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, December 6, 2010

The Trial of the Cult of Nuclearists: EXHIBIT F continued

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 F continued:

To complete this indictment, we must return to the subject of depleted uranium weaponry. Research, to be discussed in later chapters, has confirmed that veterans suffering symptoms of what is called Gulf War Illness test positive for the presence of depleted uranium in their bodies. These findings must be taken seriously. But those who defend depleted uranium munitions as radiologically benign don’t sponsor credible research to confirm their claims. Instead, they rely on two arguments to bolster their position. First, the dose of radiation delivered by internalized uranium is too low to produce injury; second, a review of published studies on internal exposure to uranium provides no evidence that DU, in concentrations likely to be encountered on the battlefield, could be radiologically hazardous. Setting aside the second argument for a later chapter, the first argument can now be easily refuted. The concept of dose falls apart when applied to low levels of internal contamination with radioactive particles. It is a meaningless and scientifically fraudulent idea when transported from the phenomenon of external exposure at high doses of x-rays and gamma rays and then forced to fit the altogether different phenomenon of localized damage to cell clusters vastly smaller than whole organs. The rationale of this translation is that both phenomena share the common characteristic of transferring energy from the radioactive source to tissue. However, dose requires averaging energy over masses of tissue, and it is scientifically absurd to take localized emissions from embedded radioactive particles and average that energy over the mass of an entire organ. All this does is make the biological damage disappear behind some mathematical hocus-pocus, which then produces the impression that the contamination and the cellular chaos it causes are irrelevant. Radioactive particles decaying within the human body cause biomolecular alterations and cellular damage. The important scientific question is whether this damage is repaired or if it induces altered function and disease. “Dose” provides no relevant information on this fundamental issue. It is just a mathematical abstraction that is adequate for quantifying whole-body exposure or whole-organ exposure to either x-rays/gamma rays or a uniform distribution of a radionuclide throughout an organ, but it is meaningless when applied to nonuniform distribution of radioactive particles. Further, the Hiroshima study and other studies of external exposure provide no relevant information regarding low levels of exposure to internally embedded hot-particles. Again, the notion that it is scientifically justifiable to extrapolate from high levels of external exposure to low levels of internal exposure is grounded on the erroneous idea that biological effect is proportional to the quantity of energy absorbed. However, as has been shown, the alteration of essential macromolecules within cells has nothing to do with the quantity of energy absorbed. It is voodoo science to discount the hazard of embedded uranium particles, or any other radioisotopes, solely on the basis of dosage. The only responsible way to proceed for determining whether or not contamination by depleted uranium is hazardous is to examine the outcome of epidemiological studies of instances of uranium exposure and determine the health consequences. The question to be addressed later is whether or not any previous studies have any relevance to the inhalation on the battlefield of insoluble, micron-sized particles of alloys of uranium metal laced with other contaminants such as plutonium, americium, neptunium, and technetium-99.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Trial of the Cult of Nuclearists: EXHIBIT F continued

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 F continued:

Following up on the idea that a woman’s geographical location and the environmental forces acting within that location may be a factor in the development of breast cancer, Gould et al. compiled data for age-adjusted breast cancer mortality rates (age-adjustment to 1950 standard population) of white women for each of the continental 48 states and the District of Columbia. They compared the breast cancer mortality rates for the periods 1950-54, 1980-84 and 1985-89, and displayed this data in a chart where the states were organized into the nine census regions of the country. In this way, regional variations would be immediately apparent and possible environmental factors could be easily postulated. Shockingly, the NCI had never published national data in this format, ruling out a useful method for detecting environmental influences that may be contributing to cancer. This was either a gross oversight, or perhaps, another scam. Gould notes that only once did the NCI publish a table for breast cancer rates for all states, for the period 1984-1988, but the data was organized with the states listed alphabetically. This method precluded easy detection of regional, i.e., environmental, causes of cancer. When the statistics compiled by the NCI were organized and displayed by regions, the end result supported the conclusion that a regional correlation existed between age-adjusted breast cancer mortality rates and cumulative release of radioactivity from weapon tests and commercial nuclear power plants. Fission products in the diet and drinking water — new pollutants introduced into the environment at the end of W.W.II — were identified as the likely initiators for the increasing rates of breast cancer. During the course of their research, Gould et al. made a host of interesting discoveries, some of which are listed below:

1. In the New England, Middle Atlantic, and East North Central regions, breast cancer mortality rates are significantly above the national average. Such widespread distribution of above-average rates in a genetically diversified population rules out the possibility that genetic factors alone are responsible. Some unidentified environmental factor is at work sustaining the breast cancer epidemic.

2. Breast cancer mortality rates in the Southern and Mountain regions have been rising since 1950-54 far more rapidly than in the nation as a whole. New Mexico and North Carolina registered increases as great as 30% since 1950 compared to moderate increases for the US as a whole of only 2% for 1980-84 and 1% for 1985-89.

3. For the period 1950-54, 10 years after the beginning of nuclear weapon testing, breast cancer mortality rates differed widely between regions. The lowest rates were in the rural East and West South Central regions. Arkansas had the lowest mortality rate of 15.4 deaths per 100,000. Again, differing rates of breast cancer in different geographical regions bear witness that genetic factors are not the sole cause of the breast cancer epidemic.

4. In the period between 1950-54 and 1980-84, the state with the greatest increase in breast cancer mortality was New Mexico, with the rate increasing by 39%. Why New Mexico? Could the Trinity nuclear weapon test in 1945 and the presence of the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory be possible contributing factors? Supporting this contention is the fact that in the 10 contiguous counties in the southeast corner of New Mexico, the region in which the Trinity blast occurred, combined age-adjusted mortality rates increased by 72%. In 1950-54, there were 12.1 deaths per 100,000 people. By 1980-84, 40 years after the test blast, the rate had increased to 20.9 per 100,000.

5. After New Mexico, Arizona and Utah showed the next greatest increase in breast cancer mortality — 29%. These states, bordering Nevada and immediately downwind of the Nevada Test Site, were the routine dumping ground of large amounts of radioactive fallout from weapon tests that silently and invisibly contaminated food and water sources.

6. The cessation of aboveground weapon testing in the early 1960s had a marked influence on breast cancer mortality rates 20 years later. Not only did the enormous increase in breast cancer mortality taper off within the rural states of the Mountain region bordering the Nevada Test Site, they actually showed a significant decline between 1980-84 and 1985-89. This reversal is no surprise if fallout contamination in the diet was a contributing factor to cancer rates.

7. Of the nine census regions, the West South Central region, comprised of Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma, had the lowest rate of breast cancer mortality for the entire period between 1950 and 1989. These low rates persisted despite the fact that these states hosted the largest petrochemical manufacturing facilities in the nation and their agricultural lands were the repository for large amounts of DDT and other chlorine-based pesticides and herbicides. Consequently, these environmental factors by themselves cannot be responsible for the breast cancer epidemic. If they are in some way responsible, some other unidentified cofactor(s) must also be involved.

8. In contrast to the declining rates of breast cancer in the Mountain region after the end of aboveground weapon testing, breast cancer rates continued to climb between 1980-84 to 1985-89 in the rural southern states along the east coast from Delaware to Florida. If nuclear pollution is contributing to the breast cancer epidemic, this fact can be explained by the ongoing emissions of radiation from the region’s commercial nuclear reactors and releases from Oak Ridge and the nuclear weapon installation at Savannah River. All but one of the nine southern states along the Atlantic coast with nuclear reactors registered increases in mortality rates. In contrast, this was not the case in the high rainfall states of Louisiana, Kentucky, and Mississippi, which had no operating reactors before 1982. These states registered declines in breast cancer mortality of three, six, and three percent respectively during the 1980s.

9. Despite the cessation of aboveground weapon testing, breast cancer mortality continued to climb in states receiving large amounts of radioactive pollution from nuclear facilities. This was particularly evident in Rhode Island, downwind of four large reactors in Connecticut and two smaller reactors at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York. Rhode Island, during the 1980s, had the largest increase of any state in breast cancer mortality.

10. Identifiable trends in the rates of breast cancer mortality exist between different states that are explainable on the basis of varying levels of radioactive pollution. For instance, almost every rural state showed increases between the period 1950-54 to 1980-84, most probably as the result of fallout from weapon tests. In the period between 1980-84 and 1985-89, a different pattern emerged. In states with no operating nuclear reactors, the rate of breast cancer deaths began to decline whereas in states most significantly exposed to emissions from nuclear reactors, rates continued to climb. The rural states evidencing declines in breast cancer mortality included North and South Dakota, Kansas, West Virginia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada. As observed by Gould: “Since all of these rural states had similar exposures to pesticides and other chemical pollutants, we may conclude that exposure to bomb-test radiation was the principal cause of the overall increased mortality since 50-54.”

11. Between the period 1950-54 and 1985-89, breast cancer mortality in the Washington state county housing the Hanford Reservation increased from 13.2 to 21.7 deaths per 100,000. For the county in which the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory was located, rates increased from 4.8 to 21.7. In St. Lucie county in Florida, exposed to pollution from four commercial nuclear reactors, the death rate from breast cancer jumped from 6.5 to 23.5.

12. In the 14 counties in which the seven oldest DOE reactor sites are located, combined age-adjusted breast cancer mortality rates for white females rose by 37 percent during the period 1950-54 to 1985-89. During the same period, the corresponding rate in the US as a whole rose by only one percent. In these 14 counties, the rate quintupled, from 371 deaths to 1,926 deaths, while the rate in the US as a whole only doubled.

13. The Oak Ridge study can be replicated for any area in the country where old DOE facilities are located. Women living in counties near the oldest reactor sites have registered by far the highest long-term increase in breast cancer mortality of women in any group of counties in the nation.

14. A comparison was made of breast cancer mortality rates among women in an aggregate of 14 counties that housed seven DOE facilities with reactors to women in an aggregate of nine counties housing DOE facilities without reactors. The women living in the 14 counties exposed to reactor emissions displayed an extraordinary and significant increase in breast cancer mortality of 37% between 1950-54 to 1985-89, compared to a 6% decline among women living in the counties not receiving emissions. This is a clear demonstration that reactor emissions are producing breast cancer.

15. The flat low-rainfall states between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River receive the lowest exposure to fallout from commercial nuclear reactors and have the lowest rates of breast cancer mortality.

16. Most civilian nuclear power plants are located in areas where precipitation levels are over 30 inches per year. There are only five reactors located in states with annual levels of precipitation below 15 inches. Interestingly, these five reactor sites are the only ones studied that fail to show a significant upward divergence in breast cancer mortality rates compared to the nation as a whole.

17. Brookhaven National Laboratory is located in Suffolk county in New York state. From 1950-54, when BNL began operation, through 1985-89, the county’s rate of breast cancer mortality was 40 times greater than the increase throughout the nation as a whole.

The research accumulating on the health detriment produced by released radioisotopes is putting the Cult of Nuclearists in a terrible double-bind. Mounting pressure will eventually force them into admitting either that doses to exposed populations have been greater than previously published or that the risk factors are in substantial error. They cannot have both. The only escape from this predicament is to attack the integrity of the research that casts them into this dilemma. This tactic, however, is becoming increasingly transparent as evidence mounts that radioisotopes in the environment are producing illness and death.