1. Before Bob gets here, I would like to ask him a question.

    Bob, can you categorize the risk of various levels of chronic exposure to radiation for us? I would like the comparison to be with other common environmental carcinogens, like gasoline.

    .1 mSv cancers per 100,000 people in 25 years
    .5 mSv cancers per 100,000 people in 25 years
    1 mSv cancers per 100,000 people in 25 years
    10 mSv cancers per 100,000 people in 25 years
    100 mSv cancers per 100,000 people in 25 years
    500 mSv cancers per 100,000 people in 25 years

    It would be helpful to have these numbers so that we can know the actual risk we take when an incident like Fukushima takes place. Since you have pointed out that even the least radiation can cause a break in DNA leading to a cancer, I am sure that you have these numbers at your fingertips and can help us quantify the hazard.

    Have a great day!

    1. To re-phrase Hargraves’ argument in terms which the average person would understand better, how many deaths would you expect from people consuming:

      (a) one asprin,
      (b) ten aspirins,
      (c) 100 asprins,
      (d) 1000 aspirins?

      The question is incoherent.  Over what period of time?  Someone with arthritis could easily consume 1000 aspirins or more per year, and be in far better health than without it.  Your “expected death rate” from that group would be negative even at a dose rate of multiple thousands of aspririns per year.

      1. @ Engineer-Poet

        Good point, I can see where my question did not include the proper time element.

        Can you help me reform a coherent question? My aim is to get Bob Applebaum to tell us what the danger from chronic low level radiation – at the levels found near Fukushima are as compared to other common carcinogens. Some practical rule of thumb… 🙂

          1. I’d like to see Bob (and Bas Gresnigt for that matter) explain how the following recent and blindingly clear research results could possible exist. Do they believe this research is a fraud? Or do they believe they are frauds themselves? I expect neither of them will answer these questions.

            Current U.S. regulations require that residents of any area that reaches radiation levels eight times higher than background should be evacuated. However, the financial and emotional cost of such relocation may not be worthwhile, the researchers say.

            “There are no data that say that’s a dangerous level,” says Yanch, a senior lecturer in MIT’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering. “This paper shows that you could go 400 times higher than average background levels and you’re still not detecting genetic damage. It could potentially have a big impact on tens if not hundreds of thousands of people in the vicinity of a nuclear powerplant accident or a nuclear bomb detonation, if we figure out just when we should evacuate and when it’s OK to stay where we are.”

            Until now, very few studies have measured the effects of low doses of radiation delivered over a long period of time. This study is the first to measure the genetic damage seen at a level as low as 400 times background (0.0002 centigray per minute, or 105 cGy in a year).

            “Almost all radiation studies are done with one quick hit of radiation. That would cause a totally different biological outcome compared to long-term conditions,” says Engelward, an associate professor of biological engineering at MIT.


          2. @Joris : What this study finds is that the effects are too small to measure with the equipment used, not that they don’t exist.

            I find studies that test the biological consequence of the irradiation more convincing and while they don’t massively contradict this result, some find that there can be effects at dose lower than 1Gy/y.

            The trouble is that, with apparently very comparable setups, results can be just quite contradictory :

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9693258 “Effect of a continuous gamma irradiation at a very low dose on the life span of mice”
            http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1667/RR3042?journalCode=rare “No Lengthening of Life Span in Mice Continuously Exposed to Gamma Rays at Very Low Dose Rates”
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17388697 “Cause of death and neoplasia in mice continuously exposed to very low dose rates of gamma rays”
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19267556 “Dose-rate effectiveness for unstable-type chromosome aberrations detected in mice after continuous irradiation with low-dose-rate gamma rays”
            http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/4540789?uid=3738016&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&sid=21103199487723 “Effect of Continuous Irradiation with a Very Low Dose of Gamma Rays on Life Span and the Immune System in SJL Mice Prone to B-Cell Lymphoma”
            http://iopscience.iop.org/0952-4746/33/1/61/article “Dose-rate effects and dose and dose-rate effectiveness factor on frequencies of chromosome aberrations in splenic lymphocytes from mice continuously exposed to low-dose-rate gamma-radiation”

            I’ll try to comment about all those studies when I have more time, the Tanaka S. 2009 one was the one I intended to include first, but then found about the others.
            The Tanaka S. 2009 study finds a weight increase in female rats at a 400mSv/y dose which is suspicious. Other studies yes even found a hormetic effect sometimes.

          3. Thanks jmdesp for all the links. I read the articles.

            From just these articles, I would guess that 1 mSv per day / 400 MSv per year is nothing to worry about. The slight number of lost days of mouse-life recorded in one of the experiments looks roughly similar to the slight loss of days of human life in my country due to air pollution. Since I’m not actually much impressed by the health effects of fine particulate air pollution in my country (even though I would prefer it wasn’t there of course) I would have no reason to be especially impressed by the health effects of 400 mSv/year, when assuming the health effects are roughly similar in seriousness.

            So if some kind of fantastically unlikely nuclear accident would happen and I’m told I am going to risk getting up to 400 mSv per year then I doubt I’d go through the trouble of evacuating. You think that would be unwise?

          4. @Joris : No, I don’t think it’d be unwise but if we want this to be the message then we need to educate people about relative risks.

            If relative risks were better understood, there would be no need to try to refute the LNT hypothesis, because what it predicts is small enough we don’t need to care about it compared to many other risk we take without worrying about them.

            But if the issue is so muddled that it’s impossible to get people to understand how low the actual risk is, then we need to unconditionally disprove LNT at low dose, which the MIT study doesn’t do perfectly in my opinion.
            I think this MIT study would reinforced by running it on a longer period, and using cesium, so that LNT defenders would have no straw left to grasp when trying to claim this doesn’t disprove LNT.

            Also, consider that Bas here is constantly trying to disprove LNT, he sees that even if their understanding of relative risk is very limited, most people still realize LNT doesn’t predict very horrible things.

            One reason also why I’m very careful about claims that doses near 1Gy/year would still be safe is the Kramatorsk incident.
            If the most exposed location had 18Gy/year, then the average actually received dose was significantly lower than that, and people have literally been dropping dead like flies from leukemia in that incident. Maybe everybody received more than 1Gy/y, but still we need to go to a significant lower dose to have a good security margin again.

            However after further studying the Kramatorsk documents with the help of Google translate, I now wonder how much people actually received. It seems there was a kid’s bed just below the radiation source, which helps explain the mortality rate. But the document still aren’t clear, only 4 of the reported 6 dead are clearly identified and they are 2 deceased adults which were probably not sleeping at the most irradiated spot.

      2. I like the way you have formatted the question currently, EP. Comparing radiation dose to the ingestion of an OTC drug like this is very approachable to the average person. And then not initially including a time frame brings in the necessity for the ingestion amount to be in terms of a rate.

  2. Which Bob?

    Your question deals only with radiation dose, not radiation dose rate. This was the mistake made by Nobel laureate Muller and all the LNT progeny thereof. Calabrese’s work in hormesis accounts for adaptive response that occurs with low levels of radiation, seen at low dose rates. For example, an single dose of 100 mSv has a 1% chance of causing cancer in a lifetime, according to BEIR VII, and that’s probably correct for a single dose. But a dose of 100 mSv spread out over one year, at a dose rate of 100 mSv/year, would cause no cancer.

    1. Bob Applebaum.
      It is pretty obvious that he has Google alerts set for Ed Calabrese, Myron Pollycove, Ted Rockwell, and a few other names. I would expect he’ll comment here prior to 1:00 pm Eastern.

      1. Rod should set up an Atomic Insights Applebaum-post pool. The person whose guess comes closest to his time of posting wins the pot! Guaranteed to happen whenever LNT is challenged by science, even more so if actual hormesis is bandied about!!!

          1. Pushing 4 PM and nothing so far.  Either (a) you’re right, (b) we’re lucky… or (c) he remembers the last time he came here.

          2. d) He read the comments here and has decided not to meet our expectations. Which is fine. A day without RA is like a day without that smell you get when you step in dog poop and break open the turd.

  3. The Hormesis effect is what I think needs to be focused on. There are now a few long term, large sample group studies that show benefits to overall health, not detriments. The nuclear radiation fear factor has been the main ‘weapon’ of the anti-nuclear side, I think we need to turn the tables. I havent found a source yet that brings all such reports under a single source, if I can’t find one, I’ll start organising one.

    And a brief news item:

    Newly invented shielding for stopping neutrons cold

    “The ability of a system built using these technologies to block radiation, particularly neutrons, has applications in the storage of nuclear waste, in building compact nuclear reactors and in shielding radiation sources used in medical applications.”


    1. GaryN,

      I like it. Using Boron mixed in the materials to improve the absorption rate of neutrons is a stroke of genius. Their patent should pay off! From the statement that hydrogen is the element needed for thermalizing the neutrons it seems that ammonia would be an excellent compound as well. But their designs that enable standard construction techniques are brilliant.

      Thanks for the link!

        1. It’s been used for many decades.

          Yes, but its structural load-bearing ability leaves much to be desired.

        2. Not only that, specialty materials are over-rated, when you can get 20 tons of hydrogenous Serpentine stone for $200. I say it that way because it is so cheap they only sell it by the truck load. That is about 1/2 cent per pound. They use it to make road and sidewalk foundations. Peach Bottom put it in concrete, as did one of the sodium reactor. They actually used straight crushed serpentine in one of the plugs that needed high temperature. Concrete is limited to less than about 500F, whereas straight crushed serpentine can take up to 900F. Serpentine sheet is used all the time in buildings for inside and outside floors, walls, and countertops, although the sheet is much more expensive than crushed serpentine. You do have to avoid mines with the fibrous type (<10%) of serpentine. Third world countries use serpentine as cooking surfaces/pans placed directly on the fire. The high heat capacity makes it like a cast iron skillet, but better. The serpentine has impurities like iron in it that absorb the neutrons AND they help in the high neutron energy range where hydrogen and boron are terrible. Pure hydrogen and boron are a terrible shield without higher Z materials to knock down the higher energies.

    2. The Hormesis effect is what I think needs to be focused on. There are now a few long term, large sample group studies that show benefits to overall health, not detriments. The nuclear radiation fear factor has been the main ‘weapon’ of the anti-nuclear side, I think we need to turn the tables. I havent found a source yet that brings all such reports under a single source, if I can’t find one, I’ll start organising one.

      Dr. Calabrese apparently has a massive database of research articles. 40.000 (?) of them. I expect that database would contain everything you need. Likely Calabrese or one of his students has already made the product you are interested in?

    1. I can’t get the comments to come up on that one, despite permitting a heap of sites in NoScript.

    1. How typical, the main gripe by anti-nukes on the film “Pandora’s Promise” is its “lack of balance” and here is a link to an anti-nuke site that revels in their own lack of balance.

      1. Sorry, pressed the wrong “reply” button! My comment above was directed at the post below and there is no delete function I can find.

    1. Like enenews.com, the site owner has just jumped on the nuclear/radiation fear bandwagon to try and earn some money. No contact information, company profile, it’s just another fear-mongering site, but people seem to like being scared. I’m surprised there isn’t a “Nuclear Inquirer” available at your local supermarket checkout stand.

      http://nuclear-news.net/ does not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any information’s, content contained on, distributed through, or linked, downloaded or accessed from any of the services contained on this website.”

      Just my own belief, but I’d say there is some money coming into such sites as these from “off the books” sources, but I have no proof. I’d have thought that organisations such as The Post Carbon Coalition, who do have some anonymous “beneficiaries” with deep pockets, would at least have something positive to say about nuclear energy, but no.

      Fron their Q&A section:
      “Then what about nuclear? Couldn’t modular/thorium/breeder reactors power the world for centuries?”

      “Too expensive and too risky. A detailed report in a recent issue of The Economist magazine—not known for any knee-jerk anti-nuclear stance—called nuclear power “the dream that failed,” and concluded that its role in the foreseeable world energy picture will never be more than marginal. The ongoing nuclear catastrophe in Japan has led that country to abandon nuclear power, and Germany is following suit. Even though China appears to be doubling down on its nuclear bets, from a global perspective the industry is essentially moribund.”

      I was receiving their news letter for a while, a few years ago now, until it became apparent they are really a population reduction movement. The word Nefarious comes to mind.
      I don’t know what the answer is to getting the truth out there about Nuclear when there is so much money trying to kill it off, but I’ve been trying to do my bit on the Internet for what it’s worth.

    2. OOOOPPSS, pressed the wrong reply button above! Was supposed to be here.

      How typical, the main gripe by anti-nukes on the film “Pandora’s Promise” is its “lack of balance” and here is a link to an anti-nuke site that revels in their own lack of balance.

    1. Sorry to be so late to the conversation, but here’s an article about Icaria, Greece:

      And one about its radiological distinction:

      Yep — Icaria is a high-background-radiation location that has an anomalously large number of nonagenarians.

      And recall that Germans love hot springs. Of course, not every German is a nuke-phobic Green, but there’s plenty of overlap in the categories.

      1. A combination of factors on that Island perhaps Dogmug, lack of stress is important for sure, but radiation hormesis does seem to be gaining some interest again. I doubt you will ever be able to buy one of these again though.

        Zimmer Radon Generator

        In North America you can not buy anything even slightly radioactive without setting off alarm bells it seems, the only way I could find to buy even tiny amounts legally would be in thoriated welding rods. Maybe I can locate some ‘hot’ granite counter tops somewhere though.

        1. I thought about using some of that material as a substrate for my box-spring support.  Broken pieces would certainly be cheap enough.

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