Atomic Show #195 – Health effects of low level radiation

On Sunday, January 13, 2013, I had a conversation with Dr. Jerry Cuttler and Dr. A. David Rossin. Each of these distinguished gentlemen has a long history of working with ionizing radiation and studying its biological effects on human beings.

Dr. Jerry Cuttler earned his PhD in 1964. He has performed radiation research, designed radiation measuring equipment, and assisted in the design of control and monitoring systems for a variety of nuclear reactors, mainly heavy water CANDU reactors. He became personally interested in radiation health effects when he was conducting neutron measuring experiments that inherently resulted in elevated exposures; shielding would have prevented an effective experiment. He wanted to learn more about the potential risks that he and his colleagues were taking.

Later, he heard a talk given by Dr. Myron Pollycove about the history of beneficial uses of radiation in medicine and became “hooked” on the topic. He has been publishing peer reviewed journal articles and giving talks on the subjects of radiation health effects, adaptive dose response, and the illogic of the Linear No-Threshold dose response assumption for nearly 20 years.

Dr. A. David Rossin spent much of his career at the Argonne National Laboratory, staring off with investigations on the effects of radiation on steel pressure vessels. He recognized that the linear equations for damage did not work for steel; with increasing dose, the damage rate slowed and even reversed at elevated temperatures. He then started to wonder if similar healing effects might be happening with biological organisms – like human beings – that have specifically adapted mechanisms for health against imposed damage.

He has often engaged in debates against antinuclear activists like Helen Caldicott and has followed up on his interest in the health effects of radiation at doses below those that are known to overwhelm repair mechanisms.

Interestingly enough, both Dr. Jerry Cuttler and Dr. A. David Rossin are the type of radiation health experts that would be automatically screened off of any future BEIR committee under current rules. As the BEIR VII report front matter clearly states, “The NRC vetted all potential members to ensure that each was free from any apparent or potential conflict of interest.”

My interpretation of that statement is that anyone who works in the fields that apply radiation technologies and is personally motivated to clearly understand radiation health is prevented from sharing their expertise in the closed door meetings where the reports are generated. (The committee might ask selected experts to make a presentation or two to the conflict-of-interest-free and inexperienced committee members.) Radiation protection professionals who have been taught from the earliest stages of their careers to assume that radiation causes damage and have learned how to apply statistical models are, of course, welcome members of the committee and happily assigned report writing responsibilities.

Jerry, Dave and I discussed the BEIR process, the very human traits of regulators who are unwilling to change, and the illogic of continuing to apply a model that never had any empirical (experimental) basis. We also discussed how application of the “conservative” model of radiation standards resulted in real, measurable harm after the events at Fukushima.

In the response to that core damaging event, thousands of vulnerable people in nursing homes and hospitals were evacuated during a natural disaster in order to avoid what turned out to be trivial doses of radiation. The evacuations were rushed, they took place during a late winter storm with freezing temperatures, and they had to use a greatly damaged infrastructure of roads that added the risk of delay in the bad weather conditions.

According to the most recent count (which was provided to me in private correspondence translated from Japanese reports by a contact in the country) there have ben more than 1,000 early deaths attributed to the forced evacuation, temporary shelters with inadequate infrastructure, and stress imposed by lengthy relocations away from family and friends.

Overreacting to one risk by dashing headlong toward a much greater risk is generally not considered to be a conservative response. Society’s current overreaction to low doses of radiation is a bit like teaching children to run into a busy street in order to avoid the second hand smoke that they might have to breathe because a someone 20 yards up the sidewalk is coming toward them while puffing on a cigarette.

After all, that second hand smoke that might reach the child might cause cancer in a few decades if the child happens to breathe it in; all that the cars can do is maim or kill the child right now.


About Rod Adams

36 Responses to “Atomic Show #195 – Health effects of low level radiation”

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  1. Bob Applebaum says:

    This is cultish. I confronted Cuttler’s lies (as well as Calabrese’s and Pollycove’s) recently on a Forbes blogsite. I posted as one of “Anon”s because of a software glitch.

    The reason these people will never be on a National Academy of Sciences BEIR committee is because they have to be elected by their peers. That won’t happen, because they don’t understand the science.

    Science deniers don’t get elected to prestigious scientific committees.

    Not biology deniers, not vaccine deniers, not health physics deniers and not climatology deniers.

    But they all employ the same tactics of playing victim, telling half truths, cherry picking, etc. rather than providing scientific evidence which gets them respected by their peers.

    • David says:

      Hi Bob,

      Welcome back! I have been thinking about your “anti-science” rant for a while now. I have a question for you. I am a lay person, I don’t have any credentials. I am one of those gullible people who simply believe what they read….

      1. Can you give me the scientific reasoning behind not including data from Nuclear shipyard workers in the studies?

      2. Can you give me the scientific reasoning behind not including data from the Taiwan apartments in the studies?

      3. You state that the type of damage to DNA is in a different location, and more impacting since it is a break of both helixes and that repair is not possible without damage. On the other hand – finding the actual statistical increase in cancer incidents is so difficult it is not likely to happen since the “noise” is greater than the signal. So, how exactly do you know that these DNA breaks are actually leading to cancer?

      I hope that you will take a bit of time to respond to these questions. It is pesky questions about whole data sets being ignored, and a lack of field evidence for the theory that make me as a lay person open to listen to these “hacks and frauds” in the scientific field.

      Finally, let me say that your crusade on the Forbes site was strange to say the least. The author of the article simply points out that the radiation at Fukushima is not that high and is not that dangerous. Where’s the “anti-science” in that?

    • SteveK9 says:

      ‘Lies’ ? This is clearly not an objective topic for you.

      LNT is clearly a ‘cult’. There are so many cracks in this now (MIT, Berkeley studies, UNSCEAR report, etc.) it’s clear it is finally going to be dumped.

      It always takes longer than you think it should (housing prices seemed ridiculous to me in 1990), but eventually logic and evidence prevail.

  2. Chris Davey says:

    Perhaps the solution would be to organize a new advisory body, one which does not exclude those with open minds and a healthy portion of common sense.

    The waste of potential in Japan is truly criminal — all that land, and houses and businesses, in the area around Fukushima, left vacant when the radiation levels there are lower than many places around the world. All that available and safe nuclear power, idling because of fear, whilst the hydro-carbon burning ones take their place, polluting the country and using up scarce financial resources.

  3. Bob Applebaum says:

    Hi David:

    Thank you. I’ll hit your last point first. If the author of that article was simply pointing out what you wrote he did, then he only needed a couple of sentences like you used. But if you recheck that’s not the case.

    He is making the point you state, but he is contemperaneously making erroneous statements about LNT, which is a scientific theory like the theory of relativity or evolution by natural or anthropic climate change. Instead he refers to it like this:

    “To recap LNT, the Linear No-Threshold Dose hypothesis is a supposition that all radiation is deadly and there is no dose below which harmful effects will not occur”

    LNT is a conclusion, not a supposition, based on all the evidence, which has survived for over 60 years (about the same time as the theory of relativity). But by calling it a supposition, he belittles it. He then mischaracterizes LNT with “all radiation is deadly”. The average person knows all radiation isn’t deadly, so this injects doubt into the validity of the “supposition”. LNT doesn’t say all radiation is “deadly”, there is no need for that statement other than to foment doubt.

    He says LNT does not apply to doses <10 rem, which is anti-scientific.

    He also tries to inject doubt about the science behind LNT by linking to "Did Muller Lie?". The answer to that is no, Calabrese did.

    And so on…as a lay person ask yourself why doesn't someone who doesn't agree with the consensus science, publish their work in a scientific journal to convince their peers? Why are they blogging or commenting trying to convince those with no expertise? The reason is because their ideas have already been reviewed and rejected by their peers and they can't accept that rejection, and so they seek acceptance by those who lack expertise.

    Rod feels sorry for poor Cuttler because he won't be elected to a BEIR committee. Well, Cuttler could have been writing his paper on the new evidence he discovered in his most recent experiment that overturns the scientific consensus. But no, instead Cuttler choses to comment on the blog of a business magazine website. Why? Not to promote the lay person's understanding of the scientific consensus, but to inject doubt into its validity with the same tired old arguments used for decades. He's a denialist.

    These tactics are no different than those employed by global warming deniers, evolutionary biology deniers, etc. And I criticize those deniers too. It's easy once you recognize the psychology and the tactics.

    Back to your questions…

    1. & 2. Those are erroneous questions. Those studies are considered and compared to other studies which may have higher statisical power. Better constructed studies are given more evidentiary weight than those which have obvious errors or are of poor initial design, or poor dosimetry, etc. Currently the gold standard study is that of the Japanese atomic bomb survivors. However, there is a study underway which may provide greater insights in lower dose and lower dose rate ranges. That study pools data from individual studies which independtly lack statistical power:

    3. When we study the DNA of cancer we see that the genes have lots of mutations compared to regular cells. Now it could be that mutations cause cancer or cancer causes mutations. We conclude mutations cause cancer because people born with a particular gene mutation in one strand of their DNA and show no signs of cancer, have a much higher likelihood of getting cancer when a mutation occurs in the same gene in the other strand, relative to those with no inherited mutation.

    Since a single photon could cause a single mutation, we conclude the risk of mutations (and therefore cancer) increases with the number of photons (or dose).

    There are 3 thresholds at play in LNT:

    1. Energy – photons in the ionization range of the electromagnetic spectrum (above the energy threshold of about 1,000 eV) have the energy to cause many DNA ionizations (each requires about 30 eV).

    2. Damage – if the damage we're considering is DNA mutations, then there is no threshold for a single photon of ionizing radiation. If an ionization of something else required 5,000 eV, and our photons had only 1,000 eV of energy, there would by a 5 photon threshold.

    3. Manifestion of Damage Statistical Threshold – if we want to see how the DNA damage is manifested, we can study that. But like you say, there is lots of stuff that can cause DNA damage and the manifestation one is studying might have other causes besides DNA damage. And so, in order to ensure that manifestation we're observing is due to the DNA damage caused by the excess radiation we've delivered, we need a strong signal to noise ration to convince ourselves. Being that's the case, we know ahead of time there will be a background level, a level of increasing dose where we can't say with a high level of certainty that the manifestation is due to the radiation, and finally a level where we're confident we're observing a radiation dose response.

    That window of uncertainty doesn't mean the radiation has stopped damaging the DNA. It hasn't. Hey, maybe DNA repair is perfect and is only corrupted at the exact (nice coincidence) level you find statistical certainty? Well, if you look, you find that DNA repair isn't perfect at no excess radiation, let alone as one begins to apply radiation.

    Health physics deniers like to exploit the confusion around this window of uncertainty and claim DNA isn't damaged in this range because you can't statistically discern the manifestation of that damage.

    That's fallacious. That's like I have a machine I turn on (I exceed "energy threshold'), and it attachs an unobservable, small weight to a coin I introduce into it (exceed "damage threshold"). The coin is "damaged' and is no longer good for an accurate coin toss.

    I ask you to understand the manifestation of damage (which side will be favored in a toss?).

    You will have to perform many tosses before you are 80% confident you've reached the right conclusion, and even more to be 90% confident. Let's say it took 20 tosses to achieve that confidence.

    Newtonian physics deniers will try to convince you that the coin was not damaged (weighted) between the first and 19th toss, because you couldn't statistically discern the manifestation of that damage. That's silly.

    Health physics deniers will try to convince you that DNA is not damaged between the first excess photon and whatever dose level is required to be statistically confident of the manifestation you're studying. That's silly.

    • Cyril R. says:

      Since a single photon could cause a single mutation, we conclude the risk of mutations (and therefore cancer) increases with the number of photons (or dose).

      Good observation, followed by wrongly jumping to conclusions. As explained by Cohen:

      The principal basis for the LNT is theoretical, and very simple. A single particle of radiation hitting a single DNA molecule in a single cell nucleus of a human body can initiate a cancer. The probability of a cancer initiation is therefore proportional to the number of such hits, which is proportional to the number of particles of radiation, which is proportional to the dose. Thus, the risk is linearly dependent on the dose; this is the LNT.

      The problem with this very simple argument is that factors other than initiating events affect the cancer risk. Our bodies have biological defence mechanisms (BDMs) which prevent the vast majority of initiating events from developing into a fatal cancer; some more specific examples follow:

      Our bodies produce DNA repair enzymes, which repair the effects of initiating events with high efficiency.
      Cancer development is a multi-stage process, and consideration must be given to how radiation may affect stages other than initiation.
      Radiation can alter cell-cycle timing, which can affect cancer development; damage repair is effective only until the next cell division (mitosis) process, so changing this available time can be important.
      There is good evidence that the immune system plays an important role in preventing cancer development, and its potency can be altered by radiation.
      All of these considerations and others, which we refer to collectively as BDMs, require consideration. The simple basis for the LNT described above is thus far too simple.

      There is plenty of very direct and obvious evidence on this. For example, the number of initiating events is roughly proportional to the mass of the animal; more DNA targets means more hits. Thus, the simple theory predicts the cancer risk to be proportional to the mass of the animal. But experience indicates that the cancer risk in a given radiation field is roughly the same for a 30 gram mouse as for a 70 000 gram man, and there is no evidence that elephants are more susceptible than either.

      If only the number of hits (which is proportional to the number of initiating events) were relevant (regardless of the mass of the target), then our very definition of dose in terms of radiation hits per unit mass of the target would be misleading. Another obvious example of the failure of the simple basis for the LNT is in the spectacular increase in cancer incidence with age. Young people experience cancer initiating hits as frequently as old people, but the probability for a cancer to develop is much higher in old people.

      There are also serious problems on the molecular level (Ref 1). DNA damage events like those caused by radiation are occurring all the time in our bodies due to chemical and other spontaneous processes. Single strand breaks occur at a rate of 150 000 per day in each of the trillion cells in our bodies, whereas 0.1 Sv of radiation, which approaches the upper limit of LLR, causes only 200 per cell, an insignificant addition. As a counter-argument, it is sometimes suggested (despite contrary evidence) that double-strand breaks (DSBs) are dominantly important for initiating a cancer. These are much more rare, but an average cell experiences about 200 spontaneous DSBs per year, whereas 0.1 Sv gives it an average of only four DSBs, still an insignificant contribution.

      It thus seems clear that cancer initiating events are of negligible importance in determining the dose-response relationship for radiation carcino-genesis in the LLR region. Apparently, the principal effect of radiation in causing cancer is from modifying BDMs, rather than from providing initiating events. Thus, the simple basis for the LNT has collapsed.

  4. Bob Applebaum says:

    Nope, no jumping to wrong conclusions. You have simply been mislead by the leading health physics denier of his time (he’s dead).

    That a single photon can induce a single mutation is an observable fact and this is linear without threshold (small case, lnt). But if people actually thought that’s all there was to it, there would be no need to conduct further studies would there?

    Cohen is cartooning what he says we think LNT is, and then arguing against this cartoonish version. That’s a fallacy called the straw man fallacy. He is doing it on purpose to get you to doubt the science. And it worked.

    The theory of LNT involves the full body of evidence associated with excess ionizing radiation and one particular manifestation of DNA damage…..called cancer.

    We know there are all kinds of biological non-linearities going on in body once small case lnt has occurred, the question is…if we look at excess dose versus excess cancer, what dose model best fits the data?

    Answer: LNT or Linear-Quadratic. (For leukemia it’s LQ, for solid cancers either works).

    Since this is a study of DNA damage manifestation, it is going to have a Manifestation of Damage Statistical Threshold, which is at about 10 rem.

    And so the question is…is there any known change in the underlying non-linear, biological processes which occur day after day…below 10 rem as compared to above 10 rem…which would lead us to conclude that the dose response is LESS OR MORE than what we see above 10 rem?

    Tthe answer is no…this has been the mission of the DOE’s Low Dose Radiation Research Project (from my previous link), since 1999. After more than a decade, we learned of many more non-linear biological processes, but nothing to suggest they behave differently below 10 rem as they would above it.

    That is what real scientists are working on. …not misleading laypeople on business magazine blogs.

    So, in an attempt to gain some additional insight, we look to mice. They’re not humans, so they may not respond exactly to radiation as humans do, but we feel since they can be “ethically” irradiated in large numbers, we will use them to glean more information at their lower Manifestation of Damage Statistical Thresholds (lower threshold due to more subjects, ie, more tosses of the coin). And we do that, and we incorporate that information into the theory of LNT, realizing the potential for inter-species error.

    Now a bit more on Cohen…he was with the George C. Marshall Institute. As you may know, that institute was instrumental in spreading doubt about tobacco safety (it involves LNT too) years ago. This was really the start of this methodology of using fringe people with graduate science degrees, to take denialist views into the popular press to confuse people. It’s cheap and easy to write editorials, go on talk shows, etc. (and today go on blogs) rather than have to do research to support your position in the scientific community.

    Today, the institute is one of the strongest global warming denial propaganda machines.

    Back when he was alive Cohen would tour around and tout his infamous study on radon and cancer (it in the link you provided). The study suffered from what’s known as the ecological fallacy and people told him but he didn’t care, he just kept on going around retelling the myth.

    That’s how denialism works.

    • Cyril R. says:

      No denialism works by not even responding to the reference I provided you. In stead you arm yourself with an ad hominem attacks, conspiracy attack, and some random thoughts… whereas Cohen actually provides irrefutable evidence that LNT logically cannot be correct.

      I don’t have time for too much of your nonsense right now. Just one last thing… the japanese A bomb survivors is not the “gold standard”. It’s prompt radiation exposure that far exceeds any biological defence mechanism. Using it to show LNT is correct and hormesis doesn’t exist shows you little you understand of the biology involved, and of the hormesis argument.

  5. Bob Applebaum says:

    Wrong. I absolutely did respond. What you posted is all premised on this:

    “The problem with this very simple argument is that factors other than initiating events affect the cancer risk.”

    Before that statement he provides the “very simple argument”. After that statement he makes points that there are other factors.

    My response is…no one is making the simple argument, Cohen is claiming is being made.

    And I agree that factors other than initiating events affect the cancer risk.

    In order to see how those factors affect the cancer risk, we do a study of dose versus risk.

    The best study to date shows a linear or linear-quadratic response. That is simply an observable fact.

    That is reality.

    If you don’t have time for reality, enjoy the lack of it.

    • Cyril R. says:

      The “best studies” are all to do with prompt radiation exposure. A-bomb survivors, medical imaging. A linear or quadratic linear curve is to be expected there because the dose rate (Sv/year) is extremely beyond the rate at which the biological defence and repair systems operate. The hormesis theory is all about chronic exposures, yet LNT folks commit to talking about prompt exposures… makes no sense.

      If there were a linear response to chronic radiation exposure, whales would exhibit massive cancer incidence and mice very little. There is no evidence for this at all. So LNT is not correct. That is not to say hormesis is correct. It is simply the process of knocking out theories as false, a standard scientific method. You can never really prove anything, but you can disprove things. LNT is disproven.

  6. Bob Applebaum says:

    Yeah, like evolutionary biology is disproven. Someone should contact all those university professors and let them know that. Just like all those univerisities have stopped awarding health physics degrees…because it’s been disproven.

    Do you realize how silly that is?

    The Japanese population recieved a prompt exposure.

    But the theory of LNT looks to other human data, mice data, and cellular data to modify the dose response to account for recognized dose rate effects. It is based on evidence.

    Different species have different DNA genomes….some are very radioresistant, some are very radiosensitive. Some are more sensitive to other carcinogens, others less. We don’t look like a mouse or a whale and there’s no reason to expect the same radiosensitivity.

    The only way to know is to test…and for those species I’m familiar with chimps get much less cancer than humans who get cancer similiar to mice. Hydras don’t get cancer at all.

    So obviously, mass is not a significant factor.

    Hormesis has no evidence to support it. It is like homeopathy, astrology, alchemy, etc.

    • Cyril R. says:

      First you make up your own false argument,which has nothing to do with mine, then you mention how silly your own false argument is? Way to go Bob.

      The Japanese A bomb survivors received prompt exposure. The Fukushima expose wasn’t prompt, though much of I-131′s danger does come from being semi-prompt.

      We know people on radioactive beach sands and other high chronic dose rate areas don’t get more cancer than people in low dose rate areas. Some areas are quite high.

      The very fact that LNT compensates for dose rate means there’s no linear effect. It’s kind of like, admitting there’s biological defence mechanisms that result in non-linear curves, and then covering up for that with fudge factors such as DDREF.

      LNT is a lot of things, but it is not science. It’s selection biased statistics. This type of field does the opposite of science, it is more similar to a religion.

  7. Bob Applebaum says:

    Wrong again…it is an observable fact that is linear dose response above 10 rem.

    Below 10 rem there is no evidence it is super-linear or supra-linear, so there is no reason to think anything has changed. If you have physical evidence that something is different, please publish your paper immediately….like I said the DOE has been studying this since 1999.

    Since we know you lack that evidence, let’s look at other fallacy you’re committing…it’s a version of the ecological fallacy.

    Just like animals have different radiosensitivities, different populations of humans have different radiosensitivities. That’s why we pick an exposed (to radiation above background) cohort and an unexposed cohort FROM THE SAME POPULATION.

    We want to know what the increased risk from increased radiation exposure is to that population. This has statistical problems I’ve already mentioned.

    Now if you want to go across populations (compare people of India to people of Iraq, ie different backgrounds) it is NOT JUST THE RADIATION LEVELS that are different. Their DNA genome is different, diet and smoking habits, levels of other carcinogens.

    It is very hard to detect differences going across populations, due to the huge differences in confounders.

    However, since you mention it…the first meta-analysis (a study of previous studies) has just recently gleaned out that there is a discernable difference:

    All of the evidence is contradicting your beliefs.

    LNT compensates for dose rates because if it didn’t, that would be ignoring the reality from other lines of evidence, that radiation effects depend on dose rates.

    Scientists don’t ignore reality….deniers do.

    • Brian Mays says:

      However, since you mention it … the first meta-analysis (a study of previous studies) has just recently gleaned out that there is a discernable difference:

      I’d feel a lot better if this meta-analysis had been published by someone other than a guy who has been found guilty of “scientific dishonesty.” I might take the paper more seriously if his coauthor were not also his “most vocal defender.” (see here)

      Given some of their previous work, it’s pretty clear that these guys are interested in pushing an agenda. A study of 46 cherry-picked papers (from 5000 considered) doesn’t strike me as terribly convincing, especially since a previous agenda-driven meta-analysis by one of the authors — on the relationship between asymmetry and heritability — was plagued with criticisms by peers ranging from “sloppiness to hyperbole to outright dishonesty.”

      It’s like deja vu all over again.

      • Bob Applebaum says:

        None of what you have posted is evidence to contradict the study.

        Just emotion.

        • Brian Mays says:

          So says the “unemotional” guy whose main argument against an well-honored physicist is that he once spoke at a roundtable sponsored by the George C. Marshall Institute.

          • Bob Applebaum says:

            WTF??? What well-honored physicist are you referring to?

          • Brian Mays says:

            Member of the National Academy of Engineering

            The American Physical Society Tom W. Bonner Prize in Nuclear Physics

            The Health Physics Society Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award

            The American Nuclear Society Walter H. Zinn Award

            Of course, by your standards, Bob, based on the references you choose to cite, just avoiding being found guilty of scientific dishonesty is a step up.

          • Rod Adams says:


            My guess on the name of the man who won those honors is Dr. Bernard Cohen. Do I get a prize?

          • Brian Mays says:

            Rod – Very good! You get a cookie for being a Schmott Guy. ;-)

    • Rod Adams says:


      Please help me to understand why we should ignore the nuclear shipyard workers study, which compared two large and very similar groups of people – shipyard workers who did work in nuclear areas and received occupational exposure and shipyard workers with very similar jobs and work environments that did work in non nuclear areas and did not receive occupational exposure.

      Unlike the atomic bomb victims, the nuclear shipyard workers were badged and carefully monitored in programs regularly inspected by one of the most precise organizations in the world. Please recall that there were no dosimeters in Hiroshima or Nagasaki; for some odd reason, we did not see fit to instrument the area before dropping the bomb.

      Also, the doses received by the population studied more closely resembled the kind of chronic exposures that one might receive as a result of releases and contamination associated with a reactor accident or elevated occupational doses than the kind of acute, nearly instantaneous dose received by a person who happened to be somewhere near an exploding atomic bomb.

      Here is a quote from a report published by Naval Reactors in 2011 that describes the results of an updated shipyard worker’s study:

      “In 1991, researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, completed a more comprehensive epidemiological study of the health of workers at six naval shipyards (including Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, discussed above) and two private shipyards that serviced U.S. naval nuclear-powered ships (reference 32). This independent study evaluated a population of 70,730 civilian workers over a period from 1957 (beginning with
      the first overhaul of the first nuclear-powered submarine, USS NAUTILUS) through 1981, to determine whether there was an excess risk of leukemia or other cancers associated with exposure to low levels of gamma radiation. This study is of particular interest to workers at Naval Reactors’ Department of Energy facilities because the type of
      radioactivity, level of exposure, and method of radiological controls at these shipyards are similar to Naval Reactors’ Department of Energy facilities.

      This study did not show any cancer risks linked to radiation exposure. Furthermore, the overall death rate due to cancer among radiation-exposed shipyard workers was actually less than the death rate due to cancer for the general U.S. population. It is well recognized that many worker populations have lower mortality rates than the general population: the workers have to be healthy to do their jobs. This study shows that the radiation-exposed shipyard population falls into this category.

      The death rate for cancer and leukemia among the radiation-exposed workers was slightly lower than that for non-radiation-exposed workers and that for the general U.S. population. However, an increased rate of mesothelioma, a type of respiratory system cancer linked to asbestos exposure, was found in both radiation-exposed and nonradiation-exposed shipyard workers, although the number of cases was small (reflecting the rarity of this disease in the general population). The researchers suspect that shipyard worker exposure to asbestos in the early years of the Program, when the hazards associated with asbestos were not so well understood as they are today, might account for this increase.

      The Johns Hopkins study found no evidence to conclude that the health of people involved in work on U.S. naval nuclear-powered ships has been adversely affected by exposure to low levels of radiation incidental to this work. The average annual radiation exposure from 1957 to 1981 for these shipyard workers is over 2½ times higher than the average annual exposure of 0.106 rem received by personnel assigned to Naval Reactors’ Department of Energy facilities since 1958.”

      (Emphasis added.)

      If the LNT is such a good health effects model, please help me to understand why there is no way to detect any differences between two large populations whose doses are different by a factor of 2.5? It sure seems to beg the question and is probably the reason why there is continuing research in the area that is looking for evidence to support an assumption that is still not supported by any measurements other than at a single cell level.

      Having served in the nuclear navy for a few decades, I can testify that it is an extremely cautious organization that takes radiation protection very seriously. It has always accepted the prevailing view and worked to do even better than required to prevent radiation doses. However, the data gathered during 60 years of radiation dose experience does not support the assumption that even the smallest dose imposes a negative health risk.

  8. Cal Abel says:

    Cyril and David,

    It is best not to get into a debate win an idiot. They will make you stupid and beat you with years of experience. Bob is not an idiot, he is a very smart man who refuses to apply logic, it doesn’t suit his needs. I’ve tried having discussions in the past, you can search some of the archives here. His tactic is to create reasons to ignore data, by ignoring data he can preserve his world view.

    Bottom line is if he ever offers koolaid don’t drink it.

    Btw David I thought your questions demonstrated a great deal of insight. Cyril, your comments are a pleasure, you will waste days with schmoes like Applebaum. He spent his career servicing LNT and sold a company, and now has a lot of free time to troll around and make smug comments. His tactic is to broadcast loudly and frequently, thought is not so important. His responses, contain, little new thought and are rehashes, input A response B. This is on every blog I’ve seen him on. He has unlimited time and steadfastly refuses to listen to those with whom he talks at. If you care to continue please do so, he makes it very difficult to have a meaningful discussion, because his responses are long and with little content, lots of chaff.

    • Bob Applebaum says:

      None of what you have posted is evidence to contradict what I’ve said.

      Just emotion.

      • DV82XL says:

        No what Cal wrote is not ‘just emotion’ it was pointing out that you are self-serving and biased and your comments are forwarding a personal agenda. This being the case, debate with you is fruitless. There is nothing emotional about this observation.

        Notwithstanding you will not use this space as a soapbox fro your own views without being countered each and every time.

    • David says:

      @ Cal

      I posted the questions because I have watched Bob ignore those points in every single debate. He never wants to look at any group with real chronic exposure. The avoidance is consistent and his answer to me that the studies were not well formed is unconvincing. In other words if LNT is about chronic exposure why does Bob avoid studies of tens of thousands of people who were chronically exposed?

      I think your analysis is plausible.

  9. Bob Applebaum says:

    To Mays:

    I still don’t have a name. If you’re referring to Cohen, then he didn’t just speak at a roundtable at the anti-science George C. Marshall Institute. He was featured on their website. This webpage capture doesn’t come through well here, but he was on their webpage:









    Dr. Bernard Cohen
    Bernard L. Cohen is Professor-Emeritus of Physics and Astronomy and of Environmental and Occupational Health at University of Pittsburgh. He has authored six books, over 300 papers in scientific journals, and more than seventy articles in non-technical journals. He has presented invited lectures in the United States, Canada, Asia, Europe and South America. His awards include the American Physical Society Bonner Prize and the Health Physics Society Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award. He has been elected Chairman of the Division of Nuclear Physics of the American Physical Society, and Chairman of the Division of Environmental Sciences of the American Nuclear Society.
    Select Works
    • “Examining Risks of Nuclear Waste Disposal,” Dr. Bernard Cohen, June 24, 2008
    • “Radioactive Waste Disposal: Nature’s Way vs. Government’s Way,” Dr. Bernard Cohen, June 1, 2008

    Printer Friendly Version | Send to a Friend

    1601 North Kent St., Suite 802
    Arlington, VA 22209
    phone: 571.970.3180
    fax: 571.970-3192

    In fact, S. Fred Singer, who is in charge of the institute and spread lies about tobacco safety was Cohen’s professor of physics years earlier. Singer recruited Cohen and convinced him to undertake a similar campaign of health physics denial. There’s no telling how many people died because of Singer’s manufactured doubt on tobacco. I don’t think many people actually listened to Cohen, but radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, though Cohen proslytized otherwise.

    As far as Cohen’s science goes, I already said he went around with his bogus radon study. I don’t care what awards he earned in voluntary societies, his science sucked. He was told he was committing the ecological fallacy, but he was determined to lie to people, so he repeated it.

    His bad science was most recently mentioned in a National Academy of Sciences report:

    If you don’t like the current status of the science of health physics, then publish some physical evidence to refute it. Otherwise, you’re just in denial.

  10. Bob Applebaum says:

    I just posted…but nothing showed up…let’s try again.

    If Mays is referring to Cohen, then Cohen did much more than speak at a roundtable. He was a former student of Singer, the current head of the institute. Singer was involved in spreading doubt about tobacco safety which killed who knows how many people. Singer recruited Cohen who was featured on the Marshall website:
    Dr. Bernard Cohen
    Bernard L. Cohen is Professor-Emeritus of Physics and Astronomy and of Environmental and Occupational Health at University of Pittsburgh. He has authored six books, over 300 papers in scientific journals, and more than seventy articles in non-technical journals. He has presented invited lectures in the United States, Canada, Asia, Europe and South America. His awards include the American Physical Society Bonner Prize and the Health Physics Society Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award. He has been elected Chairman of the Division of Nuclear Physics of the American Physical Society, and Chairman of the Division of Environmental Sciences of the American Nuclear Society.
    Select Works
    • “Examining Risks of Nuclear Waste Disposal,” Dr. Bernard Cohen, June 24, 2008
    • “Radioactive Waste Disposal: Nature’s Way vs. Government’s Way,” Dr. Bernard Cohen, June 1, 2008

    It doesn’t matter how many awards one gets from voluntary socities, what matters is whether what one says is factually accurate or not.

    Cohen’s radon study was not accurate and suffered from the ecological fallacy as the NAS recently pointed out (others did years ago). Even though this was pointed out to Cohen, he continued on in the Marshall tradition of ignoring facts, and deceiving people:

    • Cyril R. says:

      Cohen’s radon study was not accurate and suffered from the ecological fallacy as the NAS recently pointed out (others did years ago). Even though this was pointed out to Cohen, he continued on in the Marshall tradition of ignoring facts, and deceiving people

      This is the world upside down! Cohen actually used LNT throughout his book, to show just how safe nuclear power is. That shows that he’s a bonafide scientist: despite his criticism of LNT, he recognized that the establishment used LNT, and so he used LNT in all his calculations in his book.

      His book is a supreme piece of scientific rigor, objectivity, verifiability and knowledge.

      Cohen leaves the exact opposite impression that Applebaum leaves: one of a knowledgeable numbers based scientist who founds himself on scientific consensus.

    • Brian Mays says:

      So many lies, so little time.

      If Mays is referring to Cohen, then Cohen did much more than speak at a roundtable. Cohen who was featured on the Marshall website …

      Cohen is featured on the GCM Institute website because he was one of their roundtable speakers. So is former NRC Commissioner Peter Bradford. Is Peter Bradford also a member of the GCM Institute?

      He was a former student of Singer, the current head of the institute.

      Fred Singer is not the “head” of the GCM Institute, nor is he on the board of directors, nor is he even associated with the Institute as a staff member, a fellow, or even a roundtable speaker (unlike Peter Bradford).

      Bernard Cohen was never a student of Singer. Cohen’s degrees are from Case-Western Reserve, the University of Pittsburgh, and Carnegie-Mellon. Singer has been faculty of or associated with the University of Maryland, the University of Miami, the University of Virginia, and George Mason University.

      Geez, Bob, if you’re just going to make stuff up, how can you expect anyone to take you seriously?

      It’s no wonder you like articles published by researchers who have been found guilty of scientific dishonesty. Sounds like it’s right up your alley.

    • Brian Mays says:

      I’ll also add that Singer received his PhD just two years before the late Prof. Cohen and if Prof. Cohen were still alive today, he and Fred Singer would be exactly the same age (88 years old).

      … what matters is whether what one says is factually accurate or not.

      I agree, and the “accuracy” of what you have said speaks volumes. I suggest that you refrain from embarrassing yourself further and quit this discussion.

  11. John Chatelle says:

    I suspect that if I read this whole thread, I’d have to conclude that Natural Selection goofed in selecting DNA as the carrier of genetic information, given that single photons can be distructiive in causing genetic damage, yet play no role in removing already compromised genetic information from future somatic generations.

    Lets pretend that when DNA was chosen through natural selective processes 4.5 billion years ago, that radiation was weaker or non-existent. That puts me in your court Bob.

  12. Josh says:

    Great article Rod. The voices of Cuttler and Rossin need to be heard, loud and clear. Antinukes often cite the works of Gofman and Sternglass, despite the fact that these two were widely seen as unreliable sources of information. Apparently the tag of ‘conspirator’ doesnt apply to them.

  13. Robert Margolis says:

    I did something rather silly: I actually looked up the BEIR VII report ;-)

    It discusses LNT as a model and hypothesis rather than a theory. This may sound hair splitting, but it means that LNT remains a projection from high dose data instead of a direct correlation with low dose measurements. My recollection is that the ICRP and the HPS have recommendations on the application of LNT (e.g., not projecting cancers by multiplying small doses over large populations). It sounds like low dose radiation is low risk even with LNT. Lead and arsenic are also regulated with LNT models. I have yet to hear of efforts to ban car batteries and solar cells based on LNT arguments.

  14. Benjamin says:

    Is there any reason for concern about radioactivity in imported Japanese cars becuase of possible contamination in car parts and fluids which are made in Japan?

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Benjamin. No reason at all for any concern along those lines. If you are just curious, you could perform a simple radiation survey to find out just how low the levels are.

    • Cyril R. says:

      There is reason to be concerned about the media hype and overconservative limits set for material from Fukushima district.

      With current legislation, it is not allowed to export rock that has a lower radioactivity from radiocesium than natural granite has in uranium daughter products.

      In other words, granite from Fukushima can’t be exported out of the province (it’s classified as radioactive debris) while the same granite from anywhere else is fine.

      This travesty is completely damaging to society and not justified, even under LNT models.

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