[SPAM]RE: [ RadSafe ] National Academies Project: Toxicological andRadiological Effects from Exposures to Depleted Uranium During and After Combat

Eric D edaxon at satx.rr.com
Fri Nov 17 21:07:25 CST 2006

The post below is a good example of the fundamental difference between our
jargon and speaking plainly.  It is also a good example of how we get
trapped by the words safe and honest.

When I was asked if I thought DU was safe by veterans and congressional
committees, they were not asking me the question, "Is DU risk free?"  This
unfortunately has become our de facto definition of safe - risk free.  This
is a harmful definition that is causing real, measurable harm to real

Later in my career, I translated the common sense question - "Is it safe" -
into our jargon and the question became, "In your professional opinion, are
the risks acceptable?"  The answer again is yes under all relevant
circumstances.  I am anticipating responses that hypothesize situations
where this may not be the case because that is how we are taught to think in
our line of work.

An example may help to get my point across.  A buyer asks, "Is your house
safe?"  The common sense answer is, "Yes."  The "scientific" answer, "It is
safer than riding in a car for x many miles."  "It is safer than smoking so
many cigarettes in a lifetime."  "It is safer than swimming."  

Again the buyer asks, "Is your house safe?"  You respond with, "Safe is hard
to define."  "It depends on your risk tolerance."  "It depends on whether
you see the risks as being voluntarily accepted or imposed risks." "Well no
house is risk free."  

All of the above statements fit the paradigm we have adopted but I think
everyone on this list would decline to buy this safe house because these
statements inaccurately conveyed the intended message with accurate

I like to remember that the world at large did not caveat the word "safe" to
the meaning we have ascribed to it, we did and we did it without seeking
permission or consensus.  A bit of hubris on our part I believe.

The word "honest" and the word "liar" are not words I use lightly because
they have often been used inappropriately and hurtfully against me.  Because
of the internet, they tend to stick around. I can honestly use the word
"safe" in a scientific context if I believe it to be a true representation
of my assessment and my words are not intended to deceive or to create a
false impression of my beliefs.  I might be incorrect but I am not being

I will disagree with someone who believes that the word "safe" cannot be
used in a scientific setting but I will not call his belief "dishonest" just
because I disagree with it.

We have buffaloed ourselves to the point that it takes a great deal of
courage to use this four letter word because of the criticism we get from
not only activists but from our peers.


Eric Daxon, PhD

-----Original Message-----
From: dckosloff at firstenergycorp.com [mailto:dckosloff at firstenergycorp.com] 
Sent: Friday, November 17, 2006 7:11 AM
To: Eric D
Cc: 'Robert Cherry'; radsafe at radlab.nl; radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl
Subject: [SPAM]RE: [ RadSafe ] National Academies Project: Toxicological
andRadiological Effects from Exposures to Depleted Uranium During and After

Dr, Daxon,

The word "safe" cannot be honestly used in a scientific context because
nothing involving humans is safe for humans.   For example, the use of
peanuts or peanut oil is not safe.  Neither is the use of milk or water.
Even the use of the phrase "safe and effectinve" in discussing the approval
of medicines is misleading at best.  Nobody is ever safe.

However, it would be honest to state simply that something or some activity
is "as safe as" or "safer than" something else or some other activity.  For
example, one might honestly say that "the use of DU munitions is safer than
the use of lead or tungsten munitions," or safer than using no munitions at

Don Kosloff
Shippingport PA and Bedford OH

             "Eric D"                                                      
             <edaxon at satx.rr.c                                             
             om>                                                        To 
             Sent by:                  "'Robert Cherry'"                   
             radsafe-bounces at r         <bobcherry at satx.rr.com>,            
             adlab.nl                  <radsafe at radlab.nl>                 
             11/16/2006 10:49                                      Subject 
             PM                        RE: [ RadSafe ] National Academies  
                                       Project: Toxicological   and        
                                       Radiological Effects from Exposures 
                                       to Depleted  Uranium     During and 
                                       After Combat                        

This will bring scientific closure to the issue.  I was a part of the DoD
IPT that initiated the Capstone project.  I also helped in writing parts of
the report.  It was a real honor to work with the people on that project.

Whether it will assist with the "soft" part of the issue depends upon the
Charter of the committee and the willingness of the committee to speak in
plain language.  One of the NAS's earlier evaluations of the health effects
of DU actually said it was safe but the language was so convoluted that it
took me several reads to understand what they were trying to say.  To the
layman or the non-epidemiologist science-type reading the report, it
like we did not know what the health effects were.

Unfortunately, there are very few - if any - instances where I have seen
word "safe" in any of the scientific reviews of health effects we do.  We
tend to couch risk numbers with other risk numbers and hope that the
non-scientist will understand.  It has been my experience that doing this
just adds to the distrust of the message.

Unfortunately again, not using that word - safe - with a targeted substance
causes harm in the form of fear and never ending Congressional requirements
for more research. More research is not a good thing when it is diverting
funds from other work that will yield a benefit.

I hope the Committee speaks plainly and perhaps uses a four letter word
and there - safe.

Eric Daxon, PhD

The information contained in this message is intended only for the
personal and confidential use of the recipient(s) named above. If
the reader of this message is not the intended recipient or an
agent responsible for delivering it to the intended recipient, you
are hereby notified that you have received this document in error
and that any review, dissemination, distribution, or copying of
this message is strictly prohibited. If you have received this
communication in error, please notify us immediately, and delete
the original message.

More information about the RadSafe mailing list