Monday, August 04, 2008

Blog Discussions on Radiation Health Effects

Coincidentally, nearly a week after I posted an analogy of the linear no-threshold radiation theory, a debate sparked up at the Climate Progress and Gristmill blogs on the health effects of radiation (it's the same post at both blogs but interesting and different comments at each site). The anti-nuclear side holds to the claim that any radiation is bad for you, whereas the pro-nuclear side says low doses of radiation are not harmful and could in fact be beneficial. Check out the discussions and also check out Charles Barton over at Nuclear Green who's been at the forefront of the debate.

13 comments:

Charles Barton said...

Joe censored my comments, and the climates of others on Climate Progress I have. however posted many of my censored comments on Nuclear Green. In my debate with Joe, which he has censored, I contain that even if on assumes the the LTH. studies of nuclear workers health reveal that they have significantly longer life expectancies, than members of the general population. Thus direct and indirect health benefits of being a nuclear worker far outweigh the health effect of low level radiation. Joe in effect acknowledges this, but still thinks that the dangers to workers is such that no new nuks should be built.

Joe introduced an irrational argument demanding to know how I would feel if a member of my family were exposed to low level radiation. This is an appeal to emotion, which confirmed my initial view, that Joe's whole line of argument was based on his own anti-nuclear hysteria. I pointed out that my 96 year old father, a retired nuclear chemist, had experienced low level radiation exposure with no adverse consequences. I also pointed out that I along with many other people had been contaminated by trace levels of radioactive materials, in the course of medical testing. What do you want to bet that Joe Romm has had such testing to? Romm deleted my comment.

This morning I posted on Nuclear Green a critic of a health study of nuclear workers. I pointed out that the study acknowledged that the data lacked crucial date which was required to determine if toxic materials or radiation was the predominate cause of workers health problems.

It never hurts to critique sources used in a debate.

Anonymous said...

"even if on assumes the the LTH. studies of nuclear workers health reveal that they have significantly longer life expectancies, than members of the general population. Thus direct and indirect health benefits of being a nuclear worker far outweigh the health effect of low level radiation."

That's not necessarily true. Google "healthy worker effect"

Charles Barton said...

We ought not to assume that the 1942 to 1945 hires in either Oak Ridge or Hanford were "health workers". Because many of the healthy workers were drafted during World War II. Draft physicals left less healthy men, women and older workers to fill in the work force. Consider the research finding that "male workers and those hired before 1948 died of multiple myeloma at about twice the rate of women and workers hired after 1948 . . ." Does this mean that the male workers hired before 1948 were less healthy, or did improvements in safety technology and practices lead to a decline of multiple myeloma among the later hired male worker population at Hanford?

Healthy workers cannot be automatically assumed. Superior health care can contribute to a significantly longer life span. Nuclear workers typically had good insurance plans.

jim Muckerheide said...

The HWE confounder is eliminated by comparing exposed vs. non-exposed workers. The LNT-committed researchers avoid that because it doesn't give them the fraudulent HWE "out" to explain away their "inconvenient data."

This occurred in the US nuclear power worker study (done as part of the IARC "15-country" study). It was done by a researcher who was known to manipulate data to produce straight lines. (He was also a world-expert in 1988 who concluded that the HWE is not significant effect for cancer.)

In a question in a meeting at the Nat Acad of Sciences, and another at Chalk River Labs (with the low-dose radiation researchers), participants reported that he said, in one: "They want straight lines." and at the other: "They prefer straight lines." This was about his "fixing" of data and results in the study of Canadian women with TB that had fluoroscopy (to monitor lung-collapse therapy). The data had clear non-linear breast cancer results, reduced by 30% at 15 to 25 rad.

This was known to NEI when he was hired to do the US nuclear power worker study, and he was not required/expected to compare the exposed workers with non-exposed workers. This is (could have been) done by comparing exposed workers to workers who wore badges with a record of no exposures, to unbadged workers who did not have access to radiation areas, and to workers in non-nuclear plants, etc.

10ksnooker said...

Having worn a radiation badge for years, in an area that had radiation that we controlled, I can say it has no effect. A few times we were ordered to stay out, as exposure exceeded the limits established per month ... But I know of no one who had any issues with the exposure.

It was a Rice University physics lab, we were using various shielded isotopes for calibration and internal designed 'particle guns' to generate beams and secondary emmissions.

Warren Heath said...

Joe Romm needs to go out into the real world, like millions of North Americans must do every day. Working in Coal mines, breathing black sooty air, covered in black coal dust every day, working in fields of Arsenic, working deep in the Earth, breathing thick diesel exhaust smoke, ammonia fumes, silica dust, in Mills and Chemical plants, with Cyanide and Sulphuric Acid fumes, red hot metal slag, extreme temperatures, deafening sound, working around high voltage electricity, in sewage drainage areas, in slaughterhouses, gross meat packing plants, in fierce ocean storms in small fishing boats, are just a few examples. Two weeks of that, with a prospect of a 20-40 yrs more to go, and Joe Romm would give his right arm to be able to work in a Nuclear Power plant.

Joe Thank You said...

Asking how one would feel if his/her family members were exposed to low level radiation is indeed an irrational argument. An appeal to emotion is a powerful weapon in every debate; however, it is a cheap persuasion trick and does not belong in a technical argument such as this.

This reminds me of an anti-nuke Greenpeace ad I saw on Youtube a while back. The commercial was a home-video-style first person view of a parent filming their young children enjoying a nice day on the beach. Then, the increasingly loud shriek of an encroaching airliner overwhelmed the children who began crying. The camera then pans to show the airliner's imminent impact with a containment building. The scren then goes blank and silent, then slowly displays some message like "Do we really need to risk the lives of our families with more nuclear power plants?"

What a bunch of sensationalist garbage. Not only do they expoit crying children, but also today's relevant fear of terrorists hijacking planes. All the while, they ignore the fact that nuclear power plants (especially new designs) are not prime targets for terrorists. It makes me sad to be human when these emotional ploys are more effective at forming a public opinion than cold hard science.

Kirk Sorensen said...

Greenpeace has always been about cheap emotional arguments. Only fools would consult them in the development of future energy sources. It sickens me when they are even quoted with relation to energy issues.

Anonymous said...

everyone uses kids in ads. even NEI. check out the happy family frolicking in green fields on the home page right now. www.nei.org.

I guess it's only "exploiting" kids in ads if you disagree with the position espoused by the sponsor?

Anonymous said...

"Healthy workers cannot be automatically assumed."

That's correct. But it's also not appropriate to assume there's no such effect, as Mr. Barton did when he posted this:

"even if on assumes the the LTH. studies of nuclear workers health reveal that they have significantly longer life expectancies, than members of the general population. Thus direct and indirect health benefits of being a nuclear worker far outweigh the health effect of low level radiation."

That's a textbook fallacy covered in first-year college logic courses.

Charles Barton said...

Hay anonymous, I have in effect withdrawn the argument on life span. I now simply note that the health effect nuclear worker radiation exposure at worst to be small. That evidence suggests that the effect might be confined to workers who are exposed at over 55, and that altering nuclear safety practices may make any radiation related health problem disappear. I also not that nuclear worker health research is unable to control for all independent variables, for example exposure to toxic substances. Thus the scientific validity of the research is open to question. However, in questions regarding human health it is better to err on the side of caution, therefore safety issues ought to be given high priority in nuclear research, best safety practices should be implemented in nuclear facilities, and mew safety technology once identified ought to be implemented by nuclear facilities. The NRC ought to follow up with individual licensees to insure that the highest possible safety standards are observed.

In addition, The NRC ought also to encourage safety monitoring of nuclear facilities by individual workers, Unions, and by citizens groups.

Kirk Sorensen said...

"everyone uses kids in ads. even NEI. check out the happy family frolicking in green fields on the home page right now. www.nei.org.

I guess it's only "exploiting" kids in ads if you disagree with the position espoused by the sponsor?"

I'll be happy to volunteer my happy family and my happy kids for any NEI ad, as we are living proof of the benefits of "Clean Air Energy", which we enjoy each day from the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant some 20 miles directly upwind of us.

I'll be happy to do it for free. I'm a satisfied customer.

Joe Thank You said...

"I guess it's only 'exploiting' kids in ads if you disagree with the position espoused by the sponsor?"

Personally, I think it has more to do with the tone of the ad. A positive usage of children is much more tasteful than a negative use. I'd rather see an ad of kids flying a kite in clear blue skies in front of a nuke plant with sunshine and rainbows than an ad with a crying child choking on coal ash, lol.

It reminds me of those pro-lifers displaying images of aborted fetuses... (I'm sorry I got off topic.)