than anyone, with the exception of Dr. Luckey. Their support has been invaluable.

Others who were willing to read and make technical comments on the draft manuscript include Michael Gough (then of the Cato Institute), health physicist Paul Beck, pathologist M.G. Simpson, physics professor emeritus Howard Hayden, and my old friend Ed Gran of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock physics department. Lastly, William R. Hendee, Ph.D., dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the Medical College of Wisconsin - not known for his support of the hormesis thesis - gave me valuable insights.

In the nontechnical area, I am indebted to the late Irene Beckmann, my sister Martha Johnson, and Jane Jacob for reading early drafts and making helpful suggestions and corrections.

So many others were helpful along the way, and I have been so lax about recording their names. To all of them, my earnest thanks.

And finally, many thanks to Laissez Faire Books for its support on this project.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Appendix Part 2

3) Immunosurveillance systems are able to eliminate clones of transformed cells, as is shown by tumor cell transplants. The effectiveness of immunosurveillance is also shown by the large increase in the incidence of several types of cancers among immunosuppressed subjects (a link seems to exist between a defect in NHEJ DNA repairs and immunodeficiency).

These phenomena suggest the lesser effectiveness of low doses, or even of a practical threshold which can be due to either a failure or a low level of damage to sufficiently activate DNA repair mechanisms or to an association between apoptosis + error-free repair + immunosurveillance, to determine a threshold (between 5 and 50 mSv?). The stimulation of the cell defense mechanisms could also cause hormesis by fighting against endogenous mutagenic factors, in particular against reactive oxygen species. Indeed a meta-analysis of experimental data shows that in 40% of animal experiments there is a decrease in the incidence of spontaneous cancers after low doses.

This observation has been overlooked so far because the phenomenon was difficult to explain.

These data show that the use of a linear no-threshold relationship is not justified for assessing by extrapolation the risk of low doses from observations made for doses from 0.2 to 5 Sv since this extrapolation relies on the concept of a constant carcinologic carcinogenic effect per unit dose, which is inconsistent with experimental and radiobiological data. This conclusion is in contradiction with those of an article and a draft report [43,118], which justify the use of LNT by several arguments.

1. for doses lower than 10 mGy, there is no interaction between the different physical events initiated along the electron tracks through the DNA or the cell;

2. the nature and the repair of lesions thus caused are not influenced by the dose and the dose rate;

3. cancer is the direct and random consequence of a DNA lesion in a cell apt to divide;

4. LNT model correctly fits the dose-effect relationship for the induction of solid tumors in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki cohort;

5. the carcinogenic effect of doses of about 10 mGy is proven by results obtained in humans in studies on irradiation in utero.

With respect to the first argument, it should be noted that the physico-chemical events are identical but their biological consequence may greatly vary because the cellular defense reactions differ depending on dose and dose rate. The second argument is contradicted by recent radiobiological studies considered in the present report. The third argument does not take into account recent finding showing the complexity of the carcinogenic process and overlooks experimental data. Regarding the fourth argument, it can be noted that besides LNT, other types of dose-effect relationships are also compatible with data concerning solid tumors in atom bomb survivors, and can satisfactorily fit epidemiological data that are incompatible with the LNT concept, notably the incidence of leukemia in these same A-bomb survivors.

Furthermore, taking into account the latest available data, the dose-effect relationship for solid tumors in Hiroshima-Nagasaki survivors is not linear but curvilinear between 0 and 2 Sv. Moreover, even if the dose-effect relationship were demonstrated to be linear for solid tumors between, for example, 50 mSv and 3 Sv, the biological significance of this linearity would be open to question. Experimental and clinical data have shown that the dose effect relationship varies widely with the type of tumor and with the age of the individuals - some being linear or quadratic, with or without a threshold. The composite character of a LNT relationship between dose and all solid tumors confirms the invalidity of its use for low doses.

Finally, with regard to irradiation in utero, whatever the value of the Oxford study, some inconsistencies should lead us to be cautious before concluding to a causal relationship from data showing simply an association.

Moreover, it is questionable to extrapolate from the fetus to the child and adult, since the developmental state, cellular interactions, and immunological control systems are very different.

In conclusion, this report doubts the validity of using LNT in the evaluation of the carcinogenic risk of low doses (< 100 mSv) and even more for very low doses (< 10 mSv). LNT can be a pragmatic tool for assessing the carcinogenic effect of doses higher than a dozen mSv within the framework of radioprotection. However, the use of LNT in the low dose or dose rate range is not consistent with the current radiobiological knowledge; LNT cannot be used without challenge for assessing by extrapolation the risks of associated with very low doses (<10 mSv), nor be used in benefit-risk assessments imposed on radiologists by the European directive 97-43. Biological mechanisms are different for doses lower than a few dozen mSv and for higher doses. The eventual risks in the dose range of radiological examinations (0.1 to 5 mSv, up to 20 mSv for some examinations) must be estimated taking into account radiobiological and experimental data. An empirical relationship which is valid for doses higher than 200 mSv may lead to an overestimation of risk associated with doses one hundredfold lower and this overestimation could discourage patients from undergoing useful examinations and introduce a bias in radioprotection measures against very low doses (<10 mSv).

Decision makers confronted with problems of radioactive waste or risk of contamination, should re-examine the methodology used for the evaluation of risks associated with these very low dose exposures delivered at a very low dose rate. This analysis of biological data confirms the inappropriateness of the collective dose concept to evaluate population irradiation risks.

Friday, April 29, 2016


Academie des Sciences (Academy of Sciences) Academie nationale de Medecine (National Academy of Medicine)

Dose-effect relationships and estimation of the carcinogenic effects of low doses of ionizing radiation

March 6, 2005
Andre Aurengo (Rapporteur), Dietrich Averbeck and Andre Bonnin (all members of the Academie nationale de medecine)

Roland Masse (membre correspondant de l'Academie nationale de medecine)

Roger Monier, Maurice Tubianal (Chairman) (members of the Academie des Sciences)

Bernard Le Guen, Florent de Vathaire

Executive Summary

The assessment of carcinogenic risks associated with doses of ionizing radiation from 0.2 Sv to 5 Sv is based on numerous epidemiological data.

However, the doses which are delivered during medical X-ray examinations are much lower (from 0.1 mSv to 20 mSv). Doses close to or slightly higher than these can be received by workers or by populations in regions of high natural background radiation.

Epidemiological studies have been carried out to determine the possible carcinogenic risk of doses lower than 100 mSv and they have not been able to detect statistically significant risk even on large cohorts or populations.

Therefore these risks are at worst low since the highest limit of the confidence interval is relatively low. It is highly unlikely that putative carcinogenic risks could be estimated or even established for such doses through case-control studies or the follow-up of cohorts. Even for several hundred thousands of subjects, the power of such epidemiological studies would not be sufficient to demonstrate the existence of a very small excess in cancer incidence or mortality adding to the natural cancer incidence which, in non-irradiated populations, is already very high and fluctuates according to lifestyle. Only comparisons between geographical regions with high and low natural irradiation and with similar living conditions could provide valuable information for this range of doses and dose rates. The results from the ongoing studies in Kerala (India) and China need to be carefully analyzed.

Because of these epidemiological limitations, the only method for estimating teh possible risks of low doses (< 010 mSv) is by extrapolating from carcinogenic effects observed between 0.2 and 3 Sv. A linear no-threshold relationship (LNT) describes well the relation between the dose and the carcinogenic effect in this dose range where it could be tested. However, the use of this relationship to assess by extrapolation the risk of low and very low doses deserves great caution. Recent radiobiological data undermine the validity of estimations based on LNT in the range of doses lower than a few dozen mSv which leads to the questioning of the hypotheses on which LNT is implicitly based: 1) the constancy of the probability of mutation (per unit dose) whatever the dose or dose rate, 2) the independence of the carcinogenic process which after the initiation of a cell evolves similarly whatever the number of lesions present in neighboring cells and the tissue.

Indeed 1) progress in radiobiology has shown that a cell is not passively affected by the accumulation of lesions induced by ionizing radiation. It reacts through at least three mechanisms: a) by fighting against reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated by ionizing radiation and by any oxidative stress, b) by eliminating injured cells (mutated or unstable), through two mechanisms i) apoptosis which can be initiated by doses as low as a few mSv thus elimiating cells whose genome has been damaged or misrepaired, ii) death at the time of mitosis cells whose lesions have not been repaired.

Recent works suggest that there is a threshold of damage under which low doses and dose rates do not activate intracellular signaling and repair systems, a situation leading to cell death c) by stimulating or activating DNA repair systems following slightly higher doses of about ten mSv.

Furthermore, intercellular communication systems inform a cell about the presence of an insult in neighboring cells. Modern transcriptional analysis of cellular genes using microarray technology reveals that many genes area activated following doses much lower than those for which mutagenesis is observed. These methods were a source of considerable progress by showing that according to the dose and the dose rate it was not the same genes which genes that were transcribed.

For doses of a few mSv (< 10 mSv), lesions are eliminated by the disappearance of cells. For slightly higher doses damaging a large number of cells (therefore capable of causing tissue lesions), the repair systems are activated. They permit cell survival but may generate misrepairs and irreversible lesions. For low doses (< 100 mSv), the number of mutagenic misrepairs is small but its relative importance, per unit dose, increases with the dose and dose rate. The duration of repair varies with the complexity of the damage and their number. Several enzymatic systems are involved and a high local density of DNA damage may lower their efficacy. At low dose rates the probability of misrepair is smaller. The modulation of the cell defense mechanisms according to the dose, dose rate, the type and number of lesions, the physiological condition of the cell, and the number of affected cells explains the large variations in radiosensitivity (variations in cell mortality or probability of mutations per unit dose) according to the dose and the dose rate that have been observed. The variations in cell defense mechanisms are also demonstrated by several phenomena: initial cell hypersensitivity during irradiation, rapid variations in radiosensitivity after short and intense irradiation at a very high dose rate, adaptive responses which cause a decrease in radiosensitivity of the cells during hours or days following a first low dose irradiation, etc.

2) Moreover, it was thought that radiocarcinogenesis was initiated by a lesion of the genome affecting at random a few specific targets (proto-oncogenes, suppressor genes, etc.). This relatively simple model, which provided a theoretical framework for the use of LNT, has been replaced by a more complex process including genetic and epigenetic lesions, and in which the relation between the initiated cells and their microenvironment plays an essential role. This carcinogenic process is confronted by effective defense mechanisms in the cell, tissue, and the organism. With regard to tissue, the mechanisms which govern embryogenesis and direct tissue repair after an injury seem to play an important role in the control of cell proliferation. This process is particularly important when a transformed cell is surrounded by normal cells. These mechanisms could explain the lesser efficacy of heterogeneous irradiation, i.e., local irradiations through a grid as well as the absence of a carcinogenic effect in humans or experimental animals contaminated by small quantities of a-emitter radionuclides. The latter data suggest the existence of a threshold. This interaction between cells could also help to explain the difference in the probability of carcinogenesis according to the tissues and the dose, since the death of a large number of cells disorganizes the tissue and favors the escape from tissue controls of an initiated cell.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The "Linear Mafia's" Last Hurrah?

On June 29, 2005, a politicized committee appointed by the National Academy of Sciences issued a well-publicized report that is in total disagreement with the unanimous French Academy of Science and Academy of Medicine's May 2005 report. H. Josef Hebert, an Associated Press writer [as printed in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Little Rock, Ark., June 30, 2005, p. 2], summarized its conclusions:

"The preponderance of scientific evidence shows that even very low doses of radiation pose a risk of cancer or other health problems and there is no threshold below which exposure can be viewed as harmless, a panel of prominent scientists concluded Wednesday.

"The finding by the National Academy of Sciences panel is viewed as critical because it is likely to significantly influence what radiation levels government agencies will allow at abandoned nuclear power plants, nuclear weapons production facilities and elsewhere.

"The nuclear industry... as well as some independent scientists, have argued that there is a threshold of very low level radiation where exposure is not harmful, or possibly even beneficial. They said current risk modeling may exaggerate the health impact.

"The panel, after five years of study, rejected that claim."

Needless to say, this report was met with outrage by the scientists who have incontrovertible evidence to the contrary - evidence that was simply ignored by a panel of the same Good Old Boys who held to the LNT hypothesis on earlier requests to examine the accumulating evidence. The reaction of Gerald Looney, M.D., a California physician, is typical:

"The medical profession is fully in favor of progress, but change is out of the question! I am embarrassed and frustrated by the rigid and reactionary viewpoints of my colleagues. Today's report carries the conclusion of a NAS panel of people who are old enough to know better but continue to support and promulgate the patently false Linear No-Threshold (LNT) hypothesis of radiation risk...

"Perhaps this myopic view could be tolerated a while longer, except that it has an increasingly harmful impact on future generations. The current public (and panel) phobia of even a single ionizing ray leads to an expectation of zero tolerance from current environmental and political leaders. Such fear and intolerance makes us easy prey and our cities potential and prolonged wastelands in the face of even a small dirty bomb producing a tiny and harmless, but definitely measurable, increased level of radioactivity over a wide area, thereby allowing a terrorist to literally hoist us on our own petard."

The doctor also has a frightening personal story to tell. He and his partner Nancy were scheduled for the type of whole-body scans (WBS) that the NAS panel's report recommends be avoided. Nancy took the advice of scientific colleagues who suggested she beware of ionizing radiation inherent in CT scans. Unfortunately, an asymptomatic cancer was already underway, and the lack of early treatment proved fatal. Dr. Looney was to take the scan, resulting in a cancer's being found on his kidney. That cancer was surgically removed, apparently successful.

Concerning the phobic position of the NAS, Dr. Looney writes:

"Public and professional policy, even when it comes from the National Academy of Sciences, seems clearly erroneous when a patient follows their official guidelines and advice but succumbs to curable pathology, while another patient ignores these same policies and thereby survives similar disease."

We began in the prologue with the sacrifice of my sister's fetus to an ignorance of low-level radiation effects, and we end with an avoidable death resulting from similar ignorance. Along the way, we saw, among many similar increases in life span and health, that a dose of 0.15 Gy would likely prevent 10,000 breast cancer deaths - with better than 99% certainty - if given to a million women.

How many more lives must be forfeited to a thoroughly discredited LNT before reason prevails?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Chernobyl Revisited

Let us return to mankind's worst nuclear disaster, Chernobyl. We have been told that the embryos and children in the downwind plume of extremely radioactive materials would be mutated. A recent report, which I was pleased to hear radio commentator Paul Harvey bring to the attention of his vast listening audience, found that the children of Chernobyl - eighteen years after the accident - were indeed showing effects, but not the type that were expected:

"The Chernobyl nuclear disaster has spawned a generation of 'mutant' super brainy children. Kids growing up in areas damaged by radiation from the plant have higher IQ and faster reaction times, say Russian doctors. They are also growing faster and have stronger immune systems. Radiation from the Ukrainian Chernobyl plant swept the globe and affected more than seven million people.

"Professor Vladimir Mikhalev from Bryansk State University has tracked the health of youngsters growing up in areas hit by the fallout since the 1986 accident. He compared their mental agility and health to those in unaffected areas and found they came out tops in tests." [As reported in the British newspaper The Sun, on May 26, 2005, as well as in the Russian newspaper Pravda, on May 24, 2005. The story was - not surprisingly - virtually ignored in the mainstream media.]

Obviously, this has nothing to do with mutations - only the predictable result of radiation hormesis.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Environmental Test Lab II

The unfortunate Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki provide us with a test lab without peer. Thousands of citizens of all ages were exposed to different amounts of radiation in a very short period of time. From their locations at the time of the blast, their exposures could be determined with relative accuracy. Moreover, they were expected to carry and update their health records. As has been shown, the exposed survivors had unexpectedly longer and healthier lifetimes than did their unexposed cohorts.

But there is now a laboratory for low-level radiation absorbed over a period of twenty years. From 1982 to 1984, about 180 apartment buildings housing 10,000 Taiwanese tenants were built with cobalt-60-contaminated steel (half-life of 5.3 years). Since, as we all know, radiation causes cancer, these unfortunates must be dying like flies.

Well, not exactly. The assessed cancer rate of occupants of the apartments is 3.5 deaths per 100,000 person-years. The average death rate of the general population over the same twenty-year period is 116 persons per 100,000 person-years - resulting in a 97% reduction of fatal cancer.

Have you heard about this story on Headline News? No? Well, maybe no one is interested in reducing his risk of cancer by ninety-seven percent. But just in case you are, you may want to take a look at a paper entitled, "Is Chronic Radiation an Effective Prophylaxis Against Cancer?" [Chen, W.L., Luan, Y.C., et al., "Is Chronic Radiation an Effective Prophylaxis Against Cancer?" Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Vol. 9, No. 1, Spring 2004. Taiwanese officials have resisted providing information needed for a first rate epidemiological report, apparently embarrassed that their LNT predictions didn't pan out.]

Monday, April 25, 2016

Cutting the Utility Power Cord

In the text of the book, I opined, "As far as I know, a low-power, inherently safe reactor has not been designed for community or home use" because of the risk to investors for such a project. That is no longer true. Toshiba calls its design the "4S reactor" for "super-safe, small and simple." It would be installed underground, and in case of a cooling-system failure, heat would be dissipated through the Earth. There are no complicated control rods to move through the core to control the flow of neutrons that sustain the chain reaction. If the reflective panels are removed, the density of neutrons becomes too low to sustain the chain reaction.

Toshiba has offered to provide a complete nuclear power plant if the residents of the ice-bound 7,000-person town of Galena, Alaska, will but pay the operating costs - far less than the cost of barging diesel fuel in for the town generator. Will the anti-nuclear, primitivist-environmentalists be joyful because the townspeople won't be spilling diesel fuel during its arduous journey and will pay only a fraction of what they would pay for petroleum power? And because they won't be creating any of that pesky carbon dioxide that the environmentalists claim is warming the earth? Will they be grateful for the lack of long electrical transmission lines that somehow are sterilizing the caribou and ruining the vista for the six people that visit each year?

Certainly not. If nuclear power is shown to be as safe as it really is, then the anti-industrializers lose the only weapon they have to prevent a dynamically progressing civilization: their lies about an environmental apocalypse. Let us work to bring out the truth and have nuclear power in this remote village by 2010.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

International Recognition

In May 2005, the French Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Medicine issued a unanimous report that cut the legs from under both the LNT theory and collective dose. [An English translation of the executive summary of this important report is given in its entirety in the appendix.]

Regarding the former:

"In conclusion, this report doubts the validity of using LNT in the evaluation of the carcinogenic risk of low doses (<100 mSv) and even more for very low doses (< 10 mSv). LNT can be a pragmatic tool for assessing the carcinogenic effect of doses higer than a dozen mSv within the framework of radioprotection. However, the use of LNT in the low dose or dose rate range is not consistent with the current radiobiological knowledge."

In regard to collective dose:

"Decision-makers confronted with problems of radioactive waste or risk of contamination should re-examine the methodology used for the evaluation of risks associated with these very low dose exposures delivered at a very low dose rate. This analysis of biological data confirms the inappropriateness of the collective dose concept to evaluate population irradiation risks."

In the United States, June 2005 marked formal establishment of a technical society for the study of hormesis, both from radiation and chemical hormetins. The International Hormesis Society, a spin-off of the less specifically directed Biological Effects of Low Level Exposures (BELLE) organization, is domiciled at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. You might want to visit its website at In 2006, it will take over and host the Fifth International Conference on Hormesis: Implications for Toxicology, Medicine and Risk Assessment.

Saturday, April 23, 2016


Writing a book seems to be much like building a house, where the final trimming and painting seems to take as much time as the rest of the project. I started this manuscript in 1998, and the first draft was complete in 2000. But then, because of personal circumstances, I was forced to put the book aside for several years. There was not a day during that period that I didn't kick myself for not getting this information out.

I mention this since you, dear reader, may have noted a dearth of studies and references after the year 2000. It is not because they're not there, but because if I had started over to include them, I never would have finished.

There are, however, several highlights during this time that I feel compelled to mention:


In chapter 10 (A Day or So in the Life of a Cell), it was noted that individual cells exposed to radiation in vitro, behaved as the LNT would predict: the more radiation, the less healthy the cell. And conversely when the cell was part of a system of cells (in vivo), the group of cells appeared to respond to radiation stimulation as a group - as if they were talking among themselves about the stimulus.

While I still have trouble believing it, there are now devices called "micro beams" that can shoot a single alpha particle into a particular cell. Along with this, there are methods to determine the chemical response to the target cell, as well as the cells in its vicinity. These experiments have clearly determined that cells do communicate - which we would suspect, as part of a complex organism requiring numbers of different types of specializations for survival. This confirms the existence of a mechanism known as the bystander effect, whereby a limited number of cells receiving a low dose can communicate a message to a large number of sibling cells.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Individual Action

So you're interested in seeing an honest re-evaluation of the effects of low-level radiation. What to do? Of course, buying and distributing huge quantities of this book would be my first choice, but there are others. If you are a member of a professional organization such as the Health Physics Society, write the president with copies to the other officers giving your opinion. There are organizations where the officers are very much behind the movement to bury the LNT theory but keep a low profile because of the "you've got to be kidding" response they tend to get on the subject. As knowledge of the subject becomes more widespread, more leaders are likely to become involved in the debate.

It may seem trite, but in this matter, writing your congressman and senators may have an effect. (Letters that don't start out "Why hasn't the government sent me my [fill in the benefit]..." get more attention because of their rarity.) As the debate heats up over the next months or years, an informative letter to your representative might even be appreciated.

Finally, this subject makes for a great letter to the editor. It is up to those of us who "know" to spread the word. With so much at stake, it is a timely and noble cause.

I leave you with my favorite quotation from one of the great physicists of the twentieth century, the late Nobel laureate Richard Feynman. He said it in 1965, long before the present controversy over the effects of low-level radiation, but certainly his words apply to today's battle with the false propositions of the LNT and collective dose:

"We look for a new law by the following process: first we guess at it. Then we compute the consequences of the guess to see what would be implied if this law we guessed is right. Then we compare the result of the computation with observation, to see if it works. If it disagrees with experiment, the law is wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It does not make any difference how beautiful your guess is. It does not make any difference how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is - if it disagrees with experiment, it is wrong. That is all there is to that."

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Other Factors?

While Logan lists the groups that he believes have an aversion to even considering the possibility of a new regulatory structure, I've got a few more groups and other factors that I'll list by motivation:

1. Inertia: When most of us make a mistake, we own up to it and try not to make that mistake again. But it is different for scientists whose opinions are their stock in trade. Once some people take a position and harden it (and scientists are included in "some people"), they will take a conviction to the grave rather than admit they have been wrong.

2. Money: There are on-going and proposed projects that are based almost entirely on the LNT theory and collective dose. An example is Yucca Mountain -- where scores to hundreds of scientists are engaged in the nuclear version of determining the number of angels who can dance on the head of a pin. Many of these scientists are among the smartest, kindest, nicest people on earth. Yet they intend to milk this cash cow for all its worth. (I understand this quite well, as I was in the NASA cow-milking business as a young engineer in the early 1960s.)

Suppose you are an associate professor at Armadillo State University, and your physics department head is on course for a $20 million federal contract to determine the safety of using residential smoke detectors. Are you going to blow the whistle and tell the grant committee that there are already data showing those devices are already completely safe? Oh sure you are - and you'll no doubt enjoy the sight of your effigy twisting in the wind from the lamppost in front of the physics building.

You remember the game: paper covers rock, rock breaks scissors, scissors cut paper. In federally sponsored research, politics covers truth.

3. The Good Old Boy Network: The National Fire Prevention Association is a non-government committee that seeks to minimize fire hazards in the United States. A subcommittee of this organization supervises the National Electric Code - or, in the parlance of all electricians, the Code. This subcommittee, which maintains and modifies the Code is made up of scientists, engineers, and master electricians. It also includes electrical contractors, users, manufacturers, and fire department officials - virtually everyone who is involved in the electrical industry. They are selected by an elaborate system that - while its primary function is to ensure safety and minimize fire risk - also recognizes advances in scientific knowledge, improvements in insulation and other materials, and new techniques that deliver electrical power safely and more efficiently. Without the NFPA and NEC, government-controlled agencies might still be requiring cloth insulation, fuse boxes and pull chains on all lights. The NEC allows innovators to get their say, too.

Unfortunately, in the nuclear-safety business, there are no such safeguards to keep a relatively small number of LNT believers - connected through interlocking protection organizations, universities and government agencies - from setting the regulation criteria. Independent observers and commercial interests not in the club need not apply.

Theodore Rockwell gives specifics of "good old boy networking" in regard to the selection process for the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation Committee:

"Most members have connections with the NRC, NCI and/or EPA. Six members have served with NCRP, five with RERF, four with ICRP, one with BEIR and one with NRPB. This is the same clique that has produced all the previous reports defending the status quo. This is not a group capable of producing the "independent, impartial review" called for by the American Nuclear Society." [Quoted from personal correspondence from Theodore Rockwell to the author.]

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Risk Analysis and Others in the Nuclear Field

The LNT theory and the concept of collective dose make it relatively straightforward for assessors to determine the risk of exposure to radiation. There is only one problem with this currently accepted method: for the levels of radiation with which they are normally concerned, the results are meaningless - or worse.

As we have seen again and again, a wealth of hormesis data indicates not only that the current assessments of low-level dose-response are wrong in magnitude - but also in sign, with increasing amounts of radiation causing a decrease in harmful response. Would acknowledgement of this fact cause an upheaval in the risk business or what? Instead of "radiation = bad," they'd have to contend with "low radiation = good, but high radiation = bad" - and, moreover, have to determine when the "low and good" became "high and bad."

Risk analysts have about the same problems noted above for regulators - and for a very good reason: regulations are made from risk assessments.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Regulatory Agencies

There are a number of national and international regulatory agencies (not to mention state, county and municipal affiliates) whose entire reason for existence is to measure, verify measurement, and regulate levels of ionizing radiation. If the radiation hazard is defined as a linear relationship between radiation dose and effect (the LNT theory), then the job is relatively straightforward. But abandonment of the LNT would mean tossing most reference books, revising all the charts, and taking down the ubiquitous posters with such catchy phrases as "Every Gamma Ray Can Be a Killer" or "Do You Really Need an X-ray?"

Given an understanding of low-level effects, many government agencies involved in such "non-protection" might mercifully go down the tubes; but for the technicians who have been working in the radiation environment, there may well be a silver lining. It is they who understand the mechanics of radiation - so who better to become operators or partners in the "hormesis clinics" that would undoubtedly spring up once the beneficial effects of low-level radiation were known? ("Good morning, Mrs. Jones, would you be interested in our special on two rads of deep therapy X-rays today for $225? It comes with a bonus of an hour in the 200 pCi per liter arthritis-relief chamber.")

As mentioned earlier, when one is looking forward to retirement, retraining is not a gratifying option - but what is the choice here? It is job security for a few people (who are, incidentally, quite employable) versus the continued enslavement of us all to a lie posing as science: the LNT hypothesis. At issue are the lives of all those who will die by following the LNT theory. Eventually, the truth will prevail - and we should continue to ask, "Why not now, rather than later?"

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Radon and Remediation Industries

One of the fascinating features of the free market is an almost instant appearance of entrepreneurs to fill a perceived need. Whether it is someone to build a skyscraper, supply illegal drugs, produce a million automobiles or a pornographic Mother's Day card - where there's a market, someone will appear to satisfy it. When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend that you "fix the home if the radon level is 4 picocuries per liter or higher," it didn't take long for the "fixers" to step forward. Not just the fixers either; someone had to measure the radon, someone else had to build the instrumentation, others had to process the canisters, and still others had to evaluate the whole process. Soon an entire industry was created - and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. It's what we often term "the American way."

Because of their common interest, some of the parties involved in radon detection and remediation (mostly small businesses) joined together in an organization - the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists, Inc. (AARST) - and there certainly isn't anything wrong with that, either. But let us look at a little problem caused by the inherent ability of human beings to rationalize when their personal interests are at stake. Would the four or five hundred members of the AARST applaud an investigation to determine whether residential radon is actually a danger - or that it might possibly be a bio-positive agent for human health? Some probably would, and might then turn their attention to ways to get more radon in the residences, but most - I suspect - would do all in their power to prevent any such investigation.

So here we have a case where a few thousand highly motivated protectors of the status quo might be able to thwart an investigation that could be highly beneficial to hundreds of millions of uninformed - indeed, unaware - citizens. This is the basic reason that science, when politicized, is no longer science at all - but merely an extension of actions that enrich one group at the expense of another.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Anti-Nuclear Camp

The anti-nuclear zealots will go to any lengths to preserve the myth that "no level of radiation exposure is safe." Their tactic is often to use ridiculous anecdotes ("fish so radioactive they glowed in the dark") to incite fear in the technically ignorant.

More than twenty years ago, I was present when the minions of Dr. Benjamin Spock were "debating" representatives of Arkansas Power and Light. [Arkansas Power and Light was then owner of Arkansas Nuclear One - a complex with two 1,000 megawatt nuclear power plants.] It was a rout. Spock's activists had no idea of the reactor contents or of any way to begin quantifying the potential dangers of the plant. But they knew how to frame the debate: It was all about greedy industrialists intentionally endangering children, the elderly, the handicapped, the fishermen on the river, even birds flying over. Indeed, no one was safe from attack by this ruthless, rapacious cartel of profit mongers. Each accusation by Spock's forces brought forth wild cheers and applause.

The utility representatives were reduced to looking at each other with mouths wide open and eyes rolling. They came prepared to talk about containment building integrity and cesium 137 - but not about their war on the community. When anyone from the nuclear camp dared to open his mouth, it was to a chorus of boos and heckling.

When the bloodbath was over, the anti-nukes marched out of the meeting as a cheering horde; the physicists and engineers were still sitting in shock when I left. Attempts to use a logical technical argument with this anti-nuclear group reminded me of trying to teach a pig to sing: It frustrates you and annoys the pig.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Overcoming Vested Interests

Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status. - Dr. Laurence J. Peter

In light of the available evidence showing either the hormesis model or a threshold below which no harm occurs, it is difficult to understand why anyone would cling to the LNT hypothesis. This question was addressed at the 1999 Tucson Waste Management Conference in Stanley Logan's paper, "Radiation Exposure: Overcoming Vested Interests That Block Good Science." [While I have borrowed heavily from Dr. Logan, I have embellished his material with my comments. In essence, the facts are his; the opinions are mine.]

After outlining the evidence for a re-evaluation of the entire radiation protection mechanism, Dr. Logan defined the following groups that oppose or ignore evidence pointing away from the LNT and collective dose theories. [Stanley E. Logan is founder of the Sante Fe consulting engineering firm that bears his name. A former associate professor of nuclear engineering, Dr. Logan has 27 years experience in areas of hazardous waste management and probabilistic risk analysis.]

Friday, April 15, 2016

Yes, You Can Be Too Careful (Part 2)

Bernard Cohen reports, in his book The Nuclear Energy Option, [Plenum Press, New York, 1990] that $100,000 in medical treatments or highway safety improvements would save a life. Government, meanwhile, spends - or requires the spending of - $2.5 billion (yes, that's billion) to save a life from radiation exposure at the cost of 25,000 less "obvious" lives. And it now appears that the life supposedly saved from low-level radiation wasn't saved at all, as it is surfacing that the decrease in hormetic range radiation is actually costing lives.

Another appalling case reported by Rod Adams, editor of Atomic Energy Insights, involved a project used to blast out "contaminated soil" near the nuclear reactor at McMurdo Sound in Antarctica. Battling potentially lethal weather conditions, the task was completed at considerable risk to the workers and immense cost to taxpayers. So what was done with the offending material that may have caused a needed hormetic effect in the radiation-poor polar region? It was shipped (at another obscene cost to the taxpayers) to the United States, where it was used for parking lot fill in Port Hueneme, California.

Rather than trying to paraphrase the flowing and informative prose of Dr. Rockwell, here is a final example of government's mindless adherence to the Linear No-Threshold hypothesis - in his words:

"The question of whether tiny amounts of radiation must be avoided, even at great cost, is neither abstract nor trivial. Hundreds of billions of dollars are to be spent 'remediating' U.S. sites even though there is no scientific basis for claiming any health or other benefit. Worldwide, this cost has been estimated at more than a trillion dollars. [A more recent estimate, based on actual remediation projects, is $3 trillion worldwide, and $1 trillion for the United States alone. Using the figure of $20 million per life sacrificed, a trillion dollars is equal to 50,000 lives at the shrine of the Linear No-Threshold hypothesis.]

"This is in addition to the unquantifiable cost of lives lost by fear of mammograms, radioactive smoke detectors, irradiated food, or other beneficial uses of radiation. Most, if not all, of this cost would be saved if we did not try to reduce radiation levels below the natural radiation background, which is several hundred times lower than the lowest levels at which any health effects have been found."

Rockwell continues:

"But one person's wasted tax money is another's lucrative contract. Here's one example to remember. At some 46 sites in 14 states, there are some 82 million cubic feet of uranium tailings left over from the wartime weapons program. This material is what is left when you take as much uranium out of the natural ore as you can. It is now less radioactive than the original ore, and 20 times less radioactive than what the law calls "low-level waste." There is a lot of natural rock that is more radioactive. [Emphasis added.]

"The Dawn Mining Company was recently licensed to haul 35 million cubic feet of this material from the East Coast to a huge pit at its closed uranium mine near Ford, Washington. The material will travel to Spokane by train, then be transferred to trucks for the trip to the final destination. The company says this will require about 40 very large trucks, with six to nine axles and weighing 93,000 pounds each when loaded. These trucks will travel over the back roads each day for 260 days a year for five to seven years."

Of course, this doesn't include the expense of maintaining the roads under this unplanned-for load and the cost of the statistically certain accidents that will result from 93,000 pound trucks travelling some 5 million miles. But if you weren't lucky enough to get this contract, don't fret. There are another 47 million cubic feet of this material at other locations across the country. While you won't be producing any beneficial health effects, nobody really cares... and it's just taxpayers' money.

Even our state officials charged with insuring the public health are rebelling against the EPA and other heavy-handed federal government intrusions that have the force of law. For example, the EPA limit on radium-226 in drinking water is 5 pCi/l (0.18 Bq/l). The average adult will consume about one liter of water per day. Is there any evidence that 6 pCi/l will harm you? Not a whit. Yet to remove the radium is an expensive proposition borne by the local citizenry for an arbitrary, bureaucratic caprice. [A South Carolina rural water district manager recently told me that one of their wells tested at 5.6 pCi/l, requiring special treatment at a cost of $30,000 per year to the customer base for that single well.]

What evidence is there concerning the harm of ingesting radium - in addition to the fact that people have been drinking the water for hundreds of years without ill effects?

There is good evidence of a death from radium about sixty years ago. But it wasn't from drinking water with 6 pCi/l.

In 1928, an eccentric millionaire, Eben Byers, was so enthusiastic about the invigorating qualities of a radium-based patent medicine that he partook of three to four vials per day of Radithor. Each vial contained 3,500,000 pCi of radium - a 1,918-year supply according to the EPA's limitations. He eventually died of his addiction after ingesting an estimated 10 billion pCi - a 5,480,000-year dose consumed in three years.

Eben isn't the whole story, however. There were 400,000 to 500,000 vials of Radithor sold with no indication that it caused any problems whatsoever. With what other "poison" can you consume 700,000 times the government-dictated maximum dose and still walk away... not once, but on a regular basis? Could the poison be in the dose?

While support for the LNT and collective dose is rapidly waning in light of the evidence brought forth by Luckey, Cohen, and a growing flood of researchers, there are still those who will (or perhaps feel they must) defend these hypotheses. Do they do so with evidence, such as dose-response curves? Not once have I seen low-level evidence showing increased risk - unless it was an extrapolation from high-level data. The response is invariably the same: It is better to err on the side of safety than to take any chances on the possibility of an increased cancer risk.

If you're building a bridge, it doesn't cost much to increase its safety factor; a little more steel and concrete will do the trick. But the same doesn't go when building an airplane, as too great an emphasis on structural safety factors would keep the airplane from ever getting airborne. Regulators and bureaucrats - who are willing to see nuclear technology and hormesis research stay on the ground rather than expend the effort required to give a proper analysis to the overwhelming amount of data pointing to the threshold/hormesis models - are doing a great disservice to those whom they claim to be safeguarding. Whenever any of them starts feeling complacent about their rules and how they might be helping to save some theoretical life somewhere, I wish they would think a few seconds about a number - the number 100,000.

That's the lower estimate of unborn children who were aborted out of a totally unreasonable fear of their being "nuclear monsters" [after Chernobyl]. I wonder if those (almost) mothers sacrificed any Mozarts or Madame Curies or Salks on the altar of the LNT?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Yes, You Can Be Too Careful

Hundreds of billions of dollars are to be spent 'remediating' U.S. sites even though there is no scientific basis for claiming any health or other benefit. - Theodore Rockwell

In 1988, and earthquake registering 7.9 on the Richter scale devastated Soviet Armenia, leaving more than 25,000 people dead. Four years earlier, in far more densely populated Mexico City, an 8.1 earthquake (with a 7.8 aftershock thirty-six hours later) killed 9,000 people.

Seven years after the Armenian quake, they were still trying to get electrical power to the cities for more than two hours per day; Mexican Power and Light restored power to its 3,200,000 customers in seventy-two hours.

While Mexico isn't exactly the most advanced country in our hemisphere, compared with the communist paradise of Armenia it is Beulahland. Its buildings were built to stronger, more earthquake-resistant standards; when people were trapped in collapsed buildings, there were tools to get them out, and power to run the tools. There were hospitals for the wounded, and sanitary conditions prevailed for the survivors. In short, Mexico had a superior infrastructure and was richer than Armenia. Its wealth saved the lives of thousands of people who would have otherwise died.

There have been many attempts to determine a reasonable estimate for the value of a human life in the United States. One of these I can remember set the figure at $20 million, contending that for every $20 million taken out of the economy, the lowered standard of living for all would cause the premature death of one person. [This sounds a lot like collective dose to me; except that we can - on occasions like Armenia - count the dead.]

While I can't vouch for this particular figure, the Armenian-Mexican situation shows clearly that there is a relationship of this nature. And it may be logically inferred from this that government, by wasting or compelling others to waste money, has a detrimental effect on the well-being of its citizens. [In 1980, Congress commissioned the National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program, which was expected to show that the utilities were responsible for acid rain. It found, to the amazement of the scientists involved, that this was not true. But Congress, which had paid $500 million for the study, ignored it and mandated scores of billions of dollars in unnecessary "scrubbers" to remove an insignificant fraction of power-plant emissions. At $20 million per life, politicians killed hundreds with this single vote.]

Theodore Rockwell, in an article "What's wrong with being cautious?" [from Nuclear News, June 1997. A large part of this chapter is blatantly taken from this excellent article.] suggests five different kinds of harm that originate in the Linear No-Threshold hypothesis:

  • Billions of dollars wasted
  • Ridiculous regulations imposed that degrade the credibility of science and government
  • Destructive fear generated
  • Detrimental health effects created
  • Environmental degradation accelerated. (This final item refers to the incredible amount of ash and sludge - equal to about 100 truckloads per day - produced by a coal-fired 1,000 megawatt power plant, compared with less than a Volkswagen full per year of actual high-level wastes from an equal-sized nuclear plant.)

Rockwell gives an example of a forklift driver who moved a small spent fuel cask from the fuel-storage pool to another location. As the cask had not been completely drained prior to being moved, some water was dribbled onto the blacktop along the way. But since storage pool water is defined as a hazardous contaminant - by the regulators, not plant employees who had earlier used the pool for unauthorized midnight swims - it was deemed necessary to dig up the entire path of the forklift, some two feet wide by one-half mile long. It doesn't stop here.

Because the paving contractor used thorium-rich slag from a local phosphate plant as aggregate in the new pavement, it was more radioactive than the material that had been dug up - which was marked with the ominous radiation symbol and hauled away for expensive, long-term burial. Fortunately, it was only taxpayers' money.