(3) Wade Allison's book has seriously been called into question by those competent to do so.
I have the book in my shelf but haven't had time to read it yet. I understand it takes a pretty extreme stance on radiation health effects (too optimistic in my opinion), but could good David B. Benson or someone else please elaborate on its specific defects? Are there any competent reviews of the book out there?
Post by David B. Benson on Aug 18, 2012 9:27:46 GMT 9.5
I don't recall where I found the critical comments about Wade Allison's assertions. Probably on a Real Climate comment thread but possibly Dot Earth. All I recall is that (at least some of) Wade Allison's assertions appear to lack citations.
However, a web search for a review turns up first Book Review: "Radiation and Reason" by Wade Allison by Kieth Baverstock & Hooshang Nikjoo which appears to be the origin of the criticisms I have seen.
In particular Wade Allison is a particle physicist [who appears to assume he thereby understands BEIR]. From this review [to which I can take informed exception to a certain portion thereof], he seems to fail to have the first clew.
I understand it takes a pretty extreme stance on radiation health effects (too optimistic in my opinion)
I read Wade's book a couple of years ago, and it is an informative read, but Wade is a nuclear advocate rather than a dispassionate observer. I don't think it provides a overall perspective of the current state of knowledge IMHO. For a more balanced overview, The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists May/June 2012 issue has some good articles on low-level radiation.
My conclusion after studying the current state of knowledge is that we may never arrive at a definitive conclusion of the effects of low-level radiation, but in the grand scheme of things, there are a lot more important things to worry about.
Post by Wade Allison on Aug 26, 2012 20:56:12 GMT 9.5
It's a bit sad if those professing interest are not willing to read and make up their own minds. It is not a complex question, although there are some who have professional reasons for wanting it to be that way. On the website www.radiationandreason.com there are shorter articles, such as 'Public Trust in Nuclear Energy', written after Fukushima. However, as expected, the radiation at Fukushima had, and will have, no health consequences. Please read rather than simply recycling the opinions of others.
Post by David B. Benson on Aug 28, 2012 7:19:25 GMT 9.5
By all means read if the question(s) are of interest.
However, I started learning health physics (a little) over 60 years ago and while some progress has been made, it is only recently that biological instrumentation has improved sufficiently to begin answering some basic questions regarding BEIR and cellular repair after exposure to ionizing radiation. So I fear it still remains a complex question.
I agree that the radiation release from Fukushima Dai-ichi has an unobservably small impact upon human health, even for the most exposed of the cleanup workers.
Post by David B. Benson on Aug 29, 2012 6:56:32 GMT 9.5
Sufficiently closely related is The health effects of Fukushima www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_The_health_effects_of_Fukushima_2808121.html which contains the following quotation: "If we took a 'do more good than harm' approach I suspect we would abandon forced evacuation altogether, especially where iodine tables are available." --- Malcolm Grimston, Imperial College.
This report confirms what is already well characterized about health effects from exposure to ionizing radiation from Fukushima Dai-ichi: unobservably small.
Post by Janne M. Korhonen on Aug 29, 2012 18:52:29 GMT 9.5
Thanks for all the replies and in particular to prof. Allison for contributing. I do indeed plan on reading the book and forming my own opinion of its contents, but I have found it instructive and useful to have an overview of criticisms leveled against a particular piece of work while one is reading it. It is, after all, often the case that the criticisms are actually anticipated and refuted in the original text itself.
Of radiation's health effects, I agree that even under what may be indefensibly conservative assumptions, radiation seems to be hardly the danger it is made out to be in the popular opinion. This is a stance I repeatedly take in Finnish discussions and get labeled as a shill for nuclear industry as a result. Not that I mind it though .
Mousseau and Møller are the authors of several studies on the effect of radiation on natural life in Chernobyl and even one around Fukushima, which are very deeply flawed. They are not human health specialists. They have repeatedly shown they have an obvious distrust of radiations and a strong willingness to consider very weak and badly analyzed elements as definitive and absolute proof of their danger.
The worst is that several of the studies they have done could be very interesting if done properly. But that's Mousseau and Møller. This means that they come to a place where anecdotal reports abound that wild life is flourishing, they conclude the opposite but don't write a single line about the contradiction. They will never try to explain it since they don't even acknowledge it. Their conclusion is also exactly the opposite of the one of another researcher from Texas U, but they don't cite his work, which conveniently spares them from the need of trying to find plausible cause why his findings don't match their own. And if that guy worked with rodents, they will work with birds and insects so that the result can not even be directly compared. You can see then that it would not be so difficult actually for them to say something like well maybe rodent resist to radiation better than insect and birds. But that would be annoying because we can all imagine there would be some nay-sayers that would put forward the fact lab experiments have shown for a long time that the LD50 of radiations for insects is about a hundred time higher than the one for any mammals.
So the very first point here is that they started with 5000 papers but used only 46 in the lot for their calculation. Therefore a huge entry point for selection bias. They also mixed potatoes and apples by joining results about down syndrome, sex ratio, DNA damage and uniting the whole lot into a single indicator (no, this is not a joke, the abstract does confirm they studied a "mean weighted effect" and used "broad categories like physiology, immunology and disease frequency").
Just reading the first sentence of the abstract "Natural levels of radioactivity on the Earth vary by more than a thousand-fold" irks me. Amount of uranium, thorium and descendants in the soil of some locations might vary by up to a thousand-fold, but nobody's natural exposure will vary by a thousand fold, because the contribution of potassium in food, C14 and gamma rays sets a minimum level of radiation you can escape to, that is already too high for that.
Post by David B. Benson on Jun 3, 2013 7:20:51 GMT 9.5
Hormesis by Low Dose Radiation Effects: Low-Dose Cancer Risk Modeling Must Recognize Up-Regulation of Protection Ludwig E. Feinendegen, Myron Pollycove, and Ronald D. Neumann Therapeutic Nuclear Medicine Springer 2012 ISBN 978-3-540-36718-5 db.tt/UyrhlBpW is persuasively excellent, if a bit technical. Highly recommended.
Post by David B. Benson on Jul 26, 2019 20:47:27 GMT 9.5
The BEIR VII Estimates of Low-Dose Radiation Health Risks Are Based on Faulty Assumptions and Data Analyses: A Call for Reassessment. Siegel JA, et al. J Nuc. Med. 2018. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/29475999/
About a third of the way through this long paper is what I take to be the killer: BEIR VII used Bad Statistics. In effect, the report placed LNT on the pedestal to be knocked down. The proper statistical method is to use the Bayes factor; where lies the weight of the evidence. Done that way LNT loses.
DNA with double strand breaks are transported to repair centers
The presence in cells of double-strand break repair centres provides a cell-level explanation of the threshold for radiation damage observed by the early radiographers, including Marie Cure. Up to a certain rate of DSB, the cell adapts to and repairs assaults such as an acute radiation dose. Beyond that point, the cell runs out of facilities to maintain the cell's function.
Observable signs (blood count) of acute radiation syndrome do not appear until after a patient has accumulated more than 700 mGy in a matter of minutes. That is a ballpark of 100 mGy/min. The patient may be unaware that anything has happened.
At lower dose rates, DSB repairs keep pace. However, at dose rates greater than 100 mGy/a (yes, per year) accumulated doses of greater than 700 mGy accumulate toughening responses, observed as chronic radiation syndrome. Recovery takes from 3 to 12 months after the dose rate relaxes to normal. CRS is rare, or at least, rarely observed.
Prof Allison recommends two guidelines, covering the two different biological hazards. Presumably his selection of 100 mGy in his recommendations is based on related research.
Research uncovers microbial life in radioactive storage tanks
Years ago, the Brits stored a quantity of water containing tritium at Sellafield. There was a delay before it was diluted and dumped into the Irish Sea, presumably as they struggled to get bureaucratic permission to do what needed to be done. In the meantime, a biomass grew up in the tanks entraining the same concentration of tritium as in the storage. When the water was eventually diluted and dispersed into the Irish Sea, the biomass retained its tritium concentration, declining only slowly as it was consumed up the food chain. Alarm bells rang when tritium was detected in the local bottom fish (or perhaps shellfish). The ensuing scandal could have been avoided if they had disposed of the water faster than the biomass could accumulate.
Something similar is happening in Fukushima, where water output from ion exchangers (which remove everything except the tritium) is being unnecessarily stored instead of discharged. Again, its release is being held awaiting bureaucratic permission, while biomass accumulates at the tritium concentration of the tanks. After the British experience, everyone knows what is going to happen next.
Bureaucratic obstruction is familiar to Japanese experience. When hydrogen was being generated by core water reacting with red-hot zirconium fuel tubes at Fukushima, the hydrogen needed to be released promptly into the atmosphere to be dispersed across the land and sea. However, because it was somewhat radioactive they had to await bureaucratic permission, this time from the Prime Minister's office. In the meantime, the makeshift storage of the containment building allowed the radioactive aerosols in the vapour to settle out on its walls. When the hydrogen was explosively released to the atmosphere, fragments of building materials carrying the radioactive concentrate were scattered in a plume downwind. The debris constituted a far greater public danger than a fine aerosol would have done. A hazard created by fear.