Defending hormesis and pointing to economic motives for asserting “no safe dose”
The below is an improved version of a comment that I posted on the NRC blog titled Examining the Reasons for Ending the Cancer Risk Study. It was composed in response to accusations from a person named Gary Morgan who stated that I had attacked Greg Jaczko, misunderstood the biological nature of radiation, and promoted hormesis, which he labels as a fallacy. He also accused me and other people that support the nuclear industry of intentionally deceiving the public and claimed that our statements about radiation health effects proved that we could not be trusted in any matter.
Those are fighting words. Since my response on the NRC blog might never appear or might appear too late to matter much, I thought it would be worth repurposing my comment here for additional discussion.
Mentioning the fact that Chairman Jaczko pushed the initial study hardly qualifies as me making “an attack.” I freely admit to having attacked the former chairman — and current professional antinuclear activist — on a number of occasions on Atomic Insights, but the above comment was not one of those times.
Ionizing radiation does not “bioaccumulate.” In fact, ionizing radiation is a very short lived phenomenon that disappears as soon as the source is removed. The specific particles involved — alphas, betas, and gammas — give up their energy and merge into existing matter through ionization and absorption reactions.
Radioactive isotopes, unlike some materials that are hazardous because of their chemical nature, decay and lose their radiation hazard over time. Some of the specific materials that have a radiation component to their hazard – like uranium – also have a chemical nature to their hazard which does not disappear over time any more than the hazard of lead or mercury disappears.
Radiation hormesis is not a fallacy, but a heavily studied and repeatable phenomenon.
Even the BEIR VII report, which stated that there was not sufficient evidence — AT THAT TIME — to change regulations to incorporate the hormesis response, did not dismiss it as a fallacy. It devoted an entire appendix to the concept and described the results of several experiments that showed it was repeatable in a number of biological models.
That report, published in 2006, was based on science that had been peer reviewed and published sometime before 2004. It recommended further research, much of which was conducted during a ten year long, reasonably supported Low Dose Radiation Research Program by the Department of Energy.
The numerous studies produced as a result of that widespread, diverse research effort continues to add to the weight of evidence that shows the NAS BEAR 1 Genetics Committee was wrong when they overturned 50 years of observations on the effects of low level radiation on humans and issued a report declaring that all radiation was bad “from a genetics perspective.”
They had no evidence available to them. No experiments had been conducted at levels below about 50 Rad (50 cGy). The few that were in the neighborhood of 50 rad (50 cGy) indicated that there was a distinct threshold response below which the irradiated subjects had results that were not distinguishable from the controls.
The sad part of the story is that several of the scientists who knew about those results worked to obscure them from the record and to deny their important implications. They wanted to teach us that all radiation was bad. One of them, Hermann Muller, had been pressing that outlier idea for nearly 3 decades.
The notion that there was “no safe dose” of radiation apparently coincided with the interests of the Rockefeller Foundation, which steadily supported Muller throughout his career even though he earned a reputation as a poor teacher, a difficult colleague, a Communist sympathizer, and a man suffering from such severe depression that he made a serious, almost successful attempt to take his own life.
The Rockefeller Foundation initiated and provided 100% of the funding for the NAS committees on the Biological Effects of Atomic Radiation from 1954-1962.
Warren Weaver, the Chairman of the Genetics Committee, which is the one whose report was covered on the front page of the New York Times on June 13, 1956 and was published in full in the same edition of the paper, served as the director of the Rockefeller Foundation natural science funding program from about 1933-1959. Both before and after he obtained unanimous consensus from his 12 member committee of geneticists, his program provided at least half of the members with most of their research funding.
Bad science can exist and be promoted by people with economic interests. The RF, supported by an oil rich family with major investments in hydrocarbon focused companies, had a strong interest in instilling widespread fear of radiation and limiting the growth of a formidable competitor.
Of course, the Rockefellers were not the only people who were interested in slowing the development of abundant atomic energy. There are numerous economic interests tied to the business of finding, extracting, transporting, financing, refining, distributing, storing, trading, promoting, regulating, protecting and consuming oil and natural gas. Whole economies in several countries are nearly completely dependent on hydrocarbon linked revenues and hydrocarbon combustion has provided the foundation for modern society since the beginning of the Industrial Age.
Nuclear energy is a huge transforming technology. Many interests still have motives for asserting that there is no safe dose, but the mountain of evidence accumulating that refutes the notion is getting more and more difficult to ignore.
We are doing our part to resist the efforts to deny evidence. We refuse to stop talking about the harm done by ignoring evidence that low doses of radiation are not harmful to people. In fact, they are most likely beneficial.
Ionizing radiation bioaccumulates? Why do some people hate science so much?
” Why do some people hate science so much?”
It’s just a job.
Egads, reading through the comments at the NRC site, one notes that the NRC just provided a free podium for unabashed FUD by those Rod has labeled as “the usual suspects”. Is the NRC ran by idiots?
No … just bureaucrats.
I’ve pointed out to their moderator what a waste of time that forum is, since the usual suspects are always sitting at their keyboards, waiting on yet another opportunity to be first in line to crap all over whatever information is posted, regardless the topic. In the current climate, I wouldn’t be surprised if they had been “counselled” not to go out of their way to refute the lying FUDders (although Scott Burnell got in a couple of good shots on ol’ CaptD a couple days ago). The science is settled, after all……
I too thought that none of those items you crossed out indicate that Muller’s opinions on radiation were incorrect. The extrapolation of the LNT assumption far below where there was any evidence is what makes him a poor scientist.
I notice that one of the commenters at the NRC website mentions Chris Busby while offering his anti schpeil. I recently had an email exchange with Busby, wondering why he doesn’t comment at sites such as Rod’s. Here is his response, verbatim…..
“(1) Some years ago I managed to join the RADSAFE group. This is a group of all the radiation scientists who work for the system and are employed by the industry. It is run from the gheart of teh beast, the Illinois Institute of Technology. Th eChief organiser of that and also teh attacks on me is rof Barclay Jones. I spent about a year painstakingly responding to their every argument. Several of them became belligerent and abusive. When they lose the argument they get very nasty. They threw me off the group as the moderator said that the arguments with me had taken the whole thing over (that was when they had clearly lost the arguments). (2) After attacking me in the Guardian George Monbiot was invited by Oxford CND to debate the issue with me in Oxford Town Hall. He refused. He will never meet me in an open debate as he will lose because I am broadly correct and unlike Caldicott, I know the science. You will see that the internet is absolutely full of lies about me. e.g. my Wikipedia page. I could spend a lifetime responding to all these. That is why I set up chrisbusbyexposed.
I am writing scientific papers which will be published in peer review. I am winning court cases. That wouldnt happen if I were not correct, since the nuclear industry send their best men into the court to oppose what I say. That takes time and energy, and squabbling with an organisation set up and run by the Illinois Institute of Technology to spin the nuclear position is a waste of my time as it is endless. I have already taken enough time to write this response to you.
Best wishes in your search for the truth
Busby’s response, can be viewed as him being legitimately sick of being attacked, or, it can be viewed as a flimsy excuse used to avoid debating real science. I wonder though, what is gained by providing people like him with an excuse. Its one of the main reasons I think the sarcasm, insult, and animosity displayed here by some of the commenters is a self defeating tactic. If you remain civil, and confine yourselves to arguing the science, than those such as Busby, Morgan, Captd, etc, have no excuse for avoiding the debate.
If Busby is sick of being attacked, then he should stop acting like a crackpot. The guy is part lunatic, part conspiracy theorist, part con man, part sociopathic liar, and part common crook.
Busby’s enemies include not only people who work in the nuclear industry but also organizations like the UK Green Party, who kicked him to the curb after he started running a scam selling useless “anti-radiation” pills to people in Japan following the Fukushima accident. His enemies also include legitimate scientists, and here I’m talking about not only people in biology, health physics, and radiation protection but also just plain, old physicists. Busby hates physicists for some bizarre reason, and he rants about them all the time. Just listen to him rant about how Einstein’s theories of relativity are completely wrong (Youtube video) and then try to tell me that this guy is completely sane. I dare you. It’s high-grade crackpot stuff.
Make no mistake. Busby doesn’t comment in forums such as this one only because he knows that his batdung crazy nonsense cannot stand the scrutiny of anyone with even a high school education in the hard sciences. So he mostly limits his writings — that is, when he’s not busy hocking his latest scam — to left-wing publications, such as Counterpunch or (in better times) various “Green” Party publications.
Don’t give any credibility to anything that Busby says until you have read this summary (with lots of links, including links to where Busby tries to defend himself — citing the sex-ratio junk science by Scherb et al., no less) of his record. It is well documented that Busby lies about his credentials, he lies about his connections, he lies about his “studies,” he lies in his statistical analysis, and he makes up kooky conspiracy theories that are so ridiculous, they sound like something that you would expect to find in The Onion.
Let’s carefully document what the anti nuclear professionals and the media predicted for TMI and Chernobyl and what actually happened.
Chernobyl. 2 million deaths predicted. In reality 1000 so far, 10000 expected.
TMI. China syndrome, cancers, … (I was 7 back then, so please help me). Actual result no deaths, can’t even prove increased cancer cases from normal numbers. Meltdown completely contained.
Fukushima… Anti nuclear lunatics are already creating the case for a mass conspiracy theory hiding cancers and lots of deaths. So far no civilians died and nobody died from radiation. EVAC zone is already shrinking. Perhaps its a good thing all this Cs and Sr is flowing onto the oceans, 20-30 years from now we can prove even ingestion of radionuclides in very low concentration doesn’t cause cancers.
We should have a webside contrasting nuclear facts and anti nuclear fiction to be clearest extent possible. That’s the strongest proof we can present to the average joe that nuclear is really safe.
According to anti-nukes, the Pacific Ocean is going to “die” because of Fukushima.
http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/fukushima-anniversary/thyroid-cancer-rates-higher-kids-near-fukushima-nuke-plant-study-n440801, your opinions?
Opinions? When you go looking for something, you find more of it. It’s as simple as that.
This is particularly the case for thyroid problems, where occult cancers are quite common. I predicted this back in 2011, because the Japanese, like some other populations such as the Fins, have a relatively high incidence of these occult tumors compared to the rest of the world. (This was well documented in the scientific literature long before 2011.) So if you’re giving a bunch of Japanese kids ultrasounds, when you weren’t before, of course you’re going to see an increase in diagnosing thyroid tumors.
Naturally, an outlet like NBC is going to sensationalize this story as much as possible to sell ads for their sponsors.
The first paragraph of the story is pretty funny. I like logic humor.
My favorite quote in the article…..
“My daughter has the right to live free of radiation.”
Well, Darling, that’s a right your daughter gave up once you saw that certain sparkle in your lover’s eye.
Well Jhon, that’s the wonderful thing about science: one gets such wholesale return in conjecture from such trifling investment in fact!
Opinion? Hmpfff! Sounds like The Hiroshima Syndrome, if you ask me!
My bold. Leslie’s article. Following Caldicott’s impeccable logic, one must conclude the severe radiation release in Fukushima Prefecture following the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 somehow shielded many young people there from the ravages of a truly horrible disease!!
Japanese medical experts be damned!! The conclusion is simply inescapable!!! 🙂
Oops! Missing link.
thanks for the link
The effects of radiation do not appear immediately, studies of 2015 has more validity than previous
“The effects of radiation do not appear immediately”
60 years from now people will still be saying this……just waiting for the Fukushima cancers that will never come.
Depends on one’s definition of “valid.” It is precisely radiation’s delayed effects — four years in the case of childhood thyroid cancers — that validates the importance of the earlier 2012 – 2013 Fukushima studies as baselines.
Nope. Alexander Litvinenko fell ill the day he was poisoned by a lethal dose of Polonium 210, but what the heck: Lets blame all cancers on nature (and/or) the supreme being’s stupidity in selecting Potassium as a necessary nutrient.
You’d develop symptoms of vitamin A toxicity very rapidly if you ate enough, too; for that matter, breathing oxygen at 2 bar won’t take long to kill you. It doesn’t mean that proper levels aren’t essential to life. We know that organisms show biological stress responses in sub-normal radiation environments, so radiation may well be one of those beneficial influences on our lives… in the right amount.
There are three stages in the cancer discussion.
A – A tumor / small cancer formation.
B – An actual cancer case.
C – death.
1 – I believe the higher cancer rates actually apply to the first stage rather than actual cancers
2 – Even if higher cancer cases is true, mass screening will lead to earlier treatment, ultimately resulting in equal or lower deaths
It is totally unquestionable that Fukushima was on a magnitude scale closer to Chernobyl than to TMI. TMI was a non event as far as radiation. Fukushima radiation is still leaking.
I fully expect some additional cancer cases. But the population was properly treated with iodine tablets (data from Chernobyl states hospitals weren’t properly equipped), and Chernobyl exposed a much larger population to radiation levels that warrant screening than Fukushima.
Again, lets compare the Fukushima scare with real facts. Speculation people as far as China would be contaminated. Speculation Tokyo was at risk (150Km away). Instead even a 20Km mandatory evac was too much precaution. But we should realize the area was devastated due to the Tsunami. If people were allowed was kinds of emergency reconstruction would be needed.
I was reading this garbage yesterday:
Please read. The radical left attacks the NRC as pawns of the nuclear industry. C’mon, they have been doing their worst to put the nuclear industry out of business.
When was the last time someone in the public got radiation exposure from the entire nuclear supply chain, leading to radiation sickness or cancers in the USA ? People work very close to the reactors, if the nuclear industry was dangerous, we would have much higher cancer cases among nuclear workers than non nuclear general population.
Realize green peace, caldicott and the left media are ideologically opposed to nuclear power. Green Peace has a half a billion dollar annual budget. They could fund proper scientific studies to prove at least a few of their claims. Yet they are quite content with spreading anti nuclear whispers !
I’m one of those weirdos that actually is pro nuclear but pretty much agrees with the progressives on social and most political issues. So I follow the more moderate progressive channels such as the young turks. I’m always trying to get them to talk about nuclear power, but they only bother when its to bash nuclear power, nothing positive to talk about it.
“even as real events such as Three Mile Island and Fukushima have reminded every American about the realities of unsafe operation of nuclear plants”
Two events, over 30 years apart……which haven’t killed a single person. The NRC are definitely pawns of the Nuclear Industry. You know, making a plant 3.5 hours away from the coast spend 70 million on Fukushima upgrades and all…….
Glad you support nuclear, but I must challenge your belief that doses from the small vastly diluted quantity of radioactive material released from Fukushima Daiichi will cause cancer. The IAEA report says no measurable impact; that which cannot be measured either does not exist or is so small that it’s not worth worrying about.
You also need to understand that saying “radiation is still leaking” doesn’t mean anything without quantification of the amount and, perhaps some estimation of the resulting risk. If I say “that man has money,” and pointed, would you expect to see a well dressed man standing next to a very expensive car or a homeless guy with two nickels in his pocket?
Whenever I read the phrase “Radiation is leaking out” I cringe. Radiation doesnt “leak”….radioactive material leaks. Very low level rain water runoff shouldnt concern anybody. My Chief Nuclear Officer was amazed during his visit to find out all these huge tanks holding water at Fukushima were filled with water containing very low levels of activity, mostly from rain runoff. He, like the majority of us, thought those tanks contained high level liquid waste (this is what the media will have you to believe) In reality, those tanks could (and should) be pumped to the ocean without any harm to ocean life.
You could be perfectly correct. My point is still nuclear is way beyond safe enough.
I think far more important than trying to argue if Fukushima will have zero cancer deaths of a few its to engage in serious debate with all of the people of the world that has been convinced nuclear is unacceptable.
I do this often, its a sad and nerve wrecking effort. A single person trying to explain nuclear facts to a mass of anti nuclear brainwashed people is hard.
This site is wayyyy too technical for 99% of the people in the world. I’m glad it exists, but it alone will not save nuclear power.
Nothing alone will save nuclear power. All positive efforts are appreciated.
When I engage with others on the web, and I do quite often outside of this site, I am never trying to convince the person with whom I am arguing. I’m trying to convince the 90-95% of web readers that never make comments.
That is why I simply state the truth, even if some people might believe that I would get further in the argument if I conceded more ground to the opposition. They do not deserve concessions; the truth is what it is.
Important front page article in Sunday’s issue of the Los Angeles Times.
Seems Exxon, since the early 90’s, has seen global warming as a great opportunity for capitalization, while launching a PR program seeking to downplay the certainty of global warming.
Some data collected in connection with the Fukushima accident may eventually shed light on the effects of low dose radiation exposure. People in a town west of Fukushima were given potassium iodide pills 4 days after the accident. This should block the uptake of Iodine-131 and decrease the incidence of thyroid cancer compared with that of other Japanese not protected if low dose radiation has is associated with cancer. Ideally, the pills should have been taken earlier but sometimes one has to work with what one has. In a few weeks a Japanese scientist is going to give a talk on this at the University of Washington and I hope to attend this seminar. I plan to give you an update on this later.
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