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Chernobyl and Similar Hazards

I'm a little puzzled by comments recently on radsafe about Chernobyl.  It
seems that several of those posting have expressed concerns about the
radiation hazard from the releases, and the possibility of a similar event
occuring in the future, and the resultant health effects.


Certainly there were some people, numbering in the hundreds, or
thousands, that were exposed to significant levels of radiation, and
suffered health effects, and we all know that thyroid cancers have
increased dramatically, though this may be due more to dietary flaws than
the radiation exposure, but this affected a very small proportion of the
inhabitants of the Ukraine, Byelorussia, (sp?) etc.  (Let alone the rest
of eastern Europe, western Europe, and the world.) 

Leaving that fraction out of this discussion:

These viewpoints seem surprising to me, as the consensus on radsafe has
been that radiation at low levels is certainly not a significant hazard,
and may be beneficial, a la hormesis.

We have heard it said that those evacuated from the surrounding areas
would have got less radiation exposure over their lifetimes - if they had
stayed - than a large portion of the inhabitants of Norway (as one
example) are now slated to get, from natural background radiation.

This all being the case, should we not press for the return of the
evacuated peoples to their homes and workplaces, as long as these
locations are not likely to cause radiation exposures above the levels now
thought to be beneficial?  (I.e. those not exceeding natural background
levels in other inhabited areas of this planet).   This probably means
that an exclusion zone of a few kilometers diameter may still be needed -
I don't have the details of the radiation levels in the vicinity of the
plant to figure this out.

Such an action would allow the facilities (homes, factories, farms, etc.)
in these areas to be used once more, presumably generating revenues for
the government and inhabitants.  The most useful aid that we could give
would seem to be dietary supplements, to raise the general health level of
these displaced peoples.  If they were fed well, they would soon get
healthy, and the media could no longer blame radiation for the many
health-related problems they are no experiencing.

I realize that the general phobias in society would make such actions
unacceptable at present, to _society_, but at least _we_ should consider
this as a worthy goal to work toward.

As I said at the start, I'm concerned because this group seems to still
want to hold with both viewpoints.  If hormesis is proved to be reality -
and many believe it already has - then we should reevalute our nightmares
of Chernobyl, and recognize them as such.


Chris Davey

        RSO  Cross Cancer Institute  11560 University Avenue
        Edmonton   Alberta   Canada  T6G 1Z2
        (403)432-8616   fax 432-8615    email cdavey@med.phys.ualberta.ca
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