[ RadSafe ] Tooth Fairy Project responses (long)

James Salsman james at bovik.org
Sun Jan 8 02:45:58 CST 2006

Here are replies to everyone -- regarding my excerpts from the method in
-- in chronological order:

> Those kids are not getting killed by massive amounts of anything.  The 
> nuclear power industry has in fact spent considerable sums on just the kind 
> of research that clearly demonstrates it is safe to live near these plants. 

Research in response to studies showing an apparent lack of safety, such 
as those from the TFP, have far more probative value than research which 
sets out to show safety from the start.  When you buy a car in the U.S., 
do you look only at the manufacturer's safety claims, or do you first look 
at the NHTSA and Consumer Reports safety evaluations?

> The research supposedly done by the likes of you is such bad science and
> so badly biased as to be a joke.... intellectually bankrupt....

If that were true, then the research ought to be easy to refute and thus 
would not require resorting to name calling.

> you suggest that the nuclear power industry should bear the cost for 
> sampling bone to help understand the tooth results. I would counter
> suggest that it is the responsibility of the study producers to do that,
> since it is they who are making the suggestion (read: veiled claim)
> claim that there is causation.

Until there is a hypothesis suggesting why deciduous tooth results might 
vary from bone assays, then those who suggest that it would ought to 
bear the burden of proof.  If there is a 

As for causation, the means by which excess radiation, from Sr-90, K-40,
or some other isotope(s) as detected in deciduous teeth can increase 
the childhood cancer rate is well-established.  Correlations with such 
detections in areas which also have far above average breast cancer 
rates lead to the obvious conclusions of direct causation in the absence 
of any alternative hypotheses.

> Why did the study producers apparently not split their tooth samples
> and send them to multiple labs? Relying on only one lab, and that one
> being selected by the study producer, eliminates objectivity from the 
> claimed results. 

No, because blinding the teeth with numeric codes prevents the analysis 
lab from any subjective influence over the results.  Adding another lab 
would only help if the first lab had somehow managed to obtain tooth 
source information out of band from the coded sample blinding.

> Your quoting of cancer statistics below is missing any objective 
> causative mechanism that nuclear power caused it.

If Sr-90, or any other isotope of the same strength, is accumulating in 
bone tissue such as children's deciduous teeth, as detected in areas 
near nuclear reactors, then in the absence of evidence to the contrary 
the conclusion is that the isotope(s) are irradiating the cellular 
tissues of the excess cancer victims in coincident areas.

> There could be other sources of error that were not identified in the
> Report as having been considered. For example, chemical exposure, air
> pollution,  lifestyle, gerrymandering of the statistics themselves,
> and so on.

That is why the nuclear industry needs to address the TFP studies 
directly instead of merely trying to scoff them away.

>  Besides, there are other, much better controlled data, that indicates 
> that at low doses, there is no increase in cancer rates among the 
> studied individuals. The DOE Nuclear Shipyard Worker Study is one 
> such data set, and it involved a pretty convincing study population of
> many tens of thousands of individuals. 

Male adults, presumably; not likely childhood and breast cancer victims.

> Plus, there does not seem to be an increase in cancer among nuclear
> medicine or radiology practitioners. So you see, my statistics can
> beat up your statistics. 

I trust that radiologists take care that the isotopes they handle do
not end up where they might accumulate in their skeletal system.  Again, 
the TFP results need to be directly addressed.  Science is about the 
replication of results, not about widely disparate studies used to "beat
up" other studies with no attempts at inter-camp replication.

> a claim of p < 0.002 by the study producers means nothing without any
> explanation provided as to how it was calculated. Again, selective 
> gerrymandering of the tooth statistics can easily produce an even lower
> p than that! The quality of the p depends in part on how small one
> cuts the sample, that is, number of individuals against whom a single
> incidence of tooth Sr-90 (real or fancied) is detected, and then 
> including only those kernels in the final statistical summary. The
> Report offers no explanation on how its p was calculated.

On the contrary, the text on page 24 explains that the p value < 0.002 
is the result of using 50 samples for each comparison of changes in 
environmental radioactivity and in-body radioactivity.  I doubt it 
would be productive to observe more samples per locale.  In fact, I 
think we should be content with 30 samples per local in order to be 
able to measure 2/3rds more locales at p < 0.05 for the same cost.

> K-40 is a naturally-occurring radionuclide, produced by cosmic ray 
> interactions with the atmosphere. Nuclear power doesn't produce it,
> and the  medical profession doesn't use it, either.

So if K-40 is actually being advanced as a legitimate alternative 
hypothesis -- as a potential source of false-positive signal in the 
TFP methodology -- then how is it getting into kids teeth only in 
areas near nuclear reactors and not other places?

>> Is there any reason that chemoluminescent contamination is 
>> expected to be more prevalent in areas near reactors?
> Can you explain what you mean by "chemoluminescent
> contamination" please?

"Two potential error factors that do not appear to be addressed
in http://mtafund.org/prodlib/radiation_health/final_report.pdf
are chemoluminescence and K-40 LSA correction...."
-- http://lists.radlab.nl/pipermail/radsafe/2006-January/001703.html

> You don't need a mass spectrometer.  The Quantulus itself is an expensive
> instrument and I don't think they can plead poverty as an excuse.  In the UK
> at least, you're looking at the thick end of £50,000 (about US$90,000). If
> used in tandem with a procedure that removes interferences, it would have
> been able to detect 0.001Bq (0.027 pCi) of Sr-90.  As it is, they MAY have
> detected an increased gross beta.  But without looking at the detail of the
> criteria for deciding on the detection limit, I can't say whether or not
> they've even done that....

Why don't you write to Dr. Hari Sharma at REMS, Inc. of Waterloo, 
Ontario, Canada and see whether he can answer your detection limit 
criteria questions?

> BTW, it looks to me that chemoluminescence shouldn't be a problem here.
> Using only the channels above 400 would cut this out.  Also, K-40 is
> probably one of the few nuclides that might have been removed via the
> precipitation.  Still leaves most of the rest of the periodic table though.

Any alternative hypotheses along those lines must explain why the 
excess signal occurs geographically correlated with nuclear power 

> I continue to be amazed that anyone responds to Mr. Salzmans comments....

Probably not as amazed as I am that I continue to bother to comment.

>... Consider that RaCO3 does buck the trend of decreasing solubility
> as one goes down group II elements. 

Fascinating, but again, whatever of the isotopes which may or may not be
involved, why do they correlate geographically with nuclear power plants?

> How was the method validated?

"The efficiency of counting was established using a calibrated 
solution of Sr-90/Y-90 obtained from the National Institute of 
Standards and Technology...."
-- http://mtafund.org/prodlib/radiation_health/final_report.pdf

> Has anyone tried contacting the individuals involved to share concerns
> or to get answers?  Before we make conclusions and especially before we
> publicly cast aspersions on this work, it is our responsibility as 
> professionals to get adequate information. We would all expect at least
> the same if our work was being questioned. 

I wholeheartedly agree with that approach.

> I really share your opinion about James' "scientific abilities" and I
> myself have several times expressed the same opinion. Nevertheless I want
> to thank James for the link he provided to me regarding the analytical
> procedure for the TFP!

My pleasure.

> I would only add to the discussion of chemoluminescence that the whole
> discussion of how LSC was performed on these samples is lacking. We
> could get into the esoterica of dark adaptation of samples, temperature
> control of samples, QA/QC in terms of how many blanks / splits /
> duplicates were performed, etc. 

Again, these kinds of effects are controlled by the blinding of the 
samples with numeric codes.  If they occur, they will affect the 
results from teeth collected near reactors the same as from teeth 
collected far away from reactors.  Unless you believe the analysis lab
is defecting in conspiracy with the primary researchers.

> Does the laboratory that performed these Sr-90 analyses participate in
> any laboratory-intercomparison programs?

Please ask Dr. Sharma.

>... the claims of the TFP fail on a first order analysis of the
> environmental inventories of Sr-90 in northern temperate latitudes
> from open air nuclear bomb testing which essentially ended in 1963
> except for a few trivial tests by the Chinese, and minor deposition
> in the US from the Chernobyl accident [which added about 1% to
> pre-exiting bomb test fallout inventory of Cs-137 and less for Sr-90] 
> The TFP's recent claims of an increase in Sr-90 of some consequence
> from nuclear plants, and supposed effects on human health, is absurd.

So what isotope do you propose as producing the beta in deciduous teeth?

>... US nuclear plants emit about 10 microCuries each per year into the
> environment....

Yeah, we all hope this is true.  Source?

> Existing environmental inventory decay of Sr-90 was and is about 100
> TUNE HIGHER than what is being added by nuclear plant operations....


> So, the issued is NOT radiological sample analytical technique or
> data quality, but the crude manipulation of analytical results in a
> campaign that is simply politically biased, anti-nuclear power
> propaganda by the TFP. 

All the more reason to attempt reproductions and show how they fail, 
if true.

> The analytical techniques [review of data gathered] being used are
> based on careful selection of what subjects they include as being
> born "near" a nuclear plant, the window of time selected for a
> comparison pre and post plant operations, the moving & selectable
> window of time employed for health outcome comparisons, etc.

Birth location is easy to document.  What is the basis for these 

>... as of 1968 or so, open air bomb testing [US and Soviet Union]
> contamination from Sr-90 of the Northern temperate latitudes was 
> very approximately 40 milliCuries per sq. km....
> Sternglass was ultimately condemned by the National Academy of
> Sciences for only selecting data that supported his hypothesis and
> ignoring data which did not.... in 1972 for his claims about
> nuclear test fallout health effects....

I'm aware of Lindop & Rotblat (1969) and Tomkins & Brown (1969); 
I've not been able to find any substantive criticism of Sternglass 
since, apart from personal invective.  Let us hope that he learned 
from his early mistakes.  If he has repeated them, I have not been 
able to identify any failed replications or similar evidence.

> Von: Franz Schönhofer
> Gesendet: Dienstag, 03. Jänner 2006 19:12
> An: 'odiejoe at aol.com'; 'jaymgould at aol.com'
> Betreff: Tooth Fairy Project, request for information
> Ra-226 interference has not been taken into consideration....

Please let us know if they reply, Franz, and how Ra-226 interference
could possibly confound the numeric blinding of the samples.

James Salsman

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