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.]