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, July 26, 2010

The Trial of the Cult of Nuclearists: SCAM NUMBER NINETEEN

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 NINETEEN: Mislead the world into believing that, below the dosages where deterministic effects begin to occur, the only health concern from radiation exposure is the risk of cancer.

To ensure the continuation of programs that contaminate the biosphere with radiation, the Cult of Nuclearists must downplay the detriment to public health that accompanies their deeds. A major tactic in this campaign is to fixate the attention of the public on the idea that the fundamental risk to health following radiation exposure is cancer. In living systems, the molecular damage produced by radiation injures the structure and function of cells. Vulnerable to harm are both the germ cells (the cells responsible for reproduction) and somatic cells (all the other types of cells making up the organism). For the individual receiving radiation exposure, the source of any health detriment is produced from damage to somatic cells. Damage to germ cells carries the additional risk of impacting on the health of offspring, from the moment of conception to birth and then onward through to old age until the final death of that individual. The central focus of radiobiology for the last half century has been the quest to understand how radiation can damage DNA and lead to cancer. Little research has been devoted to understanding non-cancerous processes induced by DNA damage, and the implications these have on cell function and the health of the organism as a whole. The entire biochemical structure and function of a cell or its descendants is vulnerable to radiation-induced alteration, depending on where along a chromosome damage is incurred. The science of radiation effects remains in its infancy.

Given that cancer is a recognized outcome of radiation exposure, the public health focus of the radiation protection agencies has been to assess the risk to the population from all types of exposure for all types of cancer. The probability of cancer is predicted by the risk factors embraced by the radiation protection agencies. In the high-dose range, these are based on the accepted epidemiological studies. In the low and intermediate dose ranges, extrapolations are made from known high-dose effects. For radiation protection purposes, a linear relationship is assumed between dose and cancer yield. According to the ECRR, for the ICRP, UNSCEAR, BEIR, NCRP, NRPB, and the state agencies of the member nations of the European Union, the only health effects considered to be produced by low-level radiation are “fatal” cancers, heritable damage, and IQ retardation. Members of the public may find this disquieting. What about nonfatal cancers and benign tumors? The incidence of these are many times more frequent than fatal cancers, and if nothing else, they adversely affect quality of life and take a toll on psychological/emotional well-being. Damage to germ cells with resulting hereditary disorders is acknowledged by the radiation protection agencies as a possible outcome of low-level radiation exposure, but the claim is made that these have yet to be identified as occurring in man. (Evidence to prove that this position is incorrect will be presented in Exhibit F.) According to the ECRR, “the ICRP only considers heritable effects which are measurable in phenotype after birth, e.g., congenital defects and perhaps increases in clinically diagnosed heritable genetic diseases.” However, there are other possible consequences of germ cell injury which are recognized by the ECRR but ignored by the radiation protection agencies that establish risk factors for radiation injury. Germ cell injury may produce developmental problems to the fetus from the moment of conception onward. These may result in spontaneous abortions or fetal deaths. Is the public informed that this is a possible outcome of low-level radiation exposure? No! Further, as a result of radiation-induced germ cell injury, a newborn child may carry in its mutated DNA non-apparent abnormalities that may cause or contribute to the full gamut of possible illnesses later in life. Is the public informed that this is a possible outcome of low-level radiation exposure? No! Aside from inherited damage, there are risks other than cancer to the developing fetus from low-level radiation exposure in the womb. These, also, are not adequately addressed by the radiation protection agencies. Given the vulnerability of the developing fetus for “low probability” events producing “high impact” effects, no consideration is given to the effect of low-level radiation on the birth rate within populations, the incidence of low birthweight babies, and the rate of infant mortality. Is the public informed that these are a possible outcome of low-level radiation exposure? No!

Epidemiological studies have produced evidence of a wide range of health effects other than cancer. These are not addressed by the radiation “protection” community. To avoid repetition, the reader is directed to a fuller discussion of this topic in the last section of the chapter "A Primer in the Art of Deception".