Both the great Truths and the great Falsehoods of the twentieth century lie hidden in the arcane, widely inaccessible, and seemingly mundane domain of the radiation sciences

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Trial of the Cult of Nuclearists: Exhibit C

What follows is the continuation, in serial form, of a central chapter from my book A Primer in the Art of Deception: The Cult of Nuclearists, Uranium Weapons and Fraudulent Science.

Exhibit C

Quite obviously, a major problem exists in the way dosages from internal emitters are calculated. But this is only half the picture. So what if the theoretical framework is corrupt? Surely, as a fallback, there must exist a body of research to validate the safety of the levels of internal contamination permitted to the public. But herein lies a startling revelation. The studies upon which the risks to health from low doses of internalized alpha and beta emitters are based are primarily studies of acute doses of external irradiation by x-rays and gamma rays delivered at a high dose rate!

Now hold it right there! How can this possibly be? The case was previously made that, from a biological point of view, external irradiation and internal contamination are qualitatively different phenomena. How can standards of safety for internally incorporated radioactive contaminants be based on photons impinging on the body from the outside? The assumption made so long ago that external and internal radiation produce the same biological effects has never been validated. Extrapolating from known effects of external irradiation to predict suspected effects from internal emitters is scientifically without merit:

"With regard to internal radiation doses, the committee [European Committee on Radiation Risk] identifies a serious misuse of scientific method in the extension and application of the ICRP external model. Such a process involves deductive reasoning. It falsely uses data from one set of conditions — high-level, acute, external exposure — to model low-level, chronic, internal exposure. The procedure is scientifically bankrupt, and were it not for political consideration, would have been rejected long ago" [1].

In our age of purported scientific enlightenment, this is what the 'guardians of humanity’ have been doing behind our backs: They have derived risk factors for internal exposure to radioactivity from a number of studies conducted on external exposure. Justification for the validity of this extrapolation is based on the fallacious model of energy transfer and the averaging of dosages over large volumes of tissue. Mankind’s safety from internalized radioactivity is based on the erroneous assumption that there is no physiological difference in how energy is delivered to the body. External irradiation and particulate emission from internalized radionuclides are regarded as being identical phenomena in terms of the physiological effects they induce.

To elucidate the source upon which current standards for permissible levels of internal contamination are based, we can turn to “BEIR V”, a 1990 publication by the Committee on the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation. According to this document, the Committee’s risk factors for radiation exposure were derived from the following studies:

I. The Life Span Study of the Japanese Atomic Bomb Survivors.

The National Census conducted in Japan in 1950 identified approximately 284,000 people who had survived the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. From this population, 91,231 people enrolled in a study to have their health monitored over their lifetime. In addition, 27,000 people who were located a minimum of 10 km from the hypocenters of the explosions were selected for the study to serve as a control population. An elevated incidence of leukemia and solid tumors were observed in the study population. The data from this study has become the primary source for assessing the risks from exposure to ionizing radiation.

II. The Study of British Patients Irradiated for Ankylosing Spondylitis.

Ankylosing Spondylitis is a form of rheumatoid arthritis affecting the spine. In Great Britain between 1935 and 1954, patients with this condition were treated with spinal irradiation. This procedure had the unintended side effect of irradiating a large fraction of the body with substantial doses of radiation. Long-term medical follow-up of 14,106 of these patients revealed an elevated incidence of various cancers and leukemias when compared to a control population.

III. Radiation Dose and Leukemia Risk in Patients Treated for Cancer of the Cervix

This study followed the health consequences to 150,000 women who received radiotherapy for treatment of cervical cancer. Approximately 70% were treated with radium implants or external radiotherapy. The administered radiation delivered substantial radiation doses to organs close to the cervix and moderate doses to organs located more distally in the body. Doses to bone marrow — and consequently, rates of leukemia — were higher than those found in an unexposed population. The radiation dose to the active bone marrow was estimated by medical physicists who had access to the original radiotherapy records.

IV. The Canadian Fluoroscopy Series.

This study followed the health of 31,710 Canadian women for fifty years. Between 1930 and 1952, they were examined and treated for tuberculosis with x-ray doses to the chest. As a result, an elevated incidence of breast cancer was observed. The study divided the women into age groups based on when treatment was received and succeeded in establishing a relationship between the rates of cancer and the cumulative dose of x-rays.

V. The Rochester Acute Mastitis Therapy Series.

This study followed the health of 601 women treated with x-rays for acute postpartum mastitis. The incidence rate of breast cancer within this cohort was in excess of the rate found in a number of different control groups. The radiation dose varied from 60 to 1400 rads.

VI. The Massachusetts Fluoroscopy Studies.

This research followed the health of 1,742 women who received x-ray treatments for tuberculosis. These women received repeated, low-dose exposures over a period of time. Estimated dosage per treatment was 1.5 rads. The accumulated breast dose was approximately 150 rems. Breast cancer rates were elevated in all age groups above the control population.

These six studies all share one thing in common. They all involve acute, high-dose exposure from external radiation sources. Via mathematical modeling of the computational system, the data from these studies was manipulated to derive the risk posed by radionuclides delivering chronic, low doses of radiation internally with the total energy delivered averaged over large masses of tissue. This process is what the European Committee on Radiation Risk refers to as “serious misuse of the scientific method.”

By far, the most important of the six studies listed above is the Life Span Study (LSS) of the Japanese survivors of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If you open any textbook on radiation safety, what you will find is a statement saying that what is known about the effects of ionizing radiation on populations is largely based on the data from Japan. The results of this study carry tremendous weight in the field of radiation protection. Currently accepted ideas of the risks to health from radiation exposure are based primarily on the results of this study. Consequently, the health of all of mankind is at stake, grounded on the reliability of this one study. Needless to say, the accuracy, validity and reliability of the Life Span Study is open to question.


[1] European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR).Recommendations of the European Committee on Radiation Risk: the Health Effects of Ionising Radiation Exposure at Low Doses for Radiation Protection Purposes. Regulators' Edition. Brussels; 2003.