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

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Trial of the Cult of Nuclearists: SCAM NUMBER TWO

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.

SCAM NUMBER TWO: Rigidly adhere to the traditional concept of dose when evaluating the biological effects of radiation, even in instances where that concept of dose is rendered meaningless.

Earlier in this chapter, a description was given of how the science of radiation protection matured when the meaning of a dose of radiation was finally defined in terms of measurable and quantifiable phenomena. The rad represents a quantity of energy absorbed by a gram of matter. In keeping with many other concepts in physics, the rad is an idealization, an abstraction, from physical events. Embodied within the concept is the assumption that the absorbed energy is evenly distributed (averaged) throughout the mass that absorbs it. This concept evolved from the study of x-rays and it accurately modeled the phenomenon at relatively high dosages. From an external source, a barrage of x-ray photons penetrates a mass and can be conceptualized as being uniformly distributed throughout that mass. Interacting with orbital electrons, the photons eject the electrons from their atoms. These liberated electrons create tracks of ionization through the material that, for all practical purposes, can be considered to cause uniform disturbance to the molecular makeup of the entire mass. This is a successful and powerful model. The degree of molecular disruption is directly proportional to the amount of energy absorbed. This has been experimentally validated in a wide range of applications and has become an extremely useful concept for predicating radiation effects. For instance, acute radiation syndrome is a medical condition initiated by dosages of approximately 100 rem (1 Sv) and above. The severity of the biological response to exposure and the course of the illness is directly related to the amount of radiation absorbed. The phenomenon has been so extensively studied that the likely outcome to a patient can be predicted on the basis of the absorbed dosage alone. The same holds true for cancer effects among exposed populations, again at relatively high doses. The number of cancers induced is directly proportional to the collective dose.

The success of this model demands a uniform distribution of energy throughout the mass that absorbs it. Conceptual problems arise within this model, however, when doses become so low that the entire mass is not uniformly disturbed. At this point the model breaks down. It no longer accurately describes what is taking place in the mass absorbing the radiation. To quote the European Committee on Radiation Risk, the energy units of rad and rem, gray and sievert “and the energy per unit volume approach are not applicable unless the system being irradiated is truly uniform. The model cannot deal with small volumes and inhomogeneities of dose, and for this reason, is unsafe to apply to internal irradiation” [1].

To illustrate the problem, let us return to an example given earlier in the chapter. Busby explored the hypothetical situation of a single particle of depleted uranium, 2 microns in diameter, deposited in the lymphatic system. Using the ICRP method for calculating dosage, the amount of energy released by the particle in one year, considered as being evenly distributed throughout a lymphatic system defined as consisting of 800 grams, creates the insignificant dose of 0.0000021 rem (2.1 x 10-7 mSv). Now we have to ask ourselves, what is the actual meaning of this number? Is it really the case that if we were able to take a measurement at any point throughout the mass of the lymphatic system that we would get a reading of 0.0000021 rem? No, this is not true, because the actual energy of radioactive decay is confined to the area around the point source of the single particle. Pure and simple, the purported organ dose in this instance is a mathematical fiction. It represents nothing in reality. It is a mathematical construction designed to create the erroneous idea that the energy of radiation emitted by the particle is uniformly distributed throughout the entire lymphatic system. But this is not the actuality of the situation. In reality, only a tiny volume of cells immediately surrounding the particle receives the entire dose. It is a major conceptual blunder to apply the traditional concept of dose to this dimension.

The shortcomings inherent in the concept of dose under these circumstances need no longer be an impediment to scientific accuracy. Advances in technology have given radiation biologists the power to witness, either directly or indirectly, radiation effects on both the cellular and molecular level. Microdosimetry allows for an accurate evaluation of the distribution of energy at this dimension of physical reality. And yet, radiation protection agencies rigidly adhere to the principle that the traditional concept of dosages to whole organs must be used to properly assess the biological impact of low levels of internal exposure. Why?

Because it deceives. Dosage, as misapplied to low levels of radiation, is a perfect instrument of camouflage, and is relied upon because it so successfully disguises the underlying biological effects. The successful model for calculating dosage and dose effects for high doses of external photon irradiation, by sleight of hand, is overlaid on a dimension of reality for which it doesn’t apply. The science that supports the nuclear establishment forces this fit. It is the basis for the unfounded assumption, rigorously defended, that low-dose effects can be accurately extrapolated from verifiable high-dose effects. This abuse of the concept of dosage is one of the cornerstones of the conspiracy to mask the significance of low doses of radiation. It is an intentional misrepresentation of the phenomenon, upheld by the radiation protection community, to confuse people and distract intellectual inquiry into the safety of exposure to low levels of radiation.

As a front for the American war machine, a number of organizations have issued scientific opinions that uranium/depleted uranium weapons cannot possibly pose a radiological hazard to health. They base this claim on the fact that the dose uranium delivers to the lung is too small. They estimate the energy released by a hypothetical quantity of inhaled DU dust and average it over the mass of the lungs. Calculated in this way, the dose does appear insignificant, below regulatory concern. But let’s shift paradigms for a moment. Let’s dispense with the traditional concept of dose and view the contamination as a number of discrete alpha particles producing tracks of densely packed ionizing events that pass through the nuclei of nearby cells. All of a sudden, the shroud of deception created by the concept of dose drops away. On the cellular level, uranium/depleted uranium, even in “insignificant” quantities, is clearly seen to be quite capable of producing double-strand breaks, mutation, genomic instability, and bystander effects. These are radiological hazards. The defenders of DU weapons innocently proclaim that these weapons pose absolutely no hazard to health because of the low doses they impart to tissue. This is nothing but a nasty deception, an out-and-out lie.


[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.