[ RadSafe ] Salsman RE: Gardner Sellafield cluster

James Salsman james at bovik.org
Wed May 4 11:39:03 CEST 2005

I am convinced of the status of Martin J. Gardner's evidence for
a cluster of inherited childhood leukemia and lymphoma around the
Sellafield nuclear plant (British Medical Journal, vol. 300, no.
6722 (1990) pp. 423.)  I was told months ago that the evidence was
questionable, without reference to anything more than a 1994
unreviewed editorial critique in a trade publication from the
nuclear power industry.  Then a few days later someone told me
that Gardner's hypothesis had been explicitly confirmed by
Heather Dickinson and Louise Parker ("Leukaemia and Non-Hodgkin's
Lymphoma in Children of Male Sellafield Radiation Workers,"
International Journal of Cancer, vol. 99 (2002) pp. 437-444.)

I can't see how C. Gilham, et al's new work, "Day care in
infancy and risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia,"
could be interpreted to have any bearing on this question.
Nature's Roxanne Khamsi quotes Mel Greaves, of the Institute of
Cancer Research in London, as ruling out only natural radiation
-- not artificial radiation -- as a principal cause of
childhood leukemia.

In any case, I think there needs to be a distinction -- which I,
as an outsider, must say is not always made explicit in the
publications of the health physics community -- between general
exposure to radiation and contamination with radioactive heavy
metals which are toxic in their own right.

E.g, if someone tries to calculate only the radiation exposure
risk from a certain level of uranium ingestion or inhalation,
that will seriously underestimate the risk of chromosome damage,
because of U's catalytic production of hydroxyl radicals which
damage DNA, RNA, proteins, and other vital substances.  There is
evidence that error will amount to fully six orders of magnitude
-- or five orders of magnitude for plutonium.

Frankly, I think heavy metal toxicity hypotheses will explain a
wide variety of observed symptoms which have been attributed to
radiation but denied as infeasible by health physicists based on
radiological dose calculations alone.

With modern spectrographic methods, actinide contamination is
fairly easy to detect with urine tests.  I wonder why COMARE
isn't looking at that possibility.  Perhaps they are but I just
can't find mention of it?

James Salsman

> The COMARE 7th Report http://www.comare.org.uk/press_releases/comare_pr02.htm
>  http://www.comare.org.uk/reports/comare7threport.pdf 
> does mention exposure of the gonads in chapter 6 of the report
> "although in general radiation workers receive radiation doses that are
> comparable with those received by the general public from natural radioactivity in some parts of the UK, they constitute a group of special interest as far as the heritable effects of radiation are concerned. This is because they include members whose gonads (ie testicles and ovaries) may be exposed to doses well "above those of the average resident of the UK."
> Details of all COMARE reports can be found at
> http://www.comare.org.uk/comare_docs.htm
> Fred Dawson
> Health Physics Assistant Director & Team Leader
> Directorate of Safety & Claims
> 6-D-30 MOD Main Building
> Phone 020 780 70215
> Mobile +44(0) 79 7316 9338 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: ... Franta, Jaroslav
> Sent: 03 May 2005 21:15
> Subject: [ RadSafe ] Salsman RE: Gardner Sellafield cluster [was : reply to Cedervall ]
> James Salsman wrote on December 15, 2004 11:54 AM
> To: frantaj at AECL.CA; radsafe at list.vanderbilt.edu
> Subject: RE: Gardner Sellafield cluster [was : reply to Cedervall ]
> <SNIP>
> If you recall my message context, I was suggesting that uranium
> accumulation in testicles explains the cancer incidence increase
> in children of exposed fathers.
> Does anyone know if Comare/UKDoH/etc. have looked at uranium
> contamination of the workers involved?
> ========
> Please see :
> http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v434/n7037/full/4341058b.html
> News
> Nature 434, 1058 (28 April 2005) 
> Link to infection raises hope of preventing child leukaemia
> Roxanne Khamsi, London
> Radiation, chemicals and power lines are not significant.

More information about the radsafe mailing list