[ RadSafe ] BEIR 7 Report ( + question on Wing report on LANL )

Michael McNaughton mcnaught at lanl.gov
Mon Oct 17 15:17:52 CDT 2005

At 09:57 AM 10/17/2005, Franta, Jaroslav wrote:
>would someone please provide comments on Steve Wing's report
>on LANL, that supposedly shows an "....unexplained presence at LANL of
>pu-238 four to twenty times the estimates from DOE.... and higher than
>backgound levels of pu in autopsies of citizens who never worked at LANL."

The Pu-238 issue arises from a 1973 LANL report that in 1972, at several 
air-sampling locations, the Pu-238 concentration was higher than the Pu-239 
concentration. No explanation is given in the report so Steve Wing is 
correct when he says it is "unexplained". I don't know what he means when 
he refers to "estimates from DOE." Anyway, the concentrations were less 
than 1% of the applicable limits, and it was 33 years ago, so I don't feel 
any urgent need for an explanation.

The autopsy data are from the 1960s and 1970s. According to standard 
statistical tests, there is no significant difference between the Los 
Alamos concentrations and those at other locations. The claim that the Los 
Alamos concentrations are "higher than background" results from (a) using 
an incorrect measurement of the Los Alamos background to claim that the Los 
Alamos concentrations should be half the Colorado concentrations, and (b) 
comparing Los Alamos only with Colorado, ignoring the data from the rest of 
New Mexico and several other locations.

Mike McNaughton
Los Alamos National Lab.
email: mcnaught at LANL.gov or mcnaughton at LANL.gov
phone: 505-667-6130; page: 505-664-7733

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