There are No Safe Levels of Radiation
In the US, physician Janette Sherman MD and epidemiologist Joseph Mangano published an essay shedding light on a 35% spike in infant mortality in northwest cities that occurred after the Fukushima meltdown, and may well be the result of fallout from the stricken plant. The eight cities included in the report are San Jose, Berkeley, San Francisco, Sacramento, Santa Cruz, Portland, Seattle, and Boise, and the time frame of the report included the ten weeks immediately following the disaster. By the end of March state agencies in several states including, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington reported that radiation was detected in the atmosphere, drinking water, and soil. In response, the Federal regulatory agencies and their media subsidiaries were quick to assure us that there really was no reason for concern.
Virtually every report given by the media about the Fukushima fallout suggested or implicitly stated the radiation levels were “harmless” or “miniscule” and there really was no need for alarm. Really? Sufficient evidence exists that radiation levels were much higher than reported, and that is really only the tip of the iceberg. What about the Radioiodine-131 in rainwater sample near San Francisco at 18,100% above federal drinking water standards, or the radiation detected in drinking water in 13 US cities and Cesium-137 in Vermont milk? To help generalize this situation, it may be helpful to understand what happened with Chernobyl, and then compare it to what is happening with Fukushima. The perspective will most certainly make you look at the current situation much differently.
Chernobyl – Responsible for Nearly 1,000,000 Deaths
The book, “Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment,” published by the New York Academy of Sciences was compiled by authors Alexey Yablokov of the Center for Russian Environmental Policy in Moscow, and Vassily Nesterenko and Alexey Nesterenko of the Institute of Radiation Safety, in Minsk, Belarus. Drawing upon extensive data, the authors estimate the number of deaths worldwide due to Chernobyl fallout from 1986 through 2004 was 985,000, a number that has since increased. By contrast, WHO and the IAEA estimated 9,000 deaths and some 200,000 people sickened in 2005. Here is a computer simulationby researchers at Kyushu University, that shows calculated dispersal of radioactive dust from the Fukushima plant beginning at 9 p.m. on March 14, spreading across North America and reaching Europe.
EPA Agrees to Raise “Permissible” Levels of Radiation
As mentioned in an earlier post, the EPA intends to raise the acceptable levels of radiation in the event of a nuclear emergency by amending the PAGs, the policies and guidelines that enforce the EPA’s response to such disaster. This information has not been made public, and the amendment is very likely to happen since no congressional approval is necessary. “This critical debate is taking place entirely behind closed doors because this plan is ‘guidance’ and does not require public notice as a regulation would,” stated PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) Counsel Christine Erickson. PEER sent EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson a letter calling for a more open and broader examination of the proposed radiation guidance. “We all deserve to know why some in the agency want to legitimize exposing the public to radiation at levels vastly higher than what EPA officially considers dangerous.”
According to PEER, “The internal documents show that under the amended PAG a single glass of water could give a lifetime’s permissible exposure. In addition, it would allow long-term cleanup limits thousands of times more lax than anything EPA has ever before accepted. These new limits would cause cancer in as much as every fourth person exposed.” At the same time (without coincidence) the EU has implemented EU Ordinance 297/2011, which raises the maximum levels of radiation for food. Apparently the new EU changes only apply to food imported from Japan, and the justification behind this is that in the event of a nuclear emergency the traditional levels of acceptable radiation should be ignored so as not to cause a food shortage.
Does this make any sense? On one hand we have officials telling us that the radiation emitted (and currently still being emitted) from Fukushima is harmless, yet secret backroom negotiations are taking place to raise the permissible levels of radiation. This of course, like much of the underhanded policies that dance around the dangers of nuclear energy, is a slight-of-hand, rather deceitful tactic to perpetuate the most dangerous and costly industry in the world.Rather than admitting the truth, informing the public and taking measures to help citizens protect themselves, it appears more “feasible” to somehow justify and reinforce increasing levels of radiation pertaining to the air, water, food and our bodies as somehow magically “safe”.
There Are No “Safe” Levels of Radiation
Regardless of what the EPA deems as “safe”, one thing is certain, there are no “safe” levels of radiation. For many years there has been a concerted effort between large scale corporations directly involved with the nuclear power industry and the agencies that regulate its safety to conceal this information, and it appears to continue as officials across the world minimize the danger in regards to the Fukushima fallout; especially since their present claims contradict the previous science conducted by their own agencies. All Levels of Radiation Cause Cancer. In 2005 The National Academy of Sciences concluded that the majority of scientific evidence shows that even very low doses of radiation pose a risk of cancer and other health problems, and it is unlikely that a threshold exists between safe exposure and harmful exposure. From this report it is clear that all levels of radiation, including “low” or “background” levels, are carcinogenic and create a very real potential for a host of adverse health effects.
However, this is not news. This fact has been known by scientists for decades. In 1972, Dr. Abram Petkau found that the free-radical effect from chronic low-level or background radiation exposure is one thousand times greater than from a single large exposure from an atomic blast. This free radical destructive activity, known as the Petkau Effect, can occur from even small amounts of radiation exposure as a result of consuming radioactive particles that have fallen on food and water, which is exactly what is happening in areas of the United States today as a result of Fukushima. These radioactive minerals are then incorporated into the body’s cellular structure, where they can harm cellular DNA, trigger the development of cancer, and cause other serious disease conditions, as well.
Extended Low Dose Radiation Dangerous to Cellular Membranes
The Petkau effect is an early counterexample to linear-effect assumptions usually made about radiation exposure. Petkau had been measuring, in the usual way, the dose that would rupture a particular cell membrane. He found that 3500 rads delivered in 2¼ hours (26 rad/min) would do it. Then, almost by chance, he tried again with much weaker radiation and found that 0.7 rads delivered in 11½ hours (1 millirad/min) would also destroy the membrane. This was counter to the prevailing assumption of a linear relationship between total dose or dose rate and the consequences.
The radiation was of ionizing nature, and produced negative oxygen ions. Those ions were more damaging to the membrane in lower concentrations than higher (a somewhat counterintuitive result in itself) because in the latter, the higher doses canceled each other out instead of interfering with the membrane.Petkau’s findings are a critical part of understanding the nature of what we’re dealing with when it comes to ionizing radioactive this-n-thats, including nuclear weapons testing, the use of depleted uranium as a form of weaponry in the middle east, low level radiation leaks in nuclear power plants, the storage of nuclear waste, and of course nuclear meltdowns.
The Difference Between Internal and External Radiation Exposure
Possibly the most misunderstood fact about radiation exposure is the difference between internal and external exposure. The risk model developed by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), which radiation risk agencies in all nations currently use to regulate public exposures, has been shown to assess only external radiation exposure, with little or no assessment of the long term effects from internal exposure. This was the conclusion of radiation scientists from across the world gathered at the ECRR’s 3rd International Conference held in May 2009 on the Island of Lesvos, Greece. The final statement from the conference urged national governments to abandon the ICRP model and, as a matter of urgency, to employ the 2003 model of the ECRR.
This Declaration was signed by all the delegates (http://www.euradcom.org/2009/lesvosdeclaration.htm).Dr. Helen Caldicott, commented to the New York Times not long after the Fukushima incident, “Six weeks ago, when I first heard about the reactor damage at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan, I knew the prognosis: If any of the containment vessels or fuel pools exploded, it would mean millions of new cases of cancer in the Northern Hemisphere… Still, physicists talk convincingly about ‘permissible doses’ of radiation.
They consistently ignore internal emitters — radioactive elements from nuclear power plants or weapons tests that are ingested or inhaled into the body, giving very high doses to small volumes of cells. They focus instead on generally less harmful external radiation from sources outside the body, whether from isotopes emitted from nuclear power plants, medical X-rays, cosmic radiation or background radiation that is naturally present in our environment. However, doctors know that there is no such thing as a safe dose of radiation, and that radiation is cumulative. The mutations caused in cells by this radiation are generally deleterious. We all carry several hundred genes for disease: cystic fibrosis, diabetes, phenylketonuria, muscular dystrophy. There are now more than 2,600 genetic diseases on record, any one of which may be caused by a radiation-induced mutation, and many of which we’re bound to see more of, because we are artificially increasing background levels of radiation.”
We’ve Been Exposed to Ionizing Radiation All Along
Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto has created a beautiful, undeniably scary time-lapse map of the 2053 nuclear explosions which have taken place between 1945 and 1998, beginning with the Manhattan Project’s “Trinity” test near Los Alamos and concluding with Pakistan’s nuclear tests in May of 1998. This leaves out North Korea’s two alleged nuclear tests in this past decade (the legitimacy of both of which is not 100% clear). Each nation gets a blip and a flashing dot on the map whenever they detonate a nuclear weapon, with a running tally kept on the top and bottom bars of the screen. Hashimoto, who began the project in 2003, says that he created it with the goal of showing”the fear and folly of nuclear weapons.”It starts really slow — if you want to see real action, skip ahead to 1962 or so — but the buildup becomes overwhelming.
So What’s the Next Step? How Do We Deal with this Situation?
Many of you would most likely agree that we cannot rely on the government and its media subsidiaries for accurate and reliable information. We are only hearing general statements which are often over-simplistic, confusing, and often out of context. In fact, the US government has become so embedded with the military and civilian nuclear energy industrial complex, that we cannot expect officials to come clean with the American public in times of a radiation crisis. It’s just the way it is… It will be from our own sleuthing that we will determine what is best for us. We urge you, if you have not already, to continue to pay attention to this situation. Secondly, it is not a time to panic. Our world has been increasingly polluted with radioactive isotopes since the 1940’s, with over 2,000 nuclear detonations (over 1,000 in the US).
This is not a new situation, Fukushima has just brought it to light. Furthermore, it has brought to question the safety of the nuclear industry, and we as citizens must call upon our elected officials to put our country’s nuclear industry under a microscope. We need to insist on the development of green energy sources, and demand from them that they put the health of our citizens and the health of our environment before policy and greed. Last, but not least, never has there been a time more imperative than NOW to adopt a healthy lifestyle and eliminate disease-promoting factors. This is not a sugar-coated suggestion implying that you begin to dabble with what it means to live a healthy lifestyle, rather it is a strong, heartfelt suggestion that you plunge right in!
Michio Kushi, a leading nutrition teacher and philosopher, feels that the future survival of the human race is threatened not so much by radiation and environmental hazards as it is by poor health induced by poor eating habits. He says: “Radiation and pollution can accelerate the accumulation and spread of cancer, but only if the body is already in a weakened state. The reason that some people would be more susceptible to the effects of radiation, for instance, is that the overall condition of their blood and tissues is not healthy as a result of their longtime dietary habits.”