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  1. Good article!

    A question I have which failed to Google up is that there seems NO research study on the role particulates and gases from fossil emissions has on a general population. There’s lots of “closed office/area” and second-hand smoke studies, but none that I can find which tracks and studies the health and genetic effects of fossil fuel on individuals within a large population from infants to elders. It’s like despite all the known facts and assumptions that much respiratory diseases are from fossil sources, there’s no actual smoking gun aimed at those specific sources once the pollution’s in the air. A coal particle found in an infant’s lungs simply gets no news or traction or investigation. It’s just regarded as the price kids pay for living in civilization. Here, it seems nuclear is vehemently demanded to provide that very kind of micro-detail of its minuscule if measurable effects on health which fossils have never been called upon to research and cough up for hundreds of years despite millions overtly impacted and suffering by it unlike nuclear. There just seems an outrageous prejudice going on here, especially by the grudging — if ever — support clean nuclear ought get from renewables fans.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

    1. James,

      Try these:

      Pope III, C. Arden, et al. “Particulate air pollution as a predictor of mortality in a prospective study of US adults.” American journal of respiratory and critical care medicine 151.3_pt_1 (1995): 669-674.

      Smith, Kirk R., et al. “Public health benefits of strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions: health implications of short-lived greenhouse pollutants.” The lancet 374.9707 (2010): 2091-2103.

      1. Good find, Keith — but notice how these conclusions don’t condemn fossil plants in availing preventative filtering measures nor tracks down specific plants for cause and inspection or shutting down — totally unlike the shotgun leveled at nuclear plants where this quibble over safe radiation minimums on the head of a pin effects the operations and welfare of all nuclear plants. It’s almost an old joke that antinukers act like vultures hovering over nuclear incidents to find that one great poor irradiated person to turn into a victim-hero which justifies shutting down all NPs yet the half the kids living in eyeshot of stacks belching black gray stuff are daily coughing on their way to school. The “greens” and related parties’ health concerns and hypocrisy is just incredible to me!

        James Greenidge
        Queens NY

  2. While I agree with the above effort to get LNT repealed, I still believe that we have an even stronger and unassailable argument pertaining to the *selective application* of LNT. Just getting rid of the selective application should be enough to achieve our goals.

    Scientists may (still) disagree about LNT, but at the end of the day, you either believe in a threshold (which is at or above the top of the range of natural background), or you believe in LNT. Either way, current radiation standards, that apply for nuclear-industry-related exposure sources only, are indefensible.

    If you believe in LNT, you have to accept the results of that (mathematical) model. If LNT is true, then health impacts (deaths, etc) scale directly with collective exposure (man-Rem). Well, the fact is that humanity’s overall collective exposure from nuclear industry sources, including releases like Fukushima, is negligible compared to humanity’s collective exposure from other sources, such as natural, medical and air travel, etc.. I believe that nuclear industry related collective exposure is literally on the order of one millionth of mankind’s collective exposure, over the last several decades. Certainly less than 0.1%

    This begs the question of why such a relentless effort to minimize mankind’s (miniscule) exposure due to nuclear-industry-related sources is necessary, while little to no attention or effort is made to reduce the much larger sources of collective exposure. We hear a great deal about Fukushima, and nuclear safety, etc., but hear almost nothing at all about the much larger sources of exposure. And we spend thousands of times as much money (per man-Rem) to reduce nuclear-industry-related exposures than we do to reduce other sources of exposure (e.g., radon), if indeed we spend any money at all on reducing those other sources of exposure.

    This should be an easy argument to win. Are there any real, valid arguments against it? Is there any scientific disagreement over the fact that all exposure sources are the same in terms of health risk/impact?

    As for policy remedies, we would simply bar the EPA and NRC, etc., from drawing any distinction between nuclear industry related sources of exposure and any other sources. They would have to determine what level of exposure is “safe”. If they try to put the value within the range of natural background, the result would be comical, as they would be required to order the evacuation of all areas with natural background levels higher than that. If they put the “safe” level above the range of natural background (e.g., ~1 Rem/yr), then many of the industry’s problems would just go away. Ridiculous decommissioning/cleanup standards would go away.

    Alternatively, we could demand that similar amounts of money and effort be directed to reducing man-Rems, regardless of their source. Spending a large amount of money reducing nuclear-industry-related man-Rems while refusing to spend one thousandth as much on reducing radon exposures (in homes/buildings) would not be allowed. The net result would be a drastic reduction in the amount of money required to reduce the (relatively tiny amount of) man-Rems from nuclear industry sources, such as plant decommissioning requirements, or even cleanup/evacuation activities after a release (meltdown).

    Ideally, this economic analysis would be extended to nuclear safety regulations and requirements. The analysis would ask what the cost-effectiveness of all such regulations are, starting with an estimate of the reduction in accident/release probability, and (finally) converting that into an estimate of dollars per man-Rem avoided. Such analyses would almost certainly show that strict nuclear safety regulations, and strict dose requirements for nuclear cleanup operations, are extremely cost-ineffective means of reducing collective exposure (orders of magnitude more expensive than other options).

  3. As far as full-body gamma exposures are concerned, there is a strong difference between an instant exposure (no effects statistically detected under 100 mSv) and a chronic exposure, for which no medical drawback has ever been detected for radiation exposures of up to 1 mSv/h (which would lead to 8766 mSv/year). The ~1mSv/yr limit usually accepted therefore corresponds to a ~10_000 safety margin.
    This amounts to say that one has seen people drown in 10cm of water, “therefore” areas with 1 µm of water should be considered dangerous !

  4. Some research in Japan may yield information about effects of low dose radiation. One town administered Potassium Iodide tablets to residents of a small town west of Fukashima to block I-131 which has an 8 day half life. Two hundred students who received potassium iodide tablets wore dosimeters giving a measure of dose. Although a larger sample is highly desirable comparison of the incidence of leukemia of these students with that of people in other parts of Japan may give some information about the effects of low dose radiation. Remarkably, no other residents of Japan were given potassium iodide pills, at least in a systematic way.