[ RadSafe ] On-Line Posting to Senator Rosa Franklin, Washington State Se...

BLHamrick at aol.com BLHamrick at aol.com
Sat Apr 22 21:18:45 CDT 2006

I think the excerpt below actually gets to the crux of the problem.   The 
definition of "harm" is critical to communicating about the issue of DU or  
radiation, in general.  The definition below is not workable from a  scientific 
standpoint, because everything does "harm" by this definition  - exposure to 
sunlight, a glass of wine, a drink of water, a walk in the  park.
If "harm" is defined, as below, as any change however slight to the  human 
anatomy, then we are experiencing "harm" from the day we are born  
(umm...technically from the moment of conception...er...even being conceived  seems to fall 
within this definition).
All kidding aside, and trying not to go reductio ad absudum on you, for the  
purposes of evaluating risk, there does need to be some higher threshold for  
"harm" than "any change however slight to the human anatomy," since changes in 
 one's body is a certainty, and it leads to death (which many would define as 
the  ultimate harm) 100% of the time, radiation or not.
With that in mind, we can turn to the "harm" that health (radiation)  
physicists have traditionally looked at:  1) non-stochastic "harm" (i.e.,  generally, 
physical injury from acute exposure, such as skin-reddening, hair  loss, 
blistering, tissue necrosis, acute radiation syndrome, death), and 2)  stochastic 
"harm" (i.e., on a statistical basis, radiation exposure is  associated with 
some increased risk of cancer induction).
The non-stochastic risks are very well controlled, and acute radiation  
injuries are extermely rare (compared to just about anything from falling  down the 
stairs, to being struck by lightning - just FYI lightning kills  about 100 
people per year in the U.S. and injures about 500 more).
The stochastic "harm" is a statistical (and theoretical, in low dose  
regions) "harm."  The studies of survivors of the U.S. use of nuclear  weapons in 
Hiroshima and Nagasaki provide the most significant amount of data  used to 
estimate increased risk of cancer from exposure to radiation.   There is a clearly 
established increased risk of cancer associated with the high  (acute - i.e., 
in a very short timeframe) doses received by persons present at  the time of 
our attack.
To put this in some perspective, the National Institutes of Health estimate  
that approximately 49% of all men and 37% of all women in the U.S. will  
experience some type of cancer in their lifetime, and 20-25% of us will die from  
cancer.  The estimated increased risk of cancer incidence (not  death) from 1 
rem of exposure is about 1.1E-3 per rem, or another 0.1% per  rem (and, again 
this is theoretical in the low dose/low dose-rate region).   Theoretically 
(and, I do mean totally theoretically), natural background  radiation could, 
according to this formulation, contribute to 2% of the cancers  we all experience, 
so I think, at a minimum, to discuss "harm" from DU, we need  to get into a 
realm that would be recognizable above these background  considerations.  Not to 
mention, the other known, probable, and possible  carcinogens in our 
environment, or the genetic component of  carcinogenesis.
Just my thoughts on the discussion.
Barbara L. Hamrick, CHP
In a message dated 4/22/2006 9:22:14 A.M. Pacific Standard Time,  
pnwnatives at gmail.com writes:

I happen  to think that if there is a change however slight to the human 
anatomy, then  there is harm.  Some harm is detectable and some is not.  There  
seems to be a great deal said about denial of any affects from exposure to  
depleted uranium, but very little about why that  is. 


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