Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2004 00:59:07 -0700
To: "Mrs. Cassini" <email@example.com>
From: "Russell D. Hoffman" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: FIVE ADDENDA TO LETTER TO "MRS. CASSINI"
ADDENDA TO LETTER TO " MRS CASSINI"
July 25th, 2004
Dear Mrs. Cassini,
Here are some addenda to my response to your second attempt at pretending to be reasonable while actually libeling me.
From "The Symbolic Disease of Our Time” (BREAST CANCER);
http://www.scottishbreastcancercampaign.org/morag.html (item #9):
9. RADIATION RISKS
As early as the mid-16th century fatal lung disease was associated with the mining of uranium-bearing ores, and from the 19th century onwards the prevalence of lung diseases was marked in uranium miners in many parts of Europe. In spite of this, there was a huge increase of uranium mining in the 1940s to meet the demands of atomic bomb production.
In one US uranium mining operation about 4,000 lung cancer deaths per annum were recorded in the surrounding communities. In addition to this there were hazards from arsenic, cyanide, cadmium, lead, mercury, selenium and molybdenum used in the processing.
In 1931 the International Commission for Radiological Protection set the level of exposures for workers at 73 rems per annum. By 1996 this had been reduced to 2 rems p.a. (A rem is a measure of radioactivity). (1) For the general population the level was 0.5 rem in 1977 falling to 0.1 in 1990.
The National Radiation Protection Board concedes that there is no basis for the assumption that there is a threshold level below which the risk of the induction of cancer in humans would be zero.
When clusters of childhood and other cancers appeared around nuclear installations, neither of which were there previously, commonsense tells us that there is likely to be a connection, particularly if the substances released are known to cause cancer.
Yet we have a situation where official establishment bodies tell us that the exposures to ionising radiation are not responsible, because they are too low! (For an explanation see ‘the Effects of Low-Level Exposures’ on p25 and p41, unfortunately not generally accepted by established bodies.) The same people are willing to accept the effects of naturally occurring radon gas, and of cosmic radiation
Exposure to radon gas may well induce cancers. Its risk is calculated at 0.2%. Compare this with the 33% risk from other sources. However, in the ground radon decays and is absorbed into the surrounding rock. Its average migration is estimated to be six metres. It follows that rocks or ores, which carry any radioactivity, are best left in the ground.
Human beings have evolved along with these natural sources of radiation, and our bodies have developed mechanisms for repairing the damage they cause, unless the doses received are too large, or there are other factors involved. In addition, radon behaves differently to man-made radio-nucleotides.
Radon and its decay products do not lodge long-term in our bodies, and its radioactivity is relatively short-lived.
Man-made radioactive products have long half-lives. It takes up to tens, hundreds or thousands of years for half their radioactivity to decay. They also have an affinity for certain body sites because of their similarity to some constituents of our body chemistry, e.g. strontium 90 is similar to calcium and lodges in bone; iodine 131 concentrates in the thyroid gland; caesium 137 favours the liver and muscles. (2)
Plutonium, the most dangerous of all, has a half-life of thousands of years. It can be ingested or inhaled, and will lodge in body tissues where it will continue to emit radioactive -particles for the rest of our lives, with the almost certainty of causing cancer or genetic damage.
The effects of radiation will depend on the length of time of exposure, whether it has an additive or synergistic effect with other agents; or whether there has been previous damage from previous exposures or from inherited mutations.
Atmospheric atomic weapons testing took place between 1955 and 1963, when it was stopped as a result of the concern about the disturbingly high levels of strontium 90 being recorded across the world, and rising infant deaths. We have recently had newspaper reports telling of secret testing of the bones and teeth of dead children in the sixties, to determine the level of their exposure to strontium 90.
In the years following the tests, the rise in childhood leukaemia was greatest in the areas of highest rainfall:
Wales had 72% more leukaemias and a total of 313% more childhood cancers than East Anglia.
Both Scotland and Wales, with high rainfall, were also found to have overall increased cancers, and overall, a fourfold increase in rates of childhood leukaemia.
The largest increase ever of breast cancer was subsequently recorded in the women who were lactating during in the 60s. (3)
Radiation is a known cause of cancer.
Breast tissue appears to be particularly sensitive to radiation, possibly because of its vulnerable position on the surface of the body, as are testes, and because it is regularly subject to cell division as a result of cyclical stimulation from circulating oestrogens.
Women who were exposed to x-rays for various diagnostic or therapeutic reasons, e.g. fluoroscopic examination, (continuous filming procedures), during treatment for TB, had a twenty-four times the risk of breast cancer than women who had not undergone the procedure. Studies of A-bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki found that children who were five years and under when exposed to the fallout had ten times the risk of later developing breast cancer than women who were over fifty years at the time. It was also found that breast cancer was more often induced than other forms of cancer, about 2.5 times. (4)(2)
Up until the 1960s, X-rays were used for a variety of pelvic examinations in pregnancy. It was the work of Alice Stewart that exposed the dangers in this. She had to fight hard and long to have her work accepted by the medical establishment. She later said -
“from these studies we have learnt, first, that all childhood cancers have foetal origins, and secondly, that sensitivity to the cancer induction effects of radiation is much higher towards the beginning than the end of the prenatal period. From a recent Japanese survey we have also learnt that the effects of pregnancy X-rays on childhood cancers are exactly matched by the effects of background radiation. Therefore, although late effects of the Chernobyl accident will not be indistinguishable from other (universal) effects of natural radiation and nuclear weapons tests they will certainly include extra cancer deaths and even more insidious damage to the pool of human genes”
A study of 32,00 cases showed that childhood leukaemia was twice as common in children whose mothers had been exposed to x-rays in pregnancy. (New England Journal of Medicine.)
Rosalie Bertell has shown the expected numbers of cancer cases from exposure to ionising radiation. She calculated the risk to the world’s population from radiation-induced cancers. Her figures were based on official radiation risk estimates of the IRCP (International Commission on Radiological Protection), and UNSCAR (the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic radiation.) She came up with the following numbers of cancers induced:
From bomb production and testing: 385 million;
From bomb and plant accidents: 9.7 million;
Routine discharges from power plant: 6.6 million; 5 million of these in nearby populations);
Total fatalities: 175 million.
We can add to these 235 million with genetic damage, causing a range of diseases, and 588 million children born with malformations. (5)
A team of researchers led by Prof Alec Jeffrey looked for genetic fingerprints in the children of Chernobyl. They found that evidence of the damage caused by radiation had been underestimated by a factor of 10,000 by our National Radiation Protection Board. Findings of the Medical Research Council supported Jeffrey’s findings. They found “alarming damage to cells at the smallest dosage imaginable”. (6)
We can add to this the personal testimonies of people like Jean Emery of CORE, writing of her many friends who worked at Sellafield, and who suffered early deaths. She quoted the figure of seven times the national rate of multiple myeloma among workers at Sellafield.
Dr John Goffman calculated that between 66% and 75% of new cases of breast cancer are the results of exposure to radiation, medical x-rays included.
Some studies have found an association between these fields and increased rates of miscarriage, cancers, childhood leukaemia, and an increased incidence of breast and brain tumours in power line workers. Even if not conclusive, such studies indicate the need for further investigation. (7) (8) (9)
The jury may still be out, but considering the extent to which people are exposed to a range of electrical appliances - radios and TVs, computers, printers, copiers, power lines and phone masts, we need more action, and we need to exercise the precautionary principle.
Many have expressed concern about the regular exposure of breasts to X-rays. As a result the dose used has been reduced to the absolute minimum. But as we do not know of a minimum dose of radiation that may be safe, it must be the decision of each woman to weigh up the value of this means of early detection, and the risk that it carries.
Some people, (mostly professionals), are now having second thoughts about Breast Self- Examination, preferring that examinations be left to the professionals.
The reason given is that BSE creates too much concern and investigations of innocent breast lumps, an argument that is equally applied to mammography. On the other hand, there are those who wish women to have the knowledge, and the autonomy and the right to exercise it in the ways that they decide. (10) There is evidence that regular BSE, along with CBE (clinical breast examination) carried out annually by specially trained nurses, can be effective in early detection. It has the added advantage of giving women access to information about the other important aspects of breast cancer detection and prevention. Women deserve more information about the drawbacks of mammography.
In spite of the debate over mammography, 90% of breast lumps are found by women themselves, or their partners. (11)
We should not think that the hazards from radiation belong to a dangerous past. Many of the radio-nucleotides released in the past, persist for thousands of years in contaminated land and water, and we are constantly having reports at home, and from all over the world, of leaky reactors. And there is the ever-present threat of another Chernobyl.
Most of us, at one or more times in our lives, are exposed to X rays or radio-treatments. There is the insoluble problem of nuclear waste, and the low level exposure of workers and communities near nuclear installations. Leaving aside, but only for the moment, the ever present threat from nuclear weapons, the world, and every one of us, is very much at risk from radioactivity.
A recent relaxation of a EU Directive on the regulation of low-level radioactive waste disposal, allowed the waste to be recycled into some domestic products (12). This is reminiscent of the scandal surrounding the use of dioxin-contaminated incinerator ash for roads and pathways, and for making breezeblocks for house building. (13) (14)
(1) Dr Chris Busby : The Ecologist Vol29 No7 1999.
(2) The Ecologist Vol16 No4/5 1986 Bunyard and Searle Report on the Evidence given at the Sizewell Inquiry.
(3) Rachel’s Environment Health Weekly No 443: Radiation causes Breast Cancer, and 418, Preventing Breast Cancer.
(4) Matt Henry: The Ecologist Vol 29 No 7 on Alice Stewart
(5) Rosalie Bertell : No Immediate Danger, Prognosis for a Radioactive Earth 1985, updated 2001 The Women’s Press. See also articles in The Ecologist Vol 29 No7 and Vol 31 No 3.
(6) Published in Nature and quoted by Dr Chris Busby in The Ecologist Vol 28 No2.
(7) Friends of the Earth Scotland Briefing Paper.
(8) Microwave News.
(9) Ecologist Vol 31 No8 Oct 2001 ‘Hold that Call’.
(10) Canadian Breast Cancer Coalition’s response to an article in the Canadian Medical Journal.
(11) One excellent source of such information is a recent paper in the International Journal of Health Services Vol.31 No 3, by Samuel Epstein, Rosalie Bertell and Barbara Seaman, ‘The Dangers and Unreliability of Mammography: Breast Examination is a Safe Effective and Practical Alternative’. See also Cathy Read Preventing Breast Cancer.
(12) European Directive 96/29 Euratom. Allows low-level nuclear waste, including machinery, glass, metal containers, clothing, and concrete, to be recycled into domestic goods.
(13) BBC Newsnight Programme Sept 2001.
(14) Communities Against Toxins
Dr. Rosalie Bertell, distinquished epidemiologist, on Permissable Dose Standards:
Comments on the History of Permissable Dose Standards
by Dr. Rosalie Bertell,
June 10, 2000
In October 1945, after the US Occupation Force had taken over Japan, it was officially announced that there would be no more deaths at Hiroshima and Nagasaki due to the atomic bombs. Under the Occupation Force direction, no Japanese physicians or scientists were allowed to study the atomic bomb survivors, and no reporting about the survivors was allowed until the 1951 treaty was drawn up and signed in Tokyo.
In spite of these prohibitions and difficult circumstances, a Japanese Haematologist discovered the increase in leukemia among the survivors. It began within a year of the bombing. He reported this at a professional meeting and was roundly denounced by the US researchers in Hiroshima and Atomic Bomb Casualty Commissiion (now called the Radiation Effects Research Foundation).
The physician was sure he was right, and he persuaded a medical student to take two years off from his studies and document all of the atomic bomb victims with leukemia. This was a difficult job since they were being treated at many different hospitals. The student obtained blood slides for each patient and also verified where they were when the bombs were dropped. After two years of study, it was about five years after the boming at that time, the results of this study were released. The US researchers could no longer deny the fact, and they turned around and claimed credit for the research.
When the atomic bomb studies were actually set up, using persons identified in the1950 Japanese census, they omitted counting these early, significantly increased number of cases. The Atomic bomb studies were not actually published with dose information until after the1965 doses were devised by John Auxier of Oak Ridge Labs. These doses were, in 1980, denounced as wrong, and a new set of doses constructed in 1986. Although the justification for the new doses was improvement of the science, the journal Science gave a wonderful description of John Auxier's inability to produce the worksheets which showed the derivation of the dose estimates he had assigned. It seems that he lost these work sheets accidently to a shredder when he moved offices. This lead to the unanimous recommendation to lower permissible doses of radiation by the ICRP in 1990.
The US has still not lowered the permissible doses, and it also claims wrongly that its radiation protection standards, set in 1952, were based on Atomic bomb studies. This is, of couse absurd. Most people in the nuclear industry equate "legal" with "safe", and if you try to explain that even within permissible levels of exposure there is significant risk of radiation damage, they think you are "emotional" and "unscientific".
The US appears to have used its 1952 estimates of permissible doses for nuclear workers for the DU exposure in the Gulf War.
More about this history can be found in my book: "No Immediate Danger: Prognosis for a Radioactive Earth". The Women's Press, London UK, 1985. There are still copies around in libraries, but it was taken off of seller's shelves in 1995 because I hope to update it. I have copies available for $12.50 US if anyone would like one.
Dr. Rosalie Bertell
Dr. John W. Gofman: American hero of the Cold War (clipped from a previous correspondence written by YH&OS):
Dr. John W. Gofman, respected (and feared) throughout the nuclear industry:
"My estimate is for the kind of plutonium that you get from the nuclear fuel cycle, that in nonsmokers of cigarettes, about a 400 millionth of a pound will guarantee human lung cancer, or stated another way, a pound of plutonium has enough in it, if finely divided and put into human lungs to cause 400 million human lung cancers and my estimate is that the cigarette smokers in the population, because of the damage to part of their clearance mechanism, their lungs might be 100 times more sensitive to the effects of plutonium.
"If the fuel cycle does initiate the step of reprocessing to get back this plutonium -- we have done it experimentally -- and there was a period for a while in New York were a company did do reprocessing of commercial fuel; that is closed down now -- we will be handling thousands and thousands of pounds of plutonium in the fuel cycle, and that is where the hazard comes up, because of its enormous lung cancer potential.
"That's not the only effect of plutonium. If it gets in the biosphere on the ground and into water, some of the plutonium is fairly insoluble, and not easily taken up by plants or by man through eating it. As I mentioned the hazard through inhalation is enormous, but the recent works on plutonium indicate it's even a lot more of concern by ingestion, that is eating, than was thought before because plutonium has the notorious capability of interacting to form very, very tight chemical complexes with certain molecules, organic molecules, that occur in nature, and these things can facilitate the uptake of plutonium into plants and, hence, into man. And rather recently, there has been scientific evidence that shows that all the estimates of the low hazards of any plutonium -- that has nothing to do with the very high hazard of breathing it -- that the low hazards estimated about eating it are wrong, and wrong by about 1000 times, because plutonium in the presence of for example drinking water that has been treated with chlorination, which is the case in the United States [where chlorination is] very widespread, gets converted from the +3 or +4 oxidation, or what we call valence state to +6 and the +6 state is very much more readily absorbed than the +4.
"I have worked with +4 and +6 plutonium in the laboratory myself, and I know that the behavior of the plutonium in the +6 state is very very similar to that of uranium, in fact, I developed and patented a process for separating plutonium based upon this. And so this grave error in the underestimates of a hazard from ingestion may even make the eating of plutonium as bad as breathing."
Dr. John W. Gofman, in court, 1979 (no one's eaten it or drunk it or breathed it enough to know if he's wrong since then).
Dr. Gofman isolated the first working quantities of plutonium for the Manhattan Project in the 1940's.
He is still working. I have interviewed him about half a dozen times, for a total of several hours.
See www.ratical.org .
About the ICRP (also clipped from the same previous correspondence by YH&OS):
"These are the folks [The International Committee on Radiological Protection] that do not consider direct experience with Chernobyl or Hiroshima survivors as relevant" according to Dr. Rosalie Bertell, The Session on Chernobyl: Environmental Heath and Human Rights Implications, Vienna Austria, 12 -15 April, 1996, Permanent People's Tribunal of the International Medical Commission on Chernobyl. The Tribunal report stated, "Because of the nuclear secrecy, this association was established as, and has continued to be, self-appointed and self-perpetuating in membership. It has always claimed to assess both the hazards and the benefits of radiation use, making what is believed to be rational trade-offs of risks for benefits. Membership in ICRP has consisted of users of radiation, about 50% physicists, and 15% radiologists, with medical administrators making up about 25% and 10% from a scattering of other disciplines. The result of ICRP deliberations and recommendations have been radiation protection standards used in most countries for occupational and public health exposures to radiation which they found acceptable to accommodate the new technology (and atmospheric weapons testing). Their recommendations were widely accepted by national regulatory bodies, and generally implemented internationally. The findings of the U. S. investigations of the atomic bomb victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the U.K. studies of patients who received high therapeutic doses of radiation for a spinal disease, have been the foundational studies which justified ICRP recommendations. All other radiation research must "harmonize" with these studies in order to be admitted into the regulatory base. Both of these examples involve high doses of radiation delivered in a short time. Limited biological endpoints were studied, primarily fatal cancers, and extrapolation of these findings to exposures to low doses extended over long periods of time such as would be experienced by workers and the public was attempted. Expertise in public or occupational health has not been represented on the main committee of ICRP, which makes all decisions. Direct medical experience with the atomic bomb victims, Chernobyl, or other radiation victims is not recognized as relevant by the ICRP." (From Item IV: Cover-up by the International Community.)
This report can be obtained from:
International Medical Commission on Chernobyl
International Institute for Concern for Public Health
710-264 Queens Quay West
Toronto, ON Canada M5J 1B5
(When requesting a copy, folks should include $5 or $10. It's about 25 pages.)
"If all members of ICRP and NCRP resigned who worked for the nuclear industry or received research funding from it, both would be ghost organizations with very few if any members."
-- The late Dr. Karl Z. Morgan, known as the "father of Health Physics", former director of health physics at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in sworn testimony to the Department of Energy, 1989 (printed in 1990).
With the help of a friend, the following section (to the ***** asterisks ***** ) is based on, and the quotes are from: The Woman Who Knew Too Much: Alice Stewart and the Secrets of Radiation, Gayle Greene (forward by [...] Dr. Helen Caldicott), pages 122- 125, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1999. Some of the quotes within this section are from interviews done specifically for the book. Others reference other primary sources such as publications in scientific journals or interviews published elsewhere. The author of "the Woman Who Knew Too Much" has meticulously footnoted these sources.
"We had, all of us, a misconception in that we adhered universally to the so-called threshold hypothesis, meaning that if a dose was low enough, cell repair would take place as fast as the damage would accrue. In other words we believed there was a safe level of radiation. Now along comes [Dr.] Alice [Stewart] who says that "damage per unit dose" is greater at ... low levels." -- Dr. Karl Z. Morgan.
"He announced in the September 1978 issue of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists that he thought the current radiation risk had been underestimated by a factor of ten. Since he was chairman of the International Commission on Radiation Protection, the commission that sets the standards, and since he had, as he says, "for a quarter of a century supported rapid expansion of the nuclear industry" this caused quite a stir. "When we first began to assert this, many people thought we were crazy."
Alice herself was shaken by her findings. "Not even I had thought the effects of such a small dose would be as great as this. The Oxford survey had upset the medical profession, but I now saw that these finding would upset a more formidable set of authorities. It came to me all of a sudden that what we were going to say would shock the world.""
She basically came out with studies which showed that the Hanford workers were being killed. The "Nuclear Mafia" (as I call them) picked on Dr. Stewart and anyone who agreed with her, and made fun of them, and everyone who backed her up lost their funding. Because what they began to find, which Dr. Morgan published in 1977 in Health Physics, a peer-reviewed journal he edited at the time, was devastating for the industry.
Dr. Stewart, Dr. Mancuso (University of Pittsburgh; a world-renowned epidemiologist), and Dr. George Kneale (a brilliant statistician) had enough evidence from their Hanford studies to publish the results. Dr. Stewart: "We were finding that there was a six or seven percent increased cancer effect. It wasn't much of an effect, but the shock was that there was any effect at all, since the cancers were occurring at radiation exposure levels well below the official limit of 5 Rads per year . It meant that the current standards for nuclear safety might be as much as 25 times too high."
But even a 10-fold decrease in permissible exposure levels would be a huge problem for the industry: "Were we to reduce the maximum permissible exposure by a factor of 10, I seriously doubt that many of our present nuclear power plants would find it feasible to continue in operation." -- Dr. Karl Z. Morgan.
Dr. Stewart realized it first. Her Oxford study of childhood cancers was both mind-numbing and ground-breaking in that it showed that if you irradiate pregnant woman, the consequences to their offspring are terrible. You'll have cancers and leukemias at a high rate. Because of her, when woman go in for an x-ray, they are asked if they are pregnant.
"For years and years our pre-natal study has been the only evidence that there was anything dangerous with low-dose radiation. But now at Hanford we were turning up further evidence. At Hanford we were looking at people being exposed day in and day out to doses only a fraction higher than background radiation and we were finding a cancer effect. We were finding an effect at levels comparable to those absorbed by the general public. This meant there was a serious health hazard, not only to workers in the atomic energy industry, but to the general public as well." [This was all going on in the 70's.]
***** end of excerpts from "The Woman Who Knew Too Much" *****
From "RADBULL", 12/14/03, VOL 11.313, Item 29: Testimony of Leuren Moret:
12/14/03 **** RADIATION BULLETIN(RADBULL) **** VOL 11.313
RADBULL IS PRODUCED BY THE ABALONE ALLIANCE CLEARINGHOUSE
29 [DU-WATCH] Alpha Emitters & Health
Date: Sun, 14 Dec 2003 13:58:12 -0600 (CST)
Leuren Moret's answer to Question 5 of the Japanese tribunal of inquiry on
war crimes in Afghanistan. Graphics lost, a map could not be attached. The
set should be published on
5. Depleted uranium is said to have low level radiation as compared to the
nuclear weapons. It is also pointed out that gamma rays caused major damage
in the radiation from the atomic bomb while the alpha rays cause the damage
in the depleted uranium.
What is the difference in the damage caused by alpha rays as compared with
those of gamma rays?
Faulty A-Bomb Studies Poor Risk Model
Gamma rays have been called the major cause of damage from nuclear weapons,
but other effects (internal contamination, internal dose to individual
cells, diseases other than cancer etc.) were ignored or not considered in
official A-bomb studies. Criticism of the A-bomb studies has not been
limited to Dr. Alice Stewart1 who pointed out that the first five years (and
more) of Hiroshima and Nagasaki data was not included in the official
studies. A recent European Parliament report, ECRR 2003 Recommendations of
the European Committee on Radiation Risk2, by the European Committee on
Radiation Risk (ECRR) reports that A-bomb studies underestimate the
radiation risk by more than 1000 times and failed to consider internal
exposure and diseases other than cancer [see Executive Summary quote
Nuclear Weapons vs. DU Weapons: An alpha particle is an alpha particle is
an alpha particle
It is important to understand that nuclear weapons work from the outside in
(flash gamma exposure and later internal exposure from fallout), and
depleted uranium (DU) weapons work from the inside out (low level
radioactivity outside the body but very high internal exposure due to the
localized effect). Nuclear weapons and DU both release energy from the
nucleus (nuclear energy) but in different ways. Nuclear bombs involve a
process that destabilizes the atoms by bombarding the nuclei with neutrons.
The atoms fragment, releasing the energy in the nucleus instantaneously, in
a cascade (not a chain reaction). When the atoms tear apart, they fragment
into radioactive isotopes forming man-made isotopes of elements on the
periodic chart, many of which do not occur in nature. The energy that is
released from the nucleus is released as alpha, beta, gamma. These
particles and rays have a set of energies3 which are characteristic of the
In the case of natural (the uranium isotopes in DU) and man-made radioactive
decay, the rate of decay determines the half-life of the isotope. The
energy that is released from the nucleus is also alpha, beta, and gamma
rays, with their own discrete energies characteristic of the isotope. DU
can be considered a radiological weapon4, because it releases the energy in
the nucleus by natural radiological decay. And it can be considered a
nuclear weapon because the energy is derived from the nucleus of the atom.
The alpha particle has certain energies that are unique to a particular
isotope. Beta particles have a spread of energies from 0 to the maximum
(Fermi-Durac distribution), the maximum is given as the number that
characterizes the beta spread. Gamma rays have a discrete set of energies
which identify that isotope.
Fission Products and Natural Decay Products
Nuclear bombs release nuclear energy in a fission process which is almost
instantaneous. Nuclear reactors release energy in a slow or controlled
fission process. The fission process for nuclear bombs and nuclear reactors
release the same fission products in the same proportions but at different
rates. DU releases energy by natural decay, which is very slow because of
the long half-life of Uranium-238 (4.5 billion years). However, the three
uranium isotopes that make up DU transform into other radioactive isotopes2
in four steps before they become lead. The daughter products are much more
radioactive than Uranium-238, which means that as DU transforms, the
specific radioactivity of the daughter products increases by millions of
times. It increases the internal exposure by magnitudes, and this happens
in four transformations for a single atom before it is no longer
radioactive. The alpha particle dose to a single cell from Uranium-238 is
50 times the annual dose limit. Cancer begins with a single alpha particle,
beta, or gamma ray.
In 1950 THE EFFECTS OF ATOMIC WEAPONS (reprinted in 1977 as the U.S. Army
manual on THE EFFECTS OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS5) recognized the danger of alpha
particles from uranium and plutonium. The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima
and Nagasaki (Fat Man and Little Boy) contained large amounts of
depleted uranium as tamping or reflector material. The diameter of Fat
Man was five feet, nearly all of it was depleted uranium:
9.40 The uranium and plutonium which may have escaped fission in the
nuclear weapon represent a further possible source of residual nuclear
9.41 The alpha particles from uranium and plutonium are completely
absorbed in an inch or two of air. indicates that uranium and plutonium
deposited on the earth do not represent a serious external hazard.
9.42 Although there is negligible danger from uranium and plutonium outside
the body, it is possible for dangerous amounts of these elements to enter
the body through the lungs, the digestive system, or breaks in the skin.
Plutonium, for example, tends to concentrate in bone and lungs, where the
prolonged action of the alpha particles can cause serious harm. 5
Evolution of Health Protection Standards Using a blender to hide local
As research over the years revealed the hazard of ionizing radiation, the
evolution of health protection standards for nuclear workers became
incrementally more conservative6 (See chart below). The ECRR report and
others7 argue convincingly that there is no safe limit (threshold) for
exposure to radiation. Many studies8,9on exposure to low level radiation
around nuclear power plants document the effects. It is clear from these
and other studies2 that the impact of chronic exposure to low level
radiation is greater than what would be expected based on the risk model
from A-Bomb studies. Low level radiation has an effect, per unit of
radiation, that is greater than at higher dose rates. This is called the
supralinear effect2 (see p. 79). From studies on Chernobyl victims,
ultra-low level exposures are also a greater risk than previously thought2.
In order to hide the risk of the local exposure to the individual cell,
government scientists and the pro-nuclear lobby working on dose risk and
dose response (protecting the nuclear weapons and nuclear power programs),
simply averaged the local exposure over the whole body. Even though
Uranium-238 may have a long half-life and external low level radiation,
inhaling billions of particles of DU dust (in a single day on or off the
battlefield10), which then distributes throughout the body, is a horrific
local dose. One gram of depleted uranium releases more than 12,000 alpha
particles per second. The radiation slowly kills the cells that make life
possible and Gulf War Syndrome, a complex of diseases, slowly kills the
soldier. The low level and ultra-low level risk of ionizing radiation
exposure is especially pertinent to the DU issue2,9.
Comparing radiation quality
This chart illustrates the Linear Energy Transfer (LET) of ionising
radiation and helps to explain the effect that different internal exposures
with different radiation quality, alpha, beta and gamma, have on the cell.
The release of energy along the path travelled by the particle or ray,
causes ionisation of the tissue - creating free radicals11 and other
ionisation products. The dose to the individual cell is the critical
concern in radiation exposure. Therefore the radiation quality - or the
amount of energy and the pathlength of the particle or ray - determines the
dose (energy per gram which equals ergs). Alpha particles have the shortest
pathlength, 30-40 microns or 1-2 cells. A Uranium-238 atom releases an
alpha particle with an energy of 4.039 MeV, and a Plutonium-239 has an alpha
energy of 5.244 MeV. The difference is little when one considers that the
molecules within the cell have a binding energy of less than 10eV. Beta
particles have a less harmful effect because they travel a longer distance,
and have a lower LET. Thorium-234, the daughter product of Uranium-238 is a
beta emitter with a beta energy of 0.270 MeV, which means it has a much
lower LET than Uranium-238. Uranium-238, Plutonium-239 and Thorium-234 are
also gamma emitters. Gamma rays have a spectrum of energies and a much
longer path of travel. The gamma ray for Uranium-238 has an energy of
0.048MeV. The LET for gammas is much lower than for alpha or beta
particles. Alpha particles have such a high energy density that it is
evident that cells may not repair themselves. There are repair mechanisms
for beta particle and gamma ray damage to be repaired by the cell. But the
cell may not repair itself properly, i.e after repair it may not be the same
as it was before the damage occurred.
ECRR: Executive Summary
The European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR) concludes:
"The present cancer epidemic is a consequence of exposure to global
atmospheric weapons fallout in the periods 1959-1963 and that more recent
releases of radioisotopes to the environment from the operation of nuclear
fuel cycle will result in significant increases in cancer and other types of
"Using both the ECRR's new model and that of the International Committee for
Radiation Protection (ICRP), the committee calculates the total number of
deaths resulting from the nuclear project since 1945. The ICRP calculation,
based on figures for doses to populations up to 1989 given by the United
Nations, results in 1,174,600 deaths from cancer. The ECRR model predicts
61,600,000 deaths from cancer, 1,600,000 infant deaths and 1,900,000 fetal
deaths. In addition the ECRR predicts a 10% loss of life quality integrated
over all diseases and conditions in those who were exposed over the period
of global weapons fallout." 2 (p. 182-183)
Nuclear Weapons Fallout
The radiation fallout map from Under The Cloud: The Decades of Nuclear
Testing12 illustrates the effects of 1200
nuclear weapons tests conducted at the Nevada Test Site. The U.S.
Government admitted in November, 2002, that every person living in the
United States between 1958 and 1963 was exposed to fallout from nuclear
weapons testing. The United States has an epidemic of radiation related
diseases: cancer, heart disease, autism, diabetes, Parkinsons Disease, Lou
Gehrigs (ALS), asthma, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, hypothyroidism in newborns,
obesity, and learning disabilities. One out of 12 children in the United
States is disabled. 13
Nuclear Power and Chronic Low Level Radiation Exposure
The breast cancer map from The Enemy Within: The High Cost of Living Near
Nuclear Reactors-Breast Cancer, AIDS, Low Birthweights, and Other Radiation
Induced Immune Deficiency Effects16 shows the effects of chronic exposure to
low level radiation. It represents two thirds of all deaths from breast
cancer between 1985-1989 by county as reported by the U.S. Govt. Centers for
Disease Control (CDC). The United States has 110 nuclear power plants,
approximately 103 are now operating. The majority of these plants are on
the East Coast where the greatest population density has the greatest energy
needs. The breast cancer areas in the Western United States are correlated
with nuclear weapons facilities and/or nuclear power plants.
Accumulated Environmental Radiation
The ECRR report2 considers natural background radiation levels to be
pre-1905, before radiation was introduced by man into the environment.
Since then, and particularly after World War II, accumulated radiation has
incrementally increased the radiation burden to the global community.
Nuclear weapons testing, nuclear power plants, and radiation accidents like
Three Mile Island and Chenobyl are steadily increasing the radiation
contamination of the global environment. We cannot escape exposure because
we breathe the air, drink the water and eat food from contaminated soils.
A good example of the accumulated effect is in the San Francisco Bay Area,
where there are unexplained high breast cancer rates in Marin County and the
Marina District of San Francisco. Large amounts of funding for studies by
the University of California and the Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab on Marin
County, so far have not produced an answer. Recently I was surprised to
read an article in the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity19 on a study
conducted by the Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab which has been monitoring
Cesium-137 (a man-made fission product) on sediments in San Francisco Bay.
When I investigated further, I discovered that the Sierra Nevada Mountains
on the eastern edge of California, have an accumulation of residual fission
product radiation from nuclear weapons testing at the Nevada Test Site (the
source of radiation on the fallout map), Chernobyl, and the Rancho Seco
nuclear power plant which was shut down in 1989. The sediments and
radiation washing out of the Sierras travel past the shorelines of Marin
County and the Marina District. The Irish Seacoast Effect described by
Dr. Chris Busby18 reports on cancer clusters in children and adults caused
by the radiation dumped into the Irish Sea from the Sellafield Nuclear
Reprocessing Plant. This effect is also reported around other nuclear power
facilities where low level radiation is washing up on the coastlines of
Ireland and Wales. This could explain the high breast cancer rates in the
Marina District and Marin County in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is
certainly ironic that the University of California, called the University
that poisoned the world [with radiation] and the nuclear weapons lab they
manage, now have control of studies on breast cancer in the Bay Area.
Another example of rewarding failure they get paid to make the mess and
then get paid to clean it up.
More Releases to the Environment:
If you think Cancer is a problem now, wait until more depleted uranium is
released into the world. 20
The 1991 introduction of depleted uranium weapons in Iraq, the radioactive
trash from the nuclear project, broke a 46 year taboo. These radioactive
weapons, the Trojan Horse of Nuclear War, continued to be used over the
past decade and are still being used today. A study by Dr. A. Alaboudi
reports on the radiation effects on camels in contaminated areas of the
southern Sahara where the French conducted nuclear tests and camels living
in DU contaminated areas of southern Iraq21. People, camels and other
animals in both areas are reported to have cancer and radiation related
diseases. There are some differences which would be expected from the
different radiation sources fission products from nuclear testing and
decay products from DU.
The long-term effects from over a decade of DU exposure are emerging in
southern Iraq. They are devastating. However, the increased amount of
radioactive material used in Afghanistan (3 times greater than in Iraq in
1991) and Iraq in 2003 (6-10 times greater than 1991) will travel throughout
a larger area and affect many more people. The impact on future generations
is unknown but will also prove to be devastating. Countries within a
thousand miles of Iraq will be affected20. [The radii of the circles
approximate a distance of 1000 miles.]
In the Fall of 2003, it was announced in the news that India is about to
suffer a major AIDS epidemic. Is this related to the contamination of
Afghanistan and Iraq with DU, and the fact that India is downwind? Low
level radiation is linked to immune system damage17,18,19 and would impact
the ability of exposed populations to fight infectious diseases.
In the areas where the two circles overlap for Afghanistan and Iraq, the
environment and populations living in those areas are at increased risk,
from increased DU exposure. Iran, Georgia and the Caspian region lie
within that region. So do the oil deposits for the Middle East and oil rich
Health of the Environment
We cannot escape the radiation madness, we are all downwinders. The health
of the environment connects all species. 22
The committee lists its recommendations. The total maximum permissible
dose to members of the public arising from all human practices should not be
more than 0.1mSv, with a value of 5mSv for nuclear workers. This would
severely curtail the operation of nuclear power stations and reprocessing
plants, and this reflects the committees belief that nuclear power is a
costly way of producing energy when human health deficits are included in
the overall assessment. All new practices must be justified in such a way
that the rights of all individuals are considered. Radiation exposures must
be kept as low as reasonably achievable using best available technology.
Finally, the environmental consequences of radioactive discharges must be
assessed in relation to the total environment, including both direct and
indirect effects on all living systems. 2
1G. Greene, The Woman Who Knew Too Much, Univ. Michigan Press (1999) .
2ECRR 2003 Recommendations of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, by
European Committee on Radiation Risk, Regulators Edition: Brussels 2003.
3 Handbook of Chemistry and Physics has tables of isotopes with the energy
levels of particles and rays.
4See Gsponer in Question 12.
5THE EFFECTS OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS, Dept. of the Army Pamphlet No. 50-3,
Headquarters, Dept. of the Army (March 1977).
6Closing the Circle on the Splitting of the Atom, U.S. Dept. of Energy
Office of Environmental Management DOE/EM-0266, January 1996. [Chart p. 38]
7R. Graeub, The Petkau Effect: Nuclear Radiation, People and Trees Four Wall
Eight Windows (1992) ISBN: 0941423727
8Radiation and Public Health Project (this group of independent scientists
have authored ten books on Low Level Radiation.
9C. Busby Wings of Death Green Audit Books, Aberystwyth (1995).
10L. Moret Letter from Leuren Moret to Congressman McDermott with
Declassified memo to Gen. L.R. Groves 1943 a blueprint for DU 21feb03,
11B. Halliwell, M.C. Gutteridge Free Radicals in Biology and Medicine Oxford
(2001) 3rd Edition.
12 R. L. Miller Under The Cloud: The Decades of Nuclear Testing (1991).
13D.V.Conn U.S. Counts one in 12 children disabled Washington Post 7/6/02.
14 Linking Legacies: Connecting the Cold War Nuclear Weapons Production
Processes To Their Environmental Consequences, U.S. Dept. of Energy Office
of Environmental Management, DOE/EM-0319, January 1997.
15 Estimating The Cold War Mortgage- The 1995 Baseline Environmental
Management Report Executive Summary March 1995, U.S. Dept. of Energy Office
of Environmental Management, DOE/EM-0232, March 1995.
16 J. Gould The Enemy Within: The High Cost of Living Near Nuclear
Reactors-Breast Cancer, AIDS, Low Birthweights, and Other Radiation Induced
Immune Deficiency Effects8Four Walls Eight Windows 1996.
17J. Mangano Low Level Radiation and Immune System Damage Lewis Pub. NY
18The Low Level Radiation Campaign website is: http://www.llrc.org
19 A.M.Volpe, B.B. Bandong B.K. Esser, G.M. Bianchini, Radiocesium in North
San Francisco Bay and Baja California coastal surface waters Journal of
Environmental Radioactivity Jan 2002.
20If you think Cancer is a problem now, wait until more depleted uranium is
released into the world. Busby, Sherman, Moret May 2003, Toronto Peace
Center website: http://www.torontoforpeace.org/uranium-risks.html
21Comparison of Effects on Animals and Environment From Ionizing Radiation
>From Above-Ground Weapons
Testing in Algeria With DU Use in Iraq by A. Alaboudi, manuscript October
22 Quote by Dr. Alonso Aguirre at the International Seminar Health of the
Environment: Healthy Ecosystems, Healthy Biodiversity and Healthy People
Organized by Dr. Alexey Yablokov and Dr. Vladimir Zakharov, Center for
Russian Environmental Policy, at the White Oak Plantation June 8-12, 2003.
The above items accompany a letter from Russell D. Hoffman to
"Mrs. Cassini (Kate Clark)" <email@example.com>, July 25th, 2004