Sunday, March 27, 2011

Radiation hysteria based on flawed assumptions

Lawrence Solomon wants everyone to "turn down the dial" on Chernobyl-style Fukushima radiation fears:

Next to Chernobyl, the Fukushima accident is the worst nuclear power calamity in history. To minimize damage in Fukushima’s aftermath, the Japanese — and all of us — need first learn the lessons of Chernobyl, whose casualties number[ing] in the hundreds of thousands ... came not from the radiation it spewed but from fear of radiation.

... Should scientists assume that there’s a threshold dose, below which radiation is held to be harmless? Or is it more prudent to assume that any dose of radiation could be harmful?
... The UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation acknowledged its puzzlement in a 1958 report: “There may or may not be a threshold dose,” it wrote, explaining: “Linearity has been assumed primarily for purposes of simplicity.”
... “There is no scientific evidence of increases in overall cancer incidence or mortality or in non-malignant disorders that could be related to radiation exposure,” the UN reported after examining the actual mortality and morbidity statistics.
... One example involves 34,000 Swedes downwind of Chernobyl whose thyroids absorbed large doses of radioactive iodine-131. Instead of being afflicted with excess thyroid cancers, as would have been expected, they experienced a 38% decline. Another example: Epidemiological studies in Russia demonstrated that the population of the most contaminated region near Chernobyl contracted fewer cancers than Russia’s general population.
It seems there is growing evidence that low/moderate levels of radiation exposure have beneficial health/mortality effects. But it'll take a lot of effort over a long time to overcome the biases fostered by the media and others who prefer alarmism based on junk science and the flawed logic of the "precautionary principle".  Other examples of this include the Bispenol-A (Rubber Ducky) scare (and ban) and the absolute  nonsense of "no safe level" of second-hand smoke promoted by every government and cancer society on the planet.


fernstalbert said...

Did a little superficial googling about nuclear testing in the US. According to the information that is available on the net, there were 100 atmospheric nuclear explosions. These were done at the Nevada Test Site - 65 miles north of Las Vegas. Timeframe 1951 - 1963. Could explain the American obsession with gambling. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Cheers.

JR said...

Heh:) Cheers, Fern.