1. By the end of the article, I was more than a little suspicious that the politically appointed person driving the actions actually wanted to damage the plant.

    Whoa… Rod, take a deep breath and think now. If you continue that path you’ll end up right in Tinfoil Hat-country.

    1. In the past when Rod has made observations about the natural gas industry among other issues, I too have thought, “oh s**t! He’s back at the conspiracy theories.”

      A perfect example: Immediately after Jazcko announced that the Unit 4 spent fuel pool was dry, Rod was the only person saying that it was impossible, much to the dismay of his friends and colleagues (including myself). Of course, now we all know he was spot on.

      In this latest observation (not accusation) about the mis-management at Chernobyl, I am certain that it is informed by his extensive knowledge of nuclear reactor operations, and lots and lots of reading.

      In every instance I can think of, when Rod has said something seemingly off the wall, he has eventually been proven right, so let’s give this observation some time and see where it goes.

      1. Suzy,

        I think that you are underestimating exactly how inept communist regimes can be.. The plant manager actually told the operators at Chernobyl – when they balked in pulling the plug on all the safety equipment for the test – that there was ‘no way’ that Chernobyl could go into a meltdown state because ‘no communist designed reactor could EVER do that!’.

        In other words, the thinking of management was totally withdrawn from reality. It reminded me of earlier pronouncements of communist party officials in early, 1919-1920 era Moscow where the party apparatchiks declared that there was ‘no typhoid in Moscow’ despite the huge epidemic there over the winter. Ideological thinking knows no bounds, and it was a HUGE embarrassment to the soviet authorities when Chernobyl catastrophically failed.

        So I’d be very skeptical that what Rod said is the case here. The spent fuel pools were a technical question, a matter of physics and heat transport.

        This is a matter of human stupidity, and unfortunately there are multiple variants of human stupidity outside the ‘greedy shortsighted’ variety. And ideological stupidity can be one of its most destructive variants.

        1. @Edward – I do not want to get tied up over this topic, but let’s examine what you wrote.

          The words that you attribute to ineptness and being withdrawn from reality could just as easily have come from someone who knew exactly what he was doing. I cannot tell you how many times I have been “reassured” by bosses who wanted me to do something I knew was risky – either physically, financially, or professionally. In many cases, the boss was asking me to do something that would help his career to progress at considerable expense (often in the form of extra work or long hours) for me.

          I was once on a path to become an executive officer and then a commanding officer on a submarine. I purposely stepped off of that path, partly because I fully understood what it meant to be the XO and what the Navy meant when it tried to teach me to be able to give the crew the captain’s orders as if they were my own.

          I had never been very good at doing that as a junior officer or as a department head, but technical competence and a few other useful traits kept me from being fired when I made it clear to my troops that they were being asked to do something dumb by my bosses, not by me.

          Though I am not a psychologist and did not even formally study that subject beyond a freshman introductory class, I was a literature major who has spent a lot of time observing people, reading well crafted stories and thinking about how humans behave and interact. I know a good deal about greed, man’s inhumanity to man, and naked ambition. I also recognize that many ideologies are really covers for greed and desire for power over others.

      2. Whoa, girl. Rod was one of two bloggers who said Jasczko was blowing smoke the second week of March. Both of us “scooped” MIT and France, both of whom get the popular credit. Check out my Fukushima updates for some additional “scoops”. 😉

        1. Leslie, sorry to have overlooked you!! I love your blog and will go check out the Fukushima updates!



    2. The notion that the Chernobyl plant was deliberately sabotaged by the Soviet executive class seems absurd. On the other hand, so does what actually happened that night in the control room. If you really did want to arrive at the outcome which actually happened and you put together a plan to accomplish this, the directions given by the guy supervising the ‘safety test’ might well be what you came up with. The night shift personnel appear to have had concerns as things proceeded.

      Nonetheless, it seems incredible that it would have been done deliberately. I would reject the notion out of hand if the directions and behaviour of the commanding official were not themselves so bizzare.

      1. The Chernobyl accident couldn’t have been part of a deliberate plan because the neutron poisoning 1) was pivotal in the accident… it wouldn’t have happened without the poisoning and 2) was accidental.

        Since neutron poisoning was accidental it couldn’t have been part of a plan.

        1. Not saying it wasn’t accidental, but what is your basis for that claim?

          Poisoning of a reactor by power excursions is and was a well known effect, I learned about Xenon precluded start-ups in the early 70’s. The power excursion could have been done delibrately to cause the poisoning.

        2. @ddpalmer: The poioning was caused by a mistake by the control rod operator… not by the chief. That’s how every description of the accident I have seen states it. So unless you want to claim – and proove(!) – that both the chief and the rod operator wanted to subject themselves and their work-mates to huge doses of radiation (both are dead now) for the sake of selling gas… I’m going Occam on any such idea.

        3. Well the descriptions I have read and my understanding of how xenon levels react to a decrease in power point the finger at the reduction to 50% with an extended hold at 50% allowing the Xenon to peak. If they had continued the power decrease and conducted the test when planned the xenon would not have built to it’s shutdown peak and would not have caused as much negative reactivity.

          Can I prove that? No, not without detailed data on the RBMK reactor reactivity and a detailed power history of that specific core.

          But you can’t prove that the hold at 50% power, which was not a mistake or accident but a deliberate decision, wasn’t planned.

      2. I have always worked on the theory that one should not assign to maliciousness that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

        1. I usually work on the theory that most people who obtain positions of responsibility through any avenue other than by the accident of birth are not actually stupid. (People who inherit their roles can be exceptions to my observation.)

          They might be many things like clever, dishonest, cunning, short sighted, greedy, ambitious, malicious etc. but they are generally not classifiable as having below average basic intelligence.

    3. Not knowing Michael I don’t know whether his tongue is in his cheek or not. But yes, Rod that remark and the passage it comes from is sounding decidedly paranoid.

      Thing is…

      I lack your direct industry experience Rod, but in my reading of the Chernobyl accounts, I know I was struck by the insane nature of the chain of events. My thoughts basically went “they did what? Then they did what??? Then they ignored what???…” and so on.

      My point being… I can see where you’re coming from.

      1. Nothing wrong with being skeptical, but I agree with Ben, Rod knows a lot more about reactor operations than most. He is also a voracious reader and researcher. Past statements he’s made that at the time seemed inconceivable have turned out to be accurate. Just giving credit where credit is due.

  2. @Michael – Perhaps you are right. However, is it so bizarre to think that there might have been a deliberate attempt by an insider to target a nuclear plant because doing so would be immensely damaging to the prospects for nuclear energy growth? Do you believe that rich and powerful people got to their position by talent, good fortune, good planning, ambition, or by a combination of all of the above?

    Do you believe that major industries make plans and take strategic action to influence the future?

    1. Rod, you’re using the same rethorics now that all NWO, 9/11 and similar conspiracy theorists are using. Don’t go down that path.

      Do the null hypothesis test and apply Occam’s razor.

      1) Is it possible that the Chernobyl accident was the result of incompetence, lack of governmental oversight, personal issues, fudging the records and/or similar causes?

      Yes… yes it is. That is entirely possible.

      2) What is more likely? That is was a conspiracy to sell more gas? Or that an incompetent crew (the night-shift wasn’t supposed to have run the test… they didn’t know the reactor) messed up badly?

      I don’t often quote entertainment media… but a quote from the movie “Inception” is approriate here:

      What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm?

      An idea. Resilient… highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it’s almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed – fully understood – that sticks; right in there somewhere.

      And you have gotten infected by an idea Rod… the idea that opposition to nuclear power is done to sell gas. Be careful. Don’t let it take over.

      1. This is very good advice.

        Rod: Don’t know the source of the detailed account of Chernobyl to which you are referring. I’m sure you’ve done a lot more reading than I have, but one source I found very useful is Bernard Cohen’s book: ‘The Nuclear Energy Option’. Chapter 7 is ‘THE CHERNOBYL ACCIDENT — CAN IT HAPPEN HERE?’. That chapter describes in detail some good old human bungling and incompetence.

    2. @Rod – this graph should give you an idea what their motivation was (look closely at USSR stockpile just before Chernobyl)

      1. What’s the relevance of the fact that the Soviet nuclear arsenal peaked in size at about the time of Chernobyl?

  3. I read a lengthy technical article that provided the details of the events leading up to the explosion…I was more than a little suspicious that the politically appointed person driving the actions actually wanted to damage the plant. At the time I could not understand why anyone would do such a thing.


    Remember that any technical report on Chernobyl relies on information supplied by the same establishment that processed Po-210 for the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko, so take it with a grain of salt.

  4. I watched the show on the T.V….now to your questions:

    •If radiation is so dangerous, why doesn’t it seem to affect other mammals?

    The primary radiation effect humans are concerned with is cancer. Animals don’t go to the doctor and get diagnosed for cancer. As I recall from the show, the host said something like a 4%-6% increase in observable developmental abnormalities has been seen.

    •If radiation is so dangerous, why do the plants and animals look so normal and healthy?

    People with cancer look healthy until close to end of life. In the wild, any animals weakened by cancer would fall prey and would not be readily observable.

    •Is there any logical reason to be more fearful of radiation than other risks?

    No, the degree of fear should be commensurate with the risk.

    •If radiation is not as dangerous as some people claim, why were so many people forced to leave their homes and livelihoods?

    Presumably based on risk estimates and guidelines by an authoritative source.

    •Who benefits by working so hard to make people afraid of radiation and nuclear energy?

    Propaganda is bad. Lots of people propagandize in support of various agendas.

    1. The comment about some abnormalities referred specifically to ‘highly contaminated areas very close to the reactor’. The animals were dormice. They also commented that the population density and reproductive rates appeared to be higher than normal.

      1. Just to be picky I should add that the commentator stated that the 4-6% slight abnormalities in the dormice was ‘twice the rate of clean areas’. So, this is not 100X the usual rate. Again this is within a mile of the reactor. The section is title ‘Nature’s Resilience’. And, they finish by stating that the overall population remains healthy.

        1. Most places are clean (i.e. habitable). The increased number of abnormalities is doubled, to 4-6%. Nature is resilient and has been able to overcome what has happened here, but there are still unacceptable risks. It’s still not place I would want to raise my kid and I assume you wouldn’t either.

    2. @ Bob Applebaum,

      What’s missing is the acknowledgment of work done years ago and still continues to apply science base to reduce bias. Both Ukrainian and American scientists like the BAKER/CHESSER paper is a precursor to PBS RADIOACTIVE WOLVES. The fact is that more data is needed and people really have no science basis to make assumptions as to how an individual animal or human falls victim to cancer by genotoxicity. The study of Chernobyl wild Bank Voles is to me an important study in what we presume to happen on a cellular level does not seem to translate in Vole populations with multi-generational study. Most of the radiation health scientist that I’ve interviewed including ones who study post A bomb ionizing radiation release say, more data is needed to get a better picture of predictability with regard to radiation on human and biological organisms. To unequivocally state that a predetermined level of radiation is the cause of human cancer is not real science & driven my emotion and political agendas.
      Having participated in OCCUPY-VANCOUVER PROTEST and promoting fairer economy and NEW nuclear energy such as Thorium LFTR, small modular reactors and reprocessing of spent fuels we need to take a long realistic look at FISSION NUCLEAR ENERGY. Anti-nuclear activists like David Suzuki might get fame from promoting a type of environmental political activism but it is not rooted in science and that’s where we should draw the line. Nuclear activists also need to give credit to scientist who work to gather data and test findings on Radiation Health to get an improved science based study on effects of radiation.
      The link between fair energy prosperity and a healthy environment is important. Nuclear power plays a key role in keeping conflict oil at bay.
      But in order for NUCLEAR POWER to assume its rightful position as leader in best energy technology we must democratize the technology making it more transparent to the public.

      1. Of course we have some ideas as to how radiation causes cancer. We have zillions of lab studies on animals.

        It’s much tougher in the wild to study animal populations.

        No one said anything about a “predetermined level” causes cancer. Cancer is a multi-stage process. Radiation contributes to that process.

        1. Can I suggest that for “much tougher”, the truth is that reality is so far from the lab setting it is difficult to infer anything at all? Lab settings can apply carefully controlled dose to carefully controlled animals in a carefully controlled setting. Elevated backgrounds in the wild is the total opposite. The dose is a guess based on an estimate, we have next to no knowledge about the critters getting the dose, and the setting is, well, nature, the very opposite of a lab!

          For me the wildlife lesson of Chernobyl is that animals have an excellent instinctive understanding of relative risk. They know that the risk of humans is the highest of all, so readily move toward a setting without humans, thrive overall as a result, with some potential but barely noticeable downside.

          We humans fail badly at this. We happily immerse ourselves in pollutants, ingest some willingly and deliberately, live blithely among other serious hazards but fail to “move toward” a nuclear powered world that by a large margin would be safer, cleaner and let us thrive overall.

        2. Animal instincts ?

          Remember the off the chart tsunami in Asia a while back ? All the animals had fled to higher grounds. Some tourists stayed on the beach to film the giant waves. Well, they all died.

    3. @Bob
      The 4-6% was for a population of mice within the highest region of contamination after the accident. The population was also more reproductive than control populations. Suggesting the longevity (conversely mortality) was longer (lower) than in control populations suggesting an overall healthier population. In several instances throughout the report the producers stressed the lack of observable defects in other species.

      As for the cancer the impact that cancer ultimately has in any species is mortality. The main conclusion of the study is that of the wolf populations. The wolves at the top of the food chain prey and act as concentrators of radioactivity. They key finding in this documentary was that the wolf populations were no better and no worse than those of controlled non exposed areas. This suggests that mortality rates of undisturbed wolf populations and all support species are equivalent inside and outside of the exclusion zone.

      There is a concept in statistical physics that if you can observe a reproducible event (in this case population density) then all other factors that are not under the control of the experimenter are irrelevant for determining the outcome of the experiment.

      I agree whole heartedly that the degree of fear should be commensurate with the risk. Otherwise one will make decisions that will tend to place you in more danger.

      Guidelines for developing radiation exposure limits are based on a Linear Non Threshold (LNT) model and take the mortality rates for high acute exposures and extrapolate those to low levels of long term (chronic) exposure. These models ignore the existence of hormesis, the ability of the cellular structures to repair damage. Hormesis is well understood in nuclear medicine where exposures are targeted to kill the cancer and not the patient. The patient may even be exposed to levels of radiation that cause physical burns on the skin. Because of hormesis, the patient survives.

      The risk guidelines were made from “conservative” assumptions about the impact of long term exposure before we had a good understanding of the biological mechanisms that exist. As the documentary said, the “nature is resilient”. She truly is.

      Unfortunately we have not gone back and reevaluated those policy constraints on radiation exposure. Because of the fact that they have been effective in preventing unnecessary death. Rod had a bit on radiation exposures less than 100 mSv/year not impacting human populations. Our federal limit for a radiation worker is 5 mSv/yr and 3mSv/quarter. Not too far off from the actual threshold, and not bad for creating a limit effectively out of very little information at the time.

      The nuclear industry spends a great deal of money on ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable). This is the guise of somebody (probably a Navy nuke) with a good idea of if there is a limit, then lets be more restrictive and set a lower limit, heck why not even make the limit zero, because less is better right?

      Unfortunately, all of these needless exposure controls ignore the simple fact that we are running away from something and spending a great deal of money and man hours to prevent something that is not a risk at all.

      A “civilian” is allowed .1mSv/yr based off of Federal Regulation. Please note this is 100 times less than the level that will do biological harm. This affects evacuation plans from the plant and creates a restriction on siting nuclear plants close to population centers increasing overall costs for nuclear reactors.

      The problem with us nukes is that we often spread the bad propaganda ourselves, due to our not fully understanding the implications of our actions.

      As far as who benefits. Einstein summed it up the best, “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”

      I doubt there is a great conspiracy. Indeed, there are those among us who recognize the impacts of their actions and understand the full context of such. I offer, this number is such a minority in our population and the level of our ignorance so great outside of our own fields of study that the existence of such an individual and the detail of their understanding would prevent them from intentionally harming others for profit on their own behalf. I am left with the conclusion that while individuals may be smart populations are not.

      1. I’m not suggesting the area is not flourishing. It is flourishing…radiation effects are trivial compared to human habitation effects.

        The fact that a population is flourishing doesn’t mean the cancer incidence hasn’t risen. Cancers could have increased but relative to the loss of humans, species thrive.

        There are certain adaptive responses we observe, but that is not hormesis. LNT is the best model that fits the evidence regarding human carcinogenesis.

        Neither of these has anything to do with the nuclear medicine scenario you mentioned.

        Biological effects are caused at the lowest levels of radiation exposure. Whether those effects manifest as “harm” or not depends on many other factors.

        1. @Bob,
          Wikipedia has a good site on radiation hormesis. On the graph the hormesis curve is “Curve D”

          This physical mechanism of cellular repair is vital to the application of nuclear medicine. Although I’m not a medical physicist, they are part of our department and I have talked with several PhD’s on the issue. You can check out out faculty at GA Tech to see to whom I am talking.

          These concepts are central to our understanding of how radiation effects our cellular structure and what the real risks are.

      2. Sci.Am. mag. had a chart the avg. exposure in U.S.(mSv/yr)comes down to two major sources:
        – Natural Background radiation
        – Man-made MEDICAL

        total: 6.2mSv/yr.

        .1mSv/yr Man-made other radiation

        Unfortunately way too many Green Energy types like the ZEITGEIST MOVEMENT and SUZUKI FOUNDATION think energy if free. I was a little shocked to press for some physics explanation from protesters at the OCCUPY PROTEST.
        I think CAL has a point we in N. American are slowly becoming less smart.

        That is truly sad…

        1. The most effective way to reduce the amount of radiation exposure to Americans would be to institute some sort of tort reform laws directed at limiting medical malpractice lawsuits. It’s been estimated the 30% of all medical diagnostic tests using ionizing radiation are ordered as defensive medicine to protect the doctor from malpractice suits. Even with accidents such as Chernobyl and Fukushima, the collective dose to a society is much less than what we are getting from x-rays, CT scans, etc.

      3. Good points all, Cal Abel.

        I sent a radiation biologist familiar with Chernobyl a query about the documentary on the wolves of Chernobyl: Why did the narrator say that the people studying the wolves and taking samples from them would be “poisoned” by the ingestion of a single wolf’s hair? My contact had no idea what the script-writer would have meant by that remark. It does not appear to be based on science. Several scenes show the scientists glovelessly handling sedated wolves or wolf pups.

        I also wonder whether anyone has done a study of wolves in CO in the uranium-roll front region and whether the radioactivity among those predators at the top of the food chain would be any higher than that of the wolves in the Exclusion Zone.

  5. @Michael: Yes I agree. I totally support Rod’s suspicions but one must be VERY careful in turning those suspicions into accusations without a good wallop of evidence to back it up. If you can’t it, it is too easy to for political opponents to spin your position into the “conspiracy theorist nutbar” narrative to discredit you. I’ve seen it happen too many times before.

    When looking at *proven* past actions of the CIA / military-industrial complex including governments running false-flag operations, when trillions and the destinies of nations are on the line, one should EXPECT perfidy of the highest order at the upper echelons of power both here and in Russia (USSR) and elsewhere. HOWEVER, there is still the issue of needing some good, supportable evidence before taking suspicions or hunches public, especially if of an explosive nature.

    1. Gorbatchev one denounced that in the first days after the incident even he didn’t receive proper information about what was really happening, and that he had to send KGB agents to collects accurate data.

  6. The key thing to understand about nuclear power is that other global circumstances exist now in favor of nuclear that make even completely unscientific bizarro-land Caldicott-grade radiation risks look pleasurable.

    Even Koch-funded studies of the temperature record admit (studies that prominent members of the so-called “skeptic” community agreed that they would accept as authoritative prior to their release) there’s a temperature spike now. In fact, the temperature spike in the Koch study correlates precisely with the studies dismissed by the so-called “skeptics” as having poor data quality, so the debate as to whether there’s AGW is pretty much over. The debate is now “how much are we screwed?” The answer is up to us.

    Further, the specter of peak oil is going to mean that a lot of our transportation is going to have to go electric and natural gas unless we literally move to horsepower, and I don’t doubt some greens really want that to happen given the fervent fantasizing that some greens do about the collapse of civilization. Burning natural gas for electricity is burning what we’re going to have to use for fuel in transport as oil becomes more scarce. Basing society on a single fuel – like we did around oil in the past when oil was cheap – is a setup for social failure.

    Barring massive gigawatt-year scale storage being researched, developed, and deployed, intermittent renewables aren’t viable and don’t displace coal.

    Nuclear does.

    1. I think you overstate the conclusions of the study. All it shows is that temperatures are increasing, it makes no claims that the increase can be attributed to AGW.

  7. @ Bob Applebaum
    What’s missing is the acknowledgment of work done years ago and still continues to apply science base to reduce bias. Both Ukrainian and American scientists like the BAKER/CHESSER paper is a precursor to PBS RADIOACTIVE WOLVES. The fact is that more data is needed and people really have no science basis to make assumptions as to how an individual animal or human falls victim to cancer by genotoxicity. The study of Chernobyl wild Bank Voles is to me an important study in what we presume to happen on a cellular level does not seem to translate in Vole populations with multi-generational study. Most of the radiation health scientist that I’ve interviewed including ones who study post A bomb ionizing radiation release say, more data is needed to get a better picture of predictability with regard to radiation on human and biological organisms. To unequivocally state that a predetermined level of radiation is the cause of human cancer is not real science & driven my emotion and political agendas.
    Having participated in OCCUPY-VANCOUVER PROTEST and promoting fairer economy and NEW nuclear energy such as Thorium LFTR, small modular reactors and reprocessing of spent fuels we need to take a long realistic look at FISSION NUCLEAR ENERGY. Anti-nuclear activists like David Suzuki might get fame from promoting a type of environmental political activism but it is not rooted in science and that’s where we should draw the line. Nuclear activists also need to give credit to scientist who work to gather data and test findings on Radiation Health to get an improved science based study on effects of radiation.
    The link between fair energy prosperity and a healthy environment is important. Nuclear power plays a key role in keeping conflict oil at bay.
    But in order for NUCLEAR POWER to assume its rightful position as leader in best energy technology we must democratize the technology making it more transparent to the public.

  8. Of course we have some ideas as to how radiation causes cancer. We have zillions of lab studies on animals.

    It’s much tougher in the wild to study animal populations.

    No one said anything about a “predetermined level” causes cancer. Cancer is a multi-stage process. Radiation contributes to that process.

  9. @Cal A.

    Hormesis is a hypothesis. At the moment it is a failed hypothesis.

    Regarding medical treatment you may be referring to the adaptive response of cancer (radiation can slow or accelerate the return of certain cancers) or radiation stimulation of the immune to combat returning cancer cells.

    Neither of those things are hormesis.

    P.S. I graduated from GA Tech, back when they had a Health Physics program.

    1. @Bob Applebaum

      LNT is a hypothesis(one accepted as legal fail- safe). At the moment an unwarranted hyper-risk aversion model.

    2. Chemical hormesis is a good deal more than a hypothesis, and it certainly isn’t a failed one. It was observed at the end of the nineteenth century by German pharmacologist Hugo Schulz (1853–1932)who discovered that a particular disinfectant stimulated the growth of yeast if administered in small amounts, but destroyed the yeast cells when administered in larger quantities. The phenomenon has been observed in several other biological systems since.

      Again you are suggesting that you have some expertise in this field without actually stating it. Did you indeed graduate from a Health Physics program at GA Tech, or do you expect us to believe that you absorbed this knowledge by osmosis because the school had such a program while you were there?

      1. A goose is not a duck.

        I’m not asking anyone to accept what I write based on my expertise or lack thereof. Only based on what the evidence supports.

        However, I did graduate from there.

        1. So in other words you are not a credentialed expert in the field. Nether am I, which is why I am forced to back up everything I write with references when I am asked to.

          So now I am demanding that you supply references to back your contention that LNT has been established as a valid effect, and another to support your assertion that hormesis is a failed hypothesis.

          Otherwise you are just another antinuclear troll running off at the mouth armed with nothing else but your conceit that you can B.S. those that know the subject better.

        2. Sorry, Bob Applebaum but I’m not in that club of using science to promote division & strife in society it only borders on racism. I refuse to call people out because of some inaccurate LNT model of radiation where any amount of radiation some how produces mutant offspring born in Kiev & N. Ukraine as some how lacking physically or mentally depressed or ban any Ukraine agricultural products. This is also the same for Fukushima Japan.
          I purchase Wasabi and fish products from this area I also purchase imported Borscht soup and Ukrainian perogies.

          Two cultures with very tasty foods!

          No amount of fear mongering will prevent me from eating Agri. products from these areas and both peoples are wonderful SMART HEALTHY societies.
          Bob, it’s really a question of science and allowing science to provide healthy, safe and efficient energy for economic prosperity not to support ideas that divide people-I’m pro people and sciences that promotes Homo Sapiens.

          You can google:
          Zbigniew Jaworowski is chairman of the Scientific Council of the Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection in Warsaw and former chair of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (1981–82)

          PS. UR an enviro consultant? I must of missed you on searches.

    3. Mr. Applebaum,

      You state: “Hormesis is a hypothesis. At the moment it is a failed hypothesis”

      I accept radiation hormesis is a hypothesis and requires further testing to validate anecdotal evidence. However to declare radiation hormesis a failure is as equally incorrect as stating LNT is verifiable.

      From my viewpoint as a layperson where health physics is concerned neither LNT or radiation hormesis have been proven with any level of confidence. LNT has been accepted due to its conservative approach to radiation protection requirements but that does not mean it is a valid or correct hypothesis from a true scientific or engineering standpoint. In my opinion, the only thing the acceptance of LNT means at this point is that scientists and engineers were asked for solutions to maintain personnel safety during nuclear operations but were not provided additional funds and time to investigate other possibilities to see if LNT is the optimal solution. Right now the only thing I believe can be stated is that LNT qualifies as the most conservative solution to radiation protection.

      Many governing bodies have qualifiers on the LNT hypothesis such as the UNSCEAR stating: At lower levels of exposure, however, quantitative estimates or risk are not so readily obtained and inferences need to be made by downward extrapolation with information available at higher doses (my emphasis added)


      So in a discussion where one makes an unequivocal statement delcaring radiation hormesis a failure and LNT supported “by the preponderance of the evidence” I would expect to see links backing up those claims. However in my quick review of the various links those that are more knowledgeable on this subject have provided on this forum and others I read, all I see are statements declaring radiation hormesis requires additional study and that LNT is an inferred approach to radiation risks.

      If you have additional information that would back up your claim that radiation hormesis is a “failed hypothesis” please provide it so that it may be shared and discussed with others.

      1. Read BEIR VII. I’ve already provided a link.

        I don’t know what date that UNSCEAR report you provided a link to was written…it appear to be from around 2000.

        BEIR VII was published in 2006 and was charged specifically with the LNT question.

        P.S. My name is Bob.

    1. Bob,

      For those of us who don’t have all day to read the whole thing and try to reconstruct your argument, could you please, at very least, reference specific passages (with page numbers so we can have context) that support your argument.

    2. BEIR VII is a report containing opinions, it is not a primary source. There are enough references in BEIR VII that almost anyone could select the ones that support their viewpoints; focusing on a single set of data or parts of a reference does not validate or invalidate the BEIR VII findings. The value and meaning of individual references must be taken in context. Thus it is an error to claim that BEIR VII supports any particular viewpoints. The report itself is quite clear about its limitations.

      I strongly doubt that you have read all 400 pages of that document or understand it. If you had you would see the error of cherry-picking from it. What BEIR VII gives us is a working hypothesis, and little more.

  10. Sunlight is a form of radiation. Too much sunlight will cause skin damage and raises the risk of cancer. Too little sunlight exposure and you can develop Vitamin D deficiency and rickets. This isn’t to say that the same effects apply to ionizing radiation, but it can’t be discounted either. Mankind has been living with radiation of all sorts for a very long time. If nature found a way to use sunlight for a beneficial use, it could also have done the same for ionizing radiation.

      1. Trying to prove LNT in doses below 100mSv is like trying to prove a six-sided die is 1% biased towards 1 and 2 from the results of 1000 rolls alone and where you were not allowed to watch when it was rolled.

        1. You’re avoiding these questions, not answering them. Further proof (as if any were needed) that you are a fraud and a troll. If you’re going to accuse someone of false rationalization, the onus is on you to explain why. In the absence of that, your response is evasive.

        2. Michael – Indeed.

          At doses less than 40 times the average yearly background exposure (100 mSv), statistical limitations make it difficult to evaluate cancer risk in humans.

        1. As many as it takes to demonstrate you have nothing to say. You cannot answer for or prove the contentions that you make and indeed actively avoid doing so.

          Calling you out for prevarication is stating a fact. As I pointed out elsewhere, you have no idea what ad hominem is. If your behavior fits the accusation – it is not ad hominem.

        1. Bob – The field of epidemiology has plenty of examples where “biological mechanisms” have been proposed for certain diseases that have ended up not matching reliable epidemiological evidence.

          You have dismissed hormesis although examples of apparent stimulatory or protective effects of exposure to low levels of ionizing radiation can be found in cellular and animal biology. You cannot dismiss this phenomenon because of “biological mechanisms,” because the mechanism of any such possible effect remains obscure.

          Appealing to “underlying biological mechanisms” is very weak evidence, which is why LNT is an assumption, which does not have compelling scientific evidence to support it.

  11. @DV82XL

    At 5:31 p.m. you decided I’m not an expert.

    You asked for a reference.

    I gave you one.

    At 7:18 p.m., you’ve decided I haven’t answered the questions, though you’ve already decided I’m not an expert and you have ignored a reference I’ve provided.

    Perhaps you should just take a walk.

    1. Bob, I appreciate the BEIR reference – I hadn’t seen it before. I find its general conclusions fairly persuasive. On the other hand, labeling hormesis a “failed hypothesis” is not quite accurate either. A fair interpretation of BEIR’s conclusions would be that the evidence is uncertain but tending to support LNT. Research results are mixed, and hormesis has not been disproven. BEIR calls for more research and evidence on low-dose response, which would not be the case if the panelists felt the issue was fully resolved.

      I also appreciate your level headedness in the face of some unjustified invective in these comments. Some pro-nukes feel aggressive derision is the best debate method, but in my opinion it alienates more people than it persuades.

      1. Thank you, sir.

        All of science is “uncertain”. We have to go with the preponderence of the evidence until new evidence convinces us otherwise.

        The preponderence of the evidence TODAY is that LNT is the best model.

        The evidence for hormesis needs to equal or exceed that for LNT. Until then….

    2. I did not ignored the reference you provide. I answered you in a post @6:52 PM showing that BEIR VII does not prove your points and why.

      If anyone is leaving this thread it will not be me. I find your type of troll offensive, and I have decided now to make a project out of you. Every time you turn around on this site, I’ll be there.

  12. @ Brian Mays

    “Bob – The field of epidemiology has plenty of examples where “biological mechanisms” have been proposed for certain diseases that have ended up not matching reliable epidemiological evidence.”

    Name one.

    “You have dismissed hormesis although examples of apparent stimulatory or protective effects of exposure to low levels of ionizing radiation can be found in cellular and animal biology. You cannot dismiss this phenomenon because of “biological mechanisms,” because the mechanism of any such possible effect remains obscure.”

    If the mechanism is obscure, then hormesis is obscure. Of course, the evidence is not obscure. There are many papers which outline the evidence. Maybe you should read some.

    “Appealing to “underlying biological mechanisms” is very weak evidence, which is why LNT is an assumption, which does not have compelling scientific evidence to support it.”

    All of science is an assumption. It is about human minds trying to explain natural phenomena based on objective evidence. There is no Truth with a capital “T”.

    LNT is the best model which fits the available evidence. It might be incorrect…but you have to provide evidence to overcome the evidence which suggests that it is correct.

    I’ll note you haven’t done so.

    (I wonder why Rod mentioned critical thinking…it doesn’t seem to matter here)

    1. Name one.

      Bob – The entire field of genetic epi could be considered an excellent example of what I’m talking about. That is, the “biological mechanisms” involved suggest an important role of genetic factors in determining health and disease in families and in populations.

      I know that geneitc epi is a rather hot topic in epidemiology these days, bringing in boatloads of research money, but the results that this field has produced thus far have been very disappointing. The theory does not match the evidence. It’s a cautionary tale that warns against relying too much on supposed biological mechanisms.

      Biology is more complicated than the simplistic models that are often used to justify scientific assumptions, such as the LNT model.

      All of science is an assumption.

      That might have been true back in Aristotle’s day, but it is certainly nonsense now. If that is how you really perceive science, then it explains much of your attitude and most of your comments here.

      Real science is a theoretical framework to explain physical phenomena that can be backed up by reproducible experimental evidence. This is what differentiates a theory, a hypothesis, and an assumption. The assumption, being the weakest of the three, is occasionally useful (as in the case of the LNT model — I’m not arguing that it does not have its uses), but its greatest weakness is that it is applied without being thoroughly tested. What’s worse is that assumptions are entirely open to bias on the part of those making them.

      Using such weasel words as “preponderance of the evidence” to justify such assumptions does not help the situation. If anything, such phrases reinforce how weak the evidence in support of the assumption is.

      LNT is the best model which fits the available evidence.

      That’s a blanket statement that’s not entirely true. The real reason that LNT has not yet been confined to the dustbin is that it is the most easily defended model (mostly because of its simplicity and its conservatism). Even BEIR VII abandons a linear relationship in its risk model for leukemia because the fit of the nonlinear model is so much better.

      The biggest joke, however, is that the LNT model, as applied to the health effects from radiation, is not one linear model, but two. At low doses, the models used by BEIR and others introduce a fudge factor (called an “effectiveness factor,” which has very large uncertainties) to reduce the risk, relative to large doses, so as to better fit the available evidence.

      There are many fields in science where the data are so poor that nothing more complicated than a very crude linear fit can be applied to the data. That doesn’t mean that these linear models are correct, however, and it is silly to pretend that they are.

  13. Bob, for what it’s worth UNSCEAR has been equivocal about LNT for some considerable time.

    Their recent report on Chernobyl Health effects (2008 published this year) says:

    e.g. D252 page 183

    “D252. Since predictions of possible health consequences are not directly intended for substantiating necessary radiation protection measures, they do not have to be based on a cautious approach (such as the LNT model) but rather they should be based on firmly established scientific facts. In the dose range below 0.1 Sv, because of the absence of persuasive evidence related in part to the substantial statistical uncertainties, the dependence of the frequency of adverse radiation effects on dose can be assessed only by means of biophysical models among which the models based on the LNT approach are the most popular [B48, U3]. However, there are also others, including superlinear and threshold ones, and even models that account for a possible beneficial effect of radiation, termed hormesis. For these reasons, the Committee will not use these models to project absolute numbers of possible health effects in populations exposed to low doses of radiation, because of unacceptable levels of uncertainty in the predictions.”

    In other words: use LNT as a cautious basis for radiation protection by all means. But if you use it for predicting cancer rates below 100mSv you will probably be wrong, whichever model you use, so don’t do it.

    1. ColinG

      BEIR VII was tasked SPECIFICALLY to examine which dose model reflects the totally of the evidence…LNT, superlinear, hormesis.

      They found (and explain why) LNT was the best model.

      Your UNSCEAR quote does NOT provide evidence why BEIR VII was wrong.

      (No one else has either)

      1. I assume UNSCEAR takes an equivocal view because it is international.

        BEIR is American. Other national studies tasked with assessing LNT came to different conclusions. e.g. the French Adademy of Sciences

        The point that UNSCEAR makes is that there are currently insufficient “firmly established scientific facts” regarding the health effects below 100mSv. So any pronouncement regarding which model is “correct” is arbitrary.

        1. I understand…we don’t always have “facts”. I can’t describe in infinite factual detail how a baby is formed. Yet, I know when a man and a woman have sex a baby results.

          That isn’t arbitrary.

          The preponderance of the evidence points to LNT, even if many questions remain.

          All you or anyone else has to do, is provide evidence to the contrary.

  14. @Bob

    For the record, the summary of Appendix D of BEIR VII is considerably less absolute than calling hormesis a “failed hypothesis.”

    The committee concludes that the assumption that any stimulatory hormetic effects from low doses of ionizing radiation will have a significant health benefit to humans that exceeds potential detrimental effects from the radiation exposure is unwarranted at this time.

    The summary and research needs section of the main document also indicates that there is more uncertainty about the existence of hormesis than you have stated:


    The possibility that low doses of radiation may have beneficial effects (a phenomenon often referred to as “hormesis”) has been the subject of considerable debate. Evidence for hormetic effects was reviewed, with emphasis on material published since the 1990 BEIR V study on the health effects of exposure to low levels of ionizing radiation. Although examples of apparent stimulatory or protective effects can be found in cellular and animal biology, the preponderance of available experimental information does not support the contention that low levels of ionizing radiation have a beneficial effect. The mechanism of any such possible effect remains obscure. At this time, the assumption that any stimulatory hormetic effects from low doses of ionizing radiation will have a significant health benefit to humans that exceeds potential detrimental effects from radiation exposure at the same dose is unwarranted.

    Research Need 4. Identification of molecular mechanisms for postulated hormetic effects at low doses
    Definitive experiments that identify molecular mechanisms are necessary to establish whether hormetic effects exist for radiation-induced carcinogenesis.

    1. Rod –

      BEIR VII calls for many research needs (12 in the Executive Summary)…so what?

      Nothing in science is absolute.

      We go with the preponderence of the evidence until new evidence convinces us otherwise.


      Just because we haven’t discovered gravitons, doesn’t make gravity an uncertain thing.

      1. Critical thinking is, by its very definition, the act of questioning assumptions and assessing conclusions. Critical thinking is a process of defining the problem, gathering data, interpreting that data, and drawing conclusions which are then tested and refined as more data is collected. During that process logical relationships or the lack thereof are recognized and discussed.

        A fait accompoli acceptance of BEIR VII, which was prepared by a committee from other reference documentation to address the subject of health risks from exposure to low level radiation not to prove LNT, is not critical thinking.

        A straight line with a downward slope to intersect with the x-axis based on data plotting to “prove” cancer will happen from any level of radiation exposure is not critical thinking. That is just policy wonks forcing a decision on the technical side due to constraints such as money, politics, money, public safety, etc

        In agreement others have stated, I do not believe BEIR VII is incorrect. I have not read the document thoroughly but from what I have read from those that have I don’t have any reason to doubt this meta-study. The issue is your statements where you made declarative comments stating BEIR VII conclusively supports LNT and that radiation hormesis has been proven to be a failed hypothesis.

        As has been discussed by many here, LNT is one of several approaches towards radiation risk protection. It is a very conservative approach and has wide support within the non-proliferation and anti-nuclear crowd for a variety of reasons.

        However, using BEIR VII to support an anti-nuclear position or the-nuclear-must-be-100%-safe position is an example of creative thinking not critical thinking.

  15. Folks, I’m going to bed.

    All you have to do, is exclaim:

    “BEIR VII is wrong…and here’s why!…”

    And provide the evidence.

    If you can’t…you’re wrong.

    Good night.

    1. BEIR VII isn’t wrong, you just have no idea what that document is all about. Maybe if you actually read it you would see what is and is not in it.

      There are enough references in BEIR VII that almost anyone could cherry-pick the ones that support their stand, but nothing in that document provides a carved-in-stone proof for LNT or disproves hormesis.

      Thus your demand to us to prove BEIR VII is in error is ludicrous on its face since the only thing that is wrong here is your interpretation of what the document is saying.

      1. Furthermore, BEIR VII is the opinion of just one scientific committee. Other scientific organizations have come to different conclusions.

  16. WoW! Some people have an axe to grind. I thought this was suppose to be pleasant nuke blog.
    So, I’m guessing nuclear critics come to this blog to vent?

    Anyway, I found another paper in a news article. On A bomb survivors.
    “Low exposure to the Nagasaki atomic blast resulted in longer lifespans”


    Brain Mays has a good point on BEIR.

    I wonder why Bob Applebaum is so stuck on BEIR ?

    1. I have a piece of information about the BEIR that makes me reject its interpretation of the studies that it reviewed. While working in DC, I had the opportunity to meet the senior point of contact for the EPA’s position on radiation risk.

      He works in the Office of Radiation and Air/Office of Radiation and Indoor Air/Radiation Protection Division.

      A friend of mine worked with him. He told me later that the policy in the above office – established many years before – was that the only thing that would be acceptable evidence that disproved the LNT was the completion of the atomic bomb lifespan study (LSS). They had determined that the LSS would require continued funding until the very last survivor had passed away and the cause of death had been determined.

      The EPA has the responsibility of selecting members of BEIR. Their senior points of contact on the topic have ensured that the selected members were not people who would write conclusions that questioned the LNT, no matter how many studies provided evidence that seemed to disagree with the assumption.

      After hearing that story, it seemed apparent to me that people with questioning attitudes – one of the hallmarks of critical thinking skills – about the LNT assumption are not encouraged to apply and are not selected.

      That bit of information matched what I had learned by reading some of the articles and commentary about LNT and BEIR from people like Ted Rockwell and Jim Muckerheide, who have invested decades into efforts to encourage the use of a radiation dose response model that has a better fit with the accumulated evidence. Here is one example of those articles:


      Here is another document worth reading:

      Dose-effect relationship and estimation of the carcinogenic effects of low doses of ionizing radiation

      The Joint Report of the Académie des Sciences (Paris) and of the Académie Nationale de Médecine


      You might also want to visit the following page to see what it says about the BEIR VII selection process. I know that the site does not “look” particularly credible, but the people who put it together were scientists and engineers, not web designers.


      1. Rod, speaking of critical thinking… is a mouth-to-mouth rumor enough to not look at the arguments and instead summerically dismiss everything being said by an influential party?

        I am sorry for biting at ya Rod, but us nuclear friends must(!) stick to the higher ground. If we allow ourselves to be dragged into the quagmire that is the anti-scientific rhetotics of our opponents, then we will lose… not just the public trust, but also that which we personally use as the foundation to build our view of reality.

        You know where that leads…

        1. @Michael – you were writing while I was updating the post. I initially wrote it from an iPad; it is not the best device for composing a comment full of links and references.

          Please believe me when I say that my evaluation of the topic is not based on a mouth to mouth rumor. Laying out the evidence accumulated over about 15 years (since I first attended health effects of low dose sessions at ANS meetings organized by Jim Muckerheide in the mid 1990s) and constructing a convincing brief is challenging within the constraints of a blog comment conversation.

          You can find a number of articles posted here on Atomic Insights, many of them with a substantial number of links and references.

    2. @Bruce – there are many people with axes to grind when it comes to discussions about energy. The critics are welcome as long as they keep the conversation civil.

  17. Bob, LNT is the equivalent of saying that the probability of conceiving is a linear property of one parameter.

    Given the variables involved it is clearly, at best, a gross approximation.

    Rod’s recent reference is useful in summarising the problems.

    “8.5 Although the BEIR 7 report advocates the use of LNT, it gives a great importance to the DDREF and advises a dose-effect relationship which embodies a DDREF factor and which is therefore not linear but curvilinear. However, surprisingly, the BEIR report does not discuss the mechanisms which are involved in the DDREF. It is likely that the lower mutagenic effect of a low dose rate is related to a better DNA repair and is not observed in cells with an impaired DNA repair.”

    That is: BEIR istself implies that the relationship is not linear but curvilinear, and this is probably due to factors which repair low-level damage more effectively.

    And from 8.6

    “…With regard to carcinogenesis, the BEIR 7 report assumes that lesions accumulated in a single cell suffice to initiate a carcinogenic process. However, the Joint Report points out that the analysis of animal data and the lack of a carcinogenic effect in subjects contaminated with N-emitter nuclides is not consistent with this assumption.
    Moreover, several recent data show that cancer is not simply a cellular disease but also involves dysfunction of the tissue control and immunosurveillance, such as those which are observed after the death of a large proportion of cells. Therefore the basic radiobiological assumptions of the LNT are not in accordance with recent data.”

    I am not enough of an expert so say how much weight should be given to these factors, but it seems evident that, at the very least, the relationship will not be perfectly linear.

    In particular at low levels the uncertainty dwarfs any predictive utility of the model. Which was UNSCEAR’s point.

  18. From BEIR VII page. 268

    “The use of data on persons exposed at low doses and low dose rates merits special mention. Of these studies, the most promising for quantitative risk assessment are the studies of nuclear workers who have been monitored for radiation exposure through the use of personal dosimeters. These studies, which are reviewed in Chapter 8, were not used as the primary source of data for risk modeling principally because of the imprecision of the risk estimates obtained. For example, in a large combined study of nuclear workers in three countries, the estimated relative risk per gray (ERR/Gy) for all cancers other than leukemia was negative, and the confidence interval included negative values and values larger than estimates based on A-bomb survivors (Cardis and others 1995)”

    So, of the studies that the BEIR VII panel reviewed it specifically excluded this study because the incident rate for cancers was negative.

    It is hard to create a model of how much cancer increases using data sets that show it decreasing. First BEIR VII makes the claim that this is the best quantitative study then claims that the confidence intervals in the data are large and negative. Their response is to dismiss the study as bad. What they need to do is review their hypothesis. If the best data available can’t show cancer rates outside the noise, i.e. large and negative confidence intervals. Perhaps it is because the risk is that small.

    In order to support their hypothesis they simply move to A-bomb survivors whose doses are all estimated.

    1. Looks like BEIR is a report that is ideological. It excludes contradictory information (negative cancer rates for radiation workers) to support not changing the status quo.

      I am truly impressed with the lack of integrity in the study.

      Also correction to one o my previous posts. Still getting use to Sv as a unit:
      100 mSv=10 rem
      Annual exposure limit (legal US radiation worker) 5 rem/yr and 3 rem/qtr is 50 mSv/yr and 30 mSv/qtr. non occupational exposure limit is 100mrem/yr which is 1mSv. The sad thing is that the limits are so low that being off an order of magnitude has no effect on the reasoning of the outcome.

  19. Good morning…the “troll” is back!

    I get called that too on pro-fossil fuel blogs.

    In fact, if I just changed a few key words…like:

    “Atomic Insights” to “Fossil Fuel Insights”

    “BEIR VII” to “IPCC WG1”

    “LNT” to “anthrogenic CO2”

    And so on….the parallels are amazing.

    The ideology provides what is called “anchoring” which in turn creates what is called “motivated reasoning”.

    It’s the same mental phenomenon that prevents certain religious people from accepting evolutionary biology.

    It’s the opposite of critical thinking.

    And you can see the same type of feedback…the IPCC is a conspiracy, they’ve “admitted” more research is needed, it’s just their opinion, they’re environmentalist, X is also a greenhouse gas, etc.

    If anyone knows a psychology student, it would make for a good paper.

    1. @Bob
      My comment for being idealogical was directed at the BEIR VII report. It is idealogical by definition for excluding information in reaching its conclusions. The acknowledgement of exclusion of information is still the exclusion of information.

      What this means is that basing conclusions on information that is idealogical is making idealogical conclusions. I ask that you consider this as you frame your thinking and responses in the future.

      If you do not change your premise and adopt critical thinking you will be idealogical by definition. Now is your opportunity.

      The reason many of use are so frustrated with BIER is for the simple fact that it ignores the evidence for hormesis that is in front of us to support needless and inaccurate idealogical conclusions.

      BIER ignores the work of medical physicists who have quantified the cellular repair effects. I sat through a presentation given by Dr. Hiuchen Wang of Emory University on the “Repair of clustered DNA damage induced by high LET radiation” If you do a google search on the quotations there is a slew of peer reviewed studies done on this very subject.

      If you do not want to be idealogical in the future I suggest that you check your facts and when somebody challenges you on those facts that you sit down and study the subject to resolve any conflicts. Otherwise accept that when somebody says that you are being idealogical, that they are telling you the truth.

      A famous quote: “Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.”

      1. Cal:

        You are misunderstanding. You said this earlier:

        “Looks like BEIR is a report that is ideological. It excludes contradictory information (negative cancer rates for radiation workers) to support not changing the status quo.”

        BEIR did NOT exclude this information because of negative cancer rates. They state why they didn’t include it:

        “…were not used as the primary source of data for risk modeling principally because of the imprecision of the risk estimates…”

        That’s not ideological. In science, you gave less weight to data which is less precise.

        Regarding the phenomenon described by Wang and others, BEIR did NOT ignore it. It’s called “adaptive response”. Go to the BEIR index and look up that term.

        Have a good read.

        1. You going to respond to Rod’s 1:59 AM post, or are you going ignore it as you have every other remark that doesn’t fit with your ideology?

        2. So, how much more precise are the A-bomb results which assume exposure that occurred more than 60 years ago?

          If you truly are a critical thinker then this question has to have come across your mind. I’m sure you already examined both studies to determine the sources of imprecision and their significance.

          Part of being a critical thinker is being skeptic. I would hope that you have examined all the studies cited in the BEIR VII in order to verify their conclusion. I hope that you are not taking the panels word for it that they actually read the studies and have not taken them out of context. Or somehow misinterpret test results.

          I have started reading the sections on “adaptive response.” Already on the first page their are more than 15 studies cited with varying results, and varying test methods. The common method was to expose a cell culture to a low dose such as 20mGy followed by a 4Gy does 6 hours later. Then compare mutations to control samples.

          What exactly does this testing method contribute to understanding how living in a house with CS-137 deposits in the yard and food chain affects onset of cancer over an entire lifetime? Most studies do not have the luxury of waiting half a century to get results. So in order to expedite experiments are designed to use larger doses in shorter spans to “simulate” long term chronic doses.

          This is exactly the wrong study to be doing. The question to be answered is “Are the affects of low dose long term exposure more, less, or equal to a linear extrapolation of high dose cases.

          Everybody here knows that ionizing radiation can outright kill cells or damage them significantly to cause them to generate mutations of subsequent growth divisions. This is not a topic of debate.

          The topic of debate is how the body responds to these mutations and how many it takes to overcome our immune system to generate a solid cancer? In addition, does this increase risk matter in comparison to other dangers we face daily?

  20. Jason:

    You raise good questions…but these are the sort of questions one asks BEFORE reaching a conclusion on an issue. Yet, you already opined at 9:39 a.m. against the report, which you’ve just started reading.

    Cal also hasn’t read the report, but just “knew” it was wrong. We can conclude this because he didn’t realize adaptive response was not ignored by BEIR.

    The same mental contamination is true of pro-fossil fuel people. They just “know” the IPCC is wrong, though they haven’t read the report.

    It’s like a cult. And I’m trying to mentally shake you out of the cult mindset.

    Fundamentally, controlled condition lab results are preferred to epidimelogical studies. This is because virtually all significant confounders are under control. We have the most confidence in those results (whether radiation, drugs, viruses, etc.).

    There are several broad types of epidemiological studies. Studies in which the dosing (whether radiation, drugs, etc.) is controlled or well-known by the researcher, are preferred to studies where the dosing was not a part of the design. To be able to observe the subjects in real time, is preferred to interpreting documents recorded by someone else (either long ago for retrospective studies or into the future for prospective studies).

    So, in regards to global warming, we know from lab results that CO2 traps infrared radiation. We logically expect that as more and more is released into the atmosphere, the planet will warm. If we don’t measure the warming, that doesn’t change the fundamental fact that CO2 traps infrared radiation. Either our instruments, and/or our statistics simply can’t resolve the temperature increase from CO2 relative to background factors. At some point, the effect of the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere becomes resolvable to our instruments/statistics and we can measure the temperature increase.

    Similarly, we know that our radiation epidemiology has limited resolving power. But we know from the lab that radiation has deleterious effects on cells.

    One component of epidemiology resolving power is the number of people exposed in a study. The A-bomb survivors number over 85,000 people. That’s huge! These individuals received a range of doses, which is good to, though the dosing wasn’t planned in an experimental sense.

    All radiation doses are estimates. No one sits and measures the energy imparted throughout your body. Some estimates (using dosimeters) are better than others(dose reconstruction). The A-bomb study uses dose reconstruction but a lot of effort has gone into making it as robust as humanly possible.

    The A-bomb study is good in a sense because it is old. If we went and dosed some folks today, we’d have to wait 50+ years to get all the statistics.

    The overall cancer risk from radiation is small relative to other risks. But it’s not zero.

    1. Bob, until this year I was fully prepared to accept the LNT as the consensus view on predicting the impact of radiation on health. At the end of the day it makes little difference to the case for nuclear power because, as externalities go, the radiation risk according to LNT is still very small (even including occasional serious accidents).

      The thing that swayed me to question LNT was reading George Monbiot’s criticism of Helen Caldicott in the aftermath of Fukushima.

      What surprised me was not that Caldicott grossly exaggerated the risks; the thing that surprised me was that Monbiot (who has only recently had cause to look into the science surrounding radiation risks) quoted figures on the impact of Chernobyl which did not include the ~9000 predicted cancer fatalities which WHO had previously estimated using LNT.

      Monbiot cited UNSCEAR, which he compares to the IPCC in terms of its international authority. This prompted me to read their recent report to see how Monbiot could so brazenly ignore predicted latent cancer fatalities.

      I was surprised to find, as you possibly are, that UNSCEAR does not endorse using LNT for predicting cancer mortality from low dose radiation. In fact they do not endorse using any model for calculating cancer fatalities from low doses applied to large populations. (p183 and elsewhere)


      Certainly the wording of their Chernobyl report suggests they consider LNT as being only one of several models which may be correct in light of the (lack of) epidemiological evidence from Chernobyl.

    2. You do understand that the issue here is LOW-dose radiation, and the applicability of LNT? Nuclear bomb survivors are not really a good subject group to study the effects of low doses particularly chronic low dose exposure below 100 mSv.

      LNT is is an extrapolation. As such it is by definition a forecast done in the absence of hard data. To claim then that the effect has been proven is categorically wrong.

      Despite your belief, this is far from cult science. Many people, and even a few regulators have raised serious questions about the validity of LNT, and there have good peer-reviewed studies published disputing LNT and/or supporting hormesis.

      You can of course, trust in the OPINIONS of the committee that created BEIR VII, but to imply that document is authoritative and above criticism seem more like cult type thinking than the rational skepticism I see from every other person here.

    3. Bob said

      “The overall cancer risk from radiation is small relative to other risks. But it’s not zero.”

      If this is your position, what exactly are you trying to prove with all of your posts on this site?

      1. I’ve only been supportive of the concept that the LNT is best model of radiation exposure. Relative to some who’d say the risk is zero or negative (hormesis).

        1. Applebaum – Let me get this straight. You contend that the opinions in a document created by a quasi-governmental committee which used data from an event sixty years ago for which does levels could only be estimated based of the poor instrumentation of the time, is more reliable than several studies done by independent researchers working with chronically exposed populations using modern dosimetry.

          In other words you are basing your whole argument on one source, rejecting all others, but contend that we are a cult.

          Am I the only one that sees the similarities here with Bible-thumping zealots who reject all other explanations other than those they see in the Bible, and when challenged read out passages in that document that speaks to its own inerrancy?

        1. I think he’s referring to the climate change debate. There’s a huge difference, however. As far as climate change goes, there is overwhelming agreement among climate scientists (the ones who actually know the science the best!) that climate change is occurring and the cause is most likely to be anthropogenic, even if there is disagreement about the exact models and the details. That’s not saying that they are correct and that is fact, but those who challenge the overwhelming majority of experts in a field face a stiff burden of proof.

          With LNT, the issue is controversial among professional radiobiologists and epidemiologists. You have the camp that puts out BEIR, which tends to favor LNT, but even cautions its application of small doses times large populations to get realistic cancer rates. You have other camps that are for a threshold or even those that advocate hormesis. All mainstream scientists in this area agree that the risk of low levels of radiation is quite small at best.

          Unless you are one of those experts that does research in this area, you can’t just pick your favorite camp and assert it as truth, when the overwhelming majority of experts is *not* in agreement. Not saying that LNT is correct or not, but I think it is safe to say that the jury is indeed still out, and pointing to one comprehensive review (not the only one!) is not a valid appeal to authority.

    4. Bob
      You are correct in your statement that I did not read BEIR VII in its entirety before posting those comments. However, I did read BEIR V in its entirety as part of health physics class in the mid 1990‘s. In the intervening years the philosophy and approach of the report has undergone little change and cites the same reasons for excluding the data. I was operating under the premise of, if the methodology of an investigator does not change the outcome of the result will not change either, when presented with the same data. It is from this premise that I spoke on knowledge of BEIR VII. Since you pointed out my lack of reading it, I checked their premise and results, and funny thing, in the last 15 years there has been no change.

      Since the 1990’s, I received continued training including assessing the risks of actions in significant plant catastrophes and what the risks were to the population based off of the decisions that I would have to make if something untoward were to occur. I was never satisfied with the answer that I was given, chiefly because of the then intuitive knowledge that a linear dose model was inadequate in describing low doses. Accident scenarios in the military and in the civilian world place an over reliance on achieving the lowest exposure to the general population vice achieving rapid control of the plant. This practice actually places the surrounding populations and casualty responders in greater risk. I say this as a nuclear engineer and as a nuclear operator. This mentality affected the casualty response at Fukushima, and is what prompted my actions. Some may disagree with my statements but that is ok. We strive to get annual exposures to <1mSv in an accident for somebody standing at the perimeter of the site, because of our fear and lack of understanding of radiation.

      Insufficient understanding of the consequences of radiation hamper actions. It excludes a set of actions that achieve the most rapid stabilization of a plant in an accident scenario in as short a time as possible. It is because of this and other reasons, particularly the economic impact of EPZ’s, that I questioned and kept on reading and talking with health physicists and medical physicists over the years. In private, they all agree that there are other factors, e.g. hormesis, that should be incorporated. Then they always had a caveat, “But LNT has worked, so don’t rock the boat.” During interviews (me being interviewed) with Naval Reactors, I challenged them on this subject and got the typical song and dance of LNT works don’t rock the boat and a touch of who the hell do you think you are.

      I assume that you lack dedicated instruction in statistical evaluation, otherwise you would have understood what I meant by idealogical. In statistical theory, ideology manifests in the exclusion of data that could potentially effect the outcome of the analysis. When building models, one needs to be very careful about how they are constructed so as to be an adequate representation of our complete set of knowledge. There are some saving graces in this process. First is that computers have gotten really fast, so really complex modeling can be done in a very short time. As an example, I can do MCMC on my home computer in a hierarchal Bayesian model with 20+ hyper-parameters in 10,000 iterations after burnin in about 5 hours. Second, if data is irrelevant, the marginal distribution of its hyper-parameter will have a mean that is centered around zero and a 2 sigma that contains both positive and negative numbers. In building my models I start inclusive with data and models built on physical understanding of the system and then run a few thousand iterations to see what is important. I also test different hypothesis when applicable. I don’t necessarily have a 100% guess on relevant information, so I seek to be inclusive to prevent beliefs from disrupting facts. Once I have an idea of what is important, I tailor my models to run faster and get better marginal distributions for my hyper-parameters.

      What does this have to do with BEIR? Simple, by not including the data the researchers are being idealogical and lazy. That is my professional opinion. Please share my critique of their statistical methods and my thoughts on their rigor. Hopefully in the future, they will demonstrate greater integrity. As an improvement on previous BEIR’s, they have incorporated Bayesian methods, which is a pleasant surprise when I came across it. Thank you for suggesting that I read the BEIR report again, it made me smile.

      I stated earlier that that my knowledge of LNT being inaccurate was intuitive and now that it is not. What I mean by this statement is this: I found through inductive logic that the notion of the lack of existence of a threshold as being counterintuitive to how the world works. We live in a world that is filled with radiation. Lots of it. In fact we live on a nuclear waste dump, filled with actinides and their daughter products, cosmic radiation, and radioactive bannanas. The nuclear waste was put here when the planet was formed and is a result of nuclear reaction that formed the universe. Our bodies as well as other life forms on this planet had to evolve to be able to live with the primordial radiation. The BEIR report acknowledges this and identifies several mammalians where hormesis is observed. Had our species not obtained these evolutionary tools, our genome would have been killed off by the radiation a long time ago if LNT were true. So which is a simpler reasoning; that our evolutionary biological mechanisms are vastly different from other mammals, or that they are similar? If they are different, by what mechanism did they become different?

      Nature has seen better for us, and to test for this we can construct a latent variable model to determine the threshold of exposure. We can also incorporate in the model noise reduction methods that incorporate our uncertainty of the readings to determine health effects. The use of Bayesian theory for the bomb survivors suggests that they have done this in the bomb analysis data. We can do the same for everything else, and get as good an idea as we can with confidence intervals and all of what low doses of exposure actually do, even if we don’t fully understand the fundamental mechanisms. Statistics is an excellent, in fact the only, way of being able to analyze incomplete knowledge. By the way, the BEIR report has accepted inductive logic as a matter of course as Bayes’ theorem is a consequence of it. So please, don’t try with the shooting a validity hole in the inductive logic argument as being fringe, your dog has no fight left in him.

      My argument against BEIR is on fundamental principles, and has been an ongoing effort of mine to understand in the last 15 years. The only result that I can come to is that the BEIR report is idealogical because of the NAS panel members beliefs on what the result should be. There is also a large potential for political pressure to be exerted on the NAS, because its funding comes from Congress.

      Bob, now we are at the point of avoiding an ad hominem on my part. However, I will leave you with one parting question, what qualifies you to comment on this subject? BTW, cherry picking data, in which you have great faculty, does not count.

      1. What does it matter what qualifies me to comment on this subject?

        People who think critically evaluate claims against the evidence. They don’t look at what degrees or experience someone has. That is a setup for the logical fallacy of argument from authority.

        You wrote:

        “I found through inductive logic that the notion of the lack of existence of a threshold as being counterintuitive to how the world works.”

        Intuition is not critical thinking.

        You wrote:

        “The only result that I can come to is that the BEIR report is idealogical because of the NAS panel members beliefs on what the result should be. There is also a large potential for political pressure to be exerted on the NAS, because its funding comes from Congress.”

        The people who serve on BEIR get no money from anyone. They serve pro bono. Most of them are tenured professors at some university, so they have jobs for life.

        If anyone of them had EVIDENCE contradicting LNT, they could easily sell it to the nuclear industry for tens of millions of dollars. Taht far exceeds what they get in tenure.

        Your reasoning is faulty…very faulty.

        1. I have news for you sport, everything that you have written here marks you as a dogmatist, not a critical thinker. As proof, you have systematically avoided answering comments that undermine your prejudices and preconceived notions, and tellingly you have not once apologized or even acknowledged points where you have been proven in error. These are the hallmarks of a closed mind.

          Furthermore your ignorance of some very basic concepts in this subject also marks you as a fraud.

          But keep posting, because every time you do you take another chunk out of what little credibility you have left, and I’ll be happy to link to this thread any other time you post on this site if I think anyone might start taking you seriously.

        2. Followed with some interest, and I have to agree with DV82XL. You did not address very valid points raised by others, particularly the post above by Cal Abel.

          This statement by you is particularly ridiculous:

          ‘If anyone of them had EVIDENCE contradicting LNT, they could easily sell it to the nuclear industry for tens of millions of dollars. Taht far exceeds what they get in tenure.’

          There is plenty of evidence contradicting LNT (it’s been given here – French Academy, etc.), whether you find it compelling or not is a different issue, but your statement is clearly false.

        3. To continue with SteveK9’s and DV82XL’s comments.

          Your statement of:

          If anyone of them had EVIDENCE contradicting LNT, they could easily sell it to the nuclear industry for tens of millions of dollars. Taht far exceeds what they get in tenure.

          displays either a certain naivete about the nuclear business or is verification of the rigid mindset you have displayed about the history of nuclear power and how current nuclear power plants operate.

          There is no monolithic unified nuclear industrial entity that would purchase evidence contradicting LNT. That makes no sense whatsoever. A monolithic nuclear power industry is an artificial creation which exists only in the minds of the anti-nuclear advocates.

          What each nuclear plant operator and owner must do is generate electricity for sale in a highly regulated business model where the NRC is the judge and jury on how nuclear power plants operate. The NRC takes is cues from, and provides additional input to, various NUREGS and other legal requirements. And even my statements are an oversimplification of the nuclear power plant business.

          There are many other issues such as “conservative” business practices, focus on the 3-6 month timeline to appease Wall Street, politics, state and local issues, natural gas prices and sales, etc that factor into how each nuclear power plant is operated.

          For one who keeps throwing out the “cult” word to describe our comments, you appear to use key words and phrases that many of us attribute to the anti-nuclear groups.

      2. @ Cal,

        Thank you very much for giving the detailed response. I am glad that Bob keeps posting and these types of replies add greatly to my knowledge as a lay person.

  21. Few phenomena in science & medicine have been as rigorously studied and subject to peer review as have those in radiation health physics. As the authors of BEIR VII themselves would probably be the first to admit, it is a vary conservative document as it was intended to be; LNT by its nature is a conservative default theory based on the extrapolation of known hazardous radiation dose/rate levels to levels (100 mSv or less) that the National Academy itself maintains are “difficult to evaluate [a] cancer risk in humans” because of statistical limitations.

    However the preponderance of evidence as compiled by researchers such as T.D. Lucky suggest that 100mSv or mGy has an optimal “bio-positive” effect on a wide range of life-forms from bacteria to plants and vertebrates, and an annual background dose of 1 mSv would be as harmful as a dose of 10,000 mSv. To my knowledge Lucky’s research dating from the ’30s to the ’70s has never been debunked. Does anyone know any better? So far as I know the man is still alive and he must be in his late 80’s or 90’s by now.

    Furthermore no increased levels of radio-carcinogenesis or genetic mutation has been found in populations living near natural occurring High Background Radiation Areas (HBRA) according to a UNSCEAR 2000 report. Ramsar in northern Iran, for example, has populated areas with the highest known natural background radiation levels in the world (130-260 mSv/yr).

    Of course this is far higher than the exclusion zone around Fukushima or Chernobyl. For comparison the average individual dose estimated to have been absorbed by one of the 530 thousand Chernobyl recovery workers is estimated to have been 120 mSv, 20 mSv for the evacuated population, and 9 mSv per year for those who remained within the exclusion zone for the first two decades. The highest areas of contamination around Fukushima are equivalent to about 20 mSv/yr.

    1. Sorry, I hate to spoil a good party with reality.

      BEIR VII was NOT intended to be very conservative. It never says so anywhere. It was intended (as it says) to develop the BEST possible risk estimates for exposure to low level radiation.

      Nowhere do they mention conservative default.

      I don’t know any details about Lucky but his work was reviewed by BEIR.

      UNSCEAR 2008 reports that there were about 6,000 excess cases of the thyroid cancer. I doubt those patients would agree with your “no increased levels of radio-carcinogenesis”.

      Fortunately, thyroid cancers manifest quickly and are easily treatable. However, many other cancers require upwards of 50 years to develop, and we’re still far from that.

      That’s why the A-Bomb study is so important….and it does show an increase in cancer risk.

      But you and many others are in denial.

      1. The Chernobyl thyroid cancers are the particular result of iodine-131 absorption which concentrates the particular dose to a small subset of body tissue. Fortunately, as you say, it is a highly treatable form of cancer (I read with ~99% success) and iodine-131 has a short half-life of ~8 days.

        1. Yes, I know…that makes it easier to resolve radio-carcinogenesis in a statistical study.

          Excess cancers in populations where the radioisotope(s) is more diffuse throughout many (perhaps larger) target organs are much more difficult to resolve at the 95% confidence level using cohort studies.

          We could do randomized, double-blind case control studies with radiation…but that would be unethical because we understand (to the extent we do) the underlying radiobiology.

  22. If anyone ate a million bananas (100mSv) throughout a lifetime you’re guaranteed to have some cancer based on LNT?

    Sounds a little silly to me?

    1. No, not exactly. Our bodies maintain levels of potassium so eating a banana doesn’t give you additional dose. Eating 36 bananas per day, everyday may have other health consequences though.

      I wonder what the additional lifetime dose is if you have a career as an airline pilot or flight attendant. Should unions representing airline crews request dosimetry?

      1. @ John Englert
        I think you’re correct if you did eat a million Bananas the amount of KCL alone would probably stop your heart since KCL is used to kill people in lethal injection death penalty in the U.S.

        I did interview a Dr. Wilson NASA ATMOSPHERIC IONIZING RADIATION.

        There are OSHA limits on dose I think they have been lower recently for nuke/airline workers.
        See: NASA through its Space Radiation Program

        Due to Stellar nucleosynthesis radiation is everywhere and of course a young Earth was a cauldron of Natural underground nuclear reactors new water ran over these natural reactors spewing hot radioactive geysers high into to the atmosphere. Of course, some people on this blog who shall remain nameless wish not to understand that RADIATION is older than dirt and thus carbon based life forms adapted to this radiation over time and I’m sure this same scenario plays out throughout our solar system where life will be found.
        Naturally since to promote humans you opt to provide protection of a human diaspora in our solar system and beyond this requires protection from cosmic ray, HZT heavy ion rad. and solar coronal event rad.
        I promote NUCLEAR THERMAL ROCKETRY to provide the necessary Isp thrust for quick transport. Some like LNT advocates seem not to understand that space is a vacuum and thus ionizing radiation from a space reactor does not reflect radiation. And nuke rocket exhaust add a minuscule amount to space environment and makes no difference in a radioactive environment which is outer space.
        Humans need nuclear reactors for propulsion and power. Protection from space radiation can be achieved with using in situ regolith for habitat structures.

  23. Re to Bob:

    What makes the Chernobyl thyroid cancers so obvious is the fact that thyroid cancer is rare in the general population so the ~6000 cases (again curable >99% of the time) over 25 years stand out. In the case of other cancers such as leukemia any projected increase is totally lost in the random statistical noise, so there is no statistically significant increase — any study likely would find an increase in half the cancers studied and a decrease in the other half.

    Yet there are many other instances of deleterious health effects which do stand out starkly in the statistical data such as the tens of thousands of excess mortalities within the stack-emissions fallout plumes of US coal-power plants annually, which is equivalent to maybe a half-dozen Chernobyl-scale reactor blow-outs PER WEEK in the US ALONE. Which raises the question why are you (and fission phobes in general) so concerned with such minutiae? Do you fret about the ever present dangers of lightning strikes to the human population as well? How about the hundreds who drown in their bathtubs every year? A undeniable hazard to humanity indeed.

    1. I’m not a fission-phobe. You concocted that description in your mind. I don’t fret about lightning, or bathtubs.

      I do fret about anti-science.

      The only point I’m making is contrary to your earlier statements, radiation poses a carcinogenic risk.

      It isn’t something to fear, but it isn’t zero either.

      1. Bob,

        If you fret about anti science, yet you should know you that the Nobel prize winner who ‘discovered’ LNT was a fraud.

        Evidence from UMass was published to the effect that he witheld crucial information that went against his claim. He knew it and decided to go long for a Nobel prize.

      2. Certainly radiation poses a risk at high enough doses, no argument here; just as water and electric voltage poses risks at high enough levels, it is no reason not to make use of them.

        So then we’re all agreed onward with the nuclear renaissance!

        1. I agree with a nuclear renaissance.

          But don’t be an ideologue…don’t ignore the risks of nuclear any more than one should ignore the risks of fossil fuels.

          And if tomorrow something has a better cost/risk benefit than nuclear, we should be prepared to support it..

  24. @Brain 9:09 p.m.

    No.. there is no debate in the health physics community either. There are a small percentage of folks who ignore logic/evidence on LNT. There are a small percentage of climate communtity folks who ignore logic/evidence on global warming.

    The jury is not out.

    That is an oversimplification that some relish to see you write.

    P.S. There is a small percentage of biology folks who doubt evolution. The jury is not out there either.

    1. Bob,

      From the Health Physics Society position statement on Risk: (from http://www.hps.org)

      “In accordance with current knowledge of radiation health risks, the Health Physics Society recommends against quantitative estimation of health risks below an individual dose of 5 rem in one year or a lifetime dose of 10 rem above that received from natural sources.

      Estimation of health risk associated with radiation doses that are of similar magnitude as those received from natural sources should be strictly qualitative and encompass a range of hypothetical health outcomes, including the possibility of no adverse health effects at such low levels.

      There is substantial and convincing scientific evidence for health risks following high-dose exposures. However, below 5–10 rem (which includes occupational and environmental exposures), risks of health effects are either too small to be observed or are nonexistent.”

      This seems to me to contradict your claim. The HPS is clearly not comfortable saying LNT is appropriate for very low doses. (Effectively calling the ‘NT’ part of LNT into question.)

      1. Here is a direct link to the PDF, see paragraphs 1 and 2.


        Once again, you are establishing a strawman by referring to biologists that doubt evolution, a trivial fringe group, unlike the Health Physics Society as JD points out. Unless you want to call HPS a fringe group, their position statement casts doubt as to whether or not health effects of low doses even exist, in direct contradiction to LNT. They’re not saying there are necessarily no risks, just that they are very small at most, but we cannot quantify them for sure.

        I’m not sure how else to justify the position that the jury is still out on this matter. So Bob, I’ll let you establish the goal posts. Tell me, what evidence would you need to see to accept that the number of research professionals who have some reservations about the strict application of LNT is a non-trivial segment of the community?

        1. Another day…back to de-culting…err, trolling again.


          If you scroll down to the bottom of that position statement you will see the basis of that position is an NCRP report from 1997.

          As the cliche goes, “Science marches on!”

          BEIR VII was published in 2006. If you look at its cover, you’ll note it’s actually titled BEIR VII, Phase 2.

          Why Phase 2?

          Because back in the late 1990’s, the EPA felt that as a scientific community we had made a lot of progess in molecular biology and with the statistics of the A-Bomb study, relative to the quality of data in the NCRP report (which relies on data earlier than its publication date).

          So they formed a Phase 1 committee of independent experts to determine whether or not the time was right (or not) to actually pursue a Phase 2. The consensus was yes. So another group of independent experts was assembled to form Phase 2:


          The new data enabled Phase 2 to conclude that the LNT was the best fit (as opposed to other models).

          Note that cancer risk estimates have actually INCREASED by a factor of 10 over the time of the numerous BEIR reports.

          While some commenters here are fantasizing about hormesis.

          At the end of 2008, EPA made some refinements to BEIR VII, and the cancer risk has increased even more (though very slightly):


        2. The position statement is based on a 1997 NCRP report.

          Bob – So you want us believe that a position statement that was drafted in 1995 and adopted in January 1996 was based on a report that was issued a year later in 1997?

          Oh … and did you notice that the position statement was revised and reaffirmed last year? The HPS is sticking by it.

          “Science marches on!”

          That’s an interesting motto for someone who is defending what has been the status quo for over half a century.

    2. The French Academy of Sciences (Académie des Sciences) and the National Academy of Medicine (Académie nationale de Médecine) published a report in 2005 (at the same time as BEIR VII report in the United States) that rejected the Linear no-threshold model in favor of a threshold dose response and a significantly reduced risk at low radiation exposure.




      As well the Health Physics Society’s position statement first adopted in January 1996, as revised in July 2010, states:

      In accordance with current knowledge of radiation health risks, the Health Physics Society recommends against quantitative estimation of health risks below an individual dose of 5 rem in one year or a lifetime dose of 10 rem above that received from natural sources. Doses from natural background radiation in the United States average about 0.3 rem per year. A dose of 5 rem will be accumulated in the first 17 years of life and about 25 rem in a lifetime of 80 years. Estimation of health risk associated with radiation doses that are of similar magnitude as those received from natural sources should be strictly qualitative and encompass a range of hypothetical health outcomes, including the possibility of no adverse health effects at such low levels.

      Ref: http://hps.org/documents/risk_ps010-2.pdf

      To dismiss the existence of a debate the health physics community out of hand is simply not correct.

  25. (It appears I was right about too many links)

    The other thing to realize is that over the course of BEIR reports the cancer risk estimates have actually INCREASED by about a factor of 10.

    EPA did some refinements on BEIR VII, in late 2008, and the estimates have increased very slightly more:


    Note that BEIR does not consider radon, because its daughters are a HET/LET radiation emitter. BEIR only looks at LET radiation. However, very good studies on radon (which is easy to study because lots of people are exposed to it) which first came out around 2000 clearly show the link between radon and cancer.

    It’s time to de-cultify.

    1. The other thing to realize is that over the course of BEIR reports the cancer risk estimates have actually INCREASED by about a factor of 10.

      Best estimates of excess deaths in a population of 100,000 exposed to 0.1 Gy of radiation.

      All cancer except leukemia (BEIR V): 695

      All solid cancer (BEIR VII): 410 (male) / 610 (female)

      Leukemia (BEIR V): 95

      Leukemia (BEIR VII): 70 (male) / 50 (female)

      Yes … I notice a definite upward trend. (Please excuse the sarcasm.)

      EPA did some refinements on BEIR VII, in late 2008, and the estimates have increased very slightly more …

      Best estimates of the number of excess solid cancer cases in a population of 100,000 exposed to 0.1 Gy of radiation (95% uncertainty intervals).

      EPA (males): between 390 and 1700

      BEIR (males) : between 490 and 1920

      EPA (females): between 690 and 2600

      BEIR (females) : between 720 and 2690

      Except for uterine cancer, all of the estimates by the EPA model are lower than or the same as those given by the BEIR VII model.

      1. “….over the course of BEIR reports..”

        Doesn’t mean BEIR V to BEIR VII…

        Your denialism is making you misinterpret things right and left.

        It can be difficult to leave a cult.

        1. You’re just sniping at shadows now Applebaum. Your position has become so intellectually bankrupt that you are stooping to hollow tu quoque arguments.

          I expect you’ll be pointing out spelling mistakes next.

        2. Doesn’t mean BEIR V to BEIR VII …

          If you meant the full range of BEIR reports, then why did you say, “Note that BEIR does not consider radon”?

          What was the point of BEIR-IV and BEIR-VI? Could it be radon?

          The earlier BEIR reports did not use an LNT model for radiation-induced cancer. For example, in BEIR-III the majority of the committee endorsed a linear-quadratic model, with only one committee member supporting a linear model.

          So comparing the earlier stuff to current risk models is like comparing apples to oranges. The difference is going to depend on the range of exposure that you’re talking about.

  26. @ Brian Mays:

    The position statement does NOT say it was “revised and reaffirmed” last year. It says it was revised.

    That could have been anything from a corrected typo to a phone number change or anything else.

    The underlying science for the position is from 1997.

    We know they didn’t revise that, because the statement provides its reference.

    1. Bob – Well, it’s easy enough to see what was changed. Just compare the two versions of the position statement.

      My point is that the HPS last revisited the position statement last year. If it no longer reflected the society’s position, then they could have retracted it or even issued another statement taking the opposite position.

      Sorry, Bob, but you’ve been reduced to arguing about semantics.

    2. By the way, here is some of the history of the HPS position statement:

      Adopted in 1996

      Reaffirmed in 2001

      Revised in 2004

      Revised again in 2010

      The reference to the 1997 NCRP report did not appear in the original version. It was added during one of the later revisions, probably in 2004.

        1. Likely after NCRP, 1997 was added.

          No, Bob, the reference to NCRP 1997 was not in the reaffirmed 2001 version. (PDF)

          You are becoming very tiresome, and I’m getting board with correcting some of the stupid things that you have written here.

    1. Meyerson has a great idea I’d love to hear from environmental toxicologist Edward Calabrese.
      Unfortunatly scientist like Calabrese are kept from lamestream, I mean mainstream media.

      1. What relevance does anything that Muller did (and no evidence has been presented), have to today?

        It would be like stating Curie lied about something. So what?

        The science has progressed far beyond that.

        You will find one (among many) commonality among global warming deniers, evolutionary biology deniers, and LNT deniers.

        They go to the media.

        Because they fail at the rigorous scientific peer review process.

        And then they blame it on the “establishment” or “status quo”.

        Kinda like the little kid who flunks school.

    2. Greg – please send Calabrese’s contact information. There is a contact link in the footer of the Atomic Insights home page.

  27. @ Brian Mays

    I said “likely”…you haven’t corrected anything I’ve said.

    You likely think you have, though.

    I understand the tiresome…there is no statement of fact I’ve given that you’ve rebutted. That can be tiresome.

  28. Funny. The media’s forgotten all about Love Canal, yet more peoples’ health was measurably and lastingly affected by that than anything going on at TMI or Fukushima — and there’re far far more “Love Canals” out there than nukes that “just can’t wait to blow” in someone’s morbidly hopeful fantasy.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  29. “I understand the tiresome…there is no statement of fact I’ve given that you’ve rebutted. That can be tiresome”

    You have been rebutted so many times on this thread and by so many people, that the above statement can now be taken as evidence that you are suffering from some personality disorder.

    Congratulations, you have graduated from troll to delusional and likely unhinged.

  30. @Bob,

    I insist, please answer my question: What evidence would you need to see to accept that the number of research professionals who have some reservations about the strict application of LNT is a non-trivial segment of the community?

    As for the HPS position statement being old, so what? It’s still on their website as an actively available document. That generally implies they still support the position unless there is another document stating otherwise. It’s not as if, as you claim, they haven’t had time to update or retract it. My argument is not which side is right, it’s that support for LNT among professionals is not overwhelming.

    1. @ Brian

      You are asking a murky question…which was:

      “What evidence would you need to see to accept that the number of research professionals who have some reservations about the strict application of LNT is a non-trivial segment of the community?”

      First, it is irrelevant how many “research professionals” have reservations. That is a form of logical fallacy similar to “appeal to authority”. There are over a billion Muslims, that doesn’t mean there is evidence the prophet flew to heaven.

      Whoever has reservations needs to proffer their reasoning and then we can go from there, and draw conclusions from the preponderence of the evidence. The preponderence of the evidence is that LNT is the best model.

      I don’t know what you mean by “research professionals”…most members of the Health Physics Society (which includes me) don’t do research. If you’ll note, most of the BEIR participants are not health physicists, they are epidemiologists and radiation biologists.

      Consider this perspective regarding the HP position paper:

      1. Either the HPS hasn’t maintained that paper and it needs revision because it reflects 1997 science. (my perspective)


      2. The HPS, in 2010, ignored the science since 1997, and has maintained their position based on 1997 science, even though they claim to promote science (another perspective). This would be an active act of science subversion. It plays well with those whose psychology tends towards conspiracy theories.

      Let’s get real…for the sake of the HPS, let’s go with 1. If 2. is what you think, flush the HPS down the toilet. They are no longer a professional, scientific society.

      Support among professionals who actually understand the underlying science is overwhelming…it’s just a question of determining who understands it or not.

      Critical thinking requires that you understand the evidence and the logic…it’s not about authority figures or societies. When people argue in that realm….they’ve probably already lost.

  31. “Support among professionals who actually understand the underlying science is overwhelming…it’s just a question of determining who understands it or not.

    Critical thinking requires that you understand the evidence and the logic…it’s not about authority figures or societies. When people argue in that realm….they’ve probably already lost.”

    Do you even see that you are guilty of doing in the first paragraph of what you are accusing Brian of in the second?

    What criteria do you use to determine who qualifies as a professional who ‘actually understand[s] the underlying science,’ and who does not? Oh I know: the ones that agree with you understands, those that don’t, in your opinion do not.

    Well then who are you that you can make that determination? If you want an example of a fallacious appeal to authority, this is it.

    1. What’s worse is that Bob here doesn’t even bother to understand the HPS’s position statement.

      It does not reject the LNT model. On the contrary, it recognizes its practical advantages (mostly because of its mathematical simplicity). All that the position statement advocates is that the uncertainties in the model be recognized. That is, at low dose and low dose rates the “risks of health effects are either too small to be observed or are nonexistent.”

      It’s sad to see that Bob has been reduced to assailing people who disagree with him with pejorative names like “denier,” comparing them with creationists, and claiming that they are conspiracy theorists. This speaks volumes about the quality of the substance of his arguments.

      1. Brian –

        C’mon now…nowhere did I write that the HPS rejected the LNT model. That’s your bias playing tricks with you (unless you are intentionally doing this, but I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt.)

        I am an astrology-denier. I am proud of it. I am a hormesis-denier, I am proud of it.

        Did you notice your bias in deciding that I was being perjorative, yet you made no criticism on this, directed against me:

        “Congratulations, you have graduated from troll to delusional and likely unhinged”

        Another example of your bias at work.

        Those same biases are at work with LNT-denialism. In essence, most LNT-deniers draw similiar bad conclusions analogous to global warming deniers.

        Most LNT-deniers confuse adaptive response with hormesis. This is somewhat analogous to global warming deniers confusing weather and climate.

        Then, most LNT-deniers build on that fallacy by throwing in some epidemiological studies which show little effect between the cancer rate and radiation dose. This is somewhat like global warming deniers focusing on a particular area rather than the globe.

        Then, some LNT-deniers use the word “hormesis” much like some global warming deniers use the term “some other natural cause”. There is no identified “some other natural cause”, just like there is no identified “hormesis” mechanism.

        1. Bob,
          Ok, you are a hormesis denier. That’s fine. I’m ok with it and I would hazard to make a generalization that everyone else on this post is ok with that too.

          You have failed to provide a sound reason for your point. This is persistent in every argument that you have made. Before you answer any more questions or post anything else on this webisite I suggest you answer the following question, or be rightly be labeled an idealogical wing nut who fails to think critically because of your demonstrated actions.

          Here is a question that I posed in one of my previous posts, that you failed to answer:

          “The BEIR report acknowledges this and identifies several mammalians where hormesis is observed. Had our species not obtained these evolutionary tools, our genome would have been killed off by the radiation a long time ago if LNT were true. So which is a simpler reasoning; that our evolutionary biological mechanisms are vastly different from other mammals, or that they are similar? If they are different, by what mechanism did they become different?”

        2. Cal – Bob is a troll. He wonders why I don’t criticize people who call him such, but why should I criticize anyone who makes a valid observation? Bob’s sole purpose in commenting here is to provoke a reaction. That should be obvious to anyone reading this series of comments.

          His “facts” don’t stand up to close scrutiny (e.g., his claim that risk estimates of exposure to low-level radiation have been increasing — I demonstrated that they have been decreasing since 1990, using his own references). He doesn’t have much left.

          This is why his comments have degenerated to the level of name-calling and posting up pathetic strawmen, such as his crude attempts to paint everyone he disagrees with as believers in astrology, creationism, etc., or as some other type of “denier.”

          What’s the best way to deal with trolls? Don’t feed them.

          Bob is a True Believer who keeps pointing to his one sacred text (BEIR VII), and he has explained time and time again that he unwilling to consider anything outside of this narrow view. In other words, he is a fundamentalist.

          The punch line is that he accuses others of being members of a “cult.”

  32. Referring to the nuclear worker study Bob said;

    {BEIR did NOT exclude this information because of negative cancer rates. They state why they didn’t include it:

    “…were not used as the primary source of data for risk modeling principally because of the imprecision of the risk estimates…”}

    A nuclear weapon attack exposed people to prompt radiation from a weapon blast, additional radiation from the decay of short lived fission products and a relatively small exposure to long lived fission products.

    When that data is extrapolated down to zero it produces smaller error bars than data based on actual exposure to chronic low level radiation exposure.

    Therefore the data based on actual low level exposure is discarded, leaving the bomb derived data as evidence supporting the LNT theory for chronic low level radiation exposure. Thanks for the best laugh of the day.

    By the way Bob, on October 21, 2011 | 1:54 AM


    I asked you to point out the errors in Dr. Bernard Cohen’s analysis showing hormesis from radon exposure.


    Still waiting.

    Show us some links to high quality studies of the actual effect of chronic low level radiation on humans, that support LNT, not extrapolations from high level,

    1. Bill:

      You have many misconceptions.

      When there is an atomic blast, people near the epicenter recieve high doses. Those, let’s say five miles away, recieve lower doses. Those, let’s say 10 miles away receive lower doses.

      It’s not about extrapolating down from high doses. It’s about have a thousands of people, at about the same time, recieve a dose distribution from very high to background.

      You really don’t understand what you are arguing against.

      That provides good statistics.

      It is a very high quality study…even Rod acknowledged that on 10/15/11:

      “It is difficult to conceive of a larger or more well followed study group.”

      And guess what?

      That group has excess cancers.

      That group is the principle group for BEIR VII’s risk estimates….because it is the best we have.

      We also have radon studies (which BEIR VII ignores) which show that a mix of LET/HET radiation causes cancers.

      I can comment on the video, but for a price. Go to the last comment on this blog and let me know what other aspect of science you deny. If “pay”, I’ll “play”.

      1. You are arguing straight nonsense. To draw any valid conclusions from nuclear weapon survivors’ risks from low level exposure, one would have to have reliable measurements of dose, which are not available for these subjects. Thus exposures must be estimated.

        Since no one here rejects the idea that high dose exposure will induce cancer, then any conclusions drawn from a group exposed to the effects of a nuclear weapon blast on the low dose end must, perforce, be an extrapolation.

        The linear no-threshold model is used to calculate by extrapolation, the expected number of extra deaths caused by exposure, that is how it’s applied and that is how it was formulated.

      2. I am frankly totally befuddled how a group that is easy to identify – nuclear workers – and who have a low threshold of radiation exposure that is fairly precisely measured is more imprecise than a group exposed to a blast from an atomic bomb.

        Just how, or by what measure is that imprecise? I really don’t follow that line of thinking. I understand that the report writers did not include this, but can someone help me understand why?

        1. Because the committee that wrote BEIR VII simply disregarded any evidence that did not support LNT, dismissing it as unreliable (one assumes based on the fact that it did not support the conclusions they wished to draw)

      1. You are really going to make that statement?

        I suggest you visit the reference section of the BEIR VII report and check the dates on the references.

        The vast majority of them are 2002 or older.

        You are going around and around in circles at this point.

        1. Of course they are.

          If we’re discussing the conclusions of BEIR VII, of 2006, when they clearly looked at that sort of evidence and they explain why it fails. Why bring it up again?

          It’s all refuted.

          Does it make sense to bring up an old paper Lamarckian inheritance when discussing biology?

          That truly is going around in circles.

  33. @ Cal:

    Sorry for missing your question earlier…I’ve been vastly outnumbered and I have to fit other work in besides blogging….

    “The BEIR report acknowledges this and identifies several mammalians where hormesis is observed. Had our species not obtained these evolutionary tools, our genome would have been killed off by the radiation a long time ago if LNT were true. So which is a simpler reasoning; that our evolutionary biological mechanisms are vastly different from other mammals, or that they are similar? If they are different, by what mechanism did they become different?”

    I agree with your first sentence. I don’t see that the second sentence follows….why do you think our genome would have been killed off long ago?

    We have evolved by natural selection, genetic drift, etc. to differ from other mammals. Some of our biological mechanisms are similar to other mammals, some are not.

    That’s why in drug studies, we don’t just rely on animal data, we do randomized double blind studies on humans. The animal data only gives us some insight.

    Enjoy your chocolate, but don’t give too much to your dog.

    Why do you think I’m an ideological wing-nut? I’m consistently pro-science. Since when did being pro-science turn someone into a wingnut?

    1. Brian,

      You are 100% correct about Bob. This is going to be my last comment for a while as thinking on this subject has taken a great deal of my time, and I have other work that requires my attention.

      I do want to say that Bob has been useful, however, not for the purpose that he intended. He has forced me to think about how the arguments of anit-nuclears ignore reality. It made me get down to the basics of the argument (critical thinking). Something that I needed to do anyway. What it also did is to stimulate my thinking. I like to think of this as thought hormesis. Where some antigen is introduced at a small level in a system and a net positive effect comes out of it.

      I wanted to test Bob’s unstated hypothesis. His actions strengthened my dislike of unstated assumptions as his arguments are replete with them and force him into erroneous conclusions. So I started writing rebuttal below. In the rebuttal, there may be a way of experimentally determining the impacts of low levels of ionizing radiation. At the end (last paragraph) is a proposed experiment to test for the impacts of ionizing radiation.

      So Bob, thank you for being so idealogical. I appreciate your rejection of reason very much, but please keep it in small doses in the future…

      My rebuttal:

      We live in a field of radiation. It is everywhere and in everything. Our body has observable adaptations to use longer wavelength radiation to produce vitamin D. The shorter wavelengths that we observe from nuclear reactions contribute to this field, from that nuclear waste dump that we live on and call planet earth. EM radiation is EM radiation if our bodies have evolved to optimize one why not another.

      What I think you fail to appreciate is the intensity and ubiquitous nature of the radiation field. From statistical mechanics, to counteract any field requires an energy input to be able to exert “force” back. This comes from the first law of thermodynamics. The question is how much energy do we have to put in to be able to counteract the radiation field.

      The amount of energy depends based on the biological method that we use to counteract the radiation field. What you are suggesting is that radiation interacts with our cellular structure and if any damage occurs to the cell the cell perishes and is thus required to be replaced. Another method is through hormesis, where the radiation interacts with the body and damages a cell.

      The body/cell, depending on the level of damage, will initiate repairs to the cell to eliminate the damage. Cellular damage is cellular damage, it fundamentally comes down to the breakdown of chemical bonds that manifest in physical damage. DNA because of its fine structure is particularly susceptible and vulnerable to any damage. The body has no way of distinguishing between what caused the damage. For the sake of the body, damage is damage it is indifferent.

      What you are proposing is one of two things. First Postulate: That when a cell is damaged that it is unable to repair itself and must be eliminated and replaced. Additionally any cell that has ANY damaged DNA will either die, fail to replicate, or will mutate (cancer). AND/OR the Second Postulate: That the body/cell has expended some additional energy to determine what the source of the radiation, then expended some additional sum of energy to decide wether or not to repair the damage.

      For the first postulate to be true the body would expend a considerable amount of energy to replace damaged cells, which it does in known biological processes. But how much energy? Well that depends on the field. The strength of the field that we live in is such that the amount of damage that our body would have to outright replace with no cellular repair mechanisms would be astronomical. We are exposed to on average 0.23 uSv/hr or 0.23uJ/kg-hr. The average human weighs 67 kg, with 24 hours in the day and 1Mev per photon, we come up with 2.3 trillion interactions in one day. I setup a random sampler to simulate this effect and determined that 3*10^3% of the body is effected by radiation on a daily basis. This comes out to roughly 1% of the total number of cells that are replaced each day. This may seem small. However, we can easily magnify this effect, several orders of magnitude and the exposure to 11.4 uSv/hr (equivalent to 100 mSv/yr). This will take the caloric intake from 3.2 cal/day to 160 cal/day. With a nominal diet of 2200 cal/day this would be a 10% change in BMR and easily identified in a physical study.

      The second postulate can be tested in a study in a similar fashion that we use to test to understand the impacts of chemicals on the human body. What we do is cause some equivalent level of cellular damage in each test population and then see if the biological responses are similar. I would be surprised if this type of research has not already been done. The question is did the research look for the cells to differentiate between the sources of the damage.

      The differentiation postulate is much more complicated and thus less likely to be a valid postulate. The first one would be very easy to conduct, however it would be disproved form the outset by known cellular repair mechanisms.

      The thought process above leads us to an interesting way to test for biological impacts of low level radiation. It would be to irradiate a sample population up to the legal limit of occupational exposure over a long period of time to carrying levels of exposure and observe changes in body level metabolic rates as a function of exposure. If the macroscopic metabolic rate lowered as exposure increased, that would indicate hormesis. If it remained constant up to a threshold, it would indicate a threshold, if it was a linear function of exposure it would support your model.

      Thank you for making me think about this.

      1. I think this was done with population studies based on certain earth radiation level habitat areas examples like: Iraq, India, Brazil. High altitude & sea levels dwellers. With regard to sex, age, and race. I think people were moved from low radiation area like Dead Sea site to high radiation area for study.

        …anyway twas provocative discussion.

  34. *ROD*

    If you care about critical thinking, please post the video link supplied by Bill Hannahan in an upcoming blog:


    I think you and many others can learn from critically analyzing it….though some LNT-deniers will remain psychologically anchored to their delusion. Just like some global warming deniers.

    Good night.

    1. Bob, consider the following thought experiment. Assume that;

      1… There are mechanisms stimulated by chronic low dose radiation exposure that prevent cancer.

      2… These mechanisms fail during high dose rate exposures.

      3… The optimum dose rate is 0.02 gray/year, at which all cancer is prevented.

      4… The protection factor diminishes to zero at 0.2 gray/year, at which point the risk has increased to the LNT prediction, and continues up that line for higher doses.

      This would provide an enormous hormetic benefit to people living in high radiation areas due to natural causes or nuclear accidents. We could prevent almost all cancer by exposing everyone to sufficient background radiation to provide the optimum benefit.

      It is interesting to note that the atomic bomb data would not identify this amazing mechanism for either of two reasons.

      A… The bomb exposure was a one time high dose rate exposure, not chronic full time low dose rate exposure.

      B… The lowest exposure group in the bomb study is 0.005–0.25 Gy. The deaths resulting from exposure in the high end of this group mask the hormetic effect at the low end.

      BEIR VII is loaded with studies designed to detect the risk from brief exposure to very high dose rate radiation. None of these studies will detect the hormetic effect of chronic low dose rate radiation.

      Even the rejected nuclear worker study would be limited in its detection capacity because nuclear workers receive most of their dose during brief exposures to highly radioactive equipment.

      BEIR VII cannot detect chronic low dose rate hormesis, even at the extreme level assumed in this thought experiment. It is studies like Dr. Cohen’s that are best qualified to measure hormetic effect of chronic low dose rate exposure.

      By the way, I am still waiting for you to point out the many errors in Dr. Cohen’s video.

      1. Bill:

        I am waiting to see if Rod uploads the video in a new post. I intend to give you an exhaustive rebuttal, if Rod doesn’t mind me being a “blog-hog”.

        Regarding your first few paragraphs…thought experiments are good, but they have to confirmed by evidence. Einstein had to suffer through that too.

        1. Bob, one of the beauties of thought experiments is that they do not have to be realistic or confirmed by science to be illuminating.

          The issue is your claim that BEIR VII proves that LNT is accurate at low dose rates. I postulated a theoretical super hormesis and showed why BEIR VII would not even detect that.

    2. Bob – I am watching the video now. Based on your comments in this thread and on others, I am curious about why you have asked me to emphasize this video. Dr. Cohen’s conclusions do not support the LNT assumption that you have been so vigorously defending based on the conclusions published by the appointed BEIR VII committee.

      1. Rod –

        My intended approach is similar to yours in the past…where you show a video of an anti-nuke and point out the weaknesses.

        I only ask your indulgence in allowing me to be a “blog hog” in responding.

        Hormesis is pseudo-science versus LNT.

        Just like intelligent design is pseudo-science versus evolutionary biology.

        Just like “some other natural cause” is pseudo-science versus athrogenic global warming.

      2. Rod, that video is from a group called Doctors for Disaster Preparedness (DDP) is a denialist group associated with anti-environmental forms of denialism (including DDT ban myths, ozone depletion denial, global warming denial, and and medical denialism (vaccine denial and HIV denial).

        Applebaum is trying to set you up.

        1. No you are not. You are trying to make everyone believe that a hypothesis is proven, when it is not been.

          Why don’t you answer to some of the more mainstream criticisms of LNT, like those from The French Academy of Sciences (Académie des Sciences) and the National Academy of Medicine (Académie nationale de Médecine) in France who have rejected the linear no-threshold model in favor of a threshold dose response and a significantly reduced risk at low radiation exposure, instead of videos from lunatic-fringe groups?

          1. DV82XL – I reject the notion that Dr. Cohen’s work was related to a “lunatic-fringe” group, even though he gave the speech to a group that has a bad reputation.

            Dr. Cohen was not lunatic and not fringe; he simply spoke to groups willing to listen.

            Similar things have been said about Dr. Jaworski, simply because some of his articles have been published by 21st Century Science, which just happens to have a relationship with Lyndon Larouche.

        2. Rod he may well be legitimate, unfortunately one is often judged by the company one keeps, and within the dynamic of the debate as it is unfolding in this thread, I think it would be best to look at the work of others who’s credibility cannot be impugned by association.

  35. Bob, also still waiting for those links to high quality studies of the actual effect of chronic low level radiation on humans, that support LNT, not extrapolations from high level.

    1. You’re going to have a long wait. Applebaum is going to continue to stonewall on any question that doesn’t fit into his agenda.

      It is becoming increasingly obvious that he is no longer attempting to convince anyone actively participating in this thread. Thus I am forced to conclude that he is defending his position out of a dear of losing face with some set of lurkers he is worried might be watching. This is why he is stooping to calling those that do not accept LNT as a cult, and similar allusions; he knows he has lost on the facts, now he can only hope to discredit all of us. This he believes will let him dismiss our arguments as the product of wishful thinking, rather than address the substance of the arguments.

    2. There is no extrapolation from “high level”

      You never said what other science you are in denial of.

      And yet you are asking me to respond to an hour long video.

      Play fair.

      1. LNT is by definition an extrapolation from high levels.

        Your constant denial of the facts even as they pertain to LNT itself is pathetic.

      2. Bob, as I mentioned before, the lowest dose range in BEIR VII is 0.005–0.25 Gy. To prove your claim that LNT is valid at low dose rates the report would need to divide this range into at least five subdivisions, and it would need to find reliable data for continuous low dose rate exposure, not a one time high dose rate exposure 65 years ago.

  36. Are you in fact the Robert B. Applebaum, who was at one time Chair of the Professional Standards and Ethics Committee of the American Academy of Health Physics?

      1. Well there is the other shoe down then, isn’t it.

        You see boys and girls, without the specter of LNT, ionizing radiation is just another industrial hazard, and one that’s only in the middle of the danger spectrum as these things go.

        Thus without the LNT boogieman, specialists, like the ones certified by the American Academy of Health Physics aren’t that necessary, as any competent industrial hygienist could monitor whatever safety measures were required as part of their regular duties.

        In short: no LNT, no radiation priesthood. All Applebaum is interested in doing here is to protect his turf.

        1. Ya well I’m retired too. but that doesn’t mean I dropped my membership in the professional organization I belong to, or that I stopped being active in it – and nether have you.

      2. Bob – I am curious about the conclusion of the story associated with your effort to site an incinerator on Presidents Island near Memphis.

        Was part of the protest effort based on the notion that even the tiniest amount of radiation posed an unacceptable risk?


        I am beginning to believe that you are a true believer in the LNT assumption – even to the point of having allowed your acceptance of the hypothesis to hamper your business efforts to build a necessary facility. Just think – if we used a more accurate model, there might not have been any grounds for get people riled up in Memphis when your company wanted to build a radioactive materials incinerator.

        As far as I can trace the story, the company you founded, which, at one time, employed 200 people and generated about $30 million per year in revenue, was having difficulty getting permission to build a necessary incinerator. According to this story http://www.memphisdailynews.com/editorial/ArticleEmail.aspx?id=28972 failing to get permission might result in the company ceasing its Memphis operations.

        The last link is to an undated story, but I am guessing it was sometime in 2005-2006.

  37. Ok…I see Rod has added that Cohen video to the Blog. Thanks. DV82XL has gained a bit of insight…so in the interest of real critical thinking..

    LNT is the best model that represents the risk from radiation. Hormesis is pseudo-science. It will take a large number of comments for me to make that clear to you, but I guarantee you will learn something, even if you remain an LNT-denier.

    I will be drawing upon analogies to evolutionary biology-deniers (intelligent design (ID) proponents or IDiots) and anthropogenic global warming deniers (GW Deniers). I can only insert one link per comment or the comment gets held up in moderation, so there will be a chain of comments.
    The technical rebuttal to Cohen will be necessarily too intensive for many. So I will leave that for late in the chain. And I’m making the chain as short as possible.

    One of the reasons ID remains pervasive among the general public is that there is a well-funded effort behind it. These folks take donations from religious folks and concoct pseudo-scientific propaganda in order to keep the public thinking there is some “debate”. But the debate is a manufactured debate. Their arguments NECESSARILY sound scientific and convincing, otherwise, it wouldn’t fool anyone. The underlying motivation is religion and fear of secularism.

    The major player in this effort is The Discovery Institute:

    1. If Bob’s explanations are too long for you to read, please allow me to give you the “Cliff’s Notes” version:

      Some religious people reject the idea of evolution, ergo the LNT model precisely and accurately describes the health effects due to radiation.

      The George C. Marshal Institute exists, ergo the LNT model precisely and accurately describes the health effects due to radiation.

      Etc. Lather, rinse, repeat.

        1. An appeal to probability is a justification based on probability, which is only a logical fallacy when an unwarranted assumption that something will happen, because it can happen. This is precisely what LNT claims.

          Applebaum. I suggest you stay away from trying to invoke logical fallacies, as first you don’t seem to have a grasp of when and how the should be applied, and second your own arguments are rife with them.

  38. One of the reasons anthropogenic global warming seems like it is a matter of “debate” is because there is a well-funded effort behind promoting that notion.

    These folks take donations from others who share their ideology and concoct pseudo-scientific propaganda in order to keep the public confused. Their arguments NECESSARILY sound scientific and convincing, otherwise, it wouldn’t fool anyone.

    The major player in this effort is the George C. Marshall Institute:


    Their underlying ideology isn’t energy policy (though they take donations from fossil fuel companies). It is anti-government regulation.

    Both of the groups I’ve listed use the same sort of tactics that Arnie Gundersen uses. If you go back to Rod’s first 10/15/11 blog, there is a video of Arnie. Just about everything he says (as far as I can tell, except use of the word “dangerous”) is accurate. But he intentionally OMITS information that is relevant to the public understanding of the issue.

    He NECESSARILY sounds like he’s covered the issue, to anyone without a certain level of expertise. He’s particularly effective if his audience is already biased against nuclear power…he “sucks” them in with his charm and his “smarts”, and plays on their bias.

    I HOPE you agree that these kinds of tactics are unethical and immoral. It’s one thing to debate policy. It’s another thing to intentionally spread misinformation when the science (based on physical evidence and logical deductions) differs.

    Can we not agree to that?


  39. Let’s go back to the Marshall Institute…you may remember the manufactured “debate” about second hand smoke and cancer back in the 1980’s. The Surgeon General & EPA were studying whether or not there was an LNT relationship.

    If so, this might mean more government regulation for tobacco companies. Well, guess who manufactured the LNT “debate” back then?

    Yup, the Marshall Institute.

    And guess who Cohen is associated with?:


    (It’s kind of odd to have LNT denialism and GW denialism from an energy policy perspective…but again, it’s about anti-government regulation. If “doubt” can be created in the mind of the public, certain regulations may be delayed or relaxed, regardless of the industry.)

    And this is why many readers here have “doubt” about LNT…it has been created for you. There is no scientific “debate”…just like there is no scientific debate on evolutionary biology or global warming.

    (I’ll have more later on Cohen and the Institute and his scientific flaws)

    Let’s go to the Cohen video….

  40. Notice that the video is posted by LibertyInOurTime. Click on that name, and you can see the anti-government connection. Notice that commenting is disabled….we can’t have that liberty can we? The scientific flaws might be posted for the gullible audience.

    Notice that Cohen’s audience is Doctors for Disaster Preparedness. Behind the name’s genteel facade, they are an anti-government regulation group. Their last meeting agenda was a mix of anti-global warming & anti-LNT propaganda.


    (They don’t want regulation of fats! Get ready for the manufactured “debate” on that issue).

    Notice that S. Fred Singer was the first speaker. He was an early member of the Marshall Institute.

    Jump to the Cohen video at about 57:10. Cohen was discussing nuclear physics and says:

    “When I had my first course in this, Professor Seitz who comes to these meetings (meaning DDP meetings)… I was hoping he’d be here….”

    That would be Frederick Seitz, Cohen’s old physics professor. Seitz was responsible for obfuscating the science of cigarette safety in the 1970’s when he worked for R.J. Reynolds. He manufactured the smoking “debate” back then, and was also an early Marshall Institute member (he died a few years ago).

    This is why Singer (from Marshall Institute) was a speaker at the last DDP meeting and why Cohen (Marshall Institute) expected Seitz (Marshall Institute) at the 1997 DDP meeting.


  41. For the moment, let’s leave the Cohen video and just pretend you don’t know about Cohen.

    However, since that talk was from 6/97, let’s get some historical perspective.

    At that time, radon cancer risk was estimated using BEIR IV (1988) methodology which relied heavily on extrapolation from uranium miner studies. Miners are exposed to much greater levels of radon than members of the general public. In the 1990’s, as new homes were built with greater energy efficiency, the potential risk of radon accumulation within them was recognized.

    Researchers initiated household prospective case control studies, but these would take years to complete. Meanwhile, BEIR VI (1999) was published incorporating any new miner or animal studies done since BEIR IV, to improve upon BEIR IV’s risk estimates.

    A prospective case control study looks at SPECIFIC INDIVIDUALS (pay attention to that!!) and follows them forward in time, accumulating direct information on the radon concentrations the SPECIFIC individual is exposed to and accounts for other specific risk factors (like smoking) the specific individual experiences. Significant confounders can be directly observed (and/ or controlled) by the researcher.

    One such study was the Iowa Radon Study (2000):



  42. As more and more of these high quality studies were completed, two meta-studies (2005) were performed which integrated a number of these high quality studies:


    In the midst of the 1990’s fervor, Cohen “performed” a retrospective ecological study. This type of study looks back in time. Confounders cannot be directly observed/controlled by the researcher.

    A well designed (w.d.) prospective case control study has much greater statistical power than a w.d. retrospective ecological study.

    A w.d. retrospective ecological study might identify a county with a high average radon concentration and then identify people who died of lung cancer within it. But a good researcher doesn’t stop there (well, Cohen does)…one estimates the dead people’s ACTUAL radon doses so that radon concentration and absorbed dose are well correlated for each dead person.

    Radon concentrations are highly variable. Two neighbors can have very different average annual radon concentrations in their homes. That’s why the EPA recommends you test your home, first doing a short term test, then a long term test if warranted by the short term test results.

    And, returning to the study, one examines each deceased person’s other specific risk factors (i.e., did that SPECIFIC person smoke? If so, how many cigarettes did that SPECIFIC person smoke per day?).

    Cohen simply uses average county radon concentrations and average county smoking rates. He ignores the need to examine the individuals’ histories. His study is amateurish…but he sure has the charm!

    Does analyzing average county rainfall and average county raincoat ownership tell you much about how wet people get in a particular county? No.

    1. Bob, If we were testing the theory that rainfall causes a particular kind of cancer, comparing that cancer rate vs. rainfall for every county in the country would be a good test, particularly if other cancers showed a random correlation. There is no need to check closets for raincoats.

      1. No, you are wrong.

        What matters is how much rainsfall an individual was actually exposed to.

        It doesn’t matter how many mosquitos are outside, if you are inside.

        You won’t get bit.

  43. Now, let’s get into technical video details.

    START-until about 4:30 Cohen engages in a bit of psychological priming by describing the problems that would disappear if LNT is false. It helps to convince people to convince themselves to support him. If LNT is false, there would be less government regulations, things would be cheaper.

    About 4:30-until about 15:30 Cohen is wrong about: (a) there is no experimental evidence in support of LNT, (b) “we” don’t consider biological repair mechanisms, (c) spontaneous DNA lesions are indistinguishable from radiation lesions and therefore radiation lesions are trivial, (d) radiation only affects biological repair mechanisms. I will return to these in a bit.

    He goes on to describe the phenomenon of adaptive response, where a large radiation dose (challenge dose) is less deleterious when preceded by a small radiation dose (priming dose). He omits that as both doses are reduced into the low dose range (the range the “debate” is about!), the adaptive response isn’t seen.

    He discussed adaptive response in regards to chromosome aberrations, genetic mutations, and the immune system. Though these responses might play some indirect role in cancer, Cohen OMITS what would have been the recently released UNSCEAR 1994, which looked specifically at cancer adaptive response and found no clear evidence of it.

    Since then, we’ve found that the latency period (time for a tumor to show up after the doses) can be accelerated or de-accelerated depending on tumor type. But the overall incidence of cancer has not displayed an adaptive response.

    Cohen mentions bone cancer incidence in radium dial painters. He points out that in the low dose range, there is no “experimental” evidence of cancer. Whoa! A retrospective cohort study is not an experiment. Of course it doesn’t have the statistical power in the low dose range. A little sleight of hand, there.

    Back to (a) Cohen omits info on the bystander effect, where an irradiated cell has deleterious effects on surrounding cells. Or genetic instability in which the damage doesn’t manifest until many cell cycles later. Or certain cell lines which exhibit hyper-radiation sensitivity.

    I’ve already responded to (b) in discussing adoptive response. For brevity I’m done.

    Regarding (c), we now know that not only are the lesions distinguishable and different, but that the repair mechanisms are also distinguishable and different.

    Regarding (d), wrong conclusion based on the totality of the evidence.

    Cohen’s info in this section is really just more biased psychological priming in support of his “unexpected” study.


  44. About 15:30-until END The study is described, which I’ve broadly critiqued. Cohen claims his study does not incorporate the ecological fallacy because in LNT the average dose represents the average risk. That latter part is true.

    But as discussed earlier, his study still incorporates the ecological fallacy, because he has incorrectly determined average doses and has not resolved confounding factors on an individual basis.

    After “correcting” for smoking, Cohen jumps to social-economic variables as possible confounders (based on county averages, not deceased individuals). He “impresses” us with 54 of these variables and may expand to a couple of hundred.

    But it won’t matter, because garbage in will yield garbage out, regardless of his quixotic manipulations of the SEV’s. This is theatre intended to appear as if he’s really trying to resolve the problem.

    He ”can’t even imagine” more troublesome confounders like…. oh, I don’t know….. second-hand smoke, asbestos, genetic predisposition, etc.


    1. Bob, I agree that “garbage in will yield garbage out” which is why the strong negative correlation between radon and lung cancer is so powerful, especially since there is no similar correlation for other cancer types. What accounts for that?

      1. Quiet you!

        You’re just a “denier.” You’re using 1997 science. We know better now. Don’t you know that the Marshall Institute denied that smoking causes cancer?! That alone means that I’m right and you should shut up.

        [Sorry, I thought I would save Bob the trouble of responding himself, so I channeled the essence of his arguments. ;-)]

  45. Finally in Gundersenesque style, Cohen (about 1:02:30) mentions his offer to eat or inhale plutonium (Pu). Which is it?


    It’s eat Pu ….as much as someone else eats in caffeine. In that link, he says there is no scientific basis that a single Pu particle inhaled in the lung can cause cancer.

    Then why doesn’t his challenge involve inhaling Pu? He knows why. Pu is more toxic when inhaled, rather than ingested. It’s like saying I’ll stab myself with a bullet as many times as you stab yourself with a knife….that’ll prove bullets can’t kill people. It’s a sleigh of hand.

    Now, there might be an Intelligent Designer…it’s up to the claimant to provide the evidence, which hasn’t been.

    There might be a natural cause of global warming….it’s up to the claimant to provide the evidence, which hasn’t been done.

    There might be an effect called hormesis….it’s up to the claimant to provide the evidence, which hasn’t been done.

    This is how science works. Otherwise, it’s called pseudo-science.

    Notice how Cohen mentions he’d like to get media attention….of course he would.

    That’s the same tactic the Marshall Institute (and Discovery Institute) has used for decades. Play the oppressed lone scientist against the establishment card, when really….its the science you are promoting which is really, really bad.

    Rather than make improvements to seek the truth…advance your agenda with the DDP and the media. That is ideology.

    I’m done.

    1. @Bob – one problem that your argument has is the fact that Cohen is not exactly alone and not exactly accompanied by media seeking charlatans funded by some big money interests.

      Some of the notable doubters about the LNT assumption include Ted Rockwell (long retired, but also someone who has been a leader in radiation protection since he edited the first reactor shielding handbook), Zbigniew Jaworowski, Jerry Cuttler, Myron Polycove, Jim Muckerheide, T. J. Luckey, Sohei Kondo, Ed Calabrese, and Wade Allison.

      You have often said in this post that the risk was not zero. What you have not said was just how low the risk is when doses are low and how that risk disappears into the weeds when compared to all other risks associated with life on Earth, even if you accept the LNT.

      I will go back to the list of questions I posed in the post that started this long and informative thread:

      If radiation is so dangerous, why doesn’t it seem to affect other mammals?
      If radiation is so dangerous, why do the plants and animals look so normal and healthy?
      Is there any logical reason to be more fearful of radiation than other risks?
      If radiation is not as dangerous as some people claim, why were so many people forced to leave their homes and livelihoods?
      Who benefits by working so hard to make people afraid of radiation and nuclear energy?

      Your other strawmen posited that the deniers were often well funded by groups like fossil fuel companies, tobacco companies, or religions. In the case of this “anti-LNT cult” that you have discovered on Atomic Insights, who do you think is funding it?

      Is there any evidence in the broader media of any kind of organized push to try to spread doubts about the establishment assumption that there is no such thing as a safe dose of radiation?

      I believe that the opposite is true. There is a large, well-funded group of people who have pushed the idea that radiation is so extraordinarily dangerous that we need to spend tens of billions of dollars per year moving around acceptably safe dirt, that we need to employ dozens of radiation protection specialists per operating unit, that we should spend $10 billion researching how to ensure that the most exposed person to high level waste stored in a repository will get no more than 15 mrem per year, that we need to extend evacuation areas to 50 miles so that we can force the shutdown of well operated plants like Indian Point, and that we should fear ever building any new plants.

      As Ted Rockwell often says, the tens of billions spent on radiation protection measures did not disappear into some rat hole. It disappeared into some rat’s pocket.

      As discussed on numerous occasions here on Atomic Insights, I also believe that the fossil fuel industry has the very most to gain from any effort to maintain as much fear, uncertainty and doubt about nuclear energy as possible. They simply cannot stand the idea of competing against nuclear power on a level playing field.

  46. Jezus, but is this an intentional “plant seed of public doubt” ploy going on here; throwing up such a high wall of ivory tower arcane technobabble that intimidates the everyday Joe from even thinking fair/positive about nuclear power?? Is this the phantom menace muck we have to chisel through to get some nukes built?? Really!! What do the anti-nuckers want to prove their point; mutants crawling out of the woodwork or what?? I want — DEMAND to see such indepth studies and bitching about the effects of coal particulates on human beings — or shut ’em all coal plants down! Care to take that one down too, to be fair, anti-nukers?? Geese! I can see why American Indians always bitch how they’ve been over-researched to death!

    James Greenidge

    1. Ya, it’s all FUD. Applebaum is avoiding any debate other than in those domains where he can set up strawmen. As an example, no one on this thread has commented on the global warming issue.

      Holding up a video from some fringe group that happens to dispute LNT and then attempting to disparage that stand by them on the basis of their other positions is laughably poor rhetoric and only underlines how totally he is incapable of answering legitimate critics of LNT on the facts.

  47. Okay, this debate is making my hair hurt. What I’d really like to know is:
    What is considered an acceptable radiation dose? Chronic and acute. Why?
    At what dose are effects reliably observed due to exposure to gamma radiation?
    It seems to me that LNT is rather a lazy method because it doesn’t require observation of effects at low doses just extrapolates using doses known to be harmful and seems to refuse to acknowledge that below some dose there is no effect.
    Lastly back to the actual topic of this post. I didn’t see any mention of analysis of biological assays done on the wolves,I saw hair samples being gathered and I would assum that some remains had been found. It would be interesting what the uptake of radionuclides in the wolves was.

    1. David:

      There is such a thing as molecular biology….we can see radiation damage to molecules. I linked above to several studies on radon in the home (low level epidemiological studies) which showed an increased cancer risk.

      We’re also doing a long term study on Japanese A-Bomb survivors. Some people imagine that these folks all got a big dose and we extrapolate down to really low doses. That’s not how it works.

      Some of the Japanese were close to the explosion, others farther away, others even farther away, others even farther away. So we have a large population which recieved a wide distribution of doses. They also all received their dose at the same time, which is good for this type of study.

      And guess what? We see excess cancer.

      You can never get an epidemiological study down to zero dose. They have inherent limitations…not just those associated with radiation, but those associated with mercury, lead, viruses, etc.

      Regarding what’s acceptable, just depends on the circumstances.

      1. First they all received prompt doses, and most of the dispute over LNT is over low chronic doses.

        Secondly, the dose-rates for nuclear weapon survivors are estimates, and poor ones at that given the conditions.

        Thirdly, you are practicing naked dissemination with the statement:” So we have a large population which recieved a wide distribution of doses. They also all received their dose at the same time, which is good for this type of study. And guess what? We see excess cancer.” which is an oversimplification of how this study is used to justify LNT.

        I’m still waiting for your comments on the French position in this matter. Particularly I would like to see you try and dismiss the the membership of the two Academies as self-deluded cultists.

      2. Bob – how much excess cancer do you see at the low doses?

        As others have pointed out, there is a significant weakness in the lifespan survivor studies – though it is indeed a large population followed over a very long time, all of the subjects received their doses at a very high dose rate. Even if they were far from the explosion and received a low total, most of that dose was received within seconds to minutes and was not chronic exposure.

        1. Rod:

          Let’s talk about critical thinking and logical consistency.

          Why is it on 10/15/11 on your second blog…when you thought someone was upholding your view, you referred to this study as:

          “It is difficult to conceive of a larger or more well followed study group.”

          And now, in trying to minimize my position, the very same study is:

          “there is a significant weakness in the lifespan survivor studies”

          Can you see what your brain is doing?

          1. @Bob – I do not see your point. The study is large and well followed. That does not mean that it is perfect. There are other measures of effectiveness that need to be evaluated.

            For example, the initial doses absorbed by the survivors are were all given in a very short period of time. That makes the study less useful if the question being asked is about the health effects of low, chronic dose rates.

          2. Bob – another weakness in the LSS is in the BEIR committee selection bias that I described in another comment on this thread.

            My source of information is quite credible, but for professional reasons cannot be named. The first name of the remaining PhD in the Office of Radiation and Air/Office of Radiation and Indoor Air/Radiation Protection Division who has a strong influence on list of tenured university professors who are allowed to volunteer for BEIR service is Neal. Both of the influencers had the same last name. One retired a few years ago.

        2. Let’s talk about why you are actively avoiding discussing the French position. I want to see how you can justify calling the work done by the Academies in Aurengo et al. (2005-03-30). Dose-effect relationships and estimation of the carcinogenic effects of low doses of ionizing radiation.. Académie des Sciences & Académie nationale de Médecine the work of those incapable of critical thinking.

          Your continued refusal to address this shows that you are only engaged in demagoguery, not debate.

        3. DV82XL,
          Bob has too much too loose by admitting that evidence, or even that way of thinking. It is likely in his mind that to admit that information which does not support his position is to place his entire lives work in jeopardy. The problem with this is that one’s life work is not defined until one dies.

          So the question becomes, to support one’s life work based on an ideology that ignores pertinent information. Additionally, he lost sight of the purpose of a debate. The purpose of the debate is for the audience. It is not to “win”. In Bob’s mind it is to win. To support this goal he has justified unethical approaches, such as deceit, trickery and ignoring information.

          I would hazard that ignoring the information given to support a claim is what got us here in the first place and is the most heinous act for a scientist to commit. I say this from the simple point of logic. By restricting the information in the analysis the “analyst” can manipulate the the likelihood of the outcome. If one were to admit irrelevant information, it would not effect the strength of the hypothesis. It would be just random noise and fall into the background. However, if by chance it were significant it would change the outcome. This is what Bob is afraid of. He is afraid of being wrong. He has likely told himself many times that he cannot be wrong, he has worked too hard in this fired and done so many excellent things. What would they be worth now as he is retired if they were built on erroneous information that he has fought so hard to defend?

          It is more than likely that he will steadfastly refuse to change his position.

          What do you have to loose by admitting the possibility that negative cancer rates in a statistically large population could have a potential effect on the hypothesis of LNT. By the way it is a model as you so aptly pointed out. I have yet to come across a model made by humans that is infallible. If you have, you must be the Pope.

          Oskar Morgenstern said in regard to his expected utility theory is as he suggests able to be applied to any theory even special relativity,
          “Now the vonNeumann–Morgenstern utility theory, as any theory, is also only an approximation to an undoubtedly much richer and far more complicated reality than what the theory describes in a simple manner.”

          What would be the impact to scientific progress if the researchers that found the neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light suppressed the potentially spurious information as being wrong because obviously special relativity has to be right. What would have been the impact on cosmology if we had ignored the perihelion of Mercury as just random noise.

          Bob, we are not the ones who are ignoring information. You are. Ergo, you are the one, who in the name of science, has rejected that which makes science science, reason. Admit that the BEIR report is flawed because it adopts an idealogical standpoint by ignoring pertinent information. I have not read the French report, however I suspect that they have admitted the impact of negative cancer rates observed in radiation workers. Otherwise, how could they arrive at a different conclusion with the exact same information?

      3. So at low doses we are picking fly s**t out of pepper. At what dose do we see damage attributable to radiation? ATFQ

        1. Rod:

          I think you’ve forgotten how basic science works and critical thinking.

          We make observations, we form hypotheses, and we test the hypotheses experimentally. When we can integrate a bunch of tested hypotheses, we have a more robust explanation called a theory.

          We don’t do negative science…like the current theory doesn’t address X well, therefore I believe A about X. You have to test A. And if A is hormesis our best study doesn’t show it.

          Our best scouring of the planet doesn’t show an alternative to global warming other than manmade. So we believe it’s manmade….until someone provides positive evidence to the contrary.

          We don’t say a study isn’t perfect therefore spooky dust exists or a study should be ignored. If the best study you have provides you with positive information, then until a new, improved study provides different positive information, we stay with the original.

          You are practising pseudo-science.

          Critical thinking isn’t just “being skeptical”. That’s takes little effort.

          Critical thinking is evaluating the evidence, employing logic, and drawing conclusions.

          The dose rate thing is really anti-logical.

          What difference do you think there is between a short pulse and chronic exposure? How did BEIR VII address this issue?

          Or have you not studied it (not employed critical thinking)?

        2. @Bob – it is not difficult to find numerous articles about the importance of dose rate as opposed to just integrated dose with regard to health effects.

          One example – http://bmb.oxfordjournals.org/content/29/1/44.extract

          Speaking of critical thinking – have you cited any sources other than BEIR in this entire thread? Critical thinkers do not limit their reading to a small set of sources.

  48. Bob, the question is, how does BEIR VII prove your claim that LNT is valid a low level continuous dose rates.

    Lets try another thought experiment. Assume that life evolved in a world frequented by naturally occurring atmospheric nuclear explosions of 15-20 kt.

    I would not be surprised to find that life forms on that planet have mechanisms to repair damage from bursts of high dose, high dose rate radiation. The BEIR VII study methodology would be ideally suited for detecting those mechanisms.

    In reality there have been some natural nuclear reactors in earth’s past, but no natural nuclear explosions on earth to my knowledge.

    However, chronic background radiation levels were much higher in the past. Therefore it would not surprise me to find that there are repair mechanisms that mitigate the effects of continuous background levels higher than today‘s levels. The previous thought experiment explained why BEIR VII cannot detect these mechanisms.

    Therefore the failure of BEIR VII to detect these mechanisms does not prove they do not exist, and it does not prove that LNT theory is valid at low chronic dose rates.

    We know of many things that are beneficial at low levels yet harmful at high levels, vitamins for example. Suppose someone wrote a comment claiming that if vitamins are beneficial, a one time dose of fifty years worth of vitamins should provide detectable health benefits for fifty years.

    In reality, a huge dose of vitamins will make you very sick, perhaps kill you. Lower doses will make you less sick. The blogger claims that this proves that vitamins are harmful at any concentration, but fails to provide any evidence at low continuous dose levels. Substitute radiation for vitamins and we have your position Bob.

      1. There are several politically accepted science theories that stimulate me to skepticism. If that is denying, call be guilty.

        For example – I cannot accept the theory that CFC’s were the source of the Cl atoms in the stratosphere that apparently reduced the concentration of O3 over the south pole enough to lead to a late winter ozone hole.

        Here is a link to my public attempt to explain why I doubt the theory that so rapidly gained widespread political acceptance.


  49. I am also noting a phenenom like God-of-the-gaps.

    First volcanoes were caused by god. Then we knew better. Then floods were caused by god and then we knew better…etc.

    What IDiots do, is insert “god” into whatever hole there is in our scientific understanding. Just because we don’t know something, doesn’t mean insert goddidit.

    Likewise, just because you can find some weakness in LNT doesn’t mean insert “hormesis”.

    There will always be a low dose hole..just like there will always be a hole for goddidit.

    That doesn’t make either of those things true.

    1. Conversely, just because there’s a low dose hole doesn’t mean you get to insert “LNT” in there, either; LNT should be nobody’s God.

      I think the linear-threshold model has a lot going for it in the absence of substantial evidence describing low-dose response to radiation.

      1. You can insert LNT if the data point you observe go downwards in a linear, no threshold direction.

        If you see an asteroid approaching at a constant velocity, over time….you don’t magically assume it’s going to veer off in the opposite direction.

        That would be magic…

        1. Bob,
          In one of my earlier posts that you cherry picked from I described the statistical method that you would use to determine if there is a threshold. In each of my rebuttals, I explained how the hypothesis could be tested, suggesting experiments and methods.

          Saying something is and should be taken at face value is contrary to the whole scientific process that you claim to defend.

  50. Here’s another video clip of an LNT denier.

    This is actually funny…first he doesn’t understand why homeopathic medicine isn’t accepted, but LNT is. He doesn’t understand the difference between medical efficacy and chemical toxicity.

    (I think he does, he’s just giving what sounds like a reasonable concept to an untrained reporter to get the story going)

    Then, assuming you LNT deniers still believe in math, count how many times he mentions BEIR VII (which specifically address hormesis).

    You won’t need your calculators.

    Is what he tells the reporter a fair assessment of the current science?

    Also note who posted the video. HA!


    This is more fun than global warming deniers!

        1. You don’t understand the difference between a strawman and an analogy.

          Oh … I know the difference.

          More importantly, I can smell what you’ve been shoveling.

          Please inform me once again how I’m just one of the ignorant crowd who doubt that I’m descended from an ape or who refuse to accept that smoking cigarettes causes cancer.

  51. Rod –

    I’ve got one more post this evening to get you thinking (I hope). Here is a post from an anti-nuclear website. I’ve fought them before.

    Politically, it’s just dumb to promote the magic hormesis, while they’re promoting science:


    Politically (as well as scientifically), everyone should support BEIR VII. The risk estimates are trivial.

    LNT deniers look like wingnuts to the informed general public (as well as me).

    It’s much savvier, even if you can’t wrap your head around it, to promote the science and deal with the anti-nukes on the relative risks.

    Good night.

    1. @Bob – what NIRS is promoting in the press release that you linked to is not “science” but simply the conclusions of a US-only committee. That committee was appointed with the strong influence of a pair of life long bureaucrats who built a little empire on the back of a steadily funded study of atomic bomb victims. They have freely admitted to colleagues that they will not support BEIR membership for anyone who questions the LNT. They do not believe there should be any reason to reevaluate that model until the last survivor of Hiroshima and Nagasaki passes away and all data from the LSS has been analyzed. That will occur at some time after they have safely retired from their little kingdom inside of EPA.

      It is “sort of” science, but certainly not the kind of open inquiry science that engages the minds of critical thinkers.

      NIRS has a very open agenda that includes doing everything it can to scare people about radiation health effects so that it can encourage additional costs that will drive nuclear energy out of the market.

      NIRS also frequently quote people like John Rowe, whose notions about the lack of economic viability for new nuclear plants is music to their ears. In his case, there is a lot of money to be made by discouraging new nuclear plants. If anyone actually succeeded in building and operating plants anywhere near his fleet of 17 well maintained and reliably operated plants, they would be faced with lower market prices for the product they are selling.

      I have met the principles at NIRS – they are dedicated careerists who are either ill informed or just plain dishonest about the lack of danger from low doses of radiation.

      (I am going to stop quibbling with you about whether or not the number is zero. I do not really care about any risk that is so low that it is impossible to reliably measure. I have far too many real risks in my life to worry about.)

  52. Oops.. I see Cal is back.

    I don’t know how many radioactive samples you’ve counted…I’ve counted many.

    You know what?

    Sometimes I get samples that are less than background.

    That is due to the statistical variance in the background and in the sample.

    You know what?

    Sometimes epidemiological studies do the same thing.

    Sometimes the studies show an inverse relationship based on statistics.

    I understand that…you don’t seem to.

    1. Bob – do you realize what you wrote? If you counted a sample that was below background, why would you call it a “radioactive sample?”

      By my definition, if you count a swipe and find that it is below minimum detectable levels, then you have a clean swipe, not a radioactive one. That means you can log “less than” and move on. Any further effort to survey or clean would be useless.

  53. Bob,
    I too have counted a great number of radioactive samples in fields of changing background radiation, and am well verses in the poisson random effect of radioactive decay. You are however, not well versed in the statistical theory of noise reduction and statistical modeling. Or heck evening logic. I would say that your analogy is quite pertinent on the mosquito’s because it ignores that mosquitos get in the houses, because you know that the mosquito’s can’t get in. Good thing you were not building the Panama canal.

      1. I served on a submarine, The deeper you go the less cosmic radiation you see. BTW at a constant altitude cosmic radiation can be modeled as brownian noise, which happens to follow a normal distribution. If you have a trend with a non trivial deviation, that isn’t noise. And you say you went to Tech…

        1. Bob said he went to Tech, but he very carefully did not say what he studied there. He also does not recognize quite what it means to be a “served Engineer Officer” in terms of the broad academic and practical education such a position provides to the drinker of the fire hose.

          He is also adamant that a person’s education and background should be ignored when trying to decipher whether or not to give any credibility to their comments.

          I happen to know where Cal studied, where he worked and where he now studies some more. For some odd reason, I think that a guy with an MS from Wisconsin in nuclear engineering, who served for a decade or so as an engineering officer on nuclear submarines and is now earning his PhD in nuclear engineer from GA Tech carries some major street cred.

        2. Rod – Well, I’m pretty sure that Bob here has a Master’s in Health Physics from GA Tech, for what that’s worth.

          I like how he enjoys playing epidemiologist and then calls others “amateurs.” He’s a funny guy. I get a genuine chuckle out of most of his comments here.

        3. @Brian – you are correct. According to this article, Bob has an MS in health physics and served on board a US nuclear submarine.


          It also says that he founded a company with a partner and built it to a $30 million revenue business. I wonder what he is doing spending so much time defending the LNT, especially since it appears that people might have used the notion that there is no such thing as a safe dose to hamper his business growth prospects.

        1. Not my problem…that is a change the goalposts fallacy.

          I live in the U.S.

          I’m not going to respond to anything anyone has done in dozens of other countries.

          Should the U.S. be a Muslim theocracy because some other country has decided to?

          Am I compelled to respond to that.


        2. You are not compelled to respond to it, but you will be judged for not considering a major body of work from a respected scientific body which does not agree with your chosen study. If your points are valid they would be strengthened by a serious rebuttal of the French work. A blank refusal to consider it doesn’t look good for you at all.

        3. Oh so Bob, the laws of physics must be different in France. So that would explain why those pesky neutrinos were traveling faster than the speed of light, contrary to special relativity. Oh and that must be why we are attempting to replicate the experiment at Fermi Lab.

        4. “..that is a change the goalposts fallacy.” Yet another display of how Applebaum has no grasp of the tenets of informal logic.

          Your retorts have become so lame dismissing them is like shooting fish in a barrel.

          So your not going to respond to any research not done in the U.S.? How dare you soil the name of scientist by claiming to be one. Shame on you sir, shame.

    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poisson_distribution

      “A classic example of Poisson distribution is the nuclear decay of atoms. The decay of a radioactive sample is a case in point because, once a particle decays, it does not decay again.”

      The universe I live in is governed by the known laws of physics which we keep on expanding and improving as we find their limitations through the scientific process.

        1. Newton (classical mechanics) to Einstein (special then general relativity). Carnot (irreversible processes) to Clausius (classical thermodynamics) to Boltzmann (H-Theorem) to Gibbs (statistical mechanics) to von Neumann (quantum statistical mechanics). They are laws that represent our understanding of the physical world we model, we observe, we predict, and when the predictions stop being consistent with our observations then we develop a new theory.

  54. @ Rod 8:46

    “Speaking of critical thinking – have you cited any sources other than BEIR in this entire thread? Critical thinkers do not limit their reading to a small set of sources.”

    Yes, I provided links to radon studies.

    Did you ignore that evidence?

  55. Rod –

    Have you read BEIR VII…have you examined the evidence?

    Or are you like a global warming denier who criticizes the IPCC without understanding what they’re saying?

    1. I’m content.

      Then you are committing a grave error, unless the point of the debate in your mind is to justify your position to yourself. I suspect most of the rest of us are in this to influence the public discourse.

    2. Actually Craig –

      Why don’t you explain the differences in the two studies?

      Have you read them both? Critical thinking is about understanding the evidence.

      You tell me…which of the two studies provides greater evidence and why?

      If you haven’t read them…you are just a religious ideologue searching for tidbits to support your preconceived conclusions.

      1. Bob, you are the one defending the LNT model here, and it appears you are a professional in the radiation health physics field. I could attempt what you ask, but I would not have high confidence in my conclusions if I did. Like everyone else, I have to look at the conclusions of experts in unfamiliar fields, and the debates between those experts. You are trying to sell your position. It’s up to you.

  56. Our theories which we represent as “models” which we use to predict what we have observed and what we have not observed are the laws of physics to which I am referring.

    Tell me THE universal law of physics. The one that is infallible. Oh yeah you did, LNT.

    Sorry case closed no need to look further, ignore the man behind the curtain.

    1. LNT is not a universal law.

      It’s our best explanation based on the evidence.

      Maybe we can have a Crusade between the LNT deniers and the global warming deniers….a sort of fusion.

      1. It is if you do not include all of the evidence. That is how one cooks the books to support any theory that is desired. Wether it is fascism, the ether, or LNT. Ignoring the information available, which coincidentally is a definition if ideology, is a breakdown in reason.

  57. Craig raises a good question…why don’t anyone of you tell me, which study is better…the French or the American and why?

    Let’s see who is being religious and who is being scientific.

    I expect a quick answer or I’ll know you are backpeddling…go!

    1. You are the one that wrote that all studies not supporting LNT were invalid. The onus then is on you to show why this is so. You can’t wiggle out this way, since we don’t care if you accept the French study or not. Keep in mind it is you that is attempting to show us we are wrong. If you can’t show us why the French study is wrong, we are free to accept in on merit.

    1. Are you saying that there was no Saint Nicolas? That there was not a good man who lived more than a thousand years ago and gave gifts to Children in the Name of Jesus Christ?

  58. Ok…imagine a courtroom…the nuclear future depends on two things…the testimony of Cohen and you’re ability to discuss which study is better.

    The anti-nuclear group NIRS has someone like me on their side…I’ve already ripped Cohen apart.

    It’s up to you….what’s the difference between the two studies….go! go! go!

    1. @Bob:

      I will take you up on your offer. I have skimmed through both reports. Though I am a pretty good reader, my eyes sometimes glaze over when reading certain kinds of technical reports. At any rate, here are the concluding remarks from the French Academy of Sciences study titled “Dose-effect relationships and estimation of the carcinogenic effects of low doses of ionizing radiation” dated March 30, 2005.

      Rip away! I want to learn more.

      All that follows is a direct cut and paste from


      “All these data suggest that the lower effectiveness of low doses, or the existence of a practical threshold which could be related to either the failure of a very low doses to sufficiently activate cellular signalling and thereafter DNA repair mechanisms or to an association between apoptosis error-free repair and immunosurveillance.. However on the basis of our present knowledge, it is not possible to define the threshold level (between 5 and 50 mSv?) or to provide the evidence for it. The stimulation of cell defense mechanisms, in particular to cope with reactive oxygen species. Indeed, a meta-analysis of experimental animal data shows that in 40% of these studies there is a decrease in the incidence of spontaneous cancers in animals after low doses. This observation has been overlooked so far because the phenomenon was difficult to explain.

      These data show that it is not justified to use the linear no-threshold relationship to assess the carcinogenic risk of low doses observations made for doses from 0.2 to 5 Sv since for the same dose increment the biological effectiveness varies as a function of total dose and dose rate. The conclusion of this report is in fact in contradiction with those of other authors [43,118], which justify the use of LNT by the following arguments.

      1. for doses lower than 10 mGy, there is no interaction between the different physical events initiated along the electron tracks through the DNA or the cell;
      2. the nature of lesions caused and the probability of error prone or error free repair and the elimination of damaged cells by cell death is neither influenced by the dose nor the dose rate;
      3. cancer is the direct and random consequence of a DNA lesion in a cell apt to divide and the probability of the initiated cell to give rise to cancer is not influenced by the damage in the neighbor cells and tissues;
      4. the LNT model correctly fits the dose-effect relationship for the induction of solid tumors in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki cohort;
      5. the carcinogenic effect of doses of the order of 10 mGy is proven for humans by results from in utero irradiation studies .

      The first argument concerns the initial physico-chemical events which are proportional to dose; however, the nature and efficiency of cellular defense reactions that are activated vary with dose and dose rate. The second argument is contradicted by recent radiobiological studies considered in the present report. The third argument does not take into account recent findings on the complexity of the carcinogenic process and the particular role of intercellular relationships and the stroma.. Regarding the fourth argument, it can be noted that besides LNT, other types of dose-effect relationships are also compatible with data concerning solid tumors in atom bomb survivors, and can also satisfactorily fit epidemiological data that are incompatible with the LNT concept, notably the incidence of leukemia in these same A-bomb survivors. Furthermore, taking into account the latest available data, the dose-effect relationship for solid tumors in Hiroshima-Nagasaki survivors is not linear but curvilinear between 0 and 2 Sv. Moreover, even if the dose-effect relationship were demonstrated to be linear for solid tumors between, for example, between 50 mSv and 3 Sv, a generalization would not be possible because of experimental and clinical data show that the dose effect relationship considerably varies according to type of tumor and age of individuals at the time of irradiation. The global annd empirical relationship observed for solid tumors corresponds to the sum of relationships which can be quite different according to the type of cancer, for example, some being linear or quadratic, with or without threshold.

      Finally, with regard to in utero irradiation, whatever the value of the Oxford study, some inconsistencies between the availbable data sets call for great caution before concluding the existence of a causal relationship from data showing simply an association. Furthermore, it is highly questionable to extrapolate from the fetus to the child and adult, particularly, since the developmental state, cellular interactions and immunological control systems are very different.

      In conclusion, this report raises doubts on the validity of using LNT for evaluating the carcinogenic risk of low doses (< 100 mSv) and even more for very low doses (< 10 mSv). The LNT concept can be a useful pragmatic tool for assessing rules in radioprotection for doses above 10 mSv; however since it is not based on biological concepts of our current knowledge, it should not be used without precaution for assessing by extrapolation the risks associated with low and even more so, with very low doses (< 10 mSv), especially for benefit-risk assessments imposed on radiologists by the European directive 97-43. The biological mechanisms are different for doses lower than a few dozen mSv and for higher doses. The eventual risks in the dose range of radiological examinations (0.1 to 5 mSv, up to 20mSv for some examinations) must be estimated taking into account radiobiological and experimental data. An empirical relationship which has been just validated for doses higher than 200 mSv may lead to an overestimation of risks (associated with doses one hundred fold lower), and this overestimation could discourage patients from undergoing useful examinations and introduce a bias in radioprotection measures against very low doses (< 10 mSv). Decision makers confronted with problems of radioactive waste or risk of contamination, should re-examine the methodology used for the evaluation of risks associated with very low doses and with doses delivered at a very low dose rate. This report confirms the inappropriateness of the collective dose concept to evaluate population irradiation risks."

      1. I highly recommend a report from a conference held in 2006 on ultra low-dose radiation and health. The lead experts were Dr. David Brenner, a proponent of the LNT hypothesis, Dr. Otto Raab, who supports the linear, non-threshold hypothesis, and Dr. Leo Gomez, who’s probably somewhere in the middle.

        All three experts in radiation protection agree that below a certain threshold (10 rem) there is no scientific basis at present for assuming health risks. To study what actually happens to organisms receiving low-dose exposure, these scientists propose the establishment of an ultra-low dose lab half a mile underground in a salt bed that is low in natural background radiation. On the surface would be a control lab. I highly recommend that people on both sides of the issue read the report of a 2006 summit held to examine whether such an experimental lab would be a good idea. Almost all of the attendees agreed that it would.

  59. Don’t be an ass (although it’s obviously too late for that.) You have made an utter fool of yourself and each time you post you embarrass yourself further.

    You have fallen now to the point of a kid in a playground that has been caught out wrong. You’re covering your ears and shouting: “na, na, na, I can’t hear you!” at the top of you lungs.

    You are pathetic.

    We should leave this display of childishness here as it stands. He isn’t worth anymore effort on our part.

  60. Bob, science is not a religion for me; I simply look at the available facts, apply logic, and go with whatever conclusion is most credible until more accurate and detailed facts become available, then I reassess.

    In college I took a course in nuclear engineering to get more facts to support my anti nuclear position, but when I evaluated all the facts I became pro nuclear.

    You present the hormesis/LNT debate as if we have to choose one or the other. Actually there is middle ground, we can assume the risk at low levels is zero for all practical purposes while we wait for more and better facts to emerge.

    Under that assumption the 4000 deaths from Chernobyl predicted by the UN and the hundreds of thousands of deaths predicted by the UCS go away. That is where I am now on this issue.

    Bob, you believe in LNT at low levels without a shred of scientific evidence, so LNT is a religion for you. I am not going to change your religion, but open minded people, interested in the truth, reading these comments, will be in a better position to form their own opinion.

    The ball is in your court.

    1. Bill – Don’t forget that Bob’s comments started here with claims that animals in the Chernobyl exclusion zone must be dropping dead left and right because LNT says so.

      You’re debating with a fundamentalist. Don’t delude yourself that you’re going to change his mind.

      1. Right Brian, but animals have been dropping dead left and right in healthy forests since before humans evolved.

        1. And humans have been dropping dead of cancer since we figured out how to live long enough to stop dropping dead of malnutrition, malaria, water born diseases, whooping cough, measles, mumps, drowning and getting attacked by wild animals. Doses of radiation that are within the normal variations in background found around the world do not measurably increase the risk of cancer or other modes of early termination. In fact, they might just help us live just a little bit longer, more healthy lives.

    1. Unfortunately this reference contains two sentences that make the published results worthless in my opinion.

      “Although it is a critical factor, the age distribution of the exposed population has not yet been determined, and it was assumed that the age distribution of the exposed population is the same as that of the general Taiwan population. However, the 2000 students who were included definitely have a different Distribution.”

      It is unbelievable to me that after all this time, correction for age is not included in the analysis.

      That said, this incident has the potential to provide priceless information on elevated background radiation effects in humans.

      I hope that an accurate detailed data base is being preserved and that it will be made public for evaluation by the most capable and unbiased experts available, whoever they may be,as soon as possible.

  61. Fundamentalist? When a person utterly rejects all factual arguments that undermine his own position; and does so utterly without shame (aka has no conscience); and does so using cunning artifices and word games; what term do psychologists use to describe such a person?

  62. It is impossible to defend LNT using BEIR VII. BEIR does not use LNT. It uses LNT / DDREF – where DDREF is a “magic” factor that changes almost according to the whim of the implementor.

    Specifically, when interpreting observations or experiments, DDREF can be set high enough so that a result of “no effect” can be interpreted as within error tolerance of LNT / DDREF. And BEIR VII basically admits that any experiments which show a threshold beyond the scope of DDREF’s ultra-flexibility are “given low weight”, for which I read “ignored”. eg p313:
    “For animal models of radiation carcinogenesis that are dependent on cell killing, there tend to be threshold-like dose-responses and high values of DDREF; therefore, less weight was placed on these data. Once cell-killing dependence is excluded, animal data are not inconsistent with a linear nonthreshold (LNT) dose response, and DDREF values are in the range 2–3 for solid cancers and somewhat higher for acute myeloid leukemia.”

    So: “not inconsistent with LNT” but only when using DDREF “in the range 2-3”. It takes true dogmatic belief to ignore the inconsistency in this position.

  63. I think we have to be careful in this debate to keep the issues of linear no-threshold and hormesis, separate. Specifically: rejection of the former should not automatically imply the existence of the latter.

    It is also best to keep in mind that linearity is not appropriate in biology, (or in any scientific context where correction or feedback is significant) thus it would not be impossible to find an overlap in response between the two effects depending on the organism, or indeed between individuals.

  64. I dunno. Are researchers actually looking at the “low dose exposure” problem from the wrong end of the telescope, and instead of trying to sort out the weeds from the background rad grass they ought be looking at the long term health effects of radiation on high altitude life and frequent fliers and pilots. If these folks turn up wholesome after such life-long exposure compared sea-level dwellers then the prognosis for wholesome lives in nuke accident areas recording even lower rad measurements is a wash for me! I mean how many mutants haunt the Rockies and Himalayas? Why bother chasing the infinite tiniest thing researching minimum rad dosages on a single blood cell then? I just can’t see how finding out how low a measurable rad dosage must go to might effect an organism in some sterile deep cave lab when real life populations live high above sea level and are pummeled with rads all the time and are ripe for a survey under everyday life real-world exposure conditions. Researchers should measure THEIR lifespans and health status vs sea level folks for some real-life comparisons/analysis. Might be quicker and cheaper then performing all kinds of arcane experiments looking for big grants.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

    1. I know Air Canada pilots have been ‘observed’ and studied for cancers linked to radiation.

      Pilots are in excellent shape because of the requirements of their jobs. This can cause bias in relation to the overall population.

      If I remember correctly, they were a bit higher than average on a certain type of cancer but way below the normal population for most cancers.

      1. The study on Air Canada pilots is here:


        The authors investigated a cohort of 2,740 Air Canada pilots who contributed 62,449 person-years of observation. All male pilots employed for at least 1 year on and since January 1,1950, were studied. The cutoff date for outcome information was December 31,1992. Standardized mortality ratio (SMR) and standardized incidence ratio (SIR) were used to compare mortality rates and cancer incidence rates of the cohort with the respective Canadian population rates. Ninety percent confidenceintervals of the SMR and SIR were calculated. Statistically significant decreased cancer incidence and mortality was observed for all cancers. However mortality from aircraft accidents was significantly raised.

      2. In the case of pilots, we now know that there is the potential for other factors being in play. For example, airline pilot is not exactly a nine-to-five job, and several years ago the WHO published a monograph that concluded that shift work can result in higher risk for certain types of cancer, due to disruption of the circadian rhythm.

  65. FYI
    ROSATOM conference with Russia Fed. Ecology/Nat. Resouces Ministry-DOE-IAEA

    “Speaking on the representative of the public Council of Rostechnadzor, former Chairman of the Duma Committee on ecology Vladimir Grachev, remarked that, despite all the fears associated with Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear power is the safest and most environmentally friendly mode of generation. Coal-fired power plant emits radioactive emissions than NUCLEAR POWER PLANT, and the so-called “renewable” energy sources like wind or solar resource intensity (and othodoemkost′) in 500 times higher than conventional generation, including nuclear.”

  66. Found this on-line: heard about it from Jerry Cuttler, co-author of numerous peer-reviewed critiques of LNT.

    Statement by L.E. Feinendegen and M. Pollycove
    regarding the

    BEIR VII Report

    We believe hat the following remarks are pertinent to the impact the final BEIR VII Report likely will have. Moreover, the draft of this document contains several statements in reference to our work.

    The Draft Report presents a very large, although not complete, yet most useful set of data on low-dose effects of ionizing radiation. The various epidemiological and experimental data obviously serve the attempt to illuminate the question mainly as to the probability of low doses to cause cancer.

    It is apparent to us that the discussions and interpretations of many data pointedly tend to justify the linear-no-threshold (LNT) hypothesis down to zero-dose without proper consideration of equally justifiable alternative hypotheses. This imbalance is obvious also in the recent summary statement to the public.

    Contrary to the report by the French Academy of Sciences, Paris, dated March 30, 2005, the Draft Report appears exclusive for it does not properly include presentation and/or discussion of abundantly available experimental and epidemiological evidence for other models than given by the LNT hypothesis. This discrepancy between two carefully working academic institutions at the highest level challenges the impartiality of the BEIR-Report committee – in fact, it creates an embarrassment for the National Academies in Washington.

    A particular weakness is the narrow view on the functions of adaptive responses. The Draft Report deals repeatedly with adaptive responses, yet mainly in terms of low-dose induced resistance against renewed irradiation, whereas there is much evidence for low-dose induced adaptive responses to express non-specific system reactions at various levels of biological organization to toxins that differ from radiation but may act on the same biological targets. Only rare remarks pertain to this lack of toxin-specific response pattern in complex adaptive systems. On the contrary, the Draft Report stresses the toxin-specific response at the level of genes, as, for instance, regarding the particular gene responses to various oxidative agents in S. Cerevisiae. However, other observations on delayed appearing and temporarily lasting protective responses in microorganisms, cells or animals, which do not relate primarily to low-dose induced DNA damage and repair, find little attention in the Draft Report. In fact and as clearly stated by the Committee, the Draft Report excludes adaptive responses to be valid in assessing the dose-risk function at low doses, and it recommends the perpetuation of the LNT-hypothesis.

    In this context, the Draft Report even distorts published material. Two such situations concern our paper (M. Pollycove, L.E. Feinendegen. – Radiation-induced versus endogenous DNA damage: possible effect of inducible protectice responses in mitigating endogenous damage. – Human and Experim. Toxicol. 22: 290-306, 2003). Permit us to be more specific:

    On page 71, the Draft Report states:

    “The implication of these results (on gene expressions following challenges by different oxydizing agents) is that each agent that is toxic to S. cerevisiae produces its own unique spectrum of cellular damage, with some overlap. The relevance of these comparisons for this report lie in the attempts that have been made to explain low-dose ionizing radiation as no more than a special case of oxidative damage (Pollycove and Feinendegen 2003). If this were true, then low doses of ionizing radiation would be insignificant against the levels of naturally occurring reactive oxygen species and could therefore be ignored as having no detrimental health effects”.

    This statement given above in bold regarding our paper is not correct. In fact, our paper clearly emphasizes on the one hand the well known fact that a comparatively large fraction (some 30%) of cellular DNA damage produced by low-LET irradiation derives from direct particle interaction and not from reactive oxygen species. Our paper, then, emphasizes the that DNA double strand breaks (DSB) per primary oxidative DNA damage (DNA-adducts) are likely to be 105 times more probable from low-LET ionizing radiation than from endogenous oxidative attacks. There is no justification to let the reader belief that we propose low-dose ionizing radiation effects to be no more than a special case of oxidative damage.

    Moreover, our paper refers to the radiogenic reactive oxygen species (ROS) to encompass a broad spectrum of compounds, and that many of these ROS may be similar to those produced endogenously by oxidative metabolism and various compartmentalized biochemical reactions, with all their secondary effects. The obviously distorted reference to our paper misleads the reader and tends to discredit us.

    The Draft Report should have said that the our paper comes to the conclusion that per average cell endogenous DNA damage is many orders of magnitude more frequent than DNA damage from background radiation (see Table 5 in our paper), in support to the well known fact that cancer arises much more frequently from other causes than radiation. We continue to argue that low-dose induced adaptive responses presumably protect mainly against the production and consequences of endogenous DNA damage. Indeed, as is well documented, adaptive protection encompasses biological systems as a whole and does not just pertain to DNA repair. Thus, adaptive responses may not only temporarily increase DNA repair and, thus, resistance against DNA damage from renewed irradiation, they also operate systemically and involve prevention of DNA damage by scavenging, and damage removal by apoptosis, cell differentiation, and immune response, i.e. operate at various levels of biological organization. The consequence, then, is the prediction that adaptive protection in all likelihood also operates against non-radiogenic cancer, as experimental data confirm in studies in culture cells and animals. This situation finds appropriate room for discussion in the report by the French Academy of Sciences, but not in the BEIR VII report.

    On pages 579-580, the issue of non-radiogenic DNA damage, especially DSB, comes up again. Here, BEIR VII states:

    “Pollycove and Feinendegen have made a theoretical argument that the hazards of radiation exposure are negligible in comparison to DNA damage that results from
    oxidative processes during normal metabolism. They argue that endogenous processes, autoxidation, depurination and/or deamination can lead to cellular DNA damage which resembles that produced by ionizing radiation. Oxidative damage is much more complex than they appreciate and involves predominantly proteins and mitochondrial targets associated with transcription, protein trafficking and vacuolar functions (Thorpe and others 2004). The identity of the particular radical species generated endogenously in undamaged cells is unknown, and therefore yields of endogenous single strand breaks (SSBs) and double strand breaks (DSBs) cannot be reliably estimated a priori. Direct measurements of SSBs in unirradiated cells indicate levels several orders of magnitude below that estimated by Pollycove and Feinendegen. The authors’ hypothesis that endogenous processes within cells give rise to significant levels of DSBs from SSBs in close proximity is speculative and not supported by current experimental information.”

    The above quotation, again, implies to the reader that radiation-induced oxidative damage is much more complex than we appreciate. However, we have mentioned throughout our paper the multitude of non-specific effects from ROS on cellular substrates and homeostasis and have particularly stressed that the radiation induced DSBs per DNA- oxyadduct are 10 5 times more frequent than are DSBs from endogenous DNA-oxyadducts. One can hardly state more explicitly that radiation is much more potent to cause severe DNA damage than are endogenous ROS. Yet, the Draft Report ignores our emphasis.

    More serious still is the statement that “The authors’ hypothesis that endogenous processes within cells give rise to significant levels of DSBs from SSBs in close proximity is speculative and not supported by current experimental information.” Irrespective of the fact that we have given proper references in our attempt to relate SSBs to DSBs, the issue obviously is the incidence of DSBs in non-irradiated cells. The direct measurements presented in the following publications fully support our statement that in the order of about 0.1 endogenous DSB likely occur in mammalian cells per day from endogenous sources: 1). Vilenchik MM, Knudson AG. Endogenous DNA double-strand breaks: Production, fidelity of repair and induction of cancer. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci US 100: 12871-12976, 2003; and 2) Sedelnikova OA, Horikawa I, Zimonjic DB, Popescu NC, Bonner WM, Barrett JC. Senescing human cells and ageing mice accumulate DNA lesions with unrepairable double-strand breaks. Nature Cell Biol 6(2):168-70, 2004; and 3) Rothkamm K, Löbrich M. Evidence for a lack of DNA double-strand break repair in human cells exposed to very low x-ray doses. Proc Natl Acad Sci US 100: 5057-5062, 2003. The Draft Report, however, does not even mention any one of these publications in the context of endogenous DSB production.

    In summary, the BEIR VII Draft Report appears to us seriously deficient. We think that careful corrections can bring the document up-to-date. In fact, we take the liberty to suggest editing the Draft Report carefully to eventually serve the scientific community and public alike in a manner that complies with serious scientific work.

  67. It is ridiculous to compare Hormesis (or other challenges to LNT) as analogous to creationism.

    In some recent books I’ve read, not about the controversy, David Bodansky’s textbook on nuclear power, updated 2006, and the recent book Merchants of Doubt, by Oreskes et al, challenges to LNT are treated as contenders for truth.

    See chapter three of Bodansky and pages 160-3 in MD.

    I am curious to know if Bob has read Cohen’s response to critics.

  68. “Who benefits by working so hard to make people afraid of radiation and nuclear energy?”

    “Reactor accidents are events worth avoiding, but it is becoming more evident that the actual results are within the limits of the risk that is routinely accepted in many other industries.”

    Delusional biased phoney bastard! Why don’t you move to Prypiat? You’ll love the clean air there!

    1. Outbursts of this sort, based only on your obvious ignorance, do nothing here except reinforce the belief that your position has no foundation in reality. In other words you are demonstrating that those holding extreme antinuclear views have no idea what they are talking about and thus need not be taken seriously.

      Congratulations on having done the exact opposite than what you intended with your comment.

    2. I do not speak the language or have a job in Prypiat. I would happily live in an area with the same background radiation levels as Prypiat.

      1. Ditto for me. If my life revolved around Prypiat I could care less about the background level of radiation. In fact I purchase canned Borscht soups and I eat Japanese tuna Sushi.
        No… I don’t scan the Agri-product from there with a geiger counter -that’s silly.
        I’m PRO-HUMAN like many of the pro-nuke bloggers here. I’m not into discrediting people’s physiology as inferior because they live in high radiation background zones or high altitude.
        Ramsar, Iran
        Gurapari, Brazil
        Kerala, India
        Yangjiang, China
        Flinders Ranges, Australia
        The Anti-nuke philosophy smells a bit too racial discriminatory and in favor of Int’l conflicts for my tastes.

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