[ RadSafe ] Answering James Salsman (TFP) (long)

Steven Dapra sjd at swcp.com
Sun Jan 8 16:03:56 CST 2006

Jan. 8

         This is also a long posting answering some of James Salsman's 
earlier replies about the Tooth Fairy Project.  I have edited portions of 
his earlier posting that I won't address.  I have left in his link to the 
MTA report on TFP findings on Long Island.  [MTA is the Citizens' 
Monitoring and Technical Assessment Fund, which received its funding from 
the taxpayer via the Department of Energy as the result of "a 1998 court 
settlement between U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and 39 plaintiffs 
(nonprofit peace and environmental groups around the country)."  Quote is 
from the MTA website.]

- - - - - - - - - - -

James Salsman:

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

James Salsman:

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.


         Has it been shown that the "excess radiation" in these baby teeth 
causes any increase in the rate of cancer?  It seems to me that the TFP is 
declaring that Sr-90 in teeth causes cancer; end of discussion.  Has anyone 
shown a cause and EFFECT relationship, or has the TFP succumbed to the 
'post hoc, ergo propter hoc' logical fallacy?

James Salsman:

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.


         This is a clever piece of deceitfulness, or perhaps you worded 
this carelessly.  No one is denying that "the isotope(s) are irradiating 
the cellular tissues of excess cancer victims."  The question under 
consideration is:  is this irradiation the cause of the excess cancers?

 > 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.

James Salsman:

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


         A more germane study is "Cancer in Populations Living Near Nuclear 
Facilities," by Seymour Jablon, et al.  (JAMA, 265(11):1403-1408; March 20, 
1991.  Also see an editorial in this issue, pp. 1438 1439.

         I say "more germane" because this study examined cancer deaths 
(including leukemia) among the general public.  It covered the period 1950 
through 1984, in 107 counties with or near nuclear installations, both 
power reactors, and DOE laboratories or stations.  [The authors note that 
this was an ecological study (p. 1407, col. 2).  I do not want to instigate 
a dispute about the relative merits of ecological studies.]

         According to the abstract, "Deaths due to leukemia or other 
cancers were not more frequent in the study counties than in the control 
counties."  Also, "The study . . . does not prove the absence of any 
effect.  If, however, any excess cancer risk was present in US counties 
with nuclear facilities, it was too small to be detected with the methods 

         For an analysis of some of the claims of the Radiation and Public 
Health Project's claims near Dresden 2 and 3, try this 
link:  http://radlab.nl/radsafe/archives/2005-February/000312.html.  This 
is a Chicago Tribune editorial based on a Tribune-requested evaluation of 
RPHP claims.  The evaluation was conducted by Tiefu Shen, chief of the 
division of epidemiological studies at the IL Department of Public 
Health.  The RPHP's claims were shown to be worthless, and the Tribune 
readily acknowledged this.  True, this isn't the TFP on Long Island, but 
the same philosophy is at work.  (If this link won't work contact me by 
private e-mail and I will send you the editorial.)

         To directly address Salsman's objection, there are more studies 
available than the DOE Nuclear Shipyard Worker Study.

James Salsman:

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?


         Have there been any studies of children in areas well away from 
reactors to find whether or not K40 (or Sr-90) are in their teeth as 
well?  If there are no such studies, how do you or the TFP know K-40 is 
"only" found in the teeth of children near reactors?

James Salsman:

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


         Have there been studies which show the excess signal *is* only 
correlated with nuclear power plants?  If so, please present some citations.

 >... 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.

James Salsman;

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


         The respondent didn't say Sr-90 is not producing the beta in 
deciduous teeth.  He said the TFP's "recent claims of an increase in Sr-90 
of some consequence" is absurd.  He is objecting to the TFP claim of an 
increase in Sr-90 emissions.

         Has the TFP shown a pathway from the reactors to the deciduous 
teeth?  Can it show one?  Without a pathway the TFP has nothing.

         A few days ago Stewart Farber offered an explanation of why the 
Sr-90 emissions claims are worthless.  Did you read it?

 > 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....

James Salsman:

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.


         If you can't find substantive criticism of Sternglass it's because 
you haven't tried.  See Samuel McCracken's analysis of Sternglass's claims 
in "The War Against the Atom," (Basic Books, 1982); pp. 122-133.

         In June 1994, Sternglass issued a study claiming that breast 
cancer mortality rates around Northern States Power's power plants at 
Prairie Island and Monticello (MN) were higher than any other counties in 
the state.  The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) conducted a study and 
found that Sternglass's claims were false.  ["The Occurrence of Cancer in 
Minnesota 1988-1992: Incidence, Mortality, and Trends" (1995)]  A summary 
of the MDH report was published in the Health Physics Society (HPS) 
Newsletter [23(7):3-4; July 1995.]  In this issue of the Newsletter see 
also an article (p. 1), and editorial (p. 2), and a reprinted editorial 
from the Minneapolis Star Tribune (May 6, 1995) (p.4).  The Star Tribune 
editorial scoffed at Sternglass's claims, saying, "Let this study by the 
Department of Health put to rest ill-founded fears raised to scare citizens 
into making costly, uninformed, short-term decisions."

         If you would like some additional "substantive criticism," see the 
HPS Newsletter [29(8):2-4; August 2001] for an editorial addressing some of 
Sternglass's claims made between 1968 and 1999.  Any hopes to the contrary 
notwithstanding, Sternglass has not "learned from his early 
mistakes."  Again, if you haven't been able to identify anything perhaps 
it's because you haven't tried.

Steven Dapra
sjd at swcp.com

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