Science has falsified the “no safe dose” hypothesis about radiation. Now what?
There is a growing understanding among people who specialize in understanding how ionizing radiation affects human beings that the prevailing “no safe dose” model that was adopted as the result of a major political struggle during the mid to late 1950s is false and does not represent reality. Responsible people that continue to accept and promote the model despite evidence that it is wrong often justify their actions with a phrase like “at least we are erring in the conservative direction,” but that is a false reassurance.
Continued use of the model as the basis for both regulations and public communication is causing harm in a number of ways. It is time to follow one of the most frequently repeated dictums of the most successful of the nuclear energy pioneers and “do what is right.”
An organization full of skilled and caring professionals that calls itself SARI (Scientists for Accurate Radiation Information) has decided that it is time to push the officially appointed scientific and regulatory bodies to reevaluate their stubborn acceptance of an old model that has been proven to be both false and damaging to human health.
The following letter, dated January 21, 2015, is their latest salvo in what will be a sustained effort to encourage change.
No reason to fear low-dose radiation
The LNT Model – why it is a problem, why it was adopted, why it persists, and how it can be overcome
A group of professionals from Scientists for Accurate Radiation Information (SARI)
(Please see the end of the article for the list of authors)
January 21, 2015
Discussion of the LNT Model: The linear no-threshold (LNT) model was adopted in the 1950s for radiation safety. It assumes an excess risk of cancers from even the smallest amount of radiation exposure due to DNA damage. Though the model seems logical, it is not correct because it ignores the fact that our bodies have very powerful defenses against all damages that occur. In fact, there is considerable naturally-occurring DNA damage in our bodies even without any radiation exposure. Although a small amount of radiation produces a small amount of damage, it stimulates the activities of our defenses, including production of antioxidants, DNA repair, damage removal, and improved immune responses. As a result, there is less naturally-occurring damage, and therefore fewer diseases including fewer cancers.
Why the LNT model should not be used: Much of the evidence claimed as support for the LNT model has collapsed due to updates to the data and discovery of faults in the data or analysis. For example, the most recent atomic bomb survivor data, historically quoted as the main evidence for the LNT model, no longer agrees with the model. This has been recognized in the latest published debate on the health effects of low-dose radiation where these data were not used to support the LNT model, unlike in previous such debates. Moreover, there has been considerable additional evidence showing that the LNT model is not valid and even that a small amount of radiation has beneficial health effects.
Why the use of the LNT model is a major problem: The use of the LNT model has resulted in tremendous public harm because of actions taken by governments, professionals, political activists, and the public based on unfounded fears and concerns regarding low-dose radiation. Some examples of public harm are as follows:
- Casualties in Fukushima: Urgent evacuation of the Fukushima area and its prolongation following the 2011 nuclear power plant accidents caused more than 1000 deaths with no recognizable benefit. More than 100,000 people remain displaced, either by government mandate or by fear of low-level radiation exposure. There were no casualties due to radiation from these major accidents in the Fukushima nuclear power plants demonstrating the safety of nuclear power.
- Suppression of nuclear energy: The use of nuclear energy to produce electricity, though it has proven to be the safest in terms of number of fatalities per amount of energy produced, has been suppressed due to trumped up low-dose radiation-induced cancer concerns. This has resulted in real casualties from other non-nuclear energy sources. For example, a recent natural gas explosion in local supply lines in Harlem, NY killed 8 people and injured 70. If the neighborhood had utilized energy from nuclear power plants for heating and cooking rather than from natural gas, these casualties would have been avoided.
- Suppression of research on cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, etc.: There is considerable evidence supporting the use of low-dose radiation to prevent cancers and other major diseases like Alzheimer’s. The use of the LNT model unnecessarily inhibits testing such ideas. According to a conservative estimate, about 10% of the current deaths from cancer can be prevented using low-dose radiation. Thus, considering the annual worldwide cancer death toll of 7.6 million, the LNT model is probably responsible for causing over 2,000 preventable cancer deaths every day worldwide.
- Missed diagnoses: Many patients are refusing to have CT scans and doctors are not prescribing them due to radiation dose concerns, resulting in missed diagnoses and potentially harming patient health. Also, CT scans are being performed with poorer image quality to reduce radiation dose, making it harder to diagnose diseases.
- High costs: Ratcheting up of regulations for the various uses of radiation (medical, industrial, nuclear energy, etc.) has resulted in tremendously increased costs but no benefit.
Why the LNT model was adopted: The LNT model was initially adopted by the Genetics Panel of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Biological Effects of Atomic Radiation (BEAR) I Committee in 1956. Its summary report made statements such as: “Even very small amounts of radiation unquestionably have the power to injure the hereditary materials” and “there is no such figure other than zero” (for amount of radiation that is genetically harmless). The full report was published in the New York Times and received huge publicity initiating the fear of low-dose radiation.
A year later, letters exchanged among the committee members included statements such as:
“I, myself, have a hard time keeping a straight face when there is talk about genetic deaths and the tremendous dangers of irradiation”, “Let us be honest with ourselves—we are both interested in genetics research, and for the sake of it, we are willing to stretch a point when necessary”, and “Now, the business of genetic effects of atomic energy has produced a public scare, and a consequent interest in and recognition of importance of genetics. This is to the good, since it will make some people read up on genetics who would not have done so otherwise, and it may lead to the powers-that-be giving money for genetic research which they would not give otherwise.”
These exchanges are highly informative, as they indicate the true reason for the adoption of the LNT model was not that the smallest amount of radiation is dangerous according to the committee members, but their own self-interest.
Why the LNT model persists: The fear and concerns due to the LNT model have resulted in considerable financial support for the advisory committees and other individuals and organizations that cater to the concerns. Considering the dubious reason for the initial adoption of the LNT model (i.e., self-interest of committee members), similar motivation for its continuation cannot be ruled out. As evidence, the advisory committees have failed to allay concerns about low-dose radiation even after observing the above-mentioned negative impacts (and no benefit) from the use of the LNT model, and in spite of the evidence for the cancer-preventive effect of low-dose radiation, which they continue to ignore. The LNT model is a cash cow for the vested interests. They will not voluntarily discontinue its use.
One might ask: if there is compelling evidence against the LNT model and the advisory bodies have ignored it, why don’t scientists point this out, and push the advisory bodies to do the right thing? In fact, many scientists have done this, but their writings get ignored or dismissed by the advisory committees. Such writings also receive little coverage by popular media as they are not sensational, in contrast to the advisory committee reports and articles that claim cancers from the smallest amounts of radiation.
How the LNT Model can be overcome: Though previous attempts to dislodge the LNT model have failed, the time is ripe for overthrowing it by launching a coordinated effort, in view of the evidence that has recently been published showing the dubious origin of the LNT model and the body of data now existent. Of course, it is not going to be easy, considering the tremendous vested interests that are at work to maintain the status quo.
If the public comes to know the origin of the LNT model as described above, they would support the overthrow of the model, since they would be incensed that the LNT model was proposed by misguided committee members who did not act only in the interest of public health.
Among the steps to be considered for overthrowing the LNT model:
- Legal challenge to the use of the LNT model, since published evidence has shown use of the LNT model has not protected public health but has caused casualties.
- Advertisements that explain the origin of the LNT model partly as a consequence of self-interest of committee members and not to protect public health, and the casualties it has caused.
- Public service messages showing evidence for reduction of cancer from low-dose radiation and how many cancer deaths can be prevented if the LNT model is overthrown.
- Public debates with LNT model supporters.
Many of these and similar steps would require considerable resources and manpower in order to be successful. Therefore a large amount of support needs to be marshalled prior to launching the effort to overthrow the LNT model.
Why it is important to overthrow the LNT model: Overthrow of the LNT model would:
- Enable study of low-dose radiation for prevention of diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, etc. for which there are presently few methods of prevention, but for which evidence indicates low-dose radiation could be effective.
- Reduce pollution and casualties from the use of fossil fuels as living standards improve worldwide by encouraging the development and use of safer, less-polluting nuclear energy.
- Reduce or eliminate unjustified large-scale, prolonged evacuations, and their associated casualties and disastrous consequences in case of radiation-related accidents.
- Reduce the side effects of cancer treatments by enabling study of low-dose radiation to treat cancer, since there is evidence indicating such treatments are effective with minimal adverse side effects.
- Reduce misdiagnoses due to radiation dose concerns regarding CT scans.
- Reduce costs for various uses of radiation: medical and industrial uses, nuclear energy, etc.
One or more of these would be of interest to every member of the public.
How you can help:
(i) Share this article with your contacts in the various social media so that more of them become aware of the need for change and join the campaign to overthrow the LNT model,
(ii) Answer the survey and indicate your support for the overthrow of the LNT model, offer your help for the campaign, give your suggestions, etc.
Based on the responses to the survey, after sufficient support has been marshalled, the campaign to overthrow the LNT model would be planned and launched.
Epilogue: The LNT model is probably the most egregious error ever made in the name of science, considering the long period over which it has been used worldwide in spite of there being no valid evidence for it and in spite of the casualties and calamities its use has caused. In view of the dubious origin of the LNT model and its prevalent use, the powerful vested interests that benefit from its use would not voluntarily discontinue its use. A strong and large public opposition based on the best of science against the LNT model would be necessary to enable its overthrow. We hope you will join this effort and express your support for the overthrow of the LNT model by spreading the message and answering the survey. The whole world would benefit in multiple ways because of your actions.
Mohan Doss, Fox Chase Cancer Center, USA
Mervyn Cohen, Indiana University, USA
Leslie Corrice, Publisher: The Hiroshima Syndrome, USA
Jerry Cuttler, Cuttler & Associates, Canada
Christopher Davey, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia
Ludwik Dobrzynski, National Centre for Nuclear Research, Poland
Vincent J. Esposito, University of Pittsburgh, USA
Ludwig E. Feinendegen, Heinrich-Heine University, Germany
Krzysztof W. Fornalski, Polish Nuclear Society, Poland
Alan Fellman, Dade Moeller & Associates, Inc., USA
Leo S. Gomez, Leo S. Gomez Consulting, USA
Robert Hargraves, Author of “THORIUM: energy cheaper than coal”, USA
Marek K. Janiak, Military Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Poland
Patricia Lewis, Free Enterprise Radon Health Mine, USA
Jeffrey Mahn, Sandia National Laboratories (Retired), USA
Mark Miller, Sandia National Laboratories, USA
Charles W. Pennington, Executive Nuclear Energy Consultant, USA
Jeffrey S. Philbin, Nuclear Safety Associates, USA
Chary Rangacharyulu, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
Bill Sacks, FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (Retired), USA
Andrzej Strupczewski, National Centre for Nuclear Research, Poland
Shizuyo Sutou, Shujitsu University, Japan
DISCLAIMER: This article represents the professional opinions of the above authors, and does not necessarily represent the views of their affiliated institutions.
This article in its entirety may be freely copied and distributed.
Brave New Climate – What we can learn from Kerala
I counter your list of “scientists” with mine:
What a non sequitur. I’ve heard more coherent arguments from a LSD addict screaming at the top of his lungs on a Berkeley street corner.
Oh….let’s see. A non sequitur is a fallacy in which a conclusion doesn’t follow logically from what preceded it.
1. We have the scientific method which is used to filter bad ideas from good ones. It involves peer reviewed scientific studies (input) and scientific consensus body conclusions (output). Not following the scientific method is fallacious (a false notion).
2. The scientific consensus bodies on radiation health effects have supported the LNT theory for 50 years.
3. Some people with science degrees want to bypass the scientific method (instead writing letters, blogs, videos, etc.) in order to further their agenda.
It is an appropriate analogy to compare people with science degrees attacking evolution, just like there are people with science degrees attacking LNT.
But that bothers you. I get it.
What scientific consensus? If there were actually one, the House of representatives would not have passed H.R.35 – Low-Dose Radiation Research Act of 2015. We should not claim a consensus just because standard setting bodies ruthlessly cling to a false paradigm.
LNT isn’t science, it’s pseudo-science. There was never any legitimate evidence to prove it and all counter-evidence is rejected by the LNT church out-of-hand.
Do you ever feel lonely in the Atomic Insights comment threads? No one ever agrees with your comments. Why haven’t you been able to attract the participation of a few others who believe as you do?
Could that be an indication of the weakness of your position?
It’s difficult to convince religious zealots of evolution. The scientific consensus bodies’ conclusions are an indication of rigorous science. I agree with their position.
He is asking why you have been unable to get anyone else “from your side” to show up and back you up.
Many biologists are tired of battling Creationists. So are many on “my side”.
I’m just not tired yet.
Convenient excuse, Bob.
I am glad to see you actually responding in this comment thread. It is a large improvement over the hit-and-run method where you never return for follow-up questions.
Are you particularly sensitive to Rod’s attack of the “No Safe Dose” terminology or is your sensitivity more due to the referencing of the Scientists for Accurate Radiation Information (SARI) group?
Bob, you seem to assume that the “scientific consensus” is 100% correct, all of the time.
If one proceeds directly and straightforwardly in this matter, without being deflected by a fear of incurring the wrath of scientific opinion, one arrives at the conclusion that biomaterials with their amazing measure or order must be the outcome of intelligent design. No other possibility I have been able to think of…
Published in his 1982/1984 books Evolution from Space (co-authored with Chandra Wickramasinghe), Hoyle calculated that the chance of obtaining the required set of enzymes for even the simplest living cell without panspermia was one in 10^40,000. Since the number of atoms in the known universe is infinitesimally tiny by comparison (10^80), he argued that Earth as life’s place of origin could be ruled out. He claimed:
The notion that not only the biopolymer but the operating program of a living cell could be arrived at by chance in a primordial organic soup here on the Earth is evidently nonsense of a high order.
Hoyle, who was an atheist and Darwinist, said that this apparent suggestion of a guiding hand left him “greatly shaken.” Those who advocate the intelligent design (ID) belief sometimes cite Hoyle’s work in this area to support the claim that the Universe was fine tuned in order to allow intelligent life to be possible. Alfred Russel of the Uncommon Descent community has even gone so far as labeling Hoyle “an atheist for ID”.
Hoyle compared the random emergence of even the simplest cell without panspermia to the likelihood that “a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein.” Hoyle also compared the chance of obtaining even a single functioning protein by chance combination of amino acids to a solar system full of blind men solving Rubik’s Cubes simultaneously.
Sir Fred Hoyle was hardly a religious zealot. I would also counter that YOU religiously hold to LNT as evidenced by your attitude regarding any who would question the LNT orthodoxy you have chosen. Rather than the straw man list of creation scientists, more apropos would be to list those scientists who stand upon their scientific credentials to state unequivocally that LNT is confirmed science. I don’t want to see a list of those who only think, in the absence of further study, that LNT is the safest and most conservative model to use at this time, ie., they don’t know; I want to see a list of those who claim they DO KNOW that LNT is confirmed and that further criticism of the model is wasteful and dishonest, as you suggest.
From the above quotes, it should be noted that the following is in reference to powers of ten, ie., 10 to the 40,000 power and 10 to the 80th power. I know all of you could figure that out but I attempt to be clear.
“…was one in 1040,000. Since the number of atoms in the known universe is infinitesimally tiny by comparison (1080)…”
Faulty Comparison (also known as: bad comparison, false comparison, incomplete comparison, inconsistent comparison)
Description: Comparing one thing to another that is really not related, in order to make one thing look more or less desirable than it really is.
Any more logical fallacies for us Bob?
Great, thanks for the list! I didn’t know you were a fan.
That Bob provides that list as HIS list, it explains a lot.
Like what? What are you imagining?
Title is a little odd … people falsify … not ‘Science’. Just don’t want you to turn anyone off.
The tide is definitely turning on this particular brand of idiocy … e.g. DOE study (although they don’t seem in a rush).
Of course society today is filled with people who are afraid that if they don’t eat organic yogurt (as opposed to ‘regular’ yogurt) they will soon be dropping dead. Sometimes I think people like to be afraid.
I agree about the title.
The wording of the title is based on the Principle of Falsification. There are many instances in which the hypothesis that the damage caused by radiation is proportional in a linear relationship from zero dose and zero damage in a cumulative manner without regard to the rate at which the dose was accumulated has been proven false. Thus the model is incorrect and should be rejected in favor of a better model that can withstand similar tests without being proven to be false.
Adam’s last comment illustrates that he doesn’t understand science (he probably really does, but he’s probably trying to belittle it).
A scientific hypothesis must be testable to be a scientific hypotheses. So if LNT is a simple hypothesis, just test it, and find it to be true or false.
A scientific theory is an (complex) explanation based upon a large number of tested hypotheses. It represents our BEST level of understanding. It can’t be proven true, only falsified.
So, scientific theories are attacked by ideologues…LNT, evolution, anthropogenic global warming, the Big Bang, etc.
That’s much easier than doing science (testing a hypothesis to falsify the theory, and obtaining scientific consensus).
Since “no safe dose” hypothesis is a null hypothesis, any “scientist” whom adopts it, is no scientist. You should clearly know that “no safe dose” is a null hypothesis and thus ABSOLUTELY anti science and agenda driven. Hence we get the “Consensus” argument you always spew here.
BTW. I work in healthcare IT, I’m not a Nuclear worker. I *DO* recognize your NULL hypothesis you hold so strangely dear, however.
The hypothesis has been tested a vast number of times over the past 25 years, and it has utterly failed in all instances.
Regardless of whether or not “no safe does” may be falsified, it remains a null hypothesis, so it is very strange that Bob believes it is true, in that it can NEVER be shown to be true. It can be falsified, but can never be true, so it is utterly silly to hold that it is true. He also believes that there is some “consensus” of a hypothetical set of “scientists” that believe it. I like Bob’s posts, because his comedy continues unabated.
If you really believe there is no safe dose of radiation, you would be campaigning to ban bananas, CT scans, and granite countertops; you would be encouraging the citizens of Denver to evacuate; and you would be advising anyone with a smidgen of radon in their basement to abandon their home forthwith.
If you haven’t done any of these things – and I’m sure you haven’t – please explain why anyone should take you seriously.
Linear no threshold, LNT, is about as wrong as it’s possible to be. None of the parts agree with facts. In reality:
* the dose-response is not linear
* there is a safe threshold
* the dose-response is not additive, as Muller claimed with BEIR I. (as explained by Rod’s post on 21-Jan-2015 10:43)
In case you hadn’t seen it, there is a bill regarding Low Dose research.
I would love to know Bob Applebaum’s thoughts on this bill. Bob, should this bill be passed………..or does the existing “scientific consensus” that you proclaim indicate that further study would be purely frivolous?
I don’t proclaim scientific consensus…there are scientific consensus bodies (UNSCEAR, ICRP, etc.) which are tasked legally with drawing conclusions. Those are called facts.
Are you blind to what is happening?
The DOE just finished 10 years and $200,000,000 studying this issues. They found nothing. Anyone who understands biology could predict that. It was an easy bet.
Would you like to bet on this? It’s all politics, not science.
I understand biology well enough to know that hormetic effects due to low-dose exposure to toxins have been identified for practically all known toxins. They are well-documented. Even infamous toxins like mercury and cyanide are known to be beneficial (or indeed essential) for human health, but only as long as the doses are suitably low.
So it is entirely reasonable to assume – in the absence of proof to the contrary – that lose-dose radiation is beneficial (or at least not especially harmful) for human health.
Moreover, it is entirely reasonable to assume that the evolution of life in a radioactive environment has yielded biological mechanisms which are unaffected – if not strengthened – by low dose radiation, in analogy to the fact that life has evolved to thrive on oxygen, even while oxygen is a highly destructive chemical. After all, evolution works by exploiting the potential benefits offered by *all* aspects of the environment in which it takes place, even those aspects which a superficial analysis might determine to be fundamentally detrimental to life.
Bob is misleading us with the term ‘consensus’. He thinks, or is using it, as form of “unanimity”. The fact is that the “consensus” is changing. All professional health organizations that deal with radioactivity are having debates now. Expect some changes in the upcoming BEIR VIII paper. BTW, even the last BEIR VII paper qualified their endorsement of LNT. BTW…dissent over LNT is greatest in the two bodies Bob happened to mention above: UNSCEAR and ICRP.
Among breast cancer oncologists, there was a consensus that mammograms were required every year or so as a form of detection of breast cancer. This is no longer the case. The “consensus” changed. This happens in the health profession in a more or less regular way and I suspect it will with LNT also.
No, that would be a lie. I used the term “scientific consensus bodies”, not unanimity.
And yes, the consensus can change. But it takes evidence, not blogs, letters, videos.
The DOE spent $200,000,000 trying to find that evidence and failed.
The DOE low dose radiation research program did not fail to find evidence demonstrating the LNT model’s breakdown in the low dose region.
From http://lowdose.energy.gov/pdf/albRoughDraft/doeHistoryComplete09262012.pdf p. 142
As noted here several times in the past, (https://atomicinsights.com/low-dose-radiation-research-program-defunded-2011/ and https://atomicinsights.com/radiation-biology-funding-disappearing/) I believe there was a purposeful effort to remove funding from the program because it was succeeding in developing the additional mechanistic data requested.
I will add that there is an ongoing debate, very collegiate, going on. Here is one example:
“Consensus” at this point means “majority”. I will leave it that.
What are the conclusions we get the document (http://lowdose.energy.gov/pdf/albRoughDraft/doeHistoryComplete09262012.pdf )? generally supports or contradicts the LNT model?
It is a lie that was not found anything, they are few but strong …..http://www.pnas.org/content/109/2/443.full.pdf+html
“The findings also support the idea that a person’s genes play a big role in determining her risk of breast cancer from low-dose radiation. The current model for predicting cancer risk from ionizing radiation holds that risk is directly proportional to dose. But there’s a growing understanding that this linear relationship doesn’t apply at lower doses. Instead, the health effects of low-dose radiation may vary substantially among people depending on their genetic makeup.” In http://newscenter.lbl.gov/2012/10/15/cancer-risk-low-dose-radiation/
In order for LNT to be true the majority of radiation induced cancers would have to be cause by a single radioactively induced event, in a single cell. This ‘magic bullet’ vision of cancer causation may have had some weight in the 50s but it is inconsistent with the current understanding of cancer today. If you accept consensus that the ‘magic bullet’ is not an accurate model of cancer causation, than dose and dose rate both play a role in radiation induced cancers. LNT is a convenient model, but not one that would pass the sniff test using any application of the scientific method.
My goodness. There is supposedly a scientific consensus upon the truth of a null hypothesis. Is that the current state of science now?
As regards the much ballyhooed “consensus” on LNT, it’s interesting that a survey of radiation professionals by Dr. A. Karam, CHP, a decade ago, showed quite the opposite.
The results of that informal survey may be viewed in the linked image.
It would be interesting if Dr. Karam could comment on the issue in this forum. Perhaps other surveys have been done since then ?
In any event, there does NOT seem to be any consensus supporting LNT – except perhaps at the top political leadership level of organisations like ICRP, NAS and UNSCEAR.
To pull down the “no safe dose” testing is needed, the concern here is the lack of new evidence to refutal the LNT model, there is no progress in this field? eg no progress in the laboratory Berkeley? wrong to try to refute the LNT model tests and experiments of 1990 as the work of Billen are using. More studies and more tests are needed today!
I repeat what was said in another article
@Rod, It would be interesting to have the opinion of Dr Sylvain Costes, his draft measurement of DNA damage can give us some light on the effect of radiation on humans
What is this constant attempt to link those who believe in the divine Creator to those who work to update the understanding of health physics? The two have nothing to do with each other. I take it “Christian” is an epithet in your book, and it makes you feel better about yourself to pull it out every chance you get?
I know I should just ignore yapping demagogues like Bob, but it is soooooo hard. He makes it so easy, and his hypocrisy is so offensive!
First of all, the “scientific consensus” in favor of LNT he always goes on about is as mythical as unicorns. There is considerable dissention in the scientific community about low dose radiation effects, and what little research that has been done on the topic suggests a majority of scientists believe that a threshold model is most likely correct [Silva et al. 2007, Risk Analysis 27(3): 755-773, Jenkins-Smith et al., 2009, Health Physics, 97(5): 519-527], though many appear to favor a linear model for radiation protection purposes. Even among the expert advisory bodies Bob is so fond of, The American Association of Physicists in Medicine, the Australasian Radiation Protection Society, The Health Physics Society, The French National Academies of Science and Medicine, The International Commission on Radiation Protection, The Society for Pediatric Radiology, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation – have all advised against using LNT to multiply very small doses by very large populations to predict excess cancers [Ulsh, 2014, Dose-Response, pre-press] . That’s a lot of “consensus” right there. But this is a red herring anyway. Science is not now, nor has ever been dictated by “consensus”. It is about proposing theories, which generate testable hypotheses, which are then put to the test, the results of which support (not prove) or disprove the theory. Wash, rinse, repeat ad nauseum. Science is not a popularity contest. The LNT hypothesis has been tested repeatedly and failed.
Secondly, Bob likes to condescendingly accuse others of committing logical fallacies, while he blindly uses his consensus myth in an Appeal to Authority (https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/appeal-to-authority). He also tediously equates anyone who dares to question LNT with creationists – an Ad Hominem fallacy (https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/ad-hominem). Notice he never presents any actual evidence to support LNT – its just UNSCEAR says so (when it really doesn’t) so all you stupid creationists should just shut up and fall in line.
And now I’m done. I am quite certain Bob will respond (he has to get the last word), but I won’t get sucked in again. I really won’t!
From Report of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation Fifty-ninth session (21-25 May 2012) page 10:
For some, that may be read as the Scientific Committee does not believe there is sufficient evidence to justify applying LNT to very low levels of exposure. This is but an interim report, and concludes with an estimate r.e. high-level exposure (page 12):
Note how LNT estimates still plague news and media outlets. See the wikipedia entry for nuclear and radiation accident deaths which still quotes the WHO 4000 figure for Chernobyl, long after WHO gave up on it.
The wikipedia entry says the 3rd worst nuclear power disaster was at Kyshtym.
I hope SARI, if the science is truly on their side, are successful in changing the scientific consensus. I have to say that I, as a layman, though I do think there must be good scientific reason to believe LNT has been falsified, would be uncomfortable going to other members of the public and arguing that LNT is false, while a large number of scientific bodies still adopt it as the standard hypothesis. I am not any sort of scientific expert, and so it is outside of my areas of expertise to evaluate opposing claims on such technical topics as the effects of low-dose radiation. I rely on the scientific consensus, and hope that the vast majority of scientists are truly willing to consider and evaluate the scientific evidence, and come to an expert opinion on such matters.
I, for one, am glad for your entries. I am not a health physicist. Your sparring takes what would other wise be an extremely dull subject and livens it up. Whether your position is the right one or the wrong one on the subject, the interchange increases awareness of the issue, makes one think about the subject and come to the realization that the limits set on minimum exposure to radiation do have an effect on our lives.
I have to agree on the value of dissenters. They give us motivation to up our game and do a better job of representing our side. They also keep us mindful of how information filtration, which we all necessarily do, can sometimes go wrong and lead us into bubble realities. There are other forums in which our views would be in the extreme minority, but as I see it, the mere fact of being outnumbered is irrelevant to the substance of a position. And if a dissenter has a weak or defective opinion, a misinformed reader might hold the same view, and might benefit from seeing a reasoned rebuttal, and the tone of that rebuttal will factor into how receptive that reader will be to listening to the case for the other side. And on this particular issue, my views used to align with Bob Applebaum’s, and I think it is a good thing to have people who remind me of my own fallibility.
Credit also to Rod Adams for hosting Bob’s comments. There have been other forums where I have been banned and had my comments scrubbed because I was the dissenter who did not hew to the views of the site owners (the anti-nuclear self-proclaimed progressive CommonDreams site being the most egregious and hypocritical offender). It is by tolerance for dissent that we demonstrate that we hold our positions because we value reason, not out of some attachment to an ideology or belief system.
So let’s have the spirited disagreements, and let’s also not kid ourselves that the general agreement in this tiny enclave says anything about the rightness of our positions.
Although there’s a bunch of other factors involved with cancer, to me it would make sense that higher altitude states such as my home state of Colorado, would have higher rates of cancer if the LNT theory were correct. But as it turns out, CO and the other states in the Colorado plateau are in the low end of the cancer rate scale.
In fact, looking at the map, the four corners’ region states are all lower than average, despite having very high radon levels, some major uranium mines, thorium, and all sorts of other naturally occurring radiation sources.
Perhaps cancer patients are relocated to Pennsylvania once they are diagnosed?
I agree. It is good reading. The numerous cautions and uncertainties provide help to explain why I am quite skeptical about the correlations between cancer rates and quite inaccurate estimates of doses of ionizing radiation found by epidemiologists. Those multiply uncertain correlations have often extended to three significant digits by people like John Gofman. The false precision is often a tool for scaring people because it allows mathematical extensions to exceedingly tiny doses spread over very large populations to predict a scary number of cancers.
My answer remains that something that is so uncertain that it cannot be measured should not be a cause for concern. If there is a risk, it is in the weeds. LNT proponents cannot bring themselves to recognize that the probability of “no risk” is just as high as the probability of “no safe dose.” Because there is so many billions of dollars involved in the distinction, I am deeply skeptical of those who assert that assuming there is some risk is more conservative than accepting that the risk, if it exists, is too small to worry about.
During the fallout debates of the mid 1950s to 1963, it might have been morally justifiable to exaggerate the risk in order to force atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons to stop. After we stopped purposely exploding bombs in our common atmosphere, the releases became way too small to worry about, unless the goal shift to stopping the growth of nuclear energy as a competitor to fossil fuel. A small number of people MIGHT have resisted nuclear energy because they honestly wanted to simply depower human society because they fundamentally view humans as a scourge or an invasive species.
However, I think greed is a more common and understandable motivator of human actions.
Is there anybody here who actually expects to find a measurable increase/decrease in cancer incidence/mortality (with high confidence factors) in Colorado from an additional dose of 78 mrem per year (with adequate controls for confounding factors)?
I presume the answer is no (if anybody is familiar with available studies in this area).
Cancer is a highly complex phenomenon (obesity, lifestyle, poverty, age, health care availability, etc., play an important role). I think of Colorado as a relatively young state (4th lowest with share of population over 65), fit (reputation for outdoor adventure and sport), a strong economy, good health care, good healthy food choices, clean water, etc. If you’re seeing a pattern in these statistics, it’s likely not radiation dose that is informing them. Louisiana, West Virginia, Maine (our oldest state by population), not the same risk profile.
Your comment has all the right clues (“other factors involved with cancer,” not all states in Colorado Plateau, maybe they are shipping out cancer patients), but none of the right conclusions. It appears even those who dispute LNT are still pretty easily fooled by it.
“Is there anybody here who actually expects to find a measurable increase/decrease in cancer incidence/mortality (with high confidence factors) in Colorado from an additional dose of 78 mrem per year (with adequate controls for confounding factors)?”
Excess radiation exposures in Colorado are much larger than 78 mrem. The web page you cited does not include radon gas exposure, which is the largest part of radiation exposure from natural sources. The high uranium content of Colorado soils means that indoor radon levels are also much higher than the national average.
EPA estimates that the national average indoor radon level is about 1.3 pCi/L, which corresponds to a yearly dose of about 200 mrem. Radon levels and corresponding doses are several times higher in Colorado. In Denver county, they average 4.2 pCi/l, or an additional yearly dose of 446 mrem above the national average. In Boulder average radon doses are 5pCi/l for an additional radon dose of 569 mrem. In Pueblo they average about 9 pCi/l, for an additional radon dose of 1284 mrem per year. (http://co-radon.info/CO_counties.html)
Combined with the additional background dose from cosmic radiation skyshine and uranium groundshine, average yearly doses from natural radiation in Colorado are probably more than 5 millisieverts higher than the national average. Over an 80 year lifetime the total additional dose could be 400 mSv and above. That’s a considerably larger dose than someone living a lifetime in most parts of the Fukushima evacuation zone would receive from the fallout there.
“I think of Colorado as a relatively young state (4th lowest with share of population over 65)”
The CDC state cancer rates are age-adjusted.
Please find another source for this … someone selling radon detection equipment and with a biased sample is hardly a credible source for the potential for public exposures above recommended guidelines. The EPA action level is 4 pCi/L. Air Chek, Inc. appears to be pretty hopeful to sell quite a bit of detectors in Denver, Boulder, Pueblo and elsewhere. CDPHE gets a different result.
And since you seem interested in this question, how about answering it? Do you expect to find measurable increase in cancer incidence/mortality from excess doses found in Colorado (above the national average) when there are adequate controls for confounding?
Combining cosmic, terrestrial, and indoor radon … the excess in Colorado appears to be on the order of 341 mrem (3.4 mSv) to 406 mrem (4 mSv) from background (which is to say is unavoidable). Another source puts State average for indoor radon at 2.59 pCi/L (here). I haven’t gone searching for others (if lower/higher). Colorado gets very good health rankings, and ranks 10th in smoking prevalence.
Correct: “this adjustment may be imperfect if the relationship between age and cancer risk is not the same for all states”. It’s the beginning of an analysis, not the end.
If you see a rigorous and credible methodology for assessing dose dependent health impacts in these statistics, I’m starting to really question your interest in these topics (and whether you have anything substantive to add to them).
And since you seem interested in this question, how about answering it? Do you expect to find measurable increase in cancer incidence/mortality from excess doses found in Colorado (above the national average) when there are adequate controls for confounding?
No, I don’t expect to find measurable increase based on the excess of 341-406 mrem/year (3.4 – 4 mSv/yr). I would not expect to find a measurable increase even if the excess annual dose was 100 times that amount.
However, someone who adamantly defends the LNT and who does not acknowledge that even the LNT indicates that tiny doses result in insignificant risk elevation that isn’t worth worrying about — or spending money to correct — should expect to find some kind of elevated rate of cancer at annual doses 3-4 times the 1 mSv/year that Japan is trying to clean to achieve.
It’s my understanding the standard for resettlement is 5 mSv/a. 1 mSv/a is a long term remediation goal (not a short term goal). I don’t see where Colorado is informative to any of this.
Fukushima was an industrial accident that resulted in contamination of land and property from an unplanned (non-permitted) release of fission products to the environment. Humans are responsible for this (and pre-determined actions, part of licensing guidelines for operating and permitting such plants, result). You’re a bit late to the party asking for these standards and response actions to be revised.
Much of the background dose in Colorado is unavoidable. Where radon exposure exceeds EPA actions levels, people are advised to seal cracks in their foundations and take other remediation actions (spend less time in their basements). Buyers of new homes are informed about these risks (just as the public is when a nuclear plant is sited in their neighborhood). The state average for indoor radon in Colorado is 2.59 pCi/L (not a major level above the national average), and below action guidelines by EPA. Colorado is working fine, Fukushima is not. The accident could have been much worse. Poor communication, inconsistency, and undermining current and pre-established efforts at clean-up and accident response adds to impacts from evacuation and other issues (not minimizes them).
You see the questioning of current actions as protecting the interests of people in Fukushima … to say nothing of the people of Denver (who probably aren’t too happy to find themselves falsely and simplistically compared to Fukushima in their environmental risks and health exposure). I don’t see where any of this helps. I think it hurts the case for nuclear power (especially when such standards are pretty well established, are reviewed on a regular basis by qualified bodies, and aren’t going to change significantly, or at least not in the direction you would likely prefer). If doubt and uncertainty are the perennial challenges for nuclear, there seems to be a fair bit of it floating around (from all sides I wold add). If minimizing it is a credible goal, I’m at a loss for seeing it, especially when science itself, the independence of scientific review panels, clearly articulated and pre-established safety guidelines and rules, and many of the functions of a fully independent regulator are made into targets (and are questioned in their motives and interests).
Are you trying to baffle the audience? Human physiology CANNOT tell the difference between natural and human-made radiation. If the natural average dose in Colorado is 3-4 mSv higher than the world average and the residents of that state are not, on average, displaying any excess cancer risk, then it is absolutely absurd to support a clean up standard that is 1 mSv/year.
Every bit of the resource devoted to achieving that level would be wasted. Considering the fact that a lot of the effort is going into removing topsoil, it is not only wasteful but damaging to the environment.
I am not “late to the party.” It is never too late to right a wrong or to tell the truth.
Are you accusing me of having been born too late to get involved in the 1950s-vintage effort to scare people away from radiation by repeatedly teaching them the mantra (negative ad slogan) “there’s no safe dose of radiation” and backing that up with “every geneticist surveyed says so.”
One big difference between Colorado and Fukushima is that Colorado will maintain it’s higher then normal level of radioactivity for a very long time while Fukushima has a bunch of shorter lived isotopes so the radiation level will go down much faster.
Really the double standard in which radiation from natural sources is treated seems incredibly stupid to me. Radiation is radiation. Why does it matter where it comes from? Instead of wasting money on stupid clean up efforts instead they should just give that money to the people living in the effected areas to compensate them for the addition risk (assuming there really is an addition risk. Something that seems to be contested with good reason).
Now that he’s back on the clock after his well-earned Christmas vacation, yes, that is what he is supposed to do. It’s his raison d’être. It was probably phrased exactly that way in the job description.
1. OK, you claimed upthread that the excess natural radiation dose in Colorado, over the national average, is 78 mrem; we have now established that your number was way off. Your revised figure is up to 4 millisieverts, or 5 times higher than your original number (and a smidge lower than my guesstimate of 5 mSv.) It’s good that we’ve corrected that error.
2. “Someone selling radon detection equipment and with a biased sample is hardly a credible source for the potential for public exposures above recommended guidelines. The EPA action level is 4 pCi/L. Air Chek, Inc. appears to be pretty hopeful to sell quite a bit of detectors in Denver, Boulder, Pueblo and elsewhere. CDPHE gets a different result.”
EL, I did check the radon levels from the Colorado Public Health department that you linked to. Their figures for radon levels are higher than the Air Chek figures that you disparage. (Tha’ts why I cited the Air Chek data—it is more conservative than the CDPHE data). The CDPHE figure for Denver is 4.96 pCi/l, for Boulder 6.04 pCi/l and for Pueblo 9.65 pCi/l, all substantially higher than the Air Chek numbers. (Table 1.) Those numbers imply yearly radon doses of up to about 13 mSv for some sizeable populations in Colorado. (Some counties have even higher radon levels.)
3. “If you see a rigorous and credible methodology for assessing dose dependent health impacts in these statistics, I’m starting to really question your interest in these topics (and whether you have anything substantive to add to them).”
Don’t get mad, EL. When you make egregious misstatements of fact, like the one about Colorado’s excess radiation dose being just 78 mrem/year when it is actually 5 times higher, I feel compelled to correct your errors. Otherwise the discussion could get sidetracked and proceed on the basis of false factual premises.
But you are missing the implications of these disputed facts. You argued upthread that Colorado’s excess dose was too small to draw any conclusions from about the health effects of radiation. But Colorado’s excess dose is actually large. Which means that, even if there are cancer risks hidden in the weeds of confounding variables, they must be very small since Colorado remains a healthy place despite its high background radiation levels.
4. “And since you seem interested in this question, how about answering it? Do you expect to find measurable increase in cancer incidence/mortality from excess doses found in Colorado (above the national average) when there are adequate controls for confounding?”
Probably not. The excess cancer risk is probably too small to discern from background incidence at those low radiation levels, even assuming LNT. I also would not expect any measurable cancer uptick in the Fukushima evacuation zone, even if there had been no evacuation, because excess lifetime radiation doses from the fallout there would be even smaller than excess lifetime doses in Colorado.
The real issue, as many here have pointed out, is not the exact risk associated with radiation, but rather the bizarre disparities in how regulators treat radiation from nuclear fission compared to radiation from other sources. The excess “Colorado dose” from heightened background radiation amounts to about 300 mSv over a lifetime. That’s much higher than the additional lifetime dose from Fukushima fallout in most of the evacuation zone. Yet regulatory authorities forcibly relocate the Fukushima EZ to avoid radiation doses that are substantially smaller than excess natural doses that are considered fine in Colorado.
It’s hard to reconcile that with any rational framework of radiation protection.
5. “You’re a bit late to the party asking for these standards and response actions to be revised.”
EL, that’s a very glib and irresponsible statement, and I hope you’ll retract it. Regulatory action is not a “party;” it’s serious business and deserves ongoing scrutiny—and revision when warranted. The Fukushima evacuation decrees killed hundreds of people and imposed immense costs and suffering on tens of thousands of others. Citizens in a democracy have not just the right but the duty to ask hard questions about whether such policies are consistent with the science, with consensus understandings of reasonable risk and with rational cost-benefit balancings. Appeals to authority—“shut up, that’s how this party started!”—won’t satisfy anyone and they just undermine your credibility.
There is a new article about background radiation in India on Brave New Climate right now. It seems somewhat related to this discussion.
So all manmade sources of radiation should be treated as natural sources … as unavoidable (let nature take it’s course)? That makes no sense. If we didn’t control for radiation from manmade sources (medical exposures, chemical processing, agriculture, weapons use and development, consumer product development, nuclear energy, etc.) that seems pretty irresponsible to me. Laissez faire radio protection standards … that’s a new one to me!
You need to spend a lot more time on CDPHE site. In particular, please read the “learn more about the data” for Table 1 and get back to us. “This method does not establish exact radon metrics across the state.” After mitigation steps, “These results are almost always lower and well below the EPA action limit of 4 pCi/L.” If you have a bone to pick about “egregious misstatements of fact,” you might want to start with some of your own.
Your issue appears to be with ANS (the source for the 78 mrem/a figure), and not with me. Using flawed statistics (as you have done), discounting better statistics, and discounting how radon is mitigated in individual homes (where it is “almost always lower and well below EPA action limit”) is a pretty poor rebuttal on your part (if facts about general public exposures are to be considered, and not those reporting high radon readings in their homes prior to mitigation actions).
I agree with you the ANS figure leaves out radon. They do this, presumably, because radon is highly variable and can be mitigated in many instances (lowering average public exposures in a state). I’ve looked for other sources and have tried to provide better figures that include radon exposures. Why haven’t you done the same (and are continuing to report faulty and misleading figures in this thread)?
1. “You need to spend a lot more time on CDPHE site. In particular, please read the “learn more about the data” for Table 1 and get back to us. “This method does not establish exact radon metrics across the state.” After mitigation steps, “These results are almost always lower and well below the EPA action limit of 4 pCi/L.” If you have a bone to pick about “egregious misstatements of fact,” you might want to start with some of your own.”
EL, you’re the one who cited the CDPHE data as authoritative. All I did was quote the data exactly as written; I didn’t misstate a thing. If you have a problem with CDPHE’s numbers on radon levels, why did you cite them in the first place?
There are limitations to the CDPHE data that you cited, mainly that it might not be weighted properly and that it might contain multiple readings from some residences. The web page also says the data might include some readings taken *after* abatement measures, which would tend to understate prevailing radon levels. But the CDPHE data accord well with other sources and there is no reason to assume their estimates of radon levels are off-base.
Mitigation measures do lower radon levels, but most homeowners don’t worry about radon. Governments suggest that people check for radon and abate it, but the law doesn’t require it and most people don’t do it. So your assertion that mitigation measures *can* lower radon levels if they are undertaken is irrelevant to the question of what the prevailing radon levels and doses actually *are* (and how they reflect on radiation risks.) It’s just another obfuscation.
Also, note that the EPA action limit of 4pCi/L, above which it strongly recommends that homeowners undertake radon abatement, corresponds to an excess yearly dose of about 415 mrem per year above the national average radon dose. Over an 80-year lifetime that amounts to a lifetime excess dose of 332 millisieverts. That’s the excess radon dose that EPA suggests is tolerable—again, substantially larger than the lifetime excess dose from Fukushima fallout in most of the evacuation zone, assuming no relocation. So the very different regulatory treatment of radiation from these two sources is stark.
2. “Your issue appears to be with ANS (the source for the 78 mrem/a figure), and not with me. Using flawed statistics (as you have done), discounting better statistics, and discounting how radon is mitigated in individual homes (where it is “almost always lower and well below EPA action limit”) is a pretty poor rebuttal on your part (if facts about general public exposures are to be considered, and not those reporting high radon readings in their homes prior to mitigation actions) agree with you the ANS figure leaves out radon. They do this, presumably, because radon is highly variable and can be mitigated in many instances (lowering average public exposures in a state). I’ve looked for other sources and have tried to provide better figures that include radon exposures. Why haven’t you done the same (and are continuing to report faulty and misleading figures in this thread)?”
This is crazy talk. You are the one who made the 78 mrem/year claim, and upthread you grudgingly admitted that the true figure is five times higher at 3-4 mSv. ANS wasn’t wrong, it’s just that they treat radon exposures on different web pages. *You* were wrong–mainly because your grasp of radiation science is weak, so you didn’t know that radon, distinct from “background radiation” from skyshine and groundshine (clearly described as such on the ANS web page), is the major source of natural radiation exposure. That’s not a crime—everybody makes mistakes—but you should acknowledge the error and not blame it on ANS or on me. And of course the only reason you “looked for other sources and have tried to provide better figures that include radon exposures” is because I pointed out your mistake. I had to do much of the legwork in correcting your error (and subsequent ones), yet here you are accusing me of slacking off and purveying “faulty and misleading figures” (by accurately reporting the radon statistics you cited yourself). Talk about chutzpah!
EL, dissembling and lashing out won’t restore your credibility.
“Incorrect. I know of nobody in Colorado receiving radiation doses from background radiation on the order of 50 to 200 mSv (and more) in a single year (p. 156)?
For someone who cares about facts … you seem pretty foolish and careless with them!”
Many misunderstandings in that passage, EL.
The numbers you cite from a 2012 report by the French IRSN nuclear regulator (an out-of-date source) are first-year doses for a few hotspots in the evacuation zone (and outside of it, in the case of the 50 mSv figure.) They do not represent average or typical doses in the EZ, which were and are dramatically lower, and they do not represent *lifetime* doses, which is the most pertinent metric for relocation and the one I discussed.
To compare apples to apples, we should compare lifetime doses for those hotspots in the Fukushima EZ with lifetime doses for radon hotspots in Colorado. According to UNSCEAR, excess lifetime doses from fallout in the EZ will be three times the first-year dose (radiation from fallout subsides quickly), so that hottest spot would confer a lifetime dose of 600 mSv. How do radon hotspots in Colorado stack up to that? Well, Pueblo has an average radon dose of 13 mSv/year, so thousands of Pueblo-ites could be getting 80-year lifetime doses in excess of 1000 mSv. Then there’s Teller County, Colorado. According to the radon data you cited, EL, the average of 742 home radon measurements in Teller was 24.36 pCi/l, corresponding to a yearly excess radon dose of about 35 mSv per year, or a lifetime excess radon dose of 2.8 Sieverts.
So when we make fair assessments of lifetime radiation doses, Colorado is quite comparable to the Fukushima evacuation zone.
Incorrect. You are still making conclusions/extrapolations that are faulty based on data that does not support them (and appear to disregard most of the caveats that recommend against what you are doing). You do this a lot of the time it seems to me. If you keep doing this, it’s your credibility that is undermined (not my own).
The state average for indoor radon in Colorado is 2.59 pCi/L (not 4pCi/L). Are we talking about one home or region, or state wide level (which is consistent with the state wide health data cited above). If you wish to make an argument about Pueblo county, please submit the health data that is relevant for it (and the methodology that is credible for assessing dose response with adequate controls for confounding). The excess dose above the national average from 2.59 pCi/L (by your criteria) is 198 mrem on a statewide basis (not some fictive number that you want it to be, and on a substantive basis that is entirely unclear to me).
Did you provide a source with better figures (I didn’t see it). Thanks for not allowing conversation to “get sidetracked” or proceed on “false factual premises.”
If there is a excess risk associated with dose exposures in the first year (or first five years, as the case may be) above 100 mSv, you don’t think we should make account of it? When looking at very low doses accumulated over a period of 80 years (assuming a large share of the population are 80 year residents of a single state … a pretty big assumption on your part), this is somehow a better and more informative measure of risk? Your logic escapes me (on a number of different bases).
If you don’t clear up many of your flawed assumptions and estimations above (and provide a great deal of missing information, particularly regarding confounding and a methodology that would be relevant to answering a question of dose dependent effects), I don’t see how this conversation can continue without getting sidetracked or be based on false factual premises (which you say you would like to avoid). Do you wish to avoid such a thing, or don’t you? I can’t decide this for you (you have to decide it for yourself).
I understand that you think the evacuations in Fukushima were unwarranted. I think it is fine for you to believe such a thing. But don’t be fooled into thinking you are in the mainstream on this (and are not an outlier on the topic). You are. It shouldn’t be a surprise to you when people challenge you on your personal belief, and remind you of your unconventional views on the topic. Continuing this discussion to an ad nauseum level is not going to bring an answer to the question that was first asked (whether there is a dose response in health statistics for Colorado or not). So I have to ask, why do you wish to continue it. Simply to attempt to give credibility and merit to the same faulty facts and faulty reasoning you continue to provide by stating them twice (and a third) time? I don’t see the point of that … do you?
EL, it’s hard to follow your comments. Could you (or somebody) clarify them?
1. This exchange started when I pointed out that your number for Colorado’s excess radiation dose, 78 mrem/y, was way too small because you left out radon. You later admitted that the real figure for *average* excess dose in Colorado (hotspot doses are higher) was 3.4-4 mSv per year, so the 78 mrem was a five-fold error. But instead of acknowledging the error you became angry and attacked me, falsely, for misstating radon statistics. I won’t rehash all that; interested readers can look upthread.
2. You say my estimate of 13 mSv/y radon dose in Pueblo, based on an average radon level of 9.65 pCi/L, is “incorrect,” but you don’’t say why. I’m just taking that number from the Colorado Health Department statistics you cited. Other sources, like the Air Chek measurements I cited, are in good agreement with those figures. This EPA report on radon in Pueblo says, “the average level of radon for those
homes tested in Pueblo City and County is about 8 picocuries (the range of levels
tested is 2-135 picocuries).” (http://www2.epa.gov/region8/pueblo-radon-project) The average 8 pCi/L gives a yearly excess radon dose of 10 mSv. Pueblo’s worst hotspot of 135 pCi/L produces a yearly dose of 268 mSv.
So all the sources agree that Pueblo’s prevailing radon doses are very high, averaging 10-13 mSv per year; over 80 years that’s a lifetime radon dose of 800-1040 mSv, higher than just about any lifetime fallout dose in the Fukushima evacuation zone. The worst Pueblo hotspot is comparable to the worst first-year hotspots in the EZ. Pueblo has 107,000 residents, about the same as the pre-tsunami population of the EZ.
3. “If you wish to make an argument about Pueblo county, please submit the health data that is relevant for it (and the methodology that is credible for assessing dose response with adequate controls for confounding). “
Good point. CDC puts Pueblo County’s cancer incidence at 450 per 100,000, a little higher than the state average of 430 but lower than the national average of about 460. Are there genuine radiation risks hiding in the weeds of confounding variables in that comparison? Maybe. But that just means that radiation effects are not very significant compared to other cancer risk factors. If you can’t detect a risk factor without elaborate statistical controls, then the risk is pretty small.
4. As for statewide average radiation levels, your 198 mrem/y leaves out cosmic and terrestrial background radiation. The EPA background radiation report that you cited, and explicitly agreed with, puts the average excess “Colorado dose” at 3.4-4 mSv/y. Over 80 years that’s an average excess lifetime dose of 272-320 mSv, which is substantially higher than the average excess lifetime dose from fallout in the Fukushima EZ.
5. So no matter how we slice the data, Colorado is roughly as radioactive as the Fukushima EZ–as long as we compare apples to apples. When we compare lifetime doses to lifetimes doses, average doses to average doses, hotspot doses to hotspot doses, and even EZ first-year hotspot doses to highest Colorado hotspot doses, we find that Colorado’s radiation levels are comparable to those of the EZ.
Oops–in my above comment, 268 mSv should be 205 mSv for the yearly radon dose associated with the Pueblo hotspot of 135 pCi/L–Sorry for the mistake!
Of course I did (you just completely ignored or overlooked it). These are voluntary programs, and this is not a scientific sample. In the “You can learn more about the data” for Table 1 (mentioned unthread), CDPHE discusses the “limitations in the data.” Do you wish to address any of these, or just keep repeating the same flawed reasoning over and over again?
“This method does not establish exact radon metrics across the state” (despite your efforts to claim they do). You wish to equate this data to actual doses received by the general population. They are not (and especially for the long term). CDPHE is confident when homes are identified that exceed EPA action criteria, mitigation actions “are almost always lower and well below the EPA action limit of 4 pCi/L.” These actions are described as “easy and inexpensive” (by Air Check and others). Extrapolating a limited sample of doses from a voluntary program that are not scientifically measured for 80 years (at the highest recorded levels) is a really poor method. Beyond telling us who will benefit most from mitigation efforts (which is the goal of these programs, and the Pueblo Radiation Project you cite), the usefulness of this data is rather limited (but you seem to wish to base your entire point on it). Flawed extrapolations from flawed statistics … you are not making a very convincing or compelling case.
I also don’t understand your 80 year lifetime comparison … it makes no sense to me (for the reasons I describe above).
We agree that radiation is a weak carcinogen. This means confounding is an important factor. Are you willing to account for this … or not (I’m not sure where our disagreement is here). Absent a methodology for accounting for this, these statistics aren’t going to tell us much. When we look at the cancer rates for Pueblo, Denver, and Boulder (you single out these counties above) … the data looks pretty contradictory to me. Pueblo and Denver both exceed state averages, and Boulder falls under (significantly so for lung cancer). This seems to suggest a lot about confounding (but little about dose response). Hinsdale, Huerfano, and San Juan Counties have the highest cancer rates, but these results aren’t consistent either. Hinsdale and San Juan Counties have radon sample results (be they limited) comparable to Boulder, and Huerfano is slightly above EPA action levels (according to CDPHE figures).
So if you’re making a consistent claim here, I’m not seeing it. More information needs to be provided (and you haven’t provided any). You (and CDPHE) seem to be telling us where to focus remediation activities and improve public awareness campaigns (a goal of these programs). Pueblo appears to stand out in this regard (as you have described it). EPA appears to agree.
Please read more carefully. My statement was correct. The excess dose from “from 2.59 pCi/L” …
You still don’t understand radon doses and risk assessments in Colorado. Filling cracks in your foundation is “easy and inexpensive,” and you can go about your life secure in the knowledge that total doses are very low, and are not contributing to measurable health impacts. Nobody has to leave their community, or leave their home to mitigate their exposure. The state provides a coupon for a radon test, and financial assistance to low income residents for mitigation (if radon action level is exceeded). Nobody is shirking their responsibility, minimizing public health concerns, or failing to provide the tools to effectively address the issue and minimize exposures (via public education, state resources, standards for public buildings and facilities, home inspections on pending sales, certification and oversight of mitigation specialists, etc.).
Fukushima is not the same apple. Responsible efforts are made to keep radiation doses from accident exposures below public safety guidelines. Doses may be very high (especially in the early years), costly to mitigate, and not easy. If you can figure out a way to achieve the same results that are possible in Colorado, at the same low cost and ease, while continuing to let people go about their lives unchanged, please let us know (because I am sure there would be more than a few people interested in your proposal).
1. “These are voluntary programs, and this is not a scientific sample…. CDPHE discusses the “limitations in the data.” Do you wish to address any of these, or just keep repeating the same flawed reasoning over and over again?”
EL, every data set has “limitations,” no matter how scientifically valid. The radon data from three sources, two of them government agencies, CDPHE and EPA, are in close agreement, and I can’t find any data that contradict them. (Can you?) You want to rule the radon data inadmissible (after citing it yourself when you mistakenly thought it bolstered your case) but we should take it seriously.
2. “This method does not establish exact radon metrics across the state.”
It establishes *approximate* radon metrics. There’s always some uncertainty in any statistical estimate. This is the data we have, and it’s actually pretty extensive and consistent, from several reputable sources.
3. “You wish to equate this data to actual doses received by the general population. They are not (and especially for the long term).”
The EPA equates them. They calculate annual mSv doses from radon levels by multiplying by a factor of 200 mrem per 1.3 pCi/L.
4. “I also don’t understand your 80 year lifetime comparison.”
Lifetime dose, accumulated during an 80-year lifespan, is a standard metric for radioactive contamination at Fukushima, used in the WHO and UNSCEAR reports. It’s the maximum dose someone living in a contaminated area could receive, and lets us calculate the maximum cancer risk using LNT. The lifetime dose is obviously bigger than the first-year dose (three times bigger, per UNSCEAR), because it includes the first-year dose. It’s especially pertinent for long-term relocation. If the Fukushima lifetime dose is comparable to the Colorado lifetime dose, then it makes little sense to require relocation at Fukushima while declaring Colorado healthy.
5. “We agree that radiation is a weak carcinogen. This means confounding is an important factor…. Absent a methodology for accounting for this, these statistics aren’t going to tell us much. When we look at the cancer rates for Pueblo, Denver, and Boulder … the data looks pretty contradictory to me….This seems to suggest a lot about confounding (but little about dose response). Hinsdale, Huerfano, and San Juan Counties have the highest cancer rates, but these results aren’t consistent either..
So if you’re making a consistent claim here, I’m not seeing it.”
That’s kind of the point, EL. There *is* no consistent correlation between cancer incidence and radiation exposures in Colorado, at least none that’s visible. Maybe there is when you weed out all the confounding variables, but that just means that the radiation risk factor is very small and probably not worth worrying about. If that’s true in Colorado, it must also be true in Fukushima, where excess radiation exposures from fallout are comparable to excess Colorado exposures.
6. “You still don’t understand radon doses and risk assessments in Colorado. Filling cracks in your foundation is “easy and inexpensive,” and you can go about your life secure in the knowledge that total doses are very low, and are not contributing to measurable health impacts. Nobody has to leave their community, or leave their home to mitigate their exposure. The state provides a coupon for a radon test, and financial assistance to low income residents for mitigation… Nobody is shirking their responsibility, minimizing public health concerns, or failing to provide the tools to effectively address the issue and minimize exposures (via public education, state resources, standards for public buildings and facilities, home inspections on pending sales, certification and oversight of mitigation specialists, etc.).”
Missing the point, EL. Cheap and easy as radon abatement may be, very few homeowners bother with it. People could test houses and builders could remediate, but they don’t. The state has education programs, but they are ignored, as are the coupons and financial assistance. The state could pass a law requiring homeowners, sellers and builders to test and abate radon, but it hasn’t. Neither the public nor the government bothers doing anything significant about radon because few people care about natural radiation exposures, even very high ones. That kind of radiation doesn’t push people’s panic buttons.
And that makes sense. EPA sounds the alarm over radon and lung cancer, but despite sky-high radon levels Pueblo’s lung cancer incidence is 24 percent lower than the national average. Why should Pueblans fret over radon when there is no lung cancer epidemic?
This is all in stark contrast to Fukushima, where thousands of people were forced from their homes at gigantic cost over fallout exposures that are comparable to, and often lower than, excess radiation exposures in Colorado. Could be a double standard.
Because you are misinterpreting these figures and drawing the wrong conclusions from them. You continue to base your comments on faulty extrapolations and faulty analysis. I don’t know else to say this to you. You acknowledge that confounding plays a role, and yet you continue to make unsupported statements about dose related health impacts in Pueblo. You haven’t shown the data supports such a thing (you are simply making something up in the absence of a credible methodology). Could you please stop doing this, or produce the health statistics that makes a convincing and clear case.
Lung cancer is greater than the state average in Pueblo, and yes the general public in the US does not appear to be as healthy as the general public in Pueblo County or Colorado (as a whole). If you want to make a case that this is related to radon doses and background exposures (and not some other health indicator such as general health condition, activity, obesity, smoking prevalence, age of population, socio-economic factors, etc.) you haven’t done it. We don’t need to keep addressing this over and over again … the data and your analysis of it are insufficient. Please stop repeating points that you are unable to support (it would make these debates go much quicker, and be a great deal shorter)!
EPA exposure guidelines and health risks from indoor radon are summarized here:
For a radon level of 10 pCi/L, the risk of developing lung cancer is 150 in 1,000 (if you are a smoker). If you are not a smoker, cancer risk drops to 18 in 1,000. If the radon level jumps to 20 pCi/L (well above EPA action levels) the risk is 260 in 1,000 of developing lung cancer as a smoker, 36 in 1,000 if you are not.
You suggest you make your comments so that we don’t “get sidetracked and proceed on the basis of false factual premises.” I have to say … I don’t believe you! You continue to sidetrack this discussion based on flawed extrapolations and faulty analysis (despite having this pointed out to you). If this is something that actually matters to you … I would urge you to please follow your own advice.
I don’t see a stark contrast or a double standard. Excess public exposures from background radiation (and indoor radon) in Colorado are well below 5 mSv/a on a statewide average. I don’t consider this inconsistent or fundamentally at odds with general health criteria in Fukushima (i.e., keeping doses below 20 mSv in evacuation zone, allowing for resettlement below 5 mSv, and reducing public exposures from excess accident doses below 1 mSv/year on a long term basis and aligned with international standards and exposure guidelines for the general public in a planned exposure situation). Maybe you can be a bit more clear … because I don’t see it.
Criteria for evacuations aren’t made on an 80 year metric. Early doses after an accident, local criteria and preparedness guidelines, general health standards and international criteria, and more are your typical guidelines (I thought we already went over this). Similarly, when doses exceed action levels for public safety in Colorado, health impacts aren’t disregarded either, they are targeted for mitigation (per the steps described above). These mitigation steps are easy and inexpensive. If you see inconsistency in this (it appears to be of your own making).
Maybe you should start with data I have already referenced above. See Appendix A and B (based on EPA National Residential Radon Survey, or NRRS). They better address many of the following concerns (foregrounded early in our discussion): “obtaining data on screening measurements from companies that sell radon detectors can lead to serious problems if the data contain multiple measurements from some of the high-radon houses, as can occur if homeowners re-measure to confirm an initial high reading. Even more severe selection effects can occur if people are asked to report their radon measurement voluntarily to a third party-people with elevated radon measurements are far more likely to respond to such a request. For these reasons we restricted our work on this issue to data from the SRRS and the NRRS, both of which used stratified random sample protocols for determining participant eligibility, and are thus essentially free of selection bias” (here).
There are also other sources of error and bias too, such as between short term and long term sampling protocols: “Note that in these data the short-term measurement almost always overestimates the long-term average measurement by a large fraction (the median multiplicative bias is a factor of 3.3), and that even homes with the same short-term measurement show large variation in long-term average concentration … Due to extremely poor correlation between [short term] screening measurements and long-term average measurements, a screening measurement obviously has very little utility in determining the annual average radon concentration in any individual home”. It seems clear to me there is better information out there (and I have already provided it upthread). I’m curious why you think we need to discuss these matters and issues further (specifically if it serves to sidetrack this discussion with faulty extrapolations and faulty analysis)?
A final note of clarification, it seems to me a large share of the dose from indoor radon in Colorado is “avoidable” and is not “unavoidable” (as I previously characterized it). A resident living in a well maintained home, especially a newer home with radon-resistant construction, is unlikely to experience a dose that exceeds general health criteria or public safety standards in Colorado. In fact, such doses will almost always be “lower and well below EPA action limit of 4 pCi/L.” Where such doses are actually higher than this on the Colorado plateau, EPA and State guidelines recommend that such doses be reduced and avoided where they exceed EPA action levels for meeting general health criteria and public safety guidelines. There are federal and state resources addressed to this, public information campaigns, and prudent and extensive monitoring of progress on these issues.
I’d like to thank you for helping to clarify these issues and questions. Unless you have any new information to add (it appears we have exhausted this topic … I am not likely to provide a reply to the same false factual premises and unsupported claims for a second, third, fourth time, etc.).
EL, most of this I’ve already addressed, so interested readers can look upthread. Some new points that need to be unspun:
1. “Lung cancer is greater than the state average in Pueblo.”
To be specific, according to CDC Colorado’s lung cancer rate (95 percent CI) is 48.4 per 100,000 (47.5, 49.4) while Pueblo county’s is 49.1 (44.8, 53.8). Any epidemiologist would call those numbers virtually identical, with no significant difference. So despite Pueblo’s much higher radon doses, double the state average, its lung cancer rate is statistically the same as the state average. Not much sign of a cancer risk in those stats.
3. “EPA exposure guidelines and health risks from indoor radon are summarized here.”
EPA’s risk estimates may be true; I never said otherwise. But they are also small, and so governments and the public do virtually nothing to mitigate those risks. Radon is regarded as an acceptable cancer risk, just like cheeseburgers, going to the beach, drinking and smoking, none of which EPA or any governments ban or even try very hard to suppress. This is all in stark contrast with radiation from nuclear accidents, which triggers mandatory evacuations for exposures that are comparable to and often less than radon exposures.
2. Now you’re claiming that the Colorado radon data (which you cited as authoritative before you realized it contradicts your position) is useless because there might be sampling bias and because short-term measurements may be unrepresentative of long-term exposures. You have not shown that the Colorado data actually are biased or provided alternative statistics that contradict this data, which is consistent across several sources and endorsed by the EPA and the Colorado Health Department. It’s hard to avoid the suspicion that you dislike the data simply because it challenges your preconceptions.
Your quote vaguely endorsed a different source, EPA’s National Residential Radon Survey, which avoids those supposed pitfalls with random sampling and longer measurement periods. NRRS doesn’t give state or county estimates, just national and regional ones. (By the way, EL, the 2.59 pCi/L number you gave as Colorado’s average radon level is for the entire six-state region comprising Colorado, Montana, North and South Dakota, Wyoming and Utah. It’s not valid for Colorado proper.)
But NSSR’s summary does estimate nationally the proportion of high-radon residences, so lets look at that to get a benchmark for natural radiation exposures. It estimates that 0.7 percent of American homes have radon levels above 10 pCi/L, corresponding to an annual excess radon dose of 13 mSv or more for over 2 million Americans. It estimates further that 0.06 percent of homes have radon doses above 20 pCi/L, corresponding to an annual excess dose of 29 mSV or more for 186,000 people. People living in these high-radon dwellings would get substantially larger doses in just a few years than one would incur living a lifetime almost everywhere in the Fukushima evacuation zone. Nothing serious, certainly nothing mandatory, is done to abate such high natural radiation exposures in the US (or elsewhere). So the mandatory relocations from the Fukushima EZ can seem inconsistent and irrational.
Incorrect. Source does not “vaguely endorse” the EPA figures, it has very specific reasons for doing so. And SRRS and NRRS do have available zone, state, and county metrics to compare (here).
Incorrect. “Sources of Radiation Exposure for Colorado Residents — Average Indoor radon of 2.58 pCi/L” (here).
EL, if you’re going to nit-pick at least get the facts straight.
1. The first document you linked to was not the EPA National Residential Radon Survey that I discussed, it was a separate EPA effort based on the State/EPA Residential Radon Survey, which is different from the NRRS. The former used long-term measurements by alpha track detectors, the latter uses short-term measurements from carbon filters that trap radon progeny for 2-7 days—the very methodology you claimed was flawed upthread. That’s why I used NRRS—because it avoids both the supposed flaws that you cited in the CDPHE data.
2. As for the 2.59 pCi/L (not 2.58) figure for Colorado’s average radon level, your source there is a single power-point slide with no citation to any publication. If you look at the EPA National Residential Radon Survey Summary Report (it’s not the same as the SRRS!) you’ll find that on p. 28 it identifies 2.59 pCi/L as the average radon level for the 6-state region of Colorado, Montana, North and South Dakota, Wyoming and Utah. That’s undoubtedly where Chrystine Kelley, your power-point slide author, got the 2.59 pCi/L figure; she misapplied it to Colorado proper when it actually referred to the entire 6-state region. It is not valid for Colorado proper and is contradicted by some of the other sources you cite, like the EPA report on background radiation by state, which gives average excess radon doses in Colorado as 410 mrem.
3. As for Colorado state lung cancer rates vs. Pueblo county lung cancer rates, you are the one who made that comparison and claimed that it showed that Pueblo has higher lung cancer rates. You didn’t subject the comparison to analysis for confounding variables. Worse, and very deceptively, you didn’t bother telling readers that the two cancer rates are virtually identical. Pot calling the kettle black, EL.
4. Regardless of what’s going on in Colorado, the NRRS report I cited (after you endorsed it) estimates that millions of Americans are living in dwellings with radon doses of 13 mSv per year or higher, and hundreds of thousands in dwellings with radon doses of 29 mSv per year or higher. These doses are comparable to and often larger than those prevailing in most of the Fukushima evacuation zone, so the relocations from Fukushima seem inconsistent and irrational give than no mandatory requirements for radon abatement are imposed.
I agree there is a lot of contradiction between these sources. You asked above: “I can’t find any data that contradict them. (Can you?).” So which is it, is the data contradictory or is it not?
Chrystine Kelley is radon program manager in Colorado for CDPHE. The document says it is the level for Colorado (here). It also appears to also be the level for the six state figure (odd of her to reference it this way). But we seemed to have cleared that up.
The other state level figure I provided was summarized from EPA NRRS (610 mrem for Colorado, 303 mrem as the national average reported in Table 1, and Appendix B). “This section presents a summary of the data presented in NRC 1999 and EPA 1993a (The National Residential Radon Survey). Appendix B presents a database summarizing indoor radon exposures in the U.S derived from the data collected from the National Residential Radon Survey.”
I’m not aware of you citing or discussing State/EPA Residential Radon Survey. Did I miss it. What were the findings?
I recently cited above an EPA document in which county figures in Colorado were provided (Table 1, pg. 73). The numbers are very low for Pueblo county (based on a very small, but stratified, sample size). Mean for indoor radon was 2.5 pCi/L, 1.7 pCi/L median, and only 28% of samples above 4 pCi/L.
In my first reply to you, I asked you to “Please find another source for this … someone selling radon detection equipment and with a biased sample is hardly a credible source for the potential for public exposures above recommended guidelines.” There are many good reasons to question results on this basis (and I provided sources for that as well). The State site referencing this information says the same: “This method does not establish exact radon metrics across the state.” You keep on citing these numbers (despite warnings and caveats to the contrary), and trying to find contradictions (inconsistencies) in my own.
Which numbers do you want to use … and why (maybe we can start there). I’m fine with the 610 mrem figure (understanding that a large share of this dose is “avoidable,” and is likely to be reduced over time given the clear steps the State and EPA are taking to target high risk areas, and address the issue).
Huh? Where did I say these statistics reflected dose related impacts. You are confused! You don’t think Pueblo cancer rate is higher than state average, and that a number factors may be involved with this (general health condition, activity, obesity, smoking prevalence, age of population, socio-economic factors, etc.). As I have been specifically, clearly, and consistently arguing.
Here is what I said: “Lung cancer is greater than the state average in Pueblo, and yes the general public in the US does not appear to be as healthy as the general public in Pueblo County or Colorado (as a whole). If you want to make a case that this is related to radon doses and background exposures (and not some other health indicator such as general health condition, activity, obesity, smoking prevalence, age of population, socio-economic factors, etc.) you haven’t done it.”
You seem to think I have made an argument that I haven’t made. That is not a very strong argument to make
Most of your comment is just a repetition of dissembling that I have already addressed, so interested readers can look upthread to clear things up. Some new points:
1. You are right that the State/EPA Residential Radon Survey, which I hadn’t found before, does put Pueblo County’s average radon level at 2.5 pCi/L, much lower than the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment figure of 9.65 pCi/L. But the SRRS figure comes from just 32 measurements taken during the single winter of 1986-7. The CDPHE data comprise 4,389 measurements taken over 7 years from 2005 to 2012, so more than 100 times as many measurements as the SRRS survey, under a much wider and more representative range of weather conditions. Both surveys use the same measurement methodology. The CDPHE survey is bound to be more representative than the skimpy SRRS survey.
If you want to use SRRS data, OK, but SRRS estimates Kiowa County, at 14.7 pCi/L, Mineral County at 14 pCi/L, Teller County at 99.7 pCi/L and Yuma county at 11 pCi/L; corresponding to average annual radon doses of 15 mSv to 150 mSv. Together these high-radon counties comprise 34,000 people. I don’t think we should use those numbers because, as with Pueblo County, the SRRS sample sizes are way too small to be representative. The CDPHE survey, with much larger sample sizes, finds much lower average radon levels for Kiowa, Mineral, Teller and Yuma. So there is no reason to believe that the CDPHE survey systematically overstates radon levels compared to SRRS data.
All in all, the much more comprehensive CDPHE survey seems much more reliable than the SRRS data. But you can use the SRRS data if you want—as long as you acknowledge that SRRS also shows very high radon doses in large parts of Colorado.
Whichever radon survey you use, EL, the same basic finding comes through in the data. Many Americans—thousands in Colorado, millions nation-wide–get natural radiation doses that are comparable to, and often larger than, excess radiation doses from fallout in the Fukushima evacuation zone.
2. “Chrystine Kelley is radon program manager in Colorado for CDPHE. The document says it is the level for Colorado (here). It also appears to also be the level for the six state figure (odd of her to reference it this way). But we seemed to have cleared that up.”
2.59 pCi/L is the average radon level for the 6-state region including Colorado; it’s incredibly unlikely that it is also the exact average for Colorado proper (and EPA reports give higher figures). The obvious explanation is that Kelley mistakenly or lazily used the regional average as a proxy for the Colorado average.
Your citing of the 2.59 pCi/L level was an honest mistake, EL, but now it’s time to acknowlege the error and move on.
“So all manmade sources of radiation should be treated as natural sources … as unavoidable (let nature take it’s course)? That makes no sense. If we didn’t control for radiation from manmade sources (medical exposures, chemical processing, agriculture, weapons use and development, consumer product development, nuclear energy, etc.) that seems pretty irresponsible to me. Laissez faire radio protection standards … that’s a new one to me!”
Interesting how you put words in my mouth. When did I ever say man made radiation exposure should be treated as unavoidable? What I said was that the reactions to radiation exposure should be consistent regardless of source. If say 15 mSv a year is enough to cause an evacuation then it should cause an evacuation both for man made exposure and natural exposure. If 15 mSV a year warrants a clean up then it should warrant a clean up both for natural exposure and man made exposure. Consistency is very important. Otherwise you end up making irrational and ill-reasoned decisions that. Something we can’t really afford anymore.
Not if you read the statements from the agency recording it (and the comments above). Much of these surveys are the result of high risk areas targeted by CDPHE and the result of public awareness campaigns. They are not random samples (as fully discussed unthread). There are likely lots of double counting errors, and non-representative volunteer based data (also discussed unthread). What’s more, CDPHE specifically indicates “This method does not establish exact radon metrics across the state.”
You still don’t get it! CDPHE survey doesn’t measure representative samples for a county … it’s main purpose is to monitor on-going mitigation efforts and decide where best to apply state and federal resources. Also discussed unthread. Extrapolating general public exposures from this data on a state wide or county basis (much less on a long term basis) is a poor methodology (and is unlikely to be reliable … as specifically mentioned by agency and by other sources above). I don’t understand why this point is lost on you? You read the same statements as me, and the same limitations on this data discussed elsewhere, and yet you continue to draw entirely different (and unsupported) conclusions from it. This is not a difficult point to understand.
We have valid statewide data for indoor radon in Colorado (much of it avoidable): 610 mrem (used in this way and to this end by professionals and experts reporting on representative statewide figures, hence the document selected above). This is 307 mrem above the national average as indicated by the same source. This also includes data from Kiowa, Mineral, Teller and Yuma Counties (which are targets for State and Federal radon programs and mitigation efforts). More recent data from CDPHE confirm there is merit in mitigation programs at these locations (and reducing public exposures via easy and inexpensive means). Representative statewide data are likely to be reduced by these efforts (and the prevalence of new homes constructed with radon resistant features in high risk areas).
Yes it does, and there is little contradiction with evacuation standards for excess doses from unplanned releases of fission products in Fukushima. As discussed above, “Excess public exposures from background radiation (and indoor radon) in Colorado are well below 5 mSv/a on a statewide average. I don’t consider this inconsistent or fundamentally at odds with general health criteria in Fukushima (i.e., keeping doses below 20 mSv in evacuation zone, allowing for resettlement below 5 mSv, and reducing public exposures from excess accident doses below 1 mSv/year on a long term basis and aligned with international standards and exposure guidelines for the general public in a planned exposure situation).” Criteria for evacuation in Fukushima are not made on an 80 year metric, but on early doses after an accident, local criteria and preparedness guidelines, general health standards and international criteria, etc. “Similarly, when doses exceed action levels for public safety in Colorado, health impacts aren’t disregarded either, they are targeted for mitigation (per the steps described above). These mitigation steps are easy and inexpensive” (and effective).
Rather than showing that mitigation efforts in Colorado are unwarranted, your comparison with Fukushima appears to suggests they have merit. This seems clear from the data you have highlighted in this discussion. You’ve suggested some very excellent reasons to track this information more closely (and extend existing state resources and mitigation programs to continue to address these issues in specific locations in Colorado and more broadly bolster public awareness in the future).
I already did … I said this issue has been “cleared up.” What else did you think I meant by this?
Once again, for a third or fourth time, it seems to me that this conversation is over. You keep repeating the same flawed and faulty facts and analysis over and over again (claiming they point to something that they don’t). And (in several instances) you read this conversation incorrectly, and attribute comments to me that I never made. This is not helpful, and does not move the conversation forward. If you have new information to add, please add it. Otherwise, I think this conversation has run it’s course. It seems like it may be time to heed your own advice for once (and move on).
By treating all sources as the same … you are lumping together unavoidable background doses with avoidable accident doses, doses in planned exposure situations, etc. You don’t see where you are doing this in your statement?
You seem to be completely missing the point. Natural radiation doses are not unavoidable. For instance you could ban commercial flight or force evacuations in places in Colorado, Iron and other areas with high natural back ground radiation. This would reduce the amount of radiation revived from naturals sources (i.e. avoiding it), but you don’t care about this do you. Instead you only care about radiation from some sources which is inconsistent and illogical. Can you really not see this?
1. “CDPHE survey doesn’t measure representative samples for a county … it’s main purpose is to monitor on-going mitigation efforts and decide where best to apply state and federal resources…. Extrapolating general public exposures from this data on a state wide or county basis (much less on a long term basis) is a poor methodology (and is unlikely to be reliable … as specifically mentioned by agency and by other sources above).”
The CDPHE data are hugely more comprehensive than the SRRS data that you cited, so they are likely to be more representative. (Where does CDPHE say that “the main purpose is to monitor on-going mitigation efforts and decide where best to apply state and federal resources,” and not to provide information about prevailing radon levels?) CDPHE has some caveats about sample bias in the data, but it’s not clear which way they cut. CDPHE says that much of the “double counting” may be homeowners retesting after radon remediation, which would bias the sample downward in comparison to radon levels in untreated homes, which are the large majority of all homes.
Also, Pueblo doesn’t show much sign of increased testing because of “public awareness campaigns” in high-risk areas. At about 28 tests per 1000 population, its testing rate is the same as Adams County, with much lower radon levels, and much lower than Boulder (74 tests per 1000 people) which also has lower radon levels. Testing rates are tied more to the proportion of fretful yuppies in an area than to high radon risks.
CDPHE numbers in Pueblo are consistent with other sources, including the EPA’s Pueblo Radon Project (except the SRRS survey, which is very old and has a tiny and therefore probably unrepresentative sample).
And state-wide or county-wide averages may not be meaningful. Two-thirds of Pueblo County’s population lives in the city of Pueblo, a tiny portion of the county’s land-mass. Sampling of other underpopulated areas of the county is irrelevant to the central question of prevailing exposures to people; For that question, oversampling of densely populated high-radon zip-codes gives a more representative estimate.
What the CDPHE data indicate is that the average radon level in a group of thousands of houses in Pueblo is 9.65 pCi/L, corresponding to 13 mSv/y. Even if that sample is not precisely representative of some arbitrarily larger geographical area, it’s large enough to be an important finding in itself. It means that thousands of people in Pueblo are getting excess natural radiation doses that are comparable to fallout doses in the Fukushima evacuation zone.
2. But if you don’t like the CDPHE data, we can talk about whatever data you do like. The SRRS data suggest that 34,000 people in high-radon Colorado counties get yearly radon doses of 15 to 150 mSv. The EPA’s NRRS report, probably the most statistically reliable, estimates that millions of Americans get radon doses of 13 mSv per year or more, and that hundreds of thousands get yearly radon doses of 29 mSv or more.
So just pick whichever radon survey you think is best, EL, and let’s see what it says.
2. “Excess public exposures from background radiation (and indoor radon) in Colorado are well below 5 mSv/a on a statewide average.”
That’s pretty meaningless to the question of hot-spot exposures that can effect large populations in the state. Colorado is two-thirds the size of Japan. Citing its average radiation exposure is like saying, “Excess public exposures from Fukushima fallout in Japan are well below 5 mSv/a on a nation-wide average, so clearly there is nothing to worry about in the Fukushima evacuation zone.” In any case, Colorado’s average lifetime excess natural radiation exposure, about 4 mSv/y according to your own source, is comparable to the Fukushima EZ’s lifetime fallout dose.
3. “Criteria for evacuation in Fukushima are not made on an 80 year metric.”
True or not, it’s irrelevant to the scientific question of which area imposes the higher radiation risk on populations living there. According to the LNT theory that you champion, EL, it doesn’t matter how long a period the radiation doses are spread over—the aggregate of many small yearly doses has the same risk as the same total dose incurred over a few years. So according to LNT, the 80-year dose in Colorado has the same effect as an equivalent dose in Fukushima, even if the latter is frontloaded during the first few years. Colorado is actually worse than that: according to LNT, 40 years at the “Colorado dose” will give you the same excess dose and cancer risk as a whole lifetime in most of the Fuku EZ. The thousands of Coloradans who get natural radiation doses double or triple the average Colorado dose will surpass the Fukushima EZ lifetime dose in a decade or two.
4. “By treating all sources as the same … you are lumping together unavoidable background doses with avoidable accident doses, doses in planned exposure situations, etc.”
EL, your taxonomy of “avoidable” and “unavoidable” radiation exposures is meaningless and self-contradictory. (You’ve been vacillating over whether radon exposures are or are not “avoidable” throughout this thread.) As Evan has rightly pointed out, no serious efforts are made to mitigate “natural” radiation exposures, even when they are quite large and quite “avoidable,” while comparable or smaller doses from nuclear accidents provoke mandatory relocations with immense costs and suffering. Could be a double standard.
Why would you force evacuations in Colorado?
The excess dose is very small compared to everywhere else, and if you have a problem with indoor radon in your home you are advised to fix it. The steps to do so are easy and inexpensive, and almost always result in exposure levels that are “lower and well below the EPA action limit of 4 pCi/L.”.
Below established health guidelines means no evacuation. This is not inconsistent, and it is not illogical. I’m not sure why this is so confusing to people here?
In addition, I also care about limiting public exposures to radiation from sources that are entirely preventable (such as from accidents). Even moreso when they are above public safety and licensing guidelines (and trigger specific actions related to preparedness and response plans). I don’t find this inconsistent or illogical either? If you think it is (and it seems you do), I recommend the best place to start is to change such plans and standards (and to do so before an accident takes place, not after).
How much more time do you want to waste on this?
You don’t seem to have read or understood the CDPHE (“Radon Outreach Program”) limitations on this data. Data “doesn’t allow us to compare radon levels in different areas of the state because testing is completely voluntary, so some areas report more tests than others and we don’t know if results are representative of an entire county or zip code.” Voluntary data is highly selective, multiple tests are a problem, sampling protocol is a problem, and much more. And results do conflict with other sources (despite your flawed statement to the contrary). “This method does not establish exact radon metrics across the state.”
You appear to be the reining supreme deity of sidetracking the conversation “on the basis of false factual premises” (which you say you specifically wish to avoid). This appears to be entirely hubris on your part. I don’t know why you are having such a hard time understanding and applying basic principles and concepts related to these surveys, or falsely extrapolating dose related health impacts from them (as you have mistakenly done). But you are (and this much should be clear and apparent to anybody reading through this thread). You are not asking any new questions that haven’t been reviewed unthread, and you are not providing any new data to review. I consider going around in circles and you continuing to make, with seeming zeal unmatched by a wiser person, the same fundamental mistakes over and over again to be thoroughly indefensible and after eleven days quite an astounding feat of endurance.
Indoor radon levels are not a significant concern in Colorado. And if they are, they are easily mitigated (and the steps to do so are effective, easy, and inexpensive). There are public funds available for this and other resources, state, and federal initiatives too (public awareness campaigns, standards for public buildings and facilities, home inspections on pending sales, radon resistant building standards, certification and oversight of mitigation specialists, and more).
You have a point to prove (and you seem to be entirely convinced you are proving it). Well, that’s very good for you. I’ve had my shot to dissuade you (and it literally can’t be done). I consider further discussion with you on this topic to be a lost cause, and an unproductive use of my time.
You get to have the last word … if you choose to take it.
“You get to have the last word.”
1. EL, you’re just not engaging with the data. Even if we leave aside the CDPHE data (which I don’t think we should), other surveys tell the same story of very high radon doses affecting large populations.
The SRRS data that you yourself cited as authoritative suggests that in high-radon counties in Colorado, with a total population of 34,000, average yearly radon doses range from 15 mSv to 150 mSv. Then there’s the EPA’s NRRS survey, with a random sample and a long-term measuring methodology with alpha-track detectors (allegedly the gold standard), which you also endorsed as authoritative. NRRS estimates that over 2 million people in the United States get yearly radon doses of 13 mSv or more, and that hundreds of thousands get radon doses of 29 mSv/y or more.
There’s nothing special about the U. S., so the NRRS figures suggest that many millions of people around the world are getting yearly radon doses in the 13-30 mSv per year range. These natural radon doses, especially added up over a decade or a lifetime, are comparable to, and often larger than, fallout doses in the Fukushima evacuation zone.
2. These findings really should revise our view of the Fukushima accident. There’s a wide-spread impression that the Fukushima spew and other nuclear accidents cause uniquely large and dangerous radiation exposures. That’s clearly not true. Millions of people all over the world live in places where they will receive natural radiation doses comparable to or greater than those in the Fuku EZ, with health effects that are at most modest. Since no mandatory or even serious effort is made to abate those natural radiation exposures, it doesn’t make much sense to impose forced relocations in Fukushima—that seems like a double standard.
It’s not that people here find what you say confusing. It’s simple that we disagree. In Japan thousands of people were forced to leave their homes, and were made to feel fearful over amounts of radiation that in other context people don’t really care about. This seems very illogical and contradictory to me.
Anyone is allowed to get on a plane and travel around the world. On that plane they are exposed to doses of radiation higher than normal, and yet there is no massive campaign aimed at making those people fearful, and no one is trying to force them to stop. The same is true of elevated levels of radon. There is no force being applied to people exposed to elevated levels of radon. There is no massive fear campaign. Can you really not see the double standard here?
You are incorrect. Try and sell a home or operate a school or office complex with cracks in the foundation and radon levels above national guidelines Colorado? You’ll find force applied in these instances. I see no double standard. Radon risks are taken seriously in the State, outreach and mitigation efforts are easy and effective (and public education plays a key and important role). That you seem unaware of these programs and efforts is not a serious defense (but a blindness). January is “national radon action month,” do a search for “radon outreach” in Colorado and you’ll find plenty of information on risks, mitigation programs, funding sources, etc. Nobody (excluding true believers and zealots) turns a blind eye to health risks from radiation (whether it is medical sources, radon, air travel, consumer products, power plants, mining sites, unplanned exposures, or anything else). Suggesting they do is misinformed and ignorant (and is not likely to change anybody’s mind on a substantive basis about nuclear power).
If you have anything else to add, please do so, because it looks like we will have to set a limit on this discussion as well (or risk going around in circles and circles for another 11 days with very little new discoveries that weren’t already referenced in the first). I won’t be doing that (just so that you know in advance).
I respect your dedication to what you believe, but you are wrong. I remember watching the news in 2011 when the major news sources started reporting on the earthquake and tsunami. Then very quickly it all become about the nuclear power plant. It was like all the death and destruction from that horrible disaster just disappeared and all people could see was radiation. A lot of people have never heard anything about radon or radiation exposure from commercial aviation, but everyone has heard about Fukushima. This isn’t a coincidence. Radiation from nuclear power is treated different. You may not see it as a double standard, but other people do. I don’t know how many people I’ll convince with my arguments, but it’s the truth, and while I’m not naive enough to believe the truth always prevails I do at least believe it’s worth defending.
Fukushima has been off the front pages for a couple of years now. As was foreseen by nearly everyone, it was a story that was short-lived and had seen very little follow-up and media attention (despite significant set-backs, wrangling over funds and responsibilities, working conditions at plant, grievances from evacuees and the public most directly impacted, long term implications for fishing and agricultural sector, long term implications for electricity sector, trade, politics, debt, public confidence, and much more). If you’re thinking Fukushima has been overplayed in the media, I see little evidence of it. In fact, I think a pretty good case can be made that the opposite has been the case.
Restoring public confidence, I am pretty certain, isn’t going to come by way of propounding doubts about established and well documented health risks, burdensome regulations and radio-protection standards, labeling science and review bodies as corrupt and beholden to special interests, and falsely comparing airline passengers and Colorado residents (with easily repairable cracks in their foundations) to Fukushima victims. This stuff may pass muster with a wink and a nod in social media (among people speaking with compatriots), but outside of that rather narrow and circumscribed world it looks rather odd and detached from reality. Nuclear has a lot of work to do to move forward. I’d like to see it do that work (the presentation of Mr McGough of NuScale is a terrific example). There are many good and solid plans (in regulation, policy, finance, and engineering) to help with that. “If it’s not hard,” as the saying goes, “it’s not worth doing.” Adm. Rickover had this attitude, somehow modern day nuclear enthusiasts have lost the same (at least as measured in some discussions in social media). The dividends of taking the more difficult approach, as measured in US nuclear safety record, very high capacity factors, and vastly superior US nuclear navy performance, should not be minimized or underappreciated. If there is a “truth worth defending,” as you say, it shouldn’t be left to a lone wolf on the site to say as much.
“Try and sell a home or operate a school or office complex with cracks in the foundation and radon levels above national guidelines Colorado? You’ll find force applied in these instances….Radon risks are taken seriously in the State, outreach and mitigation efforts are easy and effective.”
What are you talking about? Could you be specific here? What “force” is applied, in what circumstances?
Here’s what the EPA, Colorado state government and state radon law compilations say about Colorado’s radon laws.
1. New residential construction: Colorado has no state requirement for radon-resistant new construction. Ten counties and 16 municipalities do, but in most of the state there is no requirement that home-builders try to abate radon or even test for it (although some do voluntarily)
2. Sales of existing homes: Nothing but a weak disclosure rule here. If home sellers know of a radon test that has been done on the house, or know that the house has a radon remediation system, they are required to disclose that to buyers. But if they don’t know of those facts, they are not required to test for radon or inform buyers of a possible radon issue. There is no requirement that home-sellers do anything to remediate radon in the house, no matter how high the level, even if they know about it.
3. Schools: Schools are required to test for radon and disclose the results, but not to abate radon, no matter how high the level. There doesn’t seem to be any requirement for radon-resistant construction for new schools. News reports say that even those regulation are laxly enforced–hundreds of schools have not tested, and hundreds that found elevated radon levels apparently have not abated it. (http://co.chalkbeat.org/2011/03/22/radon-levels-untested-in-some-schools/#.VNfriSuP2pA)
4. Office and commercial buildings: I could not find any requirements that office or commercial buildings, new or old, test for or remediate high radon levels, or that new buildings incorporate radon-resistant construction. These buildings may be covered under the same disclosure rule in (2).
5. AFAICT, radon remediation is not required in any existing structure, at least not by any state regs–maybe there are some local regs I didn’t spot.
This doesn’t sound like a serious or effective anti-radon program. The few weak provisions that do exist seem to be spottily enforced. The state does “outreach,” but most people ignore it. Chrystine Kelley in the above link says, “I *am* the radon program, and I have very limited time”—so the state’s allottment of staff and resources to radon abatement seems pretty trivial. The state estimates that half the homes in Colorado have elevated radon levels, and these measures show no sign of remedying that.
Am I missing something here, EL? Do you have references that show that Colorado is doing anything really forceful?
Your definition of “most” needs a bit of work: “most schools likely did the testing … those who found elevated levels of the cancer-causing gas did take steps to fix the problem.” As a likely result of news story: “The Radiation Advisory Committee has directed HMWMD to compile current statistics on school compliance with 6 CCR 1010-6, (10-102). The division is conducting a school survey that is expected to be complete sometime this summer. As a result of this survey, many schools are working to come into compliance by testing or retesting” (here).
As I previously said, zeal to sidetrack the conversation on the “basis of false factual premises” is not welcome in this context. I don’t welcome it, and presumably you don’t either (although this is mostly hubris on your part). So it really mystifies me why you wish to continue the conversation with inane and contradictory comments as you have presented above? I understand you consider disclosure requirements as “weak” (along with standards for new construction and media attention on schools that are not in compliance with state laws). Did you miss something, I think you probably answered your own question.
Your summary is more than sufficient to highlight radon as an important concern to Colorado homeowners, government officials, the media, and public health representatives. Sidetracking this conversation further (as already indicated above) serves no purpose.
“truth worth defending,”
Interesting quote you choose, especially since it doesn’t appear anywhere in my comment. In regards to my thoughts on truth I believe that all truth is worth defending because it is only by seeing things as they really are that we can make progress. Technology advances on the back of accurate knowledge of the universe. But I digress, this kind of philosophical thinking isn’t very important to the discussion at hand.
You say that Fukushima didn’t get enough news coverage. If Radon got even a fraction of Fukushima’s news coverage then I bet a lot more cracks in people basements would get filled. Radon gets almost no coverage from the media. In fact I never even heard about Radon until I became interested in nuclear power. Also, the comparison between fukushima and flight isn’t faulty. If radiation standard for flight were the same as they are for Fukushima whole areas of the sky become evacuation zones and commercial flight as we know it would end. I find that knowledge pretty meaningful.
I’m a lone wolf? Lol, That’s the first time I’ve ever been called that. I don’t see myself as a lone wolf. I’m just a person on the internet trying to get people to do the right thing in regards to nuclear power. I’m not really alone either since a number people on this site and others are trying to do the same thing.
Please read your own comments. Here is your quote: “I’m not naive enough to believe the truth always prevails I do at least believe it’s worth defending.”
You are defending ignorance on the issue by claiming that you never heard of it? This conversation is going nowhere (if you are interested in my opinion). I knew about radon when I was 8. Not because I was exceptional, but because we had our home tested.
Another good example!
You have reading comprehension issues. I don’t think I was unclear (although a bit indirect), but you appear to have completely missed my point.
I don’t see where this conversation is going anywhere in a productive direction. I have very low interest in continuing it.
“I’m not naive enough to believe the truth always prevails I do at least believe it’s worth defending.”
is different then this
“truth worth defending,”
My quote show that I think defending truth in general is a worthwhile activity your quote made it sound like I was only talking about one particular truth.
I understand you point just find. You are wrong. The is a double standard implied both by the media, and by how different industries are regulated. My lack of knowledge about radon in the past is just and example of the much larger lack of public awareness about radon that exists become of this double standard.
Oops, I mean “There is a double standard employed both by the media”.
Another aspect of “public harm”: where a miniscule dose from a particular manmade source that can be far below background, usually one that is the target of activists, is disingenuously leveraged via LNT onto a large population (in the hundreds of thousands or millions) in order to present the statistic and screaming headline that it ‘will’ cause x (relatively small and again, within the background of other identified causes) cases of cancer. This tactic creates the illusion that radiation alone has ‘marked for death’ these x people as surely as if they had won the lottery, and (somehow) their individual fates are scientifically provable.
It is subtle and insidious too, because leveraging small probabilities into large populations is an accepted and useful method of presenting statistics for people to grasp. The fractal concept that cell damage and repair is an integral and possibly essential part of life, that is more difficult.
The problem is that in causes that are emotive, background radiation or other unavoidable phenomena, so-called ‘acts of God’ can be dismissed out of hand, and the media assist their readers in doing so because (understandably) people are not comfortable being warned about things beyond their control. Thus the use of LNT is selective. The headline will mark say 10 people out of millions for ‘death’ and neglect to mention that by the same method, hundreds are already ‘marked for death’ simply because they choose to live in Colorado.
The headline’s purpose is not to clearly communicate a small statistical likelihood. Its purpose is to invoke the dreadful spectacle of ten funeral processions. If this is irresponsible, then you would have to analyze it down to the root of our fascination with the morbid and the tabloid.
Perhaps this can only be countered with full disclosure to the true and ultimate degree of absurdity, kicking back by applying LNT to EVERYTHING and warning EVERYONE, URGENTLY. Nuclear folk dubious about LNT feel compelled to mention bananas or Denver, and struggle to get these points understood. But it takes the form of a rebuttal or background consultation. Naturally these things will appear below the skim-line, the portion of a news story where a great many readers have ‘left the building’.
So go on the offensive. Develop a simple, readable overview of the LNT debate such as this excellent article (but with fewer words, think press release) and use it as the second half of a series of public ‘warnings’. This whimsical and factual article http://blogs.houstonpress.com/eating/2010/08/radioactive_foods.php does something like this, using a fake news teaser at the beginning. But that article has nothing to say about LNT.
So use LNT and the specific scare-headlines and teasers worded just as they are used in LNT leveraging — for everything even slightly radioactive. Research dose, estimate consumption (or exposure for location) and consign x people to ‘death’ or ‘cancer’ — by eating naturally radioactive foods, living in Colorado. Flesh out each story as the Onion would. For example, the Colorado story might describe a mass evacuation in progress. But each story ends with the background on LNT and an appeal to reason.
Propaganda they’ll say. What else could they say. But if it is entertaining and you get people to read and consider the message, you’re no longer being reactive, and you may begin to short-circuit one of the most manipulative tactic that is in use.
I do not find low-dose radiation hormesis farfetched at all. In modern medical practice where doctors intentionally provoke immune responses to make treatment more effective or ‘jumpstart’ a patient’s own defenses, it is not too difficult to imagine natural background radiation also doing so — even to the point where in healthy populations some epidemiological dependence on it may arise. We are distantly evolved from burrowing creatures with their snuffle-noses breathing radon on and under ground.
A related example of hormesis is that parents are beginning to emerge from the “long dark Winter of the germophobe” to studies that show children in households that attempt to sterilize their environment fare more poorly than their dirtier peers. This is a valuable corollary because ironically, it is the demographic who would consider themselves most ‘earth-centered’ that will find it easiest to grasp this insight into our immune system. and yet — it is that demographic that is most irrationally afraid of radiation.
Radiation, like dirt, is everywhere. But what do I know.
All good points here. Nice.
I am open-minded concerning this debate. I’m sure that there is always something new to learn. However, one thing that I have learned that is settled as far as I am concerned is that “safe” in real life is not as black-and-white as in a baseball game. Any level of safety or risk is relative. It’s not a matter of safe vs. unsafe in my opinion, but a matter of asking at what point does the increasing risk outweigh the decreasing benefit. I know that I have a statistical risk of 2500/10000 to have a cancer. What makes it worth increasing that risk to 2501/10000? 2502? 2503? … You contend that there is a threshold, an you may be right. But is that threshold the same or different for different individuals? Is it constant for each individual, or does it fluctuate? Does exposure below the threshold mean absolutely no risk or can the decaying negative effects of one exposure be compounded by addition of ne exposure? Lots of questions are yet to be answered and many more yet to be asked.
I agree with you, many questions remain unanswered and I think the only way to find answers is through laboratory research to approach the truth and find a real and possible alternative to the LNT model
This will be a tough sell. The reality is that it only takes one mutation from a single gamma, alpha, neutron, or proton to produce a mutated cell the body’s immune system does not recognize and is malignant/cancerous. It matters not whether the ionizer was man-made or naturally occurring. It appears, based on the article, that there is a band of radiation dose (natural + man-made) that produces statistically positive or neutral health results. Note: there are still negative results in there, it is just that they are overcome by the positive. And then, at some higher threshold, the negative results start to overcome the positive. How much buffer should there be to the statistical point where things turn negative? How do you convince people that the good outweighs the bad? How many cancer deaths out of 10,000 are acceptable to provide the positive results discussed? While this may very well be the right course, this is a marketing nightmare.
Well we all have about 5000 mutagenic beta emissions per second right inside our own bodies thanks to the naturally radioactive potassium inside us. That’s 158 billion chances of cancer a year. Potassium is in our blood and is concentrated along our nerves, all through our bodies… Which makes me think our bodies are almost as good at repairing genetic damage as lakes are at repairing holes in their surfaces made by thrown stones. To cellular organisms, low-level radiation is so normal it doesn’t even rise to the level of trivial.
I think that LTN is not the cause of current problems with public acceptance of nuclear energy. It is somewhere else. Also sane person can estimate benefit of the chest X-ray diagnostic for him when it is needed. Insane technocrat orders X-ray chest scanning of the whole population at the age of 13.
Has anybody calculated the death rate resulting from raising the cost of a kWh by one cent?
It means people have marginally less money for good health care, high quality food, safe cars etc.
Renewable energy mandates are raising the cost of energy, thereby killing people, lets put a number on it and compare with “conservative” LNT predictions.
I believe in the scientific consensus behind LNT (in as much as the bodies accept it, so do I), though I never comment here because I know that it will be lambasted. I think you need to beware this becoming an echo chamber, though, so I would ask the experts in the field of study at NAS, ICRP, UNSCEAR, ect why LNT is still the agreed upon regulatory structure rather than just calling foul. Being that the vast majority of you aren’t health physicists that is the reasonable course of action. That is how science is supposed to work, and why I reject this battle against LNT is mostly, in my opinion, a distraction to the real issue, which is the communication issue in explaining that even under LNT risks are exceeding small. I think this makes us look bad, personally, and I think it is unfair to your readership that isn’t very knowledgeable about radiation and promoting this idea that runs afoul of all the bodies mentioned above.
I almost feel as betrayed in this area in how much it departs from the main stream science, almost as much I do towards Arnold Gundersen back when I was more anti-nuclear. That isn’t a good thing, I don’t like thinking of this issue and the people I respect like that. Consensus bodies are important, read their ENTIRE body of work and not cheery pick out the sections you like vs the sections you don’t…like all the parts about WHY LNT is still the best model for public health and safety. And why they don’t recommend extrapolating dose and mortality…it has more to do with dosimetry than LNT problems.
Any rate, I full well expect to get lampooned now, but know that supporting the idea of LNT isn’t mutuality exclusive to supporting nuclear power.
People may disagree with you, but you should not consider that to be lampooning.
If you go the the Atomic Insights archives page and look through the articles in the category of “health effects” or “LNT” you will find a large number of articles explaining why I believe that the officially appointed “consensus bodies” do not represent the best scientists as much as they do the winners of popularity contests or the people who produce the answers that people with checkbooks want to hear.
I respect science and curiosity about the way that the world works. I respect experimentation and engineering. I’m not a fan of esoteric science and believe that some people who take science courses and then pursue advanced degrees in the subject are more interested in making a career in an ivory tower world than in helping to improve the human condition.
I’ve read many of the reports and am left with the feeling that most of them are produced by committees of people who don’t like to rock the boat, avoid biting the hand that feeds them or believe that they should keep doing things the way they have always been done. I’m not one of those kinds of people, especially when I see a wrong that must be righted.
As long as nuclear professionals act like they believe that all radiation is so hazardous that they will invest large amounts of money to avoid trivial doses, the public will not believe a message that “risks are exceedingly small.” That is especially true in places where the electric power utilities are still given the power to pass all of their costs to their customers and obtain an assured rate of return on the expense.
My logical question as a customer who is forced to pay those costs is “if the risks are so small, why are you spending the money and charging me for it?” As a knowledgable nuclear professional who recognizes that economic competition is a reality, I will ask how imposing additional costs makes us safer if those additional costs result in coal or natural gas being used instead of nuclear energy.
So who do you recommend make these determinations if not recognized experts in their field and scientific consensus bodies (who are only looking for a handout and protecting their careers in your opinion)? Those who are protecting their careers in the nuclear establishment, those who are protecting their careers in journalism (writing sensational stories), those who are protecting their careers in social media (shape shifting the facts and crowd sourcing public opinion), those who are protecting their careers in representative government (accountable to voters, elections, and special interests), anybody else? Your notion of nuclear proponents as the only virtuous people out there looking to “improve the human condition” sounds pretty self-serving and farfetched to my ears. Something to be easily dismissed rather than carefully considered and rebutted.
Science has made it pretty far over the last 350 years or so. If you respect it (for it’s disinterested methods, self-correcting practices, professional commitments to knowledge) one is really hard pressed to see any of this in your comments (and the notion that the institutional setting for the training and production of scientists in our world does serve public interests and benefits, just not as directly as you would like). Is anybody perfect, no, but this doesn’t mean that everyone is corrupt either (and just out to make a buck). On balance, science is pretty good (at least I think so). It seems making science serve a direct public interest is a step backwards to a more religious and value oriented view of the world (one more organized by priests and general truths than critical methods and sustained inquiry) … especially from someone who says they respect a thing called “science” (but doesn’t seem to have a very clear grasp of it).
Your solutions to this issue are all untenable. We don’t need more special interests in radiation protection, we need less of it. Questioning the integrity of scientists working in this field (simply because they have arrived at a result that differs from your own special interest) gets us nowhere. I believe you are unlikely to get any clear or compelling public interest or confidence in nuclear power without some measure of independence on these matters. If you are saying something different, some additional clarification would help?
I agree with Christopher … you sound less credible being so dismissive of science and the sustained and long standing work of consensus bodies. And when you read their reports (rather than cherry pick from them), they are actually quite moderate (and not anything like what you have described).
And when you read their reports (rather than cherry pick from them), they are actually quite moderate (and not anything like what you have described).
I’d like to clarify the above accusation before I respond. Are you saying that I have cherry picked by saying that the people who advocate a no threshold dose response model have also referred to their position as meaning there is “no safe dose” of radiation?
You read with too narrow a lens these summary reports (and what they actually say with respect to conclusions, current state of knowledge, the need for further research, early prospective fundings, etc.). You see black and white where the summary reports see none (this is typically called a straw man).
I discussed some of this here (along the same lines):
Does that clarify it?
I read lengthy reports in detail and recognize the subtleties of the chosen words and the nuances that are included. However, I also understand a bit about human nature, emotive language and the careful use of selected quotes to produce propaganda that changes people’s minds.
As I’ve reported here, the first NAS BEAR committee was the influential one that altered accepted models of radiation risk. It was also the one that was planned with significant input from expert communicators like Arthur Sulzberger, the publisher of the New York Times and other key members of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Board of Trustees.
The full Genetics Committee report contains plenty of nuanced language. It even includes reassuring information, like the following statement that appears under “Some Basic Facts About Genetics” a heading that seems to have been designed to cause readers to skim quickly or skip over the section completely.
The questions begged by that statement is never answered or mentioned again in the report. If both heat and chemicals also cause genetic mutation, then radiation is not a unique hazard. How does the rate or type of influence compare among the various agents?
On the other hand, there are notable and quotable scary descriptions in prominent locations in the report that were certainly not missed by readers or publicists. For example, under the heading “What Are We Worried About?” The Genetics Committee report makes the following statement:
Even more to the point, here are some quotes from the “Concluding Comments” section.
Okay, please tell me how I am misunderstanding what the authors of the document actually wanted readers to remember from the multipage treatise? This was not a dry scientific report of results, it was clearly written as a warning and as a policy document designed to encourage the lowest possible limits on radiation exposure even if it impedes progress.
That quote comes from an earlier section in the report titled “How Could We Reduce Radiation Risk.” That section describes several possible steps to take and then acknowledges that the recommendations might impose significant undesirable effects.
Aren’t they saying there should be scientifically informed rules and protections concerning safety standards and the advancement of nuclear power? They seem to be highlighting that public safety should be key condition for the advancement of nuclear power (and that reviewing standards by criteria independently derived will be important in this area). Not guesswork and fear based reasoning as was prevalent at the time related to increasing rates of weapons testing (a primary concern in the report).
If you don’t address these issues through independent assessment and identifying and clearly describing risks and scientifically informed protective standards (according to the best available knowledge at the time), how do you get past fear based reasoning (which you correctly see as an obstacle to the advancement of nuclear power). Do you just continue to let people make up whatever they want regarding risks, impacts, fears, and uncertainties?
This report paved the way for the advancement of nuclear power (not stood in its way). This is amply supported by the various stakeholders involved in producing the report (2nd report cites involvement from General Electric, Oak Ridge, Argonne, California Institute of Technology, military, medical specialists, hospitals, and other representatives), coordinating efforts from government actively looking to expand nuclear power (Strauss, AEC, etc.), and statements (general framework, findings, recommendations) in the document.
I understand that for someone who sees no significant health risks from public exposures to a level of 700 mSv/a much in the document must seem strange and unfamiliar to you (a reflection of chicanery and lies). But you are the outlier here (not those contributing to the document). Despite attention to nuanced language, failing to understands this sets you back quite a bit in understanding and approaching this document (historical context, framework, institutional demands, policy environment, scientific objectives, etc.).
Have you read Suppressing Differing Opinions to Promote “No Safe Dose” Mantra and the detailed supporting information linked there?
The NAS BEAR 1 Genetics Committee bore no resemblance to “independent assessment.” The kindest description would be “groupthink” in which everyone eventually fell into line with the leader and the prevailing views of the majority.
The fact that this particular group was handpicked by a functionary from a “charitable” Foundation created by an oil and gas dynasty and then chaired by that same functionary gives those of us who are traditional liberals and skeptical about the actions of all people in Establishment, inherited wealth positions pause for reflection. The final piece of information that seems pertinent to me is the fact that nearly every one of the geneticists involved owed his career to grants provided by the Rockefeller Foundation, often with the express approval and support of Warren Weaver, that same guy who was chairman of their “independent” committee.
Calabrese is aware that others read this history very differently, and he incorporates none of these perspectives in his critique. I understand that this is a letter to editor, but here as elsewhere there is no (or very little) review of literature, and no effort to situate correspondence in broader historical context and institutional setting (much less the difference between private and public communication regularly engaged in by scientists). It is very poor historiography.
I also find he dramatically overstates the statements on LNT in the document. From the second report in 1960: “In this connection particularly, we emphasize that present knowledge is all too limited as to the effects of low levels of radiation in inducing malignant neoplasms. We cannot say with any assurance whether the dose-response curve for induction of malignant diseases is linear or non-linear at low levels … We believe that studies of this kind on experimental mammals should be extended and expanded, even though they are difficult” (here).
If they don’t report on the scientific assessment for this finding … it seems he is overlooking much of the work of these Committees and various divisions? Your editorializing on the Rockefellers, and mischaracterizing of Muller, is speculative and distracting to a more thoughtful investigation of these questions (and one more likely to have a deciding impact on informing the work of independent science review committees and their conclusions). Quality makes more of an impact than quantity, I would suggest, and it appears that Calabrese is going for quantity (and hasn’t added any new information to what he has already provided).
I’m curious why Calabrese is receiving funding from “ExxonMobil Foundation over a number of years.” Do you have any further details on this?
Why do you keep referring to the second report in 1960?
Are you unaware of the impact of the 1956 report on the radiation effects debate, especially during the 8 days worth of testimony to the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy in late May and early June 1957? It was the 1956 report that received front page plus five additional articles in the New York Times on the day after it was released. It was the 1956 Genetics Committee report that was published in full, taking up about 3-4 full newsprint pages on June 12, 1956. It was the 1956 report that was covered in great detail in Scientific American.
What have I mischaracterized about Muller?
Why does it offend you that I keep pointing out that a single foundation, one created by a dynastic family with obvious competitive interests, supported ALL of the NAS BEAR committee work for the first 6 years it existed? As antinuclear activists have correctly taught us, it is important to point out that income sources are important facts to know in understanding public utterances, even of highly credentialed people. Few people are truly independent. Almost no one who has detailed knowledge of any issue is “unbiased” anymore. It’s impossible to really understand a technology without forming some kind of opinion about it. I hope I have made it abundantly clear what my own interests are – I want to make the world a more empowered place, but I would also like to continue living a comfortable life without worrying if I will be dismissed because I offended someone. My pension helps greatly.
Yes, Ed Calabrese and Rod Adams interpret historical scientific communications with a different lens than someone who is a specialist in the history of science. Part of that is that we began with a detailed understanding of the specific technology and a better understanding of what the scientists actually could prove vice what they were making wild guesses about based on little data. As is buried in the 1956 genetics committee report, this was the limit of their experimental information.
Translation: Even though we have never measured the effects, still don’t even know about the double helix, have no idea about repair mechanisms that have evolved in creatures that live longer than a few weeks, and have no evidence to support our “principle” that all radiation is dangerous we’ll assert it anyway.
Once again, the Genetics Committee report concluded with a clear take away for both the public and for people involved in radiation that were not geneticists and thus could not argue with the esteemed panel that had been carefully assembled.
Say whatever you want. It’s clear that is the message that this whole committee was formed to create and deliver so that it could be repeatedly reinforced for the next 60 years. Yes, I am cynical about scientists that depended upon the largess of oil-rich foundations and later upon the government grant processes.
Scientists and engineers that produce valuable products, generally become more financially independent and able to speak their own minds without worrying about “biting the hand that feeds them.”
I’ve requested a link to the first report, and you haven’t provided one (and it doesn’t seem to be available on line). This makes citing it very difficult if others want to have a look, examine broader context, supporting material, etc.
These issues are regularly reviewed (as is most science). LNT has over 50 years of debate, consideration and review to it (one report is not a make or break moment … unless you’re being disingenuous to the task).
Your attempt to find one fall guy for this, or one institutional backer, is pretty reductionary and simplistic (wouldn’t you say). He did research on many of these questions that contributed to our understanding of these issues. He was one person, and he influenced a larger debate and subsequent debates on the basis of the merits of his research. I don’t see anything else going on here beyond that (despite a lack of credible evidence to the contrary).
Trust me … I’m not offended.
Muller played a leading role in the drama as scripted, but I have never said he did it by himself.
Some of my posts, by the way, are designed to be tantalizing excerpts of a more comprehensive tale that, so far, begins in the early 1920s.
As is the case for any successful and long time dominant commodity supplier, the Rockefellers — along with some of their industrial buddies — were paying attention to the potential for atomic energy long before most of the rest of the world had any idea that there was vast quantities of useful heat locked inside atomic nuclei.
Seems to me that it wasn’t very long ago you could hardly find a field of science more esoteric than nuclear physics and atomic theory. Civilization managed to get by for many centuries without knowing what went on inside the atom, so who would have imagined there’d be any practical benefit from cracking them open and having a peek inside? Today, there are few fields as esoteric as stellar plasma physics. Of what possible practical use could it be to us to understand what’s going on in distant stars, right? Unless, of course, it turns out that Eric Lerner’s plasma modeling equations turn out to be correct, and focus fusion becomes a reality. In that case, I can think of one or two practical benefits that could come from that.
Anytime we branch out into a new field of research, or push out to the speculative frontiers of theoretical science, it’s going to be esoteric and by its very nature, it’s not going to be practical. And we won’t be able to tell in advance whether a given theory will pan out, or if we’ll find any practical use for it, or whether it might be a bridge to a new realm of investigation with it’s own set of possibilities. It may be the purpose of practical science to achieve benefits for mankind, but an important effect of esoteric science is expanding the domain in which practical science operates.
I also thought we had previously established that not everything society spends money on needs to be of practical benefit to mankind. (Or did you ultimately decide you are opposed to public funding of football?)
Most of the really valuable insights into nuclear physics and atomic theory cost “society” almost nothing. Sure, some particularly persuasive physicists like Lawrence managed to convince charitable foundations to provide large machines that used artificially charged particles to try to smash atomic nuclei, but Fermi, Curie, Hahn, Meitner, Rutherford, Chadwick, Szilard and Joliot performed their experiments with much cheaper and more readily available materials.
Einstein did most of his theorizing on his own time while holding down a job in the patent office.
Assembling the first pile required a couple of dozen people and a few weeks worth of work using several thousand dollars worth of material and an unused facility that happened to be located under a no longer used football stadium. (Some believe Hutchins got rid of University of Chicago football because it was frivolous and distracted the university from its educational mission. Others believe it came about as the result of severe embarrassment after a terrible 1939 season in which the team, which had a distinguished history, winning their conference champion at least five times and earning two national titles, were outscored 308-37.)
Sure, the wartime effort to produce the very specialized materials required for manufacturing a couple of bombs involved a huge quantity of resources, but that politically selected application effort did not contribute any new scientific knowledge.
Wasn’t Einstein pretty much the model of someone who made a career in an ivory tower world? And I have to wonder how far his theorizing would have gotten if it hadn’t been for all the esoteric scientific groundwork which had been laid down by countless scientists before him. If he’d been a contemporary of Copernicus, would he have been able to come up with General Relativity? I rather doubt it.
While particular early experiments might have only cost a few thousand dollars (which probably seemed like a much larger sum back then than it does now) the more apt comparison would be to the cost of all the experiments in the field, including those which failed or did not break new ground. It is easy to pick winners in hindsight, but we only learn by attempting. And while theorizing might be cheap, that is only the first step. Testing theories is not so cheap–again adding in the cost of theories which do not pan out. There is also the low hanging fruit factor. Research a hundred years ago might have seemed cheap, easy, and productive compared to research today, but part of that may be simple exhaustion of things that are cheap and easy to research.
But the key point remains–all the new practical sciences of the last century grew in the expanding space created by esoteric theoretical science. So given the track record of the past, for whatever field of science you consider esoteric today, how confident are you that something of practical benefit to mankind will never come of it?
Research a hundred years ago might have seemed cheap, easy, and productive compared to research today, but part of that may be simple exhaustion of things that are cheap and easy to research.
Big Science is a leftover from WWII and the, in my opinion, rather artificial Cold War that in hindsight seems to have been created by the weapons industrial establishment as a way to keep government dollars flowing into R&D and industrial production of their low utility products.
There are so many things that we could be learning about our world and how it works if we were not spending 80% or more of a very large federal R&D budget on military-related research that is often classified – the very opposite of the way that real learning should happen.
Big Science is so often driven by managerial actions that have little to do with actual thinking and conducting well-designed experiments.
BTW – I was a grad student in Systems Technology Command, Control and Communications from 1985-87. I became quite aware of the massive flow of R&D dollars into Star Wars. Contributed to my current philosophy.
It’s kind of like LNT is a steel door guarding a rotting castle. Why attack the door when the walls are much weaker. It’s really easy to criticize the weaknesses of other forms of power generation, point out that we accept more risk from other things which don’t give as much benefit and and show the double standard being employed in regards to radiation from nuclear power versus the radiation from other sources. It would also help to talk about a bright future and how nuclear power can give it to us.
Attacking LNT is difficult. The theory itself is easy enough to attack since it seems to be an oversimplification, but supporting some other theory is really difficult. Even if you convince people LNT is false it seems to only be just opening up a can of worms.
Also, there is a cost to attacking it because it is supported by so many large organizations so attacking it turns a lot of people off. It seems to me that there is limited gains to be made from attacking it, but a lot of costs.
“It’s kind of like LNT is a steel door guarding a rotting castle. Why attack the door when the walls are much weaker.”
Sometimes a war must be fought on multiple fronts. Better rules for handling radiation exposure and contamination should result in a cheaper version of nuclear power. This makes the argument for this power stringer in relation to the alternatives.
Your point about pointing out the problems of the alternatives is another front. Public awareness of the dangers of coal fly ash and stack emissions may be valuable to getting more plants built and moving technology forward.
I’m incline to believe the Hormesis theory. It fits with my understanding of biology and evolution. At the very least LNT seems to be discredited by the existence of adaptive responses. Still, I’m a layperson so I fill a little uncomfortable going against the large scientific organizations that support it. It’s easier for me to argue for nuclear power with the assumption of LNT maybe casting a little doubt on it on the side. I understand that for others it’s different, and I respect that.
“Large scientific organizations” that “support” LNT do not discount uncertainty and variability in the low dose range (scientific studies that overestimate and underestimate projections based on LNT assumptions). It’s why there is a dotted line below 100 mSv, and why there are DDREF definitions (which re-assess risk projections on the basis of whether dose is acute or chronic).
If you’ve been told otherwise … you’ve been told incorrectly.
Actually, I agree as a lay person that so far as I can see the real risks of radiation even under LNT are so small as to not be of concern. I am not focused on eliminating LNT but eliminating the regulations which continue to ratchet down rather than be set at a reasonable threshold level. Changing ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) to AHARS (as high as reasonably safe) is not a reduction in safety but a definition of safety at a reasonable level. Once regulations pass the point where ordinary actions are more dangerous, the regulations are nonsense.
@ Christopher Willis,
Also, at times when circumstances or designs have changed it is reasonable to change actions.
The Thorcon design indicates it is time to change regulatory approaches.
There is no way you are ever going to convince people who have no technical background not to be afraid of something they don’t understand. You are also arguing a point that is insignificant. I have been in nuclear power for over 30 years and for that entire time we have used the ALARA principle. Specifically, we keep radiation exposure As Low as Reasonably Achievable. My recommendation is that you focus your attenuation on something worthwhile.
First of all, I have a much greater respect for the average public than to dismiss them as having “no technical background.” Everyone I know or see has a sufficient understanding of technology to take advantage of systems that provide them with transportation, communications, clean air, comfortable temperatures, and safe shelter. They may not understand the details of how everything works, but they know plenty about when to be afraid and when to simply go about their daily lives without worrying.
The only reason that people fear radiation or nuclear energy is that they have been repeatedly told that they have reasons to fear. Otherwise there is no intrusion from radioactivity or nuclear energy on their lives or senses.
Why do you say that ALARA is “insignificant?” Have you noticed how much time and effort is expended to achieve the incredibly low doses? How much extra time is spent in job planning in order to protect workers from levels that are already not hazardous? How much extra protective clothing do you have to wear? How long does it take to put that gear on and take it off? Have you ever felt more at risk from heat exhaustion than from minor exposures?
Now consider the expense that has been imposed on the Japanese economy because of excessive fear of the possibility of being exposed, even though a triple meltdown happened without causing any injuries worse than a minor sunburn to a couple of people who waded through a puddle full of beta emitters. In the four years since the Fukushima accidents, Japan has spent an extra $150-$200 billion on LNG, coal and diesel fuel instead of starting up and operating the 50 plants that were not damaged by the accident.
@ former employee of 20th century motors:
“You’re very unlikely to reduce the required measures”.
I think he has a good chance of doing that. I worked at nuke plants and the DOE for a few years and never questioned the “why” of the process. I think this questioning has opened a lot of eyes.
There is both an economic and a factual basis for making the change which he has presented time after time. There are three things that are permanent, death, taxes and change. Haven’t you seen more significant changes in your lifetime than changing the rules of ALARA?
Thanks for your comment.
Let me be one of the first not to lambast you then. LNT was formed during a time when there was little or no reliable data on which to form a well-rounded assumption about low doses. It is a good example of the Precautionary Principle in action, the Hippocratic Oath expressed in another way: do no harm. Maybe you are moved to comment because of the catchy phrase above that LNT is of ‘dubious origins’, and I would agree that phrase is a bit harsh. The Precautionary Principle is good base for assumption, so long as its use is followed by due diligence research by people with the courage to back away if the data does not support it.
Of course there would be correspondence within a committee exploring all the angles in which something proposed might be of benefit to them professionally because they are human and when humans are given lemons they make lemonade.
But this lemonade has gone sour over the years. Low-dose LNT has suffered from a malady that affects many hypotheses, there has been a lack of credible or credited research that actively seeks to falsify the hypothesis. This problem is affecting all branches of science these days… see http://eloquentscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Fanelli12-NegativeResults.pdf for an interesting glimpse of an ominous trend, where scientific theories are becoming ‘bandwagons’ that scientists jump onto. A theory is proposed and if its field is academically comfortable, socially verdant or financially lucrative, papers accumulate that seek (directly or indirectly) to support it, while fewer clever people devote their time to craft experiments or examine angles for the express purpose of falsifying it. This means even so-called peer-reviewed science can, over time, become an echo chamber. It leaves science in an unfinished state. Our present understanding of quantum physics is due to the work of a few individuals who bucked the theory of the day and sought to falsify. And succeeded.
I have tried as a layman http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=4519505&cid=45624821 in places to lay out the issue surrounding LNT and the various ‘tweaks’ applied to it, and its misuse (my opinion) of extrapolation onto large populations. This is a true problem these days because people are generally radiophobic and do not grasp exponential scales, and like to indulge themselves in herd hysteria about small things while large things such as killer asteroids and blood-soaked wars to secure fossil fuel float unseen in the background.
show me a single study that hold the underestimation of risk by LNT model
Summarized here (available on-line):
Made available with support US DOE Low-Dose Radiation Research Program (an institutional site and funding source favored by blog owner).
Maybe what is needed here is to look at what is actually said by a “large scientific organization” that “supports” LNT assumptions (and the status and consideration given to variability, uncertainty, and other alternative radiation dose response models). One example comes from “NCRP Report No. 136, Evaluation of the LNT model for Ionizing Radiation”:
They go on to suggest that doses on the order of background levels “… so small that it may never be possible to prove or disprove the validity of the linear-nonthreshold assumption.”
They seem to have conceded long ago (2001) the “no safe dose mantra” (as something impossible to prove). The only folks left arguing the point, it seems to me, and making a mantra of it, are pro-nuclear enthusiasts and any others engaged in straw man arguments (and perhaps failing to read anything beyond their own confirmation biases). I don’t see where such large scientific organizations (reviewing these matters on a regular basis) have overlooked new findings or research in this area, or are dismissing (excluding) other credible or alternative dose response models (as informative to complex biological processes and cancer etiology in humans). There seems to be a lot of confusion here about what these organizations say about LNT (and the approach they take with respect to variability, uncertainty, and contradictory results in the low dose range). My advice is to read more broadly in this area, and specifically from people who don’t have a direct interest to promote (such as the expansion and advancement of nuclear power).
There are many opportunities to substantively expand the debate … falsely accusing people of scientific dishonesty, I believe, is not going to be one of them.
EL – Nice defense of the LNT model (were I paid by the word I would probably craft something similarly as long), but that wasn’t the question. My advice is to read a dictionary and look up what “underestimation” means.
Read the paper cited.
Or are you typically in the habit of seeing things that aren’t there (as is the case with your post)?
I realize that your purpose here is to divert and deflect, but can you read? The original request that garnered such copious output from you (well compensated, I hope) was for a paper that would “hold the underestimation of risk by LNT model.”
The many words that you labored to put forward here citing a single paper from over a dozen years ago, which was merely spouting the status quo at the time, don’t meet that criterion. Far from holding to anything, it relies on such weasel words as “likely” and “some” to make a very unconvincing case for an underestimation of risk by LNT. But then again, that was not the purpose of the paper. It’s entire purpose was to defend the LNT, and it’s clear to anyone who has actually read the paper that this is how it was written.
Statements regarding the likelihood of going over or under the actual risk (they’re rather equivocal about both) are just there to cover their bases and make them seem not so foolish in the future when and if better methods and better data demonstrate that the LNT model is completely wrong.
The amount of foolishness resulting from claiming that this paper demonstrates an underestimation of risk by the LNT model is left as an exercise to the reader of this comment.
You seem to miss the point (not very uncommon for you) that it is all very equivocal when it comes to very low doses. The question is how is this characterized by scientists (scientific review bodies) doing this work and what status and consideration do they give to variability, uncertainty, LNT, and alternative dose response models. If “likely” and “some” are the correct words to use, you don’t think they should use them?
Do you care to speak directly to this point (or just provide your typical knuckle dragging chatter and effusive bad temper in these threads). We’re waiting to hear from you. What are the certainties that have been overlooked by review bodies, such that alternative dose response models (hormesis, threshold) have been excluded and aren’t being considered as relevant to the issue (despite specific comments to the contrary).
If you have any substance to add to the issue … I am all ears. We have had a rather productive respite from your debate tactics (which are typically personal and have very little substance to offer). Your comments above appear to be no different. And no, I am not being paid to write this.
EL – If you have any substance to add to this issue, then I’m all ears.
Oh … but by the way, nice dodge (in more ways than one 😉 ). It’s what I’ve come to expect from you, and it is a standard tactic of your type. Take this as a compliment. You’re good at what you do.
Brian is right EL. LNT was never supported in research or proven. Its not acceptable or ethical that its considered the conservative position in the face of criticism now. This is more of a crime scene to be investigated now than a time for scientific argument. There was never a solid scientific basis for it to be adopted.
“We’re waiting to hear from you.”
Who’s “we”? Mr Mays, for his part, has quite adequately accounted for himself and I doubt I’d be alone in saying so.
Review bodies aren’t overlooking issues related to hormesis and thresholds, or questions about the underestimation of risk by LNT assumptions. If you don’t think this merits clarification, then I’m guessing you haven’t examined these reports?
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