No more collective dose!

By A. David Rossin, PhD

The June 2013 issue of Nuclear News (page 35) carried an article under the heading “Performance Indicators—WANO/INPO 2012 data show reduced radiation exposure.” A pair of companion graphics titled “Collective Radiation Exposure” are presented, one for boiling water reactors and a similar one for pressurized water reactors. What for?

Collective dose is simply not a Performance Indicator” at all.

All U.S. nuclear power plants have as-low-as-reasonably-achievable (ALARA) programs and continue to apply ALARA to their planning and work. Inspection by the Institute for Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) can review the quality of the program. But the total millirems of personnel exposure accumulated over a period of months or years is no indicator of anything. It is certainly neither a measure of health effects nor a predictor of potential cancers.

There is extensive ferment in the radiation research and medical communities about the validity of the Linear Non-Threshold Theory of Radiation Exposure (LNT) that predicts health effects even at very at low doses. Its step-child, Collective Dose, cannot be calculated without the LNT.

Several decades ago, the nuclear industry made a commitment to minimize unnecessary radiation exposure. Several different ideas were devised to guide planning. The survivor is the ALARA concept: which is used at power plants, research laboratories, and medical facilities. Radiation exposure numbers based on personal film badges or other monitoring devices are recorded. Most of the individual doses are very low for radioactivity tasks such as walk downs, inspections, equipment maintenance and calibration checks. With the exception of carefully planned work in identified radiation areas, the exposures are well below any health-based standards. If there are any above-standards exposures, they are promptly reported, analyzed and studied.

We are left with collective dose—a meaningless number. One industry executive told me, “It’s the devil we know.” That devil will bite us if we ever have an accident during which radiation leaks out and any widespread contamination takes place. We have seen the headlines from Fukushima and years ago from Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island as well, even though no worker or civilian was exposed to more radiation than is allowed in the standards for a dental technician.

While ALARA raises awareness of radiation and supports the practice of careful planning and reducing unnecessary exposures, it has been placed on a par with safety, quality, work schedules, and costs by using collective dose itself as a performance indicator.

It is unnecessary and self-defeating to let collective dose dominate the minds of planners and managers. (I remember one NN article a few years ago about the ALARA program at a plant and the manager who chased after “every single little millirem.”)

There have been hundreds of papers at ANS meetings about why and how we should change our approach to radiation exposure and to eliminate the LNT and collective dose, which have perpetuated the use of a fraudulent indicator that bears no relation to the onset or likelihood of health effects or cancer. Instead they have become an invitation to activists, journalists, and opportunistic politicians to raise public fears and doubts about nuclear power.

Editor’s note: Dr. A. David Rossin is a past president of the American Nuclear Society. He holds a doctorate degree in metallurgy from Case Institute of Technology/Case Western.

The above commentary first appeared as a letter to the editor in the November 2013 issue of Nuclear News.

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61 Responses to “No more collective dose!”

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  1. Atomikrabbit says:

    This falls out of society’s preoccupation with radiation, sometimes bordering on radiophobia. Nuclear professionals should know better, but some of them have careers and large incomes scored by their commitment to fanatical dose reduction.

    Probably a more realistic and useful indicator of actual health impact would be the workforce’s collective ingestion of C2H5OH.

    As long as they can blow a <.04 when they get to work, no one particularly cares, and no one cares to track it.

  2. Engineer-Poet says:

    Its step-child, Collective Dose, cannot be calculated without the LNT.

    Of course you can calculate it.  It’s just irrelevant absent LNT.

  3. Cpragman says:

    Several decades ago, the nuclear industry made a commitment to minimize unnecessary radiation exposure.

    The problem is, that nobody seems to have clearly identified what “unnecessary” is. “Less that last year” seems to be the only standard normally used.

    • Matte says:

      Could be the reason why the nuclear operator headcount is ever inflating…;

      “Oh our collective dosefigures are a bit high, we need to hire more people, stat!”

      • Rod Adams says:

        @Matte

        Collective dose is not changed by the number of people. It counts total “man-rem” not per person exposure.

        • Matte says:

          Well, lucky for my plant that I am not the RPO or the engineering department would have needed a small town just for housing…eh, hang on a minute!?

          Jokes aside, we do attribute a cost for collective exposure, the number equivalent to about $2,8 million per man-Sv seems to come to mind, but I could be spouting complete bovine manure…

          Anyway, appart from paying the regulater a lot of cash, the term has no real meaning.

  4. Bob Applebaum says:

    Perhaps Rossin has forgotten the philosophy of science. In science, we form consensus conclusions (theories) based on evidence. As he correctly states LNT is a theory. As a PhD he should realize that to all he has to do is produce evidence to overturn LNT. The concept of collective dose is a consequence of LNT.

    To spread science denial propaganda about health physics (or any science) in a magazine or blog is narcissistic, intellectually cowardly, and goes against the philosophy of science.

    It violates the ANS Code of Ethics.

    • Brian Mays says:

      For anyone who still doubts that Bob has a Google Alert set for “LNT,” let this be a lesson.

      Perhaps Rossin has forgotten the philosophy of science.

      Bob – Please do not denigrate science by calling it it a “philosophy” or even associating it with the field of philosophy. Science is a method and an approach for assessing objectively what is true. What we now call “science” used to be called “natural philosophy,” but those days are long gone. Science parted ways with philosophy centuries ago.

      In science, we form consensus conclusions (theories) based on evidence.

      No, again you’re talking philosophy, not science. Science has nothing to do with consensus.

      As he correctly states LNT is a theory.

      Wrong again. LNT is not a “theory.” General Relativity is a theory, since it has underlying, fundamental, theoretical foundations that support a consistent structure. LNT is just a simplistic, conservative dose-response model, a mere hypothesis that has not yet undergone sufficient testing to demonstrate its validity at low doses and low dose rates. Its “theoretical” underpinnings are supported by only the most naive type of thinking, which ignores the vast amount of available scientific literature on how biological systems actually work.

      As a PhD he should realize …

      At least he has a PhD, eh Bob?

      It violates the ANS Code of Ethics.

      As a member of the ANS, I don’t recall that the Society’s code of ethics requires advocating dogma over reason. We are a professional society, not a religion.

      Please, Troll Applebaum, crawl back under your rock.

    • David says:

      “The Concept of collective dose is a consequence of LNT”

      Could you explain this to me Bob? I really don’t follow the logic here. If a dose is dangerous for an individual no matter how low the level of the exposure is… how does that translate into a group exposure? Because 1000 people got a .01msv dose does that mean that there was a dose of 10 msv? In other words, does the cumulative risk increase? Maybe I am brain dead tonight but I just can’t see it.

      Thanks for your help, I know you can answer this for me.

    • Joris van Dorp says:

      I guess it might be fine to use keep using collective dose as a measure of NPP performance. But the problem (as I see it, as a nuclear energy outsider) is that it is not helpful the way it is used now. It scares people into thinking that the routine emissions from an NPP are harmful, when in fact they are not. Even if you maintain that any radiation dose is harmful nomatter how small, the fact is that the radiation dose from an NPP is less than the radiation dose we get from an equivalent coal power plant. Hence, why should collective does be a measure of NPP performance and not of a coal plant performance? It is not but confusing for nuclear outsiders.

      After all, I remember reading on this very webblog that the US Navy warship in Japan that first detected the radiation from the Fukushima incident initially had some difficulty in even establishing that the detected radiation was in fact abnormal. The difficulty was in making sure that the radiation being detected was not simply radiation from Chinese coal burning!

      To me – a nuclear energy outsider – reading such things is mind-boggling and shocking. It raises urgent questions, such as: if the radiation detected from Fukushima was difficult to identify in comparison to routine radiation from Chinese coal burning, how is it even possible that we – humanity – worry so much about nuclear power in the first place? It’s just crazy! And it is likely a result of our fixation on – and misunderstanding of – LNT and collective dose in relation to nuclear power.

      Ordinary people – nuclear outsiders – cannot understand and evaluate these nuances. To us, the concept of a ‘collective dose from nuclear power plant emissions’ sounds negative and threatening. The message such reporting contains is that nuclear power plants cause unique health effects that are supposedly not caused by other sources such as coal burning. But that would be totally wrong and misleading!

      So anyway: I don’t think the article by Mr. Rossin is ‘unethical’ at all! I think he is dead right! We should get rid of the concept of collective dose at least for any dose that is negligible in comparison to the dose we receive from coal burning or other ‘normal’ radioactive exposure, etc. That would be the best way to present data about NPP performance in a way that supports public understanding and consciousness, rather than undermining it catastrophically as is currently the case.

      Just my two cents.

      • James Greenidge says:

        You jack-hammered it on the head, Joris. It is ESSENTIAL that issues relating to the survival of nuclear energy are broken down to bite-sized easily comprehensible chucks for Joe Public. If you want to alienate the very people you hope to accept your science and plants, just keep on using terms and definitions they find intellectually intimidating to them. Nuclear (and most other types) techies and engineers — even when they try to reach out to the general public — far too often are out of touch and sync with just how the general public think and feel about their field and industry — a point grass-roots savvy antis royally and successfully exploit. The rare genius of Carl Sagan was he was able to bring the complicated theorems and mechanics of space science “down to earth” to the layperson and enchanted them! He was NASA’s best friend during a post-Apollo period of social upheaval and angst where people and pols were seriously questioning the worth and necessity of NASA’s very existence. Nuclear energy needed a Carl Sagan ages ago to cut the FUD and deflate the fearmongers. Instead, nuclear power has Homer Simpson. And it doesn’t have to be. If nuclear professional organizations and atomic unions and nuke labs and and schools got off their ass and used their dues and resources and knocked on the Ad agencies that salvaged Tylenol and BP Gulf, you just might turn nuclear’s image around, but you all have to get on the same page and DO IT. Unfortunately the nuclear community’s its own worst enemy by virtue of the fact it does worst than doing nothing allowing antis and FUD to run rampant and corrupting the susceptible and gullible wholesale. Arnie and Helen and ilk are bad seeds enough in local audiences, but just what is Homer’s demo ratings per show in the U.S. alone? What to guess how many of them positively think of nuclear power? Nuclear blogs are doing a bang-up job of carrying the torch, but they just can’t carry all the water.

        James Greenidge
        Queens NY

      • JimHopf says:

        Your right about the differences in collective exposure. While we should definitely continue the fight against LNT, I don’t even think it’s the most powerful argument. People can always counter-argue that there is disagreement among scientists. A far more powerful and less disputable argument (I think) is to point out the absurdity of current policy even if LNT is assumed to be correct. Specifically, that LNT is used, but it is *arbitrarily* only applied to exposures that result from the nuclear power (and weapons) industry. Vastly larger collective exposures (man-Rem) from natural and other sources are simply ignored.

        Collective exposure to mankind, overall, from nuclear power, even including accidents like Fukushima, is millions of times smaller than that from natural sources. Consider radon. In the US alone you have ~100 million people being exposed to ~300 mRem every single year. By contrast, Fukushima only affected on the order of 100,000 people (1000 times smaller), and their individual overall exposures from the event are on similar order. And Japanese are thinking of spending tens of billions to reduce radiation levels in the affected zone to only ~100 mRem/yr!!

        The collective exposure avoided (through long-term evacuation or expensive cleanup efforts) is on the order of 1000 times smaller than the collective exposure in the US alone from radon. And yet the Japanese are willing to spend tens of billions, whereas the US not only does not spend any money to reduce radon, they don’t even see fit to tell the public about it (in PSAs – not buried deep in some EPA website that nobody looks at).

        The absurd lenths nuclear plants in the West must go through to reduce the chance of release to beyond negligible levels is another example of extreme spending per man-Rem avoided. If you compared how much the nuclear industry is required to spend, per unit of collective exposure avoided, to what is spent (or what it would cost) to reduce other sources of collective exposure (such as radon) the results would be literally comical, with literally millions of times as many dollars per man-Rem being spent by the industry.

        Why try to win a scientific dispute when all you have to do is insist on consistency? If LNT is applied for nuclear industry exposure, it must be applied for all sources of exposure, with a fairly consistent amount of money spent per man-Rem avoided. Ask EPA about their radon reducing efforts, or how the evacuation plans for all the high natural background areas of the country are coming. Insist on a radiation shield over Denver. Demand total clean up of coal emissions, and nuclear-waste like disposal care for the ash piles. Of course, if we insisted on such consistency, it would all grind to a halt (come crashing down) because applying the same standards to non-nuclear-industries (or aspects of life ) would be utterly impossible/impractical.

        • Joel Riddle says:

          Jim,
          I fully approve of your snarky comment here. Snarkiness is warranted in some instances. This is one of those.

          Bob Applebaum,
          Can you help out with Jim’s idea presented here? Thanks in advance for your support.

        • Rod Adams says:

          @JimHopf

          The collective exposure avoided (through long-term evacuation or expensive cleanup efforts) is on the order of 1000 times smaller than the collective exposure in the US alone from radon. And yet the Japanese are willing to spend tens of billions, whereas the US not only does not spend any money to reduce radon, they don’t even see fit to tell the public about it (in PSAs – not buried deep in some EPA website that nobody looks at).

          Actually, that is not true. I’ve seen fear mongering commercials from the EPA on prime time television with whole families in WWII style gas masks with a warning to get homes checked for radon. It might not be happening so much anymore, but the EPA tried pretty hard for quite some time to spread fear of radon.

          Perhaps they stopped when the political contributions from radon abatement contractors dried up because normal people could not be convinced they should be afraid enough to spend their own money on the problem. Unlike the similar asbestos fear mongering there was no source of corporate or insurance money to tap for the rent seeking contractors.

          • James Greenidge says:

            Re: Rod Adams
            “I’ve seen fear mongering commercials from the EPA on prime time television with whole families in WWII style gas masks with a warning to get homes checked for radon. It might not be happening so much anymore, but the EPA tried pretty hard for quite some time to spread fear of radon. ”

            You still see some of these PSAs on rinky-dink TV stations, at least in NYC metro, but they’re quite dated as though the station forget to chuck them. Funny how they seemed to fade in a major way when it seemed in the cards that no more nukes were going to be built.

            James Greenidge
            Queens NY

          • JimHopf says:

            I’ve never seen those ads myself. Perhaps they were done a long time ago (mostly). Regardless of the ads, the fact is that no significant effort, or expenditure, is being made to reduce radon exposure.

            Anyway, I’m not advocating for a major effort to reduce radon exposure. I’m just pointing out that the collective exposure from radon is thousands of times higher, while efforts/expenditures to reduce it are thousands of times lower (if existent at all). Using radon as an example (as well as many other sources of natural and medical exposure) would be an excellent way to show the utter hypocrisy of current policies. The point is that strict limits on low-level exposure, justified by LNT, is *only* applied to the nuclear power industry.

            I think you have a very good point about financial interests being behind these decisions. I fully concur with the point about how the public just doesn’t get excited about natural exposures, and that therefore, in general (not just for radon) the radiation protection industry could never sell the public on the idea of large (expensive) efforts to remediate natural sources of exposure. They CAN, however, convince the public that (unnatural, alien) exposures from the nuclear power industry are a significant health threat, justifying near limitless expenditure. Therefore, they’re probably wielding their influence to convince policy makers to keep strict limits on low-level exposures, for the nuclear industry only.

            In addition to the radiation protection industry, of course, there is the fossil fuels industry, which has a strong incentive keep strict limits on low-level exposures from the nuclear industry, in order to make nuclear as expensive as poosible. They have no interest in having money spent to limit any other sources of public collective exposure.

        • Bas says:

          JimHopf,
          no significant effort, or expenditure, is being made to reduce radon
          Here in NL all new houses have an extractor fan with prescribed min. capacity, so radon emitted by walls etc. is removed. It is impossible to switch it off, or to unplug the plug as there is no plug at all. It runs always and seems to break down never.
          You can only stop it by switching all electricity off (main switch).

          Radon was one of the arguments for that regulation. Others; clean air, etc.
          Furthermore there is regulation regarding the max. radon emissions allowed by building materials. Amazed you (still) don’t have these in USA, as we have them already very long time.

          Denver
          People near a (new) NPP, just get the risk in their ‘backyard’. No choice. No compensation.
          With Denver, people choose to live there. Accepting the high background radiation, whose bad health effects may be (even more than) compensated by the cleaner air (less micro particles, as it is at higher altitude), more relaxed living, more sporting opportunities, etc.

          If LNT is applied for nuclear industry exposure, it must be applied for all sources of exposure, with a fairly consistent amount of money spent per man-Rem avoided.
          You miss here the most important one: “in relation to the size of the (economic) benefit that source delivers.”
          If you take that into account: Yes!

          Then we still have a real huge operational problem regarding the number of death, etc. and the damage to heredity that the different sources create.
          E.g. regarding Chernobyl alone, death estimates vary at least a factor thousand!

          Though less difficult, getting an agreed estimate regarding the economic benefit will also be not easy.
          E.g. consider Hinckley Point C. Nuclear delivers against a much higher price, especially if you take all subsidies away, than renewable. So no economic benefits.

          • Matte says:

            “Then we still have a real huge operational problem regarding the number of death, etc. and the damage to heredity that the different sources create.
            E.g. regarding Chernobyl alone, death estimates vary at least a factor thousand!”

            Nobody who is sane or honest takes the Yablokov study seriously. To date, actual confirmed deaths and projected deaths (WHO and Tjernobyl forum) “only” differ by an order of magnitude, where the LNT projections come out on top.

            Radiation does not cause hereditary effects, it is a myth, spontaneous abortion yes (if death could be considered a hereditary condition?)…

  5. James Greenidge says:

    This whole argument is distressing to me because the fallout-bath premise hinges the fate of an entire industry with the contention that a major accident at a nuclear plant is an imminent threat and inevitable danger hence show-stopping radiological consequences must be factored in. I wonder if the calculation that several dozen schoolchildren would eventually receive 90% third-degree burns from a gas or oil facility gone wonky has ever blocked the construction of such a plant. Much less media consideration.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  6. A D ROSSIN says:

    Mr. Appelbaum – - The fact is that there is no scientific evidence to support the LNT at low doses of radiation. And the AtomikRabbit letter reminds me of a story often told on this subject: A dozen lawyers meet each work night in Grand Central Station to take the commuter train home. Each has a martini. They meet again and again. If instead one lawyer named Bob drank 12 martinis in a row Bob would likely die before a 911 call could save him.. The LNT would say that the probability that one of the 12 lawyers would die each night is the same as the probability that Bob would die from his binge. There is no scientific evidence to support LNT at low doses because, among other reasons, theLNT ignores the fact that a living being can show recovery from a toxin or other injury. LNT has no time dependence. Therefore when it comes to sickness or any life-threatening risk, it has no scientific basis and never has had one.

    • Bob Applebaum says:

      Rossin – your comment is similar to that of a creationist stating that there is no scientific evidence to support evolutionary biology, or of a fossil fuel executive stating there is no scientific evidence to support anthropogenic global warming.

      When someone is in denial of evidence, there is no evidence.

      Any honest, objective scientist would defer to experts on a subject in which they have no expertise.

      As a metallurgist, you have no health physics expertise.

      What you are doing is highly unethical.

      Shame on you.

      • john Chatelle says:

        I’ts pretty obvious that those that claim LNT is true are the ones required to produce the evidence and show in which cases low dose radiation causes harm. Since this is never done, it is reasonable to conclude radiation doses within a few multiples of low background might be harmless. Bob, you have it absolutely backwards.

        To show harmlessness in all cases is a negative / null hypothesis. You are required therefore to show a case, or show the specific cases where ultra low doses (background levels) of ionizing radiation are harmful. As it is, I doubt this can be done, because low doses are, in fact, most likely harmless, although proving the universal case is logically impossible.

        Your inability to specify valid study that shows a slight increase in ionizing radiation above a control group seems to be the source of you frustration.

        • Bob Applebaum says:

          I’m not frustrated at all. I’m laughing at the pro-nuclear bias.

          Please tell…..how much energy is required to ionize DNA?

          • Rod Adams says:

            @Bob Applebaum

            What do you know about biology and adaptive response? How about apoptosis? How many other influences ionize DNA and create both single and double strand breaks? How does the magnitude of those normal interactions compare to the magnitude of the interactions associated with low dose radiation?

            The problem that health physics has as a discipline is that health is not driven by physics; it is a biological issue. It is not about energy balances or the impact on isolated cells. In his autobiographical book titled “The Angry Genie” Karl Z. Morgan describes how he created the discipline during the Manhattan Project without any input from medical doctors or biologists. His expertise was in designing detectors; he made the assumption that anything that could be detected must be causing damage. He documents many instances in which he received far higher doses than those that he thought required protection.

            Interestingly enough, his own health was quite good; he died just a few months shy of 92. (I realize that is anecdotal evidence, but my associates who were nuclear energy pioneers tend to live to quite advanced ages.)

          • john Chatelle says:

            It’s your bias that ionizing DNA is necessarily damaging. You can’t see that such Ionizing at very low doses may be beneficial to the organism; That such stresses might be either harmless or even beneficial. I can.

            We know that in pristine DNA base pair matching, Guanine matches with Cytosine, and Adenine matches with Thiamine. If, however, the DNA is heavily mutated, then there will be sugar phosphate strands attempting to force matches along the 2 helical strands that are mismatched base pairs. Under low ionizing stresses (such as from the organism’s own K-40) I’ll bet there is a tendency for such DNA with mis-matched base pairs, to not survive the ionizing stresses, nearly as well as DNA with perfectly matched base pairs.

            Nature doesn’t do Math. Nature can’t do an MD5 checksum on genetic material. Instead, when life’s selective processes chose the processes and structure of genetic coding, it made genetic information part of the structure of DNA and RNA. Since ionizing radiation was ubiquitous in the environment, it could be used to stress these genetic structures, and allow stochastic likelyhood of pristine DNA structure to carry on, and mutated DNA be allowed to come apart, and be recognized by other processes in the cell nucleus as valuable material to be recycled.

            Bob, this is only a hypothesis, for which I don’t have the resources to test. Your hypothesis, on the other hand demands that ionizing stresses are equally damaging to all DNA, a hypothesis that is really weak. Do you really believe that life systems, processes, and structure, can not benefit from stresses?

          • David says:

            Bob,

            I can accept that the smallest amount of ionizing radiation causes breaks in DNA. Would you mind quantifying the risk for us as the dose decreases?
            100 mSv – number of cancer deaths expected in 25 years per 100,000 people?
            50 mSv – number of cancer deaths expected in 25 years per 100,000 people?
            25 mSv – number of cancer deaths expected in 25 years per 100,000 people?
            15 mSv – number of cancer deaths expected in 25 years per 100,000 people?
            5 mSv – number of cancer deaths expected in 25 years per 100,000 people?
            1 mSv number of cancer deaths expected in 25 years per 100,000 people?

            Also, if you would be kind enough to help us understand these risks compared to other carcinogens? For example, gasoline is a carcinogen, what is the amount of gasoline one’s needs to be exposed to in order to equal the risk of a 100 mSv exposure?

            Thanks for you work. Since you are an expert in this field I am looking forward to your quick and through answers.

        • JimHopf says:

          John,

          You are absolutely right. The burden of proof falls on those promoting LNT, as proving a negative is impossible.

          The fact is that there is no tangible evidence of any impact for dose rates within the natural range (certainly < 1 Rem/yr, if not 10 Rem/yr).

          Even the experts who still support LNT are not saying that it's because there is clear evidence of an impact. They're saying that there is no evidence either way (any effects are in the noise) and that therefore it is "safer", and clearly conservative, to use the LNT assumption. It is also a simple, easy to administer assumption.

          Personally, I find the whole argument about whether there is no impact or just an impact that is too small to measure to be silly, given that there are numerous far greater risks out there.

          • Bas says:

            Jim,
            proof falls on those promoting LNT … there is no tangible evidence of any impact for dose rates within the natural range (certainly < 1 Rem/yr…
            1 Rem/yr = 10mSv/yr which is 1 premature death per 1000 people, following LNT.
            That implies a sample of ~a million people that are radiated with that 10mSv/yr, is needed, together with a similar reference group. I believe that is rather difficult and expensive.

            But radiation levels of 1mSv/yr cause already very significant negative heredity effects as have been found after Chernobyl!

            Please refer to: http://atomicinsights.com/collective-dose/#comment-68040
            below. Or to the original Bavarian study report.

      • Rod Adams says:

        @Bob Applebaum

        Any honest, objective scientist would defer to experts on a subject in which they have no expertise.

        That is not exactly what the scientific method teaches. Honest, objective, observant scientists defer to evidence, not to the consensus of people who claim to be experts. Science is not up for a vote.

        The “gold standard” of the LSS follows a group of people whose doses were uncertain and administered almost instantaneously and attempt to extend the observations into zones where there is no evidence. Why do you persist in denying that science has advanced considerably since the LNT assumption was first proposed and accepted as a result of political action, not as a result of evidence based science.

        Oh yeah, I almost forgot that you have a large financial interest in maintaining the status quo.

        http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/person.asp?personId=12466877&privcapId=10424696&previousCapId=10424696&previousTitle=Studsvik%20Processing%20Facility%20Memphis,%20LLC

        And

        http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=12748#.UpKYW2Tvndl

        Why else would a millionaire president of a radiation protection company spend his Sunday evenings responding to blog comments with accusations against respected nuclear energy professionals like Dave Rossin that border on libel?

      • Keith Pickering says:

        So now it’s “highly unethical” for someone to point out that the emperor has no clothes? Balderdash.

        Dr. Rossin is correct: there is not, and never has been, peer-reviewed evidence that supports LNT at doses below 100 mSv. And since the entire idea of LNT, including its very name, is NO threshold, that means there is no evidence for LNT. Mr. Appelbaum could cite such evidence if it existed. The fact that he has not done so is prima facie evidence that Dr. Rossin is right and Mr. Appelbaum is wrong.

        Meanwhile, the published peer-reviewed evidence that disputes LNT at low doses grows every day, having long past the molehill stage as it accumulates towards mountain status. You can start with Cohen, B. L. (2002). Cancer risk from low-level radiation. American Journal of Roentgenology, 179(5), 1137-1143. That’s from eleven years ago, and it’s just gotten worse for LNT since then.

      • Joel Riddle says:

        Bob,

        I have noticed that your frequent use of the creationist comparison as a presumed trump card is somewhat reminiscent of Godwin’s law regarding Internet discussions.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law

        Just an observation of mine.

      • Twominds says:

        Can you please reply with facts and numbers? I’m in two minds about LNT, especially about the no treshold part. It seems unlogical that there would be no threshold for damage done. I accept that radiation can theoretically damage DNA at any level, but I find it hard to understand that the body wouldn’t be able to deal with it like with other DNA damaging toxins, up to a certain level. A treshold in practical terms, if you’d like.

        Your standard reply about creationists and deniers of all colors, to anybody critical about LNT, doesn’t do anything to convince me, but a clear explanation might make a difference.

  7. Bob Applebaum says:

    Rod:

    As an enabler of anti-science propaganda, you are in violation of ANS’s Code of Ethics.

    In regards to your questions, I know what is known.

    Morgan was right. If something was detected, that detection was the result of ionization. That ionization produced a signal.

    So anything that causes ionization can be detected AND CAUSES DAMAGE in DNA.

    Sucks to be a science denier.

    • Brian Mays says:

      you are in violation of ANS’s Code of Ethics.

      Troll Applebaum – Are you even a member of the ANS? My member ID is 2019449. What is yours?

    • Rich Lentz says:

      Bob;
      Read history! back during the time period these “rules” were being made the sensitivity of the equipment was orders of magnitude less than today. They had no idea of the implications of this “radiation” and were very conservative in establishing the dose limits. From the 20′s to the LATE 50′s many shoe stores had a device that assured that you got the perfect fit for your new pair of shoes. An X-Ray Fluoroscope giving the viewer a picture of their feet in the shoe and how well it fit. Kids looked at their feet for minutes, not seconds (as recommended), and went back again and again. Every time I went to that department store I looked at my feet, even when we were not shopping for shoes. There is no cancer, deformities are any problem whatsoever with my feet nor any of my brothers and sisters feet NOR anywhere else in/on our body. NONE. So where is the hundreds, thousands, gazillions, of cases of cancer that your beloved LNT predicts?

      Where are the studies? All I can find on the internet are blurbs about how stupid they were for allowing those things and other stories about how they were bad, did not meet regulations, etc. etc. But NO studies. I think they don’t want people to know that they caused no real harm.

      Don’t claim it was a small dose. My readings indicate it was about 10-12R per minute to the feet and over 1R per hour to the genital area. I would have exceeded my quarterly dose each time I used it! The guy who got the emergency sample from TMI probably received less than I did while I played with that machine as my three other bothers and sisters got their shoes.

      • Bas says:

        @Rich,
        In USA, scientists consider the BEIR VII report as leading. And it is not very old.
        Yet it concludes, after an extensive discussion of many research results, that LNT is the best approach regarding low level radiation!

        Your feet X-ray example implies relative low radiation level.
        Yet it is banned as medical experience (and research) showed that it delivers an enhanced chance on cancer & premature death after the ‘normal’ latency of 20-50years.
        These medical study results are also the reason your dentist moves behind a protective screen or leaves the room if an X-ray is taken, while such X-ray involves only few microSv.

        Normal latency because you see the same latency with similar low level harmful activities, such as smoking, inhale asbestos, inhale micro-particles, etc.
        Still it does not predict that you will get cancer prematurely, only that it increases the chance. Just as with smoking, etc.

        A good, LNT based, estimation is that 100mSv deliver 1% chance on premature death (60% cancer, 40% heart disease, etc). So 20mSv delivers you 0.2% enhanced chance after 20-50years.
        If you are young, the chance is much higher (higher cell division rates). If you are old chance is less.

        To detect that type of enhanced chance a study needs to have a sample size of ~1 million people living in similar circumstances, which makes that type of studies not only prohibitive expensive, but also impossible to arrange.

        cell division
        During cell division the DNA becomes single stranded during short time, which makes faultless repair difficult. Furthermore RNA is involved which is single stranded anyway, as well as protein and the cell as a whole. We still know little of the role and vulnerability of the cell and its interaction with protein inside as well as with DNA/RNA.
        But we do know that damage at the moment of cell division has a much bigger chance (a million bigger?) to result in permanent damage.

    • john Chatelle says:

      Bob;

      It is anti-science to refuse to accept there might be benefit in stressing DNA. I think there is a benefit in stressing DNA with low levels of ionizing radiation. Life *chose* Potassium as a requirement; perhaps partly because of it’s ability to stress DNA, and help maintain somatic processes.

      Can you think of any experiments to get to the bottom of the great question of where and how might background levels of ionizing radiation be beneficial to an organism, and how it might be damaging?

      • Rod Adams says:

        @John Chatelle

        Can you think of any experiments to get to the bottom of the great question of where and how might background levels of ionizing radiation be beneficial to an organism, and how it might be damaging?

        Interesting question. For about twelve years, from 1998-2010, the US Department of Energy asked a number of people to propose such research as part of the Low Dose Radiation program. There was some excellent worked funded and completed. For some very odd reason, the current Administration decided to completely defund the program, just when the data was starting to accumulate about the actual effects of low dose radiation on complex living organisms.

        http://lowdose.energy.gov/default.aspx

        Here is a link to a draft manuscript on the history of the first ten years of the program.

        http://lowdose.energy.gov/pdf/albRoughDraft/doeHistoryComplete09262012.pdf

      • Bas says:

        John,
        Can you think of any experiments to get to the bottom of the great question of where and how might background levels of ionizing radiation be beneficial to an organism, and how it might be damaging?
        There are studies which show that people in high background radiation have more changes (non-functional pieces) in their DNA. And the general accepted rule between radiation scientists is, that such random changes are almost always harmful.
        E.g. check the study in my post below (2:23 PM).

        Regarding reproduction there would be a tiny chance that the change improves something, e.g. intelligence. However for the big majority it implies less intelligence as Scandinavian studies after Chernobyl showed. Even X-ray may already affect intelligence as this study shows: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-205050/X-rays-lower-intelligence.html

    • Keith Pickering says:

      Exercise can and does cause damage to DNA. Should we therefore conclude that one should never exercise because of the cancer risk it presents?

      Of course not. Because exercise does much more than cause damage to DNA: it also stimulates the body’s natural DNA repair mechanisms. Which is exactly why people who exercise moderately have lower cancer rates than people who don’t.

      Do you know what else stimulates the body’s natural DNA repair mechanisms? Low level radiation does.

      If DNA damage is what you’re hanging your hypothesis on, you’ve got nothing.

    • ddpalmer says:

      Hey Bob, the body has the ability to repair DAMAGE in DNA. So despite the fact that ionization can be detected and MAY CAUSE DAMAGE (you do realize the fact that ionization occurs does NOT mean that DNA DAMAGE is sure to happen, don’t you?), it does not follow that DAMAGE to DNA at very low levels changes the risk of cancer or any other effect.

      Science would require you to provide proof that your hypothesiszed effect actually occurs. But as has been pointed out, you provide ZERO proof that at low levels radiation causes any detrimental effect.

      • John Chatelle says:

        ddpalmer:

        Crimony, What you say is so obvious.

        If one says Unicorns exist, they should be required to prove it. One can never prove Unicorns do not exist, I’d be a null hypothesis; You’d be required to examine the entire universe.

        Likewise proving low dose radiation is harmless would require a universal inspection. Bob is therefore required to show the instances whereby low dose radiation is harmful. A single instance would be nice, but I doubt it’ll ever happen.

      • jmdesp says:

        Actually, Karl Popper has put a precise concept on this : Falsifiability

        A theory can be scientific only if there is an inherent possibility to prove it to be false.

        And collective dose as it is used today is not falsifiable. Nobody can design a scientific experiment that will be able to demonstrate whether radiation at really low dose, below 10 mSv has any effect (with a few millions people, and a very good following you could demonstrate it for below 100 mSv, but there’s a stage where it becomes really impossible).

        Therefore it’s not a scientific hypothesis, it’s religion pure and simple.

  8. Bas says:

    ddpalmer, John,
    provide proof that your hypothesized effect actually occur
    “<show the instances whereby low dose radiation is harmful. A single instance would be nice..”
    Assuming that you consider 0.5mSv/a low dose, then this study shows very significant serious harmful effects of low dose radiation!
    These solid results became possible thanks to unique circumstances; some districts got fall-out in 1986; nearby similar districts not; all districts had detailed birth administration in the 5 years before and the years thereafter.

    A jump upwards in birth defects (Down syndrome, stillbirth, etc) was seen in districts that got a fall-out of ~0.5mSv/a, while that jump did not occur in districts without fall-out. The higher level of birth defects stayed, only in districts with fall-out, as expected as the higher level of radiation stayed too (was caused by CS-137; half live ~30years).
    As all birth’s were included, no sampling confounding, etc.

    You find in the report references to other studies some with and some without similar results. Mostly, in the one’s without results the sample simply was to small (in relation to radiation level) to find any result.

    • David says:

      @ Bas,

      What would cause you to loose confidence in this report you quote at every turn? What evidence would make it weaker for you? The report quotes effects that are not unique since the conditions occur in fairly large populations around Denver CO in the USA on a regular basis. By the reasoning of the report – assuming the conclusions are accurate and not a statical anomaly – Denver hospitals should be filled with sill birth babies. I have not heard that, perhaps I am uninformed.

      • Bas says:

        @David
        Just read the frequencies of stillbirth, etc. in the study. So a tenfold still may not fill the Denver hospitals.

        I tried to find the average background radiation levels inside the city of Denver, but could not find a good figure. It became clear to me that levels of 10mSv/a do not concern areas where substantial number of people live. May be you can find reliable figures?

        Btw.
        This is not the only study that shows harmful effects of low level radiation. I put this study up, because it is the most solid one I could find.

      • Keith Pickering says:

        My take is rather simpler: Sherb & Weigelt studied 23 countries for stillbirths and found a statistically significant result in 1 of them. But you’re going to get 1 statistically significant hit out of 20 just by random chance. Ditto the results for malformities: 1 out of 23 were statistically significant, exactly what you would expect from chance.

        So I’m not seeing anything convincing.

        • ddpalmer says:

          But Keith don’t you understand. That 1 result, that could just be random chance, supports Bas’ delusion. So that makes it significant. Just ignore all the other results. Using Basian statistics random chance supporting preconcieved beliefs becomes significant.

        • Bas says:

          @Keith
          Agree it is not easy reading stuff, but please read the study more accurate.

          The real study covered 20 districts in Bavaria, a state within Germany. Comparing:
          The 10 most contaminated districts with the 10 least contaminated.
          The frequency of stillbirth, Down, congenital malformations (e.g. heart, spina bifida), etc in the ~5 years before and the ~5 years thereafter.

          You are right about the chance on statistical hits. However, most study results have significance levels of 1 on 1,000. The most important result a significance level of 1 on 40,000.

          There is a more easy to read one page overview of a study/publication that also included former E-Germany and W-Berlin.

          The European country study is another study, published few years earlier, which they referenced/included in the publication to show that the results of the Bavarian study are no anomaly. This study generated some critics by pro-nuclear. Here you find one of the best critics together with the response of the authors.

          There are also adjacent effects such as the neonatal (~ first year after birth) child mortality, which also showed a rise.
          Further less serious effects such as: Cell damage in the first hours after fertilization creates unnoticed abortion. So nine months after Chernobyl a significant dip in the number of births in Bavaria was noted. As well as a rise in abortion rates.

          All similar to the rises observed at atmospheric testing in the fifties in UK and elsewhere.
          The main reason that such testing was abandoned and everybody agreed to expensive underground tests were the scientific sound estimations that those tests malformed/killed millions of babies/people.

          Experts more involved in this research often have the opinion and show evidence that risks estimations based on LNT are to low for low level radiation and that standards should become more strict. E.g. this study.

          As I find the quality of future generations important and heredity shows a much higher sensitivity for radiation, I tend to support that point of view.

          • jmdesp says:

            It wasn’t a critic by a “pro-nuclear” but by an epidemiology specialist, who is now director of an institute in the University of Mainz :
            http://www.uni-mainz.de/Organisationen/ICE/people/blettner.htm

            About some of the other comments you’ve found claim there was a stop in the reduction in neonatal mortality in Germany in 1986.

            The use of more complete time series until 2011 (both “Mortality rate, under-5″ and “Mortality rate, infant (per 1,000 live births)” lower in the page)
            available here : http://www.indexmundi.com/facts/germany/mortality-rate
            shows that actually whilst we continue to make progress on this, it’s becoming asymptotically harder and harder, and while there was almost linear progress in the 60′s and 70′s, from the start of the 80 the curve began to become flatter, and progress is now a lot slower than in the 70′s, with enough data to see that there was no break in the trend in 1986, but a progressive change to a different era.

          • Brian Mays says:

            However, most study results have significance levels of 1 on 1,000. The most important result a significance level of 1 on 40,000.

            Bas – That’s not how statistical significance works. You’re just making yourself look foolish and demonstrating that you know nothing about statistics. It’s no wonder that you’re so easily fooled by junk science.

            Experts more involved in this research often have the opinion and show evidence that risks estimations based on LNT are to low for low level radiation and that standards should become more strict. E.g. this study.

            “Experts”? Ha ha … Apparently, Bas will leave no crackpot unturned. Nussbaum is not an “expert.”

    • ddpalmer says:

      @Bas

      Why do you keep including my name in responses that have NOTHING to do with my comments? Is it some type shotgun response to a persecution complex, or is just massive stupidity?

  9. Matte says:

    @Bas

    “Or to the original Bavarian study report.”

    I think I may have seen worse abuse of statistical analysis from Mangano and Sherman, but this is pretty bad. Basing trends on extreme points (outliers) in any data series reeks of selection bias and cherry picking. The conclusions are not supported by the data they provide in the article.

    By the way, STUK just published a report stating the complete oposite of your Bavarian example. Looking at the credentials of ‘Hagen Scherb’ I am starting to think he does substantial work for Greenpiss and the like…he was behind the famous KiKK-study as well…(yes, I may poison the well a bit, but if the luddites can do it, why can’t I stoop a bit too?)

    • Bas says:

      @Matte,
      It is published in a well known peer reviewed journal.
      Basing trends on extreme points (outliers) in any data series reeks of selection bias and cherry picking.
      So those others do not share your judgment.
      Neither do I, as there is no base for your accusation when you study the report.

      And similar results are shown by others. Such as:
      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S014067368991091X
      href=”http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s004110050048#page-1
      Even in UK:
      href=”http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/chernobyl-disaster-linked-to-higher-rate-of-infant-mortality-in-britain-471028.html

      • Matte says:

        I read the data and results in the report, their conclcusions are not supported by the data presented in their report, I should know as I work with statistics and data anlaysis on a daily basis in a heavily regulated field.

        Junk science is still junk science.

        According to John Urquhart the fallout from Tjernobyll landed on;

        “Areas across which cloud passed such as Liverpool, Bradford, Leicestershire, and Bristol, showed higher than average infant mortality which, he suggests, cannot entirely be explained by social factors.”

        “Mr Urquhart argues that a plume of fallout from Chernobyl arrived near the Isle of Wight and passed over Bristol into south Wales. Another plume clipped the coast of Kent and then covered most of East Anglia and part of Essex. Another worked its way from east London to Hertfordshire, resurfacing in parts of Northamptonshire and Leicestershire.

        Parts of West Yorkshire and most of the West Midlands, Wales, Merseyside, Lancashire, and Cumbria were significantly affected.”

        Well, that covers pretty much all of the densly populated parts of England and Wales (if Wales could be considered densly populated…I guess Cardiff could be!?) So his “control group” would be what? Kirkwall? We saw a similar study performed by Magano and Sherman in the US after Fukushima, I am guessing John is a bit more competent than those two, but still I don’t trust his results as I have not seen his raw data, and never will, as I am pretty sure that he has used the same method as the other two.

        Wonder why it was not published in any journals related to radiation health physics, where it would actually reach an audience that could take it seriously and peer review it properly (if it had any scientific merit)?

      • jmdesp says:

        Sorry the study “Congenital Malformation and Stillbirth in Germany and Europe Before and After the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Accident” by Hagen Scherb et al. was *not* published by a well known peer reviewed journal. What very telling is that this publication is not referenced by pubmed, despite the fact that even poor quality journals are referenced there.
        It has been quoted only by anti-nuclear, including Nesterenko and Yablokov in their infamous NYAS published Chernobyl report.

        • Bas says:

          @jmdesp
          This Scherb etal study was published in:Environmental Science and Pollution Research (ESPR)
          Special Issue 1 (2003): 117 – 125 (peer reviewed)

          There are different impact factors.
          NAAS shows an alphabetical list regarding ~2000 scientific journals.
          At page 15 (no.611) you see that ESPR has a decent NAAS impact factor of 7.8. At the end you find a conversion table towards the Thomson Reuters Impact Factor (7.8 = 2.50 – 3.00).

          Strange that this is not indexed, as you see 21 publications of Hagen Scherb in PubMed when you search on his name.
          Even 2 articles also published in the ESPR journal, concerning the changed human sex odds at birth after the atmospheric atomic bomb tests, after Chernobyl, and in the vicinity of nuclear facilities.
          (which implies enhanced DNA/gene damage).

          PubMed did also not miss the earlier, less thorough/solid 1999 publication: European stillbirth proportions before and after the Chernobyl accident by Hagen Scherb etal.

          May be it was missed by PubMed because it was in a special issue?

        • Bas says:

          Jmdesp
          This “not-indexed by PubMed” may also explain why the author of the relevant chapter in the BEIR VII report missed the publication.

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