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, August 30, 2010

The Trial of the Cult of Nuclearists: SCAM NUMBER TWENTY-NINE

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 TWENTY-NINE: Base estimates of risk to a population from exposure to radiation on the response of the average adult while ignoring the heightened sensitivity of subgroups within the population.

As currently crafted, risk estimates are inherently flawed. They are based on average exposures to average individuals. Permissible levels of exposure are then set on the presumption that these will protect the entire population from radiation injury. This approach fails to take into account the fact that populations are heterogeneous, and that subgroups exist within the population that have heightened sensitivity to radiation effects. We know from studies done on patients undergoing radiation therapy that individuals can differ considerably in their sensitivity to radiation. A number of genetic syndromes have been identified that predispose individuals to heightened risks of various forms of cancer. Enhanced radiosensitivity is frequently connected with two phenomena: 1) deficiencies or disturbances in DNA repair after radiation damage, and 2) an uncontrolled proliferation of cells due to faulty regulation of arrest of the cell cycle [1]. Currently, no accurate information exists as to the percentage of such genetically predisposed radiosensitive individuals within the general population. Published estimates vary from one to six percent.

The statistical studies of Gould and Goldman, as reported in Deadly Deceit, uncovered an interesting trend in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster. In the months immediately following the arrival of the fallout cloud over the United States, the increased mortality that was recorded was not uniformly distributed throughout the US population. Rather, elevated rates of death were most in evidence among infants, young adults suffering infectious diseases, and the elderly. Their recorded causes of death were predominantly pneumonia, infectious diseases, and AIDS. The authors hypothesize that it was vulnerable immune systems further stressed by radiation that was the mechanism responsible for the increased mortality.

Radiation protection standards, if their purpose is to protect people, must be written so as to protect the most sensitive sector of the population from harm. This would then ensure the maximum level of protection for everyone. Most importantly, the health of developing fetuses must be protected by standards that restrict the level of internal contamination in pregnant women. If such a concern is disregarded and standards are written merely to protect the “average” citizen, whoever that might be, then the most sensitive segment of the population is being exposed to much greater risks than current estimates would have us believe. As the ECRR observes: “Once we take into account varying radiosensitivity in the population it is difficult to think of a morally acceptable alternative to developing risk models that are based on the health risks of the most susceptible citizens” [2].


[1] Streffer C. Genetic Predisposition and Implications for Radioprotection. Universitätsklinikum Essen, 45122 Essen, Germany International Radiation Protection Association.

[2] 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.