[ RadSafe ] Radiation Exposure Flying

Muckerheide, Jim (CDA) Jim.Muckerheide at state.ma.us
Thu Dec 21 16:36:53 CST 2006

Howard and friends,

I don't know about Otto's research plans, but he was one of a group that
met to advise DOE on setting up a "below-background research lab" at
WIPP.  This was estimated to be at a cost of something like $50 million
(construction plus initial operation-5 years? More?). [I have the report
.PDF, and it's on the web.]

I would be interested in knowing where any biology experiments stand.
There are physics experiments going on in the experiment areas now.

Certainly such lab work will confirm that below-background exposures
produce detrimental health effects.  Such work was done by Planel and
his students over many years in France, including a small deep-mine
low-background lab.  The Russians also did such work.

The early AEC did such work but, as with removing K-40 from natural-K
(running K thru the Oak Ridge calutrons, stripping off the K-40 and
K-41), the results were not published.  We know such "denatured-K" was
produced and provided for biology research, but you can't find results
in the literature.  

Argonne even got a batch from Oak Ridge ~1984 (for ~$75K), after Don
Luckey went there to do some 'denat-K' experiments after his retirement.
Don got a contaminated batch from Oak Ridge ~1982 that was dated 1962
(recovered from animal experiments at that time?)  See e.g.:
http://radscihealth.org/rsh/dd3/ [Fig. link broken]
t_uids=3097750&dopt=Abstract or, if broken:

I've quoted Charlie Willis from our Mar '96 ACRS/ACNW transcript where
he says he (paraphrasing) 'saw this hormesis stuff fairly late, in 1958
at the lab' (Oak Ridge) where he 'saw cells with K without K-40. The
cells looked ok but didn't function,' and then, 'the LNT kept them from
being published.'  [I can provide the transcript and/or quote.]  

Art Upton would be intimately familiar with this.  He also tried to keep
Hugh Henry's JAMA paper on low-dose (i.e., <1 rad/day!) studies from
getting pub'd - pub'd in May 1961.  But Henry didn't intend to make a
career in radiobiology! :-)  See e.g.:

I asked NRC people to check Charlie's claim.  (I had planned to pull
Charlie into the March '99 follow-up meeting, but he died late at night
at the NRC in January.)  

I've asked people to examine the gray literature from then, with no
success.  Want to help?  (DOE expurgated AEC files, but other sources

Some early worker info says some dogs were in shielded below-background
kennels (in abandoned wartime buildings), but their adverse effects were
not pub'd either.  

Confirmatory studies could be done for less than $50 million, and done
now instead of years from now. :-)

Regards, Jim 

>-----Original Message-----
>From: radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl 
>[mailto:radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl] On Behalf Of howard long
>Sent: Thursday, December 21, 2006 12:15 PM
>To: Robert Barish; radsafe at radlab.nl; myron pollycove; 
>lewhelgeson at helge.com; Jane Orient
>Subject: [ RadSafe ] Radiation Exposure Flying 
>Fly for radiation hormesis!
>  Many of us seek more of Cameron's "Essential Trace Energy", 
>so dubbed because of the impressively LOWER mortality (0.76!) 
>and cancer incidence in nuclear shipyard workers exposed to > 
>0.5 rem and in British radiologists. A similar dose seems 
>likely in flight crew, judging from observations reported here 
>  Raabe is part of a panel arranging a controlled experiment (on mice)
>  Pilots and crew have less, not more, cancer and mortality - 
>despite long hours and disrupted family life , but perhaps 
>because we flight surgeons have selected healthy people.
>  The Pilot's Union ties of Barish may incline him to select 
>information, perhaps unconsciously.
>  Howard Long MD MPH
>Robert Barish <robbarish at verizon.net> wrote:
>  As a footnote to the story about the infant who received 
>medical scrutiny following passage through the airport x-ray 
>unit, it may be of interest to note that in 2002 Jesse 
>Drucker, a reporter from the Wall Street Journal, flew around 
>the world with radiation measuring instruments that I 
>suggested to him for an article he wrote on in-flight 
>radiation exposure. 
>He was able to measure both the low-LET components and 
>neutrons with his instrument package. What makes this footnote 
>relevant is that the Journal printed a graph of the measured 
>dose rate as a function of time, showing the smooth rise as 
>the plane reached cruising altitude and the decline as it 
>descended in its approach to landing. 
>What makes this germain to the present incident is the fact 
>that Jesse had the equipment turned on as it passed through 
>the screening x-ray unit before he boarded. It is easy to see 
>from the graph that the measured dose rate was higher while at 
>the airlines cruising altitude than it was inside the 
>screening x-ray unit at the security checkpoint. As the 
>transit through the screening machine takes seconds, and the 
>flight duration could be hours, it's pretty clear where the 
>"risky" exposure takes place! 
>Maybe we should set up medical facilities at airports to check 
>arriving passengers for the possible harm they suffered from 
>their in-flight radiation exposure. I'd set the fee low enough 
>so that everyone could afford it, and high enough to allow me 
>to buy a condo in the recently renovated Plaza Hotel. 
>The Journal article is available online but, unfortunately, it 
>costs money to read it, as seems to be the practice with many 
>newspaper stories reprinted online that are more than a week 
>or two old.
>Best wishes for the holidays.
>Robert Barish, Ph.D., CHP
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