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, October 7, 2010

The Trial of the Cult of Nuclearists: EXHIBIT F

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.


The Cult of Nuclearists stands accused of perpetrating a fraud against the entire human race. Were the prosecution to rest its case at this point, the evidence presented in Exhibits A through E easily might be dismissed as toothless, theoretical arguments. Thus, before concluding, indisputable proof needs to be submitted to substantiate the charge that in many cases the risk factors for radiation induced disease are in error and the science of radiation effects has been intentionally corrupted. The information to be presented here will bear witness that the radiation protection community has allowed some monumental flaw to persist in current approaches to radiation safety, either through perpetuating defective models or a basic misunderstanding of radiation effects, ineffectual oversight as to the true extent of population exposure, insufficient epidemiological investigation or intentional malfeasance. When it is proven that levels of radiation in the environment deemed “permissible” are ruining human health, the science of radiation protection as currently practiced will stand exposed as counterfeit and duplicitous. This single crime has sired millions more, for it has given license to government and industry to deploy weapon systems and technologies that contaminate the Earth, invisibly sickening and killing untold numbers of unsuspecting victims.

According to the ECRR, there exists unequivocal evidence within the public domain that proves that the ICRP model of radiation effects is plagued by fundamental errors with regards to low levels of internal contamination. These errors lead to an underestimation of health detriment in the wake of a radiation release. The clearest example of these deficiencies surfaced after the accident at Chernobyl in 1986. As the clouds of fallout wafted around the planet, most governments broadcast reassurances to their anxious citizens that there was no cause for concern, that expected doses would be too low, based on current standards of radiation protection, to be medically significant. In most locales throughout the world, caution was not advised and people were informed that it was perfectly safe to continue to consume fresh meat and produce, dairy products, and unfiltered water from surface sources. This lackadaisical approach to radiation safety allowed the unnecessary internal contamination of unsuspecting bystanders and produced elevated rates of illness in many populations. What came to light in years subsequent to the accident was that children who received exposure to Chernobyl fallout, while still in the wombs of their mothers, experienced an elevated risk of developing leukemia by the time of their first birthday. In countries where unimpeachable data was collected for levels of fallout deposited in the environment, doses to the population, and the incidence of childhood leukemia, an unmistakable, uniform trend emerged: the cohort of children born during the 18-month period following the accident suffered increased rates of leukemia in their first year of life compared to children born prior to the accident or to those born subsequent to the accident after the level of possible maternal contamination had sufficiently diminished. This was confirmed in five studies conducted independently of one another: in Scotland [1], Greece [2], the United States [3], Germany [4], and Wales [5]. In calculations prepared by the ECRR, the probability that it was a chance occurrence that increased incidences of leukemia appeared in five different countries during the period of heaviest fallout from Chernobyl was less than 0.0000000001 (one in 10 billion). Low levels of internal exposure from Chernobyl was the indisputable cause of the childhood leukemia clusters.

In the UK, the National Radiological Protection Board measured and assessed the doses received by the populations of Wales and Scotland. Through environmental monitoring, they compiled data on the levels of Chernobyl fallout in the air, on the ground, and in food, milk, and water. Based on this information, they estimated the average level of exposure for members of the population. Plugging these dosages into their models of radiation effects, they calculated that no measurable harm was expected in the UK from the fallout of Chernobyl. To confirm or refute this assessment, Dr. Chris Busby and Molly Scott Cato undertook an investigation of the accuracy of the risk estimates of the NRPB as they applied to infant leukemia. Drawing upon the post-Chernobyl data collected by the NRPB and applying to it risk estimates for radiation-induced infant leukemia based on ICRP models previously published by the NRPB, they compared the expected number of cases of infant leukemia to the known incidence of childhood leukemia in one-year-olds born in the 18 months after the accident. This investigation was published under the title of “Increases in Leukemia in Infants in Wales and Scotland Following Chernobyl: Evidence for Errors in Statutory Risk Estimates.” What Busby and Scott Cato discovered humiliated the pronouncements of the NRPB. The incidence of infant leukemia in the combined cohorts of Wales and Scotland exceeded that predicted by 3.8 times. According to the authors, “Applying ICRP's risk factors to known levels of contamination from Chernobyl reveals 100 times less infant leukemia than actually found” [emphasis added] [5]. (As this cohort ages, further incidences of leukemia may prove that the accepted risk factors are even further off the mark.) The authors examined an alternative explanation, that the leukemias did not result from fetal exposure in the womb but from preconception exposure to radiation by the fathers. Under this scenario, the accepted risk factors were in error by approximately 2000 times. Simply stated, the NRPB models were proven to be in error. They substantially underestimated the hazard of the low levels of Chernobyl fallout on the health of developing children in utero. As stated by the ECRR:

The committee accepts that the infant leukemia results represent unequivocal evidence that the ICRP risk model is in error by a factor of between 100-fold and 2000-fold for the type of exposure and dose, the latter figure allowing for a continued excess risk in the cohort being studied. The committee notes that it will be necessary to follow the cohort as it ages” [6].

Richard Bramhall of the Low Level Radiation Campaign analyzed the data on infant leukemia in Wales and Scotland after Chernobyl presented in the paper written by Busby and Scott Cato [7]. He made the following observation which further condemns the accepted models for radiation-induced childhood leukemia:

“In the case of infant leukemia, doses from Chernobyl should have produced far less than one additional case in the populations of Wales and Scotland. (To spare you the mental anguish of trying to imagine a fraction of a case of leukemia, I can tell you that all this means is that you'd have to investigate the cancer registrations for a population more than 50 times as big in order to expect even a single baby with leukemia caused by the radiation.)

But Busby and Scott Cato looked at the figures and found that the rate had jumped quite sharply — 14 babies were diagnosed in the two years following Chernobyl. The average in a two-year period before it was 4.2, so finding 14 meant there were 9 or 10 extra cases.

We don't know exactly how the radioactivity made these babies ill.

Was it because it crossed their mothers' placentas?

Or because it affected them after they were born?

Or because the dose to their fathers' balls had mutated the sperm before they were even conceived?

There are different risk factors for these different types of exposure routes.

After doing some simple arithmetic with the figures in Busby and Scott Cato's paper we can display the implied errors like this:

If the damage was done by the placenta-crossing dose, NRPB's prediction was about 72 times too small;

if it was the postnatal effect, the prediction was 132 times too small;

and if it was the preconception dose to the fathers' testes, NRPB was out by a whacking 2,390”.

The Low Level Radiation Campaign [8] published an accompanying graph to visually depict the disparity between the established risk factors for infant leukemia and the actual incidence of the disease from the five separate studies of the post-Chernobyl environment. The vertical axis of the graph represents the percentage of increase in cases of infant leukemia in the 20 months following the accident compared to the period before April 26, 1986 and the period after January 1988. The horizontal axis represents the doses, in millisieverts, received by the exposed population. It is important to note that these doses were derived from environmental monitoring of cesium fallout. Cesium, which emits highly penetrating gamma rays, is relatively easy to detect and its deposition over wide areas can thus be easily mapped. Monitoring this radionuclide provided investigators with a streamline method for estimating dosages to the exposed populations. According to the LLRC, however, this methodology may actually be flawed when determining the health effects produced from other radionuclides in the environment:

But the very fact that it [cesium] is so penetrating means that its energy deposition (in the form of ionizations) is spatially well distributed in tissue, so its health effects are likely to conform with the external irradiation models. It is, moreover, soluble and does not form particles. The Chernobyl reactor fire produced other isotopes (including strontium-90) as well as microscopic particles of reactor fuel which traveled across Europe and beyond, exposing everyone in the path of the cloud to inhalation and ingestion. There is no reason why the health effects should conform with expectations based on cesium deposition.”

The LLRC emphasizes that the doses, as shown in the graph, between 0.02 and 0.2 millisieverts represent levels below annual exposure to natural background radiation. The implication is that “dose” at this low level might not mean anything at all and that health detriment is produced by extremely low levels of internal contamination by radionuclides. Further, the infant leukemia data suggests that, far from being innocuous, natural background radiation may be the causative agent for some small fraction of human cancers. In the graph, the dotted line just above the horizontal axis represents the expected increase in infant leukemia according to currently accepted ICRP models based on exposure to external radiation. As the LLRC notes, the dotted line

“...slopes up towards a point representing a 40% increase at a dose of 10 millisieverts (This is five times natural background, and the graph would have to be almost a meter wide to show it). The origin of this yardstick is cancer deaths in children after their mothers had been X-rayed during their pregnancy.”

The findings from Chernobyl flatly disprove the validity of this model. Doses much smaller than 10 millisieverts produced much greater increases in infant leukemia than were expected based on the yardstick mentioned in the quotation. Babies in Greece received a dose of only 0.2 millisieverts, and yet a 160% jump in the number of cases of infant leukemia was demonstrated there. Similarly, babies in Germany receiving a dose of 0.071 millisieverts showed an increased incidence of 48%. In Wales and Scotland, the doses were 0.08 millisieverts and the incidence of infant leukemia jumped over 200%.

Richard Bramhall of the Low Level Radiation Campaign has commented on the infant leukemia studies and compared the doses received from Chernobyl to those received by the residents of Seascale living near the Sellafield nuclear-fuel reprocessing facility. If the lower doses from Chernobyl produced elevated rates of infant leukemia, then this is indisputable evidence that the higher doses to the population from Sellafield pollution could have produced the cluster of infant leukemia in the vicinity of Seascale. Further, when the actual number of cases of infant leukemia is compared to that predicted by the currently accepted risk factors, the glaring inaccuracies of current models come sharply into focus. According to Bramhall:

In the parts of the UK mainly affected by Chernobyl fallout, the dose wasabout 80 microSieverts (i.e. 1250 times smaller than at Seascale); two separate studies showed [for infant leukemia] a 3-fold excess (Scottish infants) and a 3.6 excess (Scottish and Welsh infants combined). The implicit error in conventional risk factors is roughly 720-fold. In Germany there was a 1.6-fold excess and dose was 71 microSv (1400 times smaller than at Seascale). Implied error 450-fold. In Greece, there was a 2.6-fold excess and dose was 280 microSv (350 times smaller than Seascale). Implied error 300-fold. In UK data obtained by CERRIE, there was a 1.4-fold excess and the dose was 40 microSv (2500 times smaller than Seascale). We believe that these findings stack up to undermine ICRP's credibility.”

Earlier in this chapter, it was mentioned that representatives of the Cult of Nuclearists vehemently deny that nuclear pollution from the Sellafield reprocessing facility is responsible for the cluster of childhood leukemia found in the nearby community of Seascale. Leukemia in the 0-14 year-old age group in Seascale shows a 12-fold excess compared with the rate of the disease for the UK as a whole. According to COMARE, on the basis of current models, the doses to the population were 300 times too small to be responsible for the observed incidence of leukemia. But look what the post-Chernobyl data has to say about this. It confirms that current models are incorrect to approximately this margin of error.


[1] Gibson B.E.S., Eden O.B., Barrett A., Stiller C.A., Draper G.J. Leukemia in Young Children in Scotland. Lancet. 1988; 2(8611):630.

[2] Petridou E., Trichopoulos D., Dessypris N., Flytzani V., Haidas S., Kalmanti M.K., Koliouskas D., Kosmidis H., Piperolou F., Tzortzatou F. Infant Leukemia After In Utero Exposure to Radiation From Chernobyl. Nature. 1996; 382:352-353.

[3] Mangano J.J. Childhood Leukemia in the US May Have Risen Due to Fallout From Chernobyl. British Medical Journal. 1997; 314:1200.

[4] Michaelis J., Kaletsch U., Burkart W., Grosche B. Infant Leukemia After the Chernobyl Accident. Nature. 1997; 387:246.

[5] Busby C, Scott Cato M. Increases in Leukemia in Infants in Wales and Scotland Following Chernobyl: Evidence for Errors in Statutory Risk Estimates. Energy and Environment. 2000; 11(2):127-139.

[6] 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.

[7] Bramhill R. Averaging -- ICRP”s Fatal Flaw. Adapted from a talk given to a Welsh Anti-Nuclear Alliance meeting in Chepstow, Wales, February 23, 2001.

[8] Low Level Radiation Campaign (LLRC). Infant Leukemia After Chernobyl. Radioactive Times: The Journal of the Low Level Radiation Campaign. 2005; 6(1):13.