[ RadSafe ] AW: Serious reporting on Chernobyl - and the LNT

Rainer.Facius at dlr.de Rainer.Facius at dlr.de
Wed Nov 2 09:18:05 CST 2005



Any publication originating from alleged stakeholders is likely to be
decried as self-serving and hence will remain ineffective in changing
public attitudes. If instead regular public media start to truly inform
the layman as in this case, this conceivably is the best antidote
against the common radiophobia that I could envisage. As the recent note
from Klaus Becker (Sa 29.10.2005 20:19) testifies, even a reputable news
paper like the German FAZ is far from providing a forum for such a
rational discourse on risks from low level radiation as your Washington
Times did. 


Congratulations! Rainer


Dr. Rainer Facius

German Aerospace Center

Institute of Aerospace Medicine

Linder Hoehe

51147 Koeln


Voice: +49 2203 601 3147 or 3150

FAX:   +49 2203 61970




Von: owner-rad-sci-l at WPI.EDU [mailto:owner-rad-sci-l at WPI.EDU] Im Auftrag
von Muckerheide, James
Gesendet: Freitag, 28. Oktober 2005 17:28
An: mbrexchange at list.ans.org; cdn-nucl-l at mailman1.cis.McMaster.CA
Cc: rad-sci-l at wpi.edu; radsafe at radlab.nl
Betreff: Serious reporting on Chernobyl - and the LNT

Friends, FYI.


Why can't the nuclear industry produce and apply the equivalent factual
treatment of the readily documented lack of health effects from low dose
radiation exposures!?


Regards, Jim Muckerheide



Washington Times: Chernobyl exposed - Editorials/Op-Ed - 
By Joshua Gilder 
October 25, 2005 
It turns out that scaring people to death may be more than a 
figure of speech. That's the overriding message of a recently 
released U.N. report on the health effects of the 1986 explosion 
at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the then-Soviet Ukraine. 
The result of an exhaustive investigation by eight U.N. 
agencies, the report concludes that a "paralyzing fatalism" 
among the residents of the effected areas and problems such as 
suicide, alcoholism and clinical depression -- resulting in part 
from people's perceived sense of hopelessness -- "pose a far 
greater threat to local communities than does radiation 
The Chernobyl explosion and resulting fire spewed 200 times 
as much radioactivity into the environment as the Hiroshima and 
Nagasaki atom bombs combined, directly affecting an area 
currently inhabited by some 5 million people. (Built with 
standard Soviet disregard for public safety, the unstable 
reactor had no containment structure.) 
At the time of the disaster, all Europe was thrown into 
panic, with estimates of as many as a half-million people dying 
as a result of the contamination. Yet, according to the report, 
there have been fewer than 60 fatalities so far, about 50 of 
them on-site staff and emergency workers exposed to massive 
radiation poisoning at the time of the blast and its immediate 
aftermath. It is believed that nine children have also died of 
thyroid cancer as a result of the accident, though these deaths 
may have been preventable. 
The U.N. scientists were deeply divided over the report's 
prediction that an extra 4,000 may eventually die from cancer, a 
statistical conjecture based on what many believe to be faulty 
All agreed, however, that the more urgent task is for 
governments in the region to get accurate information to their 
frightened populations, as the decline in mental health brought 
on by undue fear is by far "the largest public health problem 
created by the accident." 
Getting the American people accurate information on 
radiation and its dangers (what's real, what's only imagined) 
might be something the U.S. government should consider as well. 
For decades, anti-nuclear activists have hyped fears about 
nuclear safety in order to halt the construction of nuclear 
power plants in the United States. They have been bolstered in 
this effort by official government regulatory policy, which is 
based on something called the linear no-threshold theory (LNT). 
More a result of politics than sound science, LNT holds that any 
amount of radiation is bad for you (that there is no threshold 
under which the effect is benign), and that the damage is 
cumulative, building up consistently over time. Thus one can 
extrapolate from the effects of massive radiation poisoning in a 
straight line back to zero, predicting a certain number of 
cancers even at levels of exposure far below the normal 
variations in natural background radiation. The Chernobyl 
report's prediction of another 4,000 deaths was such an LNT 
One problem with this theory is that it is contradicted by 
massive epidemiological evidence. While the average level of 
natural background radiation in the Rocky Mountains is over 
three times greater than the Gulf Coast, cancer incidence in the 
Rockies is actually lower. The residents in Kerala, India, are 
exposed to as much as eight times more radiation than in other 
parts of India; and households in Ramsar, Iran, are dosed with 
13,000 millirem annually, compared to the U.S. average of 300 
millirem -- all without observable adverse health effects. 
In a recent unanimous report, the French Academies of 
Science and Medicine also took issue with LNT, pointing out that 
no carcinogenic effect from low doses of radiation has been 
shown in animal tests. More devastating, the academy declares 
that LNT is based on old science and that its underlying 
assumptions are "not consistent with current radiobiological 
knowledge" concerning self-repairing mechanisms within cells. 
Why does this matter? Because many people today forgo 
low-level medical radiation treatments and X-rays due to 
inflated fears about their cancer-causing potential. Our country 
endlessly debates whether to build desert storage for spent 
nuclear fuel that might leak inconsequential amounts of 
radiation in a million years. And anti-nuclear activists use LNT 
to try to block the construction of new nuclear power plants, 
the only possible source of the abundant clean energy we'll need 
to wean ourselves off foreign oil -- and stop pumping 
petro-dollars into the hands of terrorists. 
If the United States is ever going to overcome its own 
"paralyzing fatalism" on nuclear energy and its uses, it's going 
to have to discard the flawed science of LNT theory. One hopes 
this happens sooner rather than later: Our personal health and 
economic well-being -- not to mention our national security -- 
may well depend on it. 
Joshua Gilder is a visiting fellow at the Lexington 


More information about the RadSafe mailing list