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March 1, 2013
* [radiation-Congress] Environmentalists Eye Lifting Nuclear Exemptions From Waste, Water Laws, Electric Light & Power (thanx Nevada state ANP)
* [radiation-space] NASA probes reveal new radiation belt around Earth, Xinhua News (thanx Nevada state ANP)
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August 26, 2012
* [radiation-US-homeland security] Background radiation survey in San Francisco will use helicopter flying 300 feet above the ground, nuclear.com info nugget
July 20, 2012
More than a third of children in Japan's Fukushima Prefecture have been diagnosed with abnormal growths on their thyroids
Doctors say there is no link between the "cluster" of incidents and the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in March last year.
The Sixth Report of Fukushima Prefecture Health Management Survey, released in April, included examinations of 38,114 children, of whom 35.3 per cent, 13,460 children, were found to have cysts or nodules of up to 5mm (0.197 inches) on their thyroids. A further 0.5 per cent, totalling 186 children, had nodules larger than 5.1mm (0.2 inches).
A study by the Japan Thyroid Association in 2001 found that zero per cent of children in the city of Nagasaki had nodules and only 0.8 per cent had cysts on their thyroids.
"Yes, 35.8 per cent of children in the study have lumps or cysts, but this is not the same as cancer," said Naomi Takagi, an associate professor at Fukushima University Medical School Hospital, which administered the tests. "We do not know the cause of this, but it is hard to believe that is due to the effects of radiation," she said. "This is an early test and we will only see the effects of radiation exposure after four or five years." Local officials will continue to carry out tests.
Source: Julian Ryall, "Fukushima children in 'cancer' scare", The Daily Telegraph (London), July 20, 2012, p. 19
nuclear.COMment: The Telegraph article mentions that some children had received 'lifetime doses'. I suspect the reporter is referring to recent stories about dose calculations. When your humble nuclear.com editor saw articles about 'lifetime doses', I was disappointed that the stories did not explain that when health physicists talk about lifetime doses, it's quite different than saying that the person can't safely receive more exposure. Rather, lifetime dose refers to calculating how much dose will be received over your lifetime due to the intake of whatever amount of radioactive material you've breathed in or ingested or otherwise absorbed. This Telegraph article, by saying that only some children received lifetime doses, is especially misleading. All the children exposed to I-131 or other isotopes from Fukushima can have a lifetime dose calculated for them, using extensively peer-reviewed formulas which account for such variables as the biological and physical half-lives of the isotopes involved.
Business Insider got in touch with Australian pediatrician Dr. Helen Caldicott, who has spoken about the growths, to ask her about the implications of the study.
After confirming the validity of the report, Caldicott reinforced the alarming nature of the findings:
Doctors worry about these abnormal growths because even though thyroid nodules are relatively common, they are not as common in children and some of them could become cancerous.
When asked why these results haven't been widely reported, Calidcott noted that Japanese officials are not sharing ultrasound results with foremost experts of thyroid nodules in children and accused the media of "practicing psychic numbing," saying that she doesn't understand why media outlets are choosing to ignore the nuclear fallout.
Caldicott explained that the high rate of abnormal growths in Fukushima children is very unusual — it usually takes five to 70 years to see what the medical implications of radiation are — and insisted that the international medical community become involved.
"The data should be made available. And they should be consulting with international experts ASAP. And the lesions on the ultrasounds should all be biopsied and they're not being biopsied. And if they're not being biopsied then that's ultimate medical irresponsibility. Because if some of these children have cancer and they're not treated they're going to die."
Source: Michael Kelley, "CONFIRMED: 36 Percent Of Fukushima Kids Have Abnormal Thyroid Growths And Doctors Are In The Dark", Business Insider, July 19, 2012
Dr. Bryan Haugen, president-elect of the American Thyroid Association and head of endocrinology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, hadn't heard of the report before Business Insider contacted him.
Haugen agreed with the Caldicott's assessment that it is surprising for kids to "have this many nodules and cysts seen, especially this soon after the accident," and the fact that "this something that is not more widely known."
He added that ultrasound technology is much more sensitive today so cysts (i.e. small sacs of fluid) smaller than 2 centimeters don't need to be biopsied but solid nodules (i.e. clumps of cells) larger than 5 millimeters should be biopsied.
After Chernobyl, Haugen notes, radiation physicists calculated the radiation risk to children by measuring exposure and then finding out how many kids had nodules and how many had cancer. Chernobyl children were found to have a lot of solid nodules, but the Fukushima results reveal a lot more cysts so "it's a bit different."
Source: Michael Kelley, "CONFIRMED: 36 Percent Of Fukushima Kids Have Abnormal Thyroid Growths And Doctors Are In The Dark", Business Insider, July 19, 2012
nuclear.COMment: This Business Insider articles includes statement that "The New York Academy of Sciences estimates that nearly one million people around the world have died from exposure to radiation released by the 1986 nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl reactor." The Academy did publish a book, but it is wrong to say that the Academy made the estimates in the book, or that any scientists in the academy actually endorse those estimates.
b>June 24, 2012
* [radiation-borders] Truckers safe from radiation: U.S. border officials, CTV News, thanx @nukeroadie
* [radiation-checkpoints] Border Patrol detains former Arizona Gov. Castro after radiation alarm is tripped, Tim Steller, Arizona Daily Star, thanx @nukeroadie
* [radiation] This is so cool, I'm going to build one. How to Build a Cloud Chamber!, JeffersonLab, YouTubethanx @nukeroadie
* [Fukushima-radiation] 76.96 µSv/h at 200m from Fukushima prefectural office, Iori Mochizuki, Fukushima Diary (via Nevada state ANP)
* [Fukushima-radiation] Japan TV: Crawfish from highly contaminated area brought into classroom for children to play with, thanx @ENENews
* [Fukushima-radiation-May2011] Nuclear Physicist: Most of the Plutonium Mox fuel nuclear fallout likely to drop on the U.S as US Plutonium levels at 20 year highs, thanx @SoNuke,@kr3atand @planetInfowars
June 23, 2012
* [Chernobyl-cancer] Chernobyl disaster: 15 thyroid cancer deaths are the only long-term radiation-related deaths so far, nuclear.com info nugget
* [Fukushima-radiation-seafood] Japan TV: Fukushima seafood to be sold in stores starting next week... after one round of tests on three kinds of samples, thanx @ENENews
b>June 6, 2012
10-19 Gy of radiation treatment to girls' chests significantly raise breast cancer risk years later
Women treated with chest radiation for cancer when they were girls have a higher risk of developing breast cancer than previously thought, doctors warn... "We find that by age 50, approximately 30 percent of women treated with radiation for Hodgkin lymphoma" as girls have developed breast cancer, said Chaya Moskowitz, a biostatistician at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York who led the study. That is far higher than the 4 percent rate for the general population, and is comparable to the rate in women who have mutations in inherited BRCA genes that increase risk. Among women who had chest radiation for any type of childhood cancer, 24 percent developed breast cancer by age 50. The study was to be presented Monday at an American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago.
Radiation treatment has saved countless children from lymphoma, leukemia, soft-tissue tumors and other cancer types, but it can damage the DNA of healthy cells, too, and lead to cancer decades later. Children treated today get much lower doses and to much smaller areas of the body than kids did in 1970 to 1986 when the women in this study were girls.
A federally funded study has been tracking more than 1,200 of them, and researchers used a second study of relatives of women with breast cancer to compare the odds of developing breast cancer among various groups such as those with BRCA gene mutations.
Guidelines currently urge annual screening with mammograms and MRI scans starting at age 25 for women who had radiation therapy totaling 20 Grays -- a measure of how much radiation is absorbed. About 50,000 U.S. women are in that category. The new study finds higher risk even among women who received more moderate doses -- 10 to 19 Grays -- as girls. That means another 7,000 to 9,000 women also may need screening now, said Dr. Paula Ryan, a breast cancer specialist at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia who had no role in the work.
Source: Marilynn, "Childhood cancer survivors face new risks", Brattleboro Reformer (Vermont), June 6, 2012
November 11, 2011
Unknown source: continuing I-131 release detected around Europe
Very low levels of radiation, which are higher than normal but don’t seem to pose a health hazard, are being registered in the Czech Republic and elsewhere in Europe, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Friday. The agency said the cause was not known but was not the result of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, which spread radiation across the globe in March... An official familiar with the matter, who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to comment, said the release appeared to be continuing. The agency said that it was investigating.
In Prague, an official at the Czech State Office for Nuclear Safety said he was “100 percent sure” that the radiation had not come from any Czech nuclear power plant — or from any other source on Czech territory. Speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to talk to the media, the official said tests are under way around the country to try and identify the source.
Source: Associated Press, "Nuclear agency reports low, but unusual, radiation across Europe", November 11, 2011
update re possible sources
Paddy Regan, a professor of nuclear physics at Britain's University of Surrey, told Reuters that the iodine may have leaked from a radiopharmaceuticals manufacturing plant. Alternatively, it may be leaking from a hospital, he said, as these often keep supplies of iodine in store. Massimo Sepielli, head of the nuclear fission unit at Italy's national alternative energy body ENEA, suggested several other possibilities: "It could be coming from the transporting of [nuclear] material, it could come from a hospital ... it could even come from a nuclear submarine, even if it's a more complicated possibility ... but you can't rule that out."
According to a spokesman from Poland's National Atomic Energy Agency there were also "unconfirmed reports" about a possible incident at a nuclear power station in Pakistan... An IAEA spokesman said he had no information about any such incident, however. On October 19, Pakistani authorities reported an emergency at the almost 40-year-old Karachi nuclear plant (KANUPP) when workers were forced to repair a leak.
Sources: Natalie Wolchover (Life's Little Mysteries), "Traces of Mystery Radiation Detected Across Europe", November 11, 2011; and Agence France Presse, "Radioactivity in Europe, no public risk: IAEA", November 12, 2011
November 11, 2011
Home health care fraud reaches nuclear worker health program
The Energy Occupational Illness Compensation Program reimburses for some home health care services provided by nurses. The provision was key to the fraudulent business model of Anthony Paul Breaux of Palisade, Colorado and his company, Honor-Bound Healthcare Providers. Breaux recruited family members of patients in Arizona, Colorado and Oregon, including on a Navajo Indian Reservation, to provide 24 hour care to their relatives under the federal program. He paid the family members $13 an hour but charged the government up to $100 an hour. Breaux forged doctors' orders authorizing round-the-clock home health care, used identical handwritten notes purportedly from nurses, and falsely claimed that the relatives were themselves nurses.
Breaux entered a guilty plea yesterday involving 9 patients, admitting to defrauding the government program of more than $3.4 million between June 2010 and June 2011. He agreed to forfeit the money, is reportedly cooperating with the government to recover the money, and faces possible 30 years of jail time and $500,000 in fines for health care fraud and money laundering. Breaux is scheduled to be sentenced on March 16, 2012.
Sources: Alan Gathright (KMGH-TV7, Denver), "Man Pleads Guilty In $3.5M Nuke Worker Health Care Scam", November 10, 2011 Associated Press, "DOJ: Man defrauded nuclear health program of $3.4M", AP State and Local Wire, November 11, 2011; and Associated Press, "Forgery, fake nurse notes allegedly used to bilk health program for ailing nuclear workers", The Republic, Columbus IN, November 11, 2011
April 27, 2011
Chernobyl - Soviet authorities forced thousands of pregnant women to abort during the evacuations
Natalia Manzurova was a Russian nuclear engineer assigned to be a liquidator in the evacuated city of Pripyat about a year after the explosion. She spent the next four and a half years on tasks including burying contaminated houses and conducting experiments on affected plants and animals.
After stories of forced abortions in the Chernobyl region surfaced, she told how her own suspicions were raised during a routine assignment in Pripyat.
"Next to the operation theater in the gynecology department, we saw a big can that is usually used in villages to carry milk. I opened the lid of this can and saw that there were fetuses that were from about the seventh to eighth months of pregnancy," she said.
Manzurova claims that Soviet authorities forced thousands of pregnant women to abort during the evacuations.
"There was a secret order by the government that all the pregnant women inside the 30-kilometer [18.6 mile] exclusion zone were to undergo either a Cesarean operation or were to be induced so that they would give birth prematurely," she said. "Only later the question came to my mind: What happened? Were these small children still alive when they were put into these big cans? It was evident they were forgotten in haste."
Source: Christina Maria Paschyn (WeNews correspondent), "Chernobyl Survivor Flags Women's Radiation Risk", Womens eNews, April 27, 2011
March 15, 2008
March 9, 2008
March 5, 2008
February 15, 2008
Wolf Creek tritium in Coffey County Lake
Wolf Creek releases radioactive liquid effluent (primarily tritium) into the Coffey County Lake. The lake water contains an average tritium concentration of approximately 13,000 picocuries per liter. During an inspection, NRC found that tritium was present in the plant's fire protection system as a result of using Coffey County Lake as a water supply. The inspector was unsure if the plant was required to treat the tritium in the fire protection system as if it was still licensed material. NRC this week published a "Regulatory Issue Summary" paper on the subject, declaring that the tritium from the lake is no longer considered licensed material, except for purposes of keeping concentration in the lake below maximum allowable, and for actions covered by decommissioning regulations. In addition to this lake water example, the document points out similar reasoning would apply to radioactive material released to atmosphere and then brought back to surface via rain or whatnot.
[Source: NRC Offices of NMSS and NRR, "Reuturn /re-use of previously discharged radioactive effluents", NRC Regulatory Issue Summary 2008-03, February 13, 2008 -- ML072120368]
November 9, 2007
NRC answers ACE comment that NRC radiation protection standards are neither conservative nor protective
In 2005, the National Academy of Sciences released its seventh report in a series on the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation, the so-called BEIR VII Report. The report was sponsored by the U.S. Departments of Defense, Energy and Homeland Security, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The committee of 17 physicians and scientists was formed in 1998 to conduct an assessment of the health risks to humans from exposure to low levels of ionizing radiation.
The committee reviewed and evaluated the scientific literature for biological and biophysics data regarding health effects of low-level ionizing radiation, including models at the molecular, cellular and animal levels in humans. The committee determined that the preponderance of the scientific evidence shows that low doses of ionizing radiation, such as X-rays and gamma rays, are likely to pose some risk of health effects. The committee concluded that the risk of cancer proceeds in a linear fashion at lower doses without a threshold (linear no-threshold model). The linear no-threshold model is accepted by the NRC as a conservative model for determining radiation dose standards recognizing that the model may over estimate radiation risk.
In general the magnitude of the estimated risks for total cancer mortality or leukemia has not changed greatly from estimates provided in previous reports. New data and analyses have reduced sampling uncertainty, but uncertainties related to estimating risk for exposure at low doses and dose rates remain large. Uncertainties in estimating risks of site-specific cancers are especially large.
The current framework of radiological protection used by NRC is based on the assumption that there is a linear, no-threshold dose-response relationship between radiation exposure and potential development of adverse health effects such as cancer or leukemia. The NRC used this hypothesis as a theoretical basis to develop radiological protection standards that are adequately protective of workers, members of the public, and the environment. NRC regulations and radiation exposure limits in 10 CFR 20 are consistent with recommendations of national and international scientific organizations and with practices in other developed nations.
The BEIR VII Report is important because it documents the National Academy's conduct of an extensive review of the scientific literature, specifically concentrating on new scientific information published since 1990. This material, particularly new information concerning the Japanese atomic bomb survivors, enabled the Committee to refine earlier estimates of health risk from radiation exposure. However, none of this information leads to a major change in the overall assessment of the relationship of exposure to ionizing radiation and human health effects.
Source: Paul G. Krohn (Branch Chief, NRC Division of Reactor Projects, Projects Branch 4). letter to The Alliance for a Clean Environment (ACE), Stowe, PA, "Response to your letter regarding the planned dry cask storage system at the Limerick Generating Station and other areas of interest", November 9, 2007, pp. 9-10 -- NRC ADAMS accession no. ML073170116 - a pdf version of the letter, as released by NRC on November 16, 2007, is available here.
July 13, 2007
May 6, 2007
The sand trap: Cancer stalks villages close to a monazite mining plant in Tamil Nadu
There is an unusually high incidence of people dying of cancer or suffering from the disease in Periyavilai, a hamlet in Tamil Nado's picturesque Kanyakumari district. The villagers blame it all on the Indian Rare Earths Ltd. (IRE), the Mumbai-based PSU which mines for monazite, a rich thorium-based ore.
Six years ago, people from Periyavilai and five other villages insisted that IRE use manpower instead of machines for mining. Today, the company employs nearly 2,000 workers from the villages, paying the Workers' Society, which in turn distributes daily wages to the workers. An IRE senior official says the workers "scrape" the top layer of sand on the beach to a depth of 15 cm. Workers say that sometimes they are forced to dig as deep as two meters. Villagers accuse IRE of not providing them protective work gear as they scrape or dig the sand from the shore.
The IRE, which comes under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), refutes all such claims. "We are not producing any radioactive material," says a senior IRE official on condition of anonymity. "None of our activities is increasing radiation. We are merely collecting the beach sand and separating the minerals, including monazite." S.K. Malhotra, head of DAE's Public Awareness Department, said "Even if we stop the operations, the sea will continue to deposit the monazite-rich sand." In fact, the IRE is "doing the village a favor by removing monazite from the sand" which is causing the high background radiation.
"The incidence of cancer at Periyavilai seems unusually high", says Dr. Sudhakar, head of the radiotherapy department at the nearby International Cancer Center at Neyyur run by the Kanyakumari l Mission Hospital, citing the WHO norms for cancer prevalence in India as one per 1,000 people. According to hospital statistics, three patients from the village were diagnosed with cancer in 2002, three in 2003, and one each in 2005 and 2006. Sudhakar says the fall in the number of cases from the village in the past two years could be because the patients are seeking treatment elsewhere. As the 50-bed hospital has trouble dealing with the flow of complicated cases from the region, the villagers are turning to the Thiruvananthapuram-based Regional Cancer Center, about two hours from Kanyakumari.
March 23, 2006
Chernobyl 'may have killed 1,000 UK babies'
Epidemiologist and statistician John Urquhart's analysis of UK health statistics in areas where "black rain" clouds passed over in the wake of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 suggest a "shock" trend which has gone unnoticed for 20 years. He concludes that Chernobyl may have caused more than 1,000 infant deaths in Britain. Mr. Urquhart said that while public perception was that fall-out had affected only small parts of the UK, official maps showed a cloud sweeping up through Kent and London into Hertfordshire and the East Midlands before curving round Bradford and into the North West and passing over the Isle of Man towards Northern Ireland. A separate area of fall-out affected a stretch from the Isle of Wight to Bristol, taking the total area potentially affected to around half of the land mass of England and Wales, he said. Mr. Urquhart plans to tell a conference at London's City Hall today (Nuclear Free Local Authorities conference, timed to coincide with 20-year anniversary of Chernobyl) that maps of where the fall-out passed and plans highlighting apparent irregularities in death figures showed a "remarkable fit". Looking at health figures for around 200 hospital districts, Mr Urquhart said there was an 11% rise in infant deaths between 1986 and 1989 as opposed to a figure of just 4% in non-affected areas. He said the apparent rise - taking in both neonatal fatalities (deaths within the first 28 days of life) and cot deaths - translated to more than 1,000 deaths when social factors are borne in mind. In Bradford, neonatal deaths appeared to have almost doubled from 33 to 64 in the year of the disaster, with similar trends detected elsewhere, he said
"Traditionally, children under one have always been most sensitive to environmental influences," Mr. Urquhart said. He also said the apparent trend had not been noticed before because of over-reliance on scientific models rather than observation. Models in use in 1986 had persuaded decision-makers that the impact of fall-out from Chernobyl on the British Isles would be too small to detect. "No one has really looked at this problem for 20 years," he said.
[Source: John Bingham (Press Association), "Chernobyl 'may have killed 1,000 UK babies'", Press Association (UK) Newsfile, March 23, 2006 9:37 am BST]
Low-dose radiation exposure reduces cancer risk
Some publications sit in my in-box waiting their turn. But the BELLE Newsletter (Biological Effects of Low Level Exposures, a publication of the Northeast Regional Environmental Public Health Center, University of Massachusetts, School of Public Health) usually gets skimmed right at the mailbox. Well, the December 2005 issue came today, and an article by Dr. Bobby R. Scott of the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in Albuquerque caught my eye. This issue isn't posted at the BELLE website yet, but I hope you'll bookmark http://www.belleonline.com/newsletters.htm and check it out in coming weeks. Dr. Scott's article is titled "Low-Dose Radiation Risk Extrapolation Fallacy Associated with the Linear-No-Threshold Model". Here's some provocative excerpts:
* "What about a 25-year smoker who has precancerous (neoplastically transformed) cells in their lung due to smoking? Could a little dab of low-LET X- or gamma rays to the lung protect from cancer via activating the PAM process? Possiby, if not likely! The PAM process could also be exploited related to developing novel low-dose therapy for cancer."
* "The cancer incidence among this population [about 10,000 folks in Taiwan, residents of 180 apartment buildings built with steel contaminated by Co-60, with whole body doses averaging about 400 mSv. That's total dose over the 9-yr to 20-yr exposure period.] was reported by Chen et al to be reduced by more than 95% below the expected level for the general population. Thus, the protracted exposure at low rates seems to have expanded the protective zone (over which deletarious stochastic effects are suppressed) to at least 400 mGy. The researchers concluded the following (Chen et al. 2004): 'The experience of these 10,000 persons suggest that long-term exposure to radiation, at a dose rate of the order of 50 mSv (5 rem) per year, greatly reduces cancer mortality...'"
* ABSTRACT: "Managing radiation risks typically involves establishing regulations that limit radiation exposure. The linear-no-threshold (LNT) dose-response model has been the traditional regulatory default assumption. According to the LNT model, for low-linear-energy-transfer (LET) radiation-induced stochastic effects (e.g., neoplastic transformation and cancer) the risk increases linearly without a threshold. Any radiation exposure is predicted to increase the number of cancer cases among a large population of people. Cancer risk extrapolation from high to low doses based on this model is widespread. Here, indirect evidence is provided that excess cancer risk calculated at very low doses of low-LET radiation (e.g., around 1 mGy), based on extrapolating from high dose data for an irradiated human population using the LNT model, is likely a phantom excess risk. Indirect evidence is provided, suggesting that for brief exposures to low-LET radiation doses on the order of 1 mGy, that a decrease below the spontaneous level is many orders of magnitude more probable than for any increase in risk as would be predicted by extrapolating from high to low doses using the LNT model. Such a decrease is, however, not expected after exposure to high-LET alpha radiation. The risk reduction has been largely attributed to the induction of a protective apoptosis mediated (PAM) process that selectively eliminates cells that contain genomic instability (e.g., mutant and neoplastically transformed cells). The PAM process appears to require a dose-rate-dependent stochastic threshold for activation whose minimum is estimated to possibly be as low as 0.01 mGy for X- and gamma rays. However, if the dose is too high (e.g., above 250 mGy for brief exposure at a high rate to X- or gamma rays), the PAM process is not expected to be activated. For protracted exposure to X- or gamma rays, doses as high as 400 mGy (and possibly higher) may activate the PAM process."
For more info about Dr. Scott's previous work, and contact info, see his page on his employer's site -- http://www.LRRI.org/staff/directoryofscientists/scott.html
December 14, 2005
Weighting factors for external dose to parts of the whole body
Exelon and Amergen have followed Southern California Edison in requesting use of weighting factor in determining occupational radiation exposure in situations involving non-uniform radiation fields. Nuclear power plant workers routinely wear dosimeter on their chest, but there are some jobs which involve more exposure to some other part of the body. Hands and forearms, and legs below the knee, are allowed by regulation to receive higher dose. But head, thighs, and other parts of the body are considered to be whole body exposure. Some times, in cases where one part of the whole body will be exposed more than another, the routine dosimeter is repositioned. In other cases, additional dosimeters are worn and the highest dose to any part of the whole body is assigned as the worker's dose. But NRC regulations allow employers to request use of weighting factors to more appropriately assess whole body dose. And that is what the utilities' request is all about.
An ANSI standard (ANSI/HPS N13.41-1997) specifies the following "compartment factors" to be used as weighting factors:
* Head and neck 0.10
The Exelon/Amergen request letter and short evaluation is available via ADAMS as ACN ML053560041, which was released to public on June 24, 2006.
August 8, 2005
Cosmic Radiation Increases the Risk of Nuclear Cataract in Airline Pilots; A Population-Based Case-Control Study
Cosmic radiation may be a causative factor in nuclear cataract among
commercial airline pilots, according to the first published case-control study of lens opacification
involving commercial pilots, adjusted for age and individual risk factors for cataracts.
Pilots were approximately three times more likely to develop te type of cataracts called "nuclear cataracts".
The results are consistent with previous research involving astronauts. Pilots and astronauts are exposed to a lot of
what's known as "high LET" radiation. Radiation workers in medicine and nuclear power industries are
exposed mostly to "low LET" radiation.
June 1, 2005
Louisiana leads on DU screening of Gulf War vets
April 16, 2005
CDC says it's 'committed' to learning nuclear effects
Kathy Harben, a spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, responded to comments by Dr. Joseph L. Lyon, reported in Thursday's Deseret Morning News. After the CDC pulled funding for an extensive fallout-health effects study he and colleagues have been pursuing, Dr. Lyon wondered if someone was trying to cover up fallout harm. The study, which has cost about $8 million so far, has examined about one-third of the 4,000 subjects, seeking evidence of thyroid abnormalities. A subsection of the study also was planned to check for possible deaths from reasons other than thyroid disease that could be tied to fallout. According to Lyon, it was the only study in this country actually examining individuals who were exposed to radiation, looking for health effects. The main group in the study attended Washington County schools in 1965, and when Lyon and colleagues checked them years after fallout from the Nevada Test Site had ended, they found thyroid tumors at 3.4 times the expected rate. The follow-up study was launched because thyroid disease can materialize years after exposure to radiation. Some of the 4,000 make up a control group of Arizona residents. Lyon commented after reading a letter from CDC director Dr. Julie Louise Gerberding, whose points were covered in the article Thursday.
Ms. Harben read the article and said Gerberding had made a good analysis of the CDC's reasoning. "That is a very good summary for the basis for the CDC's decision not to continue funding," she said. "Besides that, the CDC remains committed to evaluating the exposure and possible effects related to past radiation released from nuclear weapons production facilities," she said. "We continue to study the health effects of these types of environmental radiation exposures through the Hanford (Washington) thyroid disease study, the Hanford Environmental Dose Reconstruction Project, the Savannah River (Georgia and South Carolina) Dose Reconstruction Project, the Los Alamos (New Mexico) Dose Reconstruction Project and the Idaho National Laboratories (Idaho) Dose Reconstruction Project." Harben added, "We do expect that findings from these studies will provide valuable information on the health effects of past radiation exposures."
Crapo to offer bill for victims of testing: First he wants to see federal fallout study
The Radiation Compensation Exposure Act pays $50,000 to those exposed to harmful radiation during a series of above-ground atomic weapons testing in the Nevada desert in the 1950s. Currently only Utah, Arizona and Nevada counties are included, but a 1997 study indicated the four Idaho counties have among the highest radioactive iodine levels in the nation. And in southeast Idaho, many residents have come forward who believe that they, too, were exposed to the radiation and later contracted cancer as a result. Last Friday, Sen. Mike Crapo sent a letter to the director of the Board on Radiation Effects Research. It said he is committed to introducing legislation in Congress on behalf of the so-called Downwinders, a group that believes they were exposed to harmful radiation as children as a result of atomic testing in Nevada. A report by the Board, which will make recommendations on whether Idaho counties should be included in the federal Radiation Compensation Exposure Act, was supposed to be released in March. Now well into April, it's still under wraps. Crapo said the study is "pivotal" in determining whether only four Idaho counties - Gem, Custer, Lemhi and Custer - are included in the legislation or whether the scope is expanded. In his letter, Crapo said he also expects the report to show that other counties should be included. "There wouldn't be anything served by introducing (legislation) now," he said. "We're just kind of in a holding pattern."
November 5, 2004
October 27, 2004
427 major radiation accidents since 1944
Worldwide, 427 major radiation accidents occurred between 1944 and June 2004, according to information supplied by Radiation Emergency Assistance Center/Training Site (REAC/TS) at the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education. Of these, 19 were unplanned criticalities; 316 involved radiation devices, including sealed sources, X-ray devices, accelerators and radar generators; and 92 involved radioisotopes.
These accidents resulted in a total of 134 deaths: 30 in the USA (including four non-radiation related accident fatalities), 32 in the former Soviet Union (including three non-radiation related fatalities) and 72 in other areas of the world (including two non-radiation related fatalities). The accidents also resulted in significant, non-lethal exposures to an additional 3051 people.
[Source: Thecla Fabian, "Thirty years of radiation", Nuclear Engineering International, October 2004, p. 38]
[REAC/TS home page: http://www.orau.gov/reacts/default.htm
April 30, 2004
UNSCEAR - next report may be released as early as end of 2006
NRC Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research staff participated in the 52nd session of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) in Vienna, Austria, from April 26-30, 2004. The Committee considered new information relevant for assessing sources of radiation, and the health and environmental effects that result from exposure to these sources. Numerous comments were given to the Secretariat for consideration during the preparation of the next set of advanced draft annexes (detailed technical documents) that will be reviewed by the UNSCEAR during the 53rd Session in 2005. In addition, several data collection questionnaires will be sent to UN Member States soliciting source and exposure data. The NEA plans to share exposure data for nuclear power plant workers collected through the Information System on Occupational Exposure (ISOE) program. NRC is a sponsor of the ISOE program. Occupational exposure data will also be solicited from the U.S. Department of Energy. Publication of the next UNSCEAR report may occur as early as the end of 2006. The 53rd Session of the UNSCEAR is scheduled to convene in Vienna, Austria from May 30 to June 3, 2005.
[Source: NRC Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research, "52nd Session of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation", "Weekly Information Report - Week Ending May 7, 2004", SECY-04-0080, May 13, 2004]
March 30, 2004
Dose limits for animals - ICRP deliberations
The International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) is considering recommendations related to dose limits for exposure of animals to environmental radiation, according to Greta Dicus, a member of the ICRP (and former chair of NRC). She told a Platts reporter that ICRP was concerned about the absence of international consistency as several countries move to set up their own guidelines on this subject. Previously, the ICRP philosophy was guided by the notion that "if you are protecting humans, you are protecting the environment", she said, adding that "That might not be the case. There are places where humans are not." The new recmmendations may result, she said, in "establishment of dose limits for animals. We have a potential list, and we're working on it."
[Source: Mark Hibbs (Platts-Honolulu), "New ICRP guidelines to 'clarify' collective dose, Dicus says", Nucleonics Week, March 25, 2004]
March 9, 2004
February 27, 2004
January 13, 2004
If you're under 40, potassium iodide pills are good to have on hand
Potassium iodide (KI) pills should be available to everyone age 40 or younger - especially children and pregnant and lactating women - living near a nuclear power plant, according to a new report from a government-mandated expert panel of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. The report recommends that states and municipalities should to decide how to stockpile, distribute, and administer potassium iodide tablets, and federal agencies should keep a backup supply and be prepared to distribute it to affected areas. The report states that KI pills are not recommended for people over 40 because epidemiological studies have not demonstrated a significant risk of radiation-induced thyroid cancer in this age group, while their risk of side effects from potassium iodide is increased.
[Refs: National Research Council, Committee to Assess the Distribution and Administration of Potassium Iodide in the Event of a Nuclear Incident, "Distribution and Administration of Potassium Iodide in the Event of a Nuclear Incident", 2004; Drug Week, "RADIATION POISONING: Potassium iodide should be available to people living near nuclear power plants", January 16, 2004, p. 529]
January 3, 2004
CT scan dose mentally debilitating for very young children
Researchers at Sweden's Karolinska Institute reanalysed data from more than 2,000 infants who had been treated with radiation for a benign birthmark condition between 1930 and 1959. When the boys were inducted into the Swedish army at age 18 or 19, significant differences in logical reasoning and learning ability appeared, compared with those who had not had radiation treatment. Another indication of their capacities was reflected in their high-school attendance levels. While 32 per cent of boys who had not been irradiated around the brain attended high school, only 17 per cent of those who received the highest dosages did.
"The average dose to the brain over a year was equivalent to a single CT scan today," Prof. Hall said [Per Hall, an epidemiologist for the Karolinska who was the lead author on the study]. "And normally two CT scans are performed if a child comes in with a minor trauma." As a consequence, the authors of the study, appearing in yesterday's issue of the British Medical Journal, are calling for greater caution on the part of doctors prescribing CT scans for children.
[Ref: The Canadian Press, "CT scan has debilitating effect on brains of children: study", Portage Daily Graphic (Manitoba, Canada), January 3, 2004, p. 18]
The study involved 3094 men who had received radiation therapy before the age of 18 months between 1930 and 1959 for minor birthmarks called haemangioma. At the ages of 18 and 19, the intellectual capacity of the men was tested and their attendance at high school recorded. The proportion of boys who attended high school fell as the amounts of radiation they were exposed to on the front and back of the brain increased. Those exposed to head irradiation were 50 per cent less likely to go on to higher education, with one in three boys not exposed to head X-rays attending secondary school compared with one in six of those who had. Boys who had received head X-rays were less able at intelligence tests showing learning ability and logical reasoning.
[Ref: Jenny Hope, "Head X-rays may stunt a child's brain power", Courier Mail (Queensland, Australia), January 3, 2004, p. 13]
Hall et al. study is first that shows mental debilitation at these doses in otherwise healthy kids
It was already known that children treated with radiation for life-threatening cancers often did not reach their full intellectual potential, but it was hard to separate the effects of the therapy from the effects of the disease itself, said Professor Hall. The new study demonstrated for the first time the effects of radiation in healthy children. "The risks and benefits of CT scans in minor head trauma need re-evaluating," wrote the research leader, Per Hall, in the British Medical Journal this week.
[Ref: Julie Robotham (Medical Editor, Sydney Morning Herald), "Toddler CT Scans May Cause Brain Damage", Sydney Morning Herald, January 3, 2004, p. 3]
Hall et al study may be underestimating the 1939-1950 era doses
Dr Antony [Jayne Antony, a neurologist from the Children's Hospital at Westmead] said it was impossible to calculate retrospectively the precise radiation doses absorbed by the Swedish men, so the comparison between their therapy and CT scans might not be valid.
[Ref: Julie Robotham (Medical Editor, Sydney Morning Herald), "Toddler CT Scans May Cause Brain Damage", Sydney Morning Herald, January 3, 2004, p. 3]
Hall et al. findings may apply to older children, too
Professor Hall said the findings were alarming. He said they were based on children who had head X-rays before the age of 18 months. But he feared there might be damaging effects even in older children.
[Ref: Jenny Hope, "Head X-rays may stunt a child's brain power", Courier Mail (Queensland, Australia), January 3, 2004, p. 13]
August 28, 2003
Fatal rad dose rendered harmless, in mouse study, by immunomodulator Substance P
"Substance P" is a naturally-occuring peptide first isolated in 1931. Researchers have found that very interesting things happen, health-wise, when Substance P is involved. A company named ImmuneRegen BioSciences has a proprietary manufactured form of Substance P, which it named Homspera. The company announced some pretty stunning research results this week. Here's some excerpts from the press release:
ImmuneRegen BioSciences, a research and development biotechnology company, has completed its recent radiation-based research. The results indicated a 50 percent survival rate of treated mice, which ImmuneRegen believes is attributable to its Homspera Treatment. The recent study, which was done in collaboration with the Department of Defense (DoD), was designed to study the effects of the company's proprietary substance, Homspera, on mice after exposure to fatal doses of radiation.
The study, conducted at the University of Arizona by Dr. Mark Witten, PhD, co-founder and acting head researcher of ImmuneRegen BioSciences, Inc., was performed on 16 mice, four of which were controls. Each mouse was given a single, fatal dose of radiation, then all non-control mice received an aerosol dose of Homspera, a proprietary manufactured form of the naturally occurring immunomodulator Substance P, for 35 days. After 35 days of treatment, six of the original twelve mice survived the lethal radiation dose and currently do not appear to show any adverse signs or side effects from the injury or the treatment.
This study was based on a similar previous study with a smaller sample group. The results of that study indicated a 25 percent survival rate for those mice treated with Homspera which ImmuneRegen believes is attributable to its Homspera Treatment. Based on the success of these studies, the company plans to continue with its research and move to larger animal groups, such as monkeys.
"We have been researching the effects of Homspera on radiation exposure for some time," states Michael K. Wilhelm, CEO of ImmuneRegen BioSciences, Inc. "This latest research study and its corresponding results show great potential for Homspera in our future treatment for radiation exposure."
ImmuneRegen's patents and continued substance P research are derived from discoveries made during research funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research in the early 1990s. During this research, Dr. Witten and his associates observed that the exposure of animals to jet fuels resulted in pathological changes in the lung and immune systems of those exposed. It was also observed that such exposure resulted in depletion of substance P from the lungs of the animals. These studies further showed that the administration of substance P may help prevent and reverse the effects of jet fuel exposure in the lungs, as well as protect and regenerate the immune system. The immune findings led to early research on the treatment of exposure to acute radiation and on the possible reversal of lung damage caused by Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) and cigarette smoke.
[Source: ImmuneRegen BioSciences, Inc. press release, "Study Indicates 50% Survival Rate in Mice After Fatal Radiation Exposure; ImmuneRegen BioSciences and Department of Defense Study Provides Further Evidence that Homspera May Increase Survival Rate of Radiation Exposure", August 26, 2003]
August 22, 2003
Study: Children near N-plants have higher cancer rate
The elevated rates include counties around Brookhaven reactor too, so the study is not just about identifying effects of commercial power plants. The downwinders in Nevada and Utah might be amused that the study points to their locale as example of area relatively free of environmental radioactivity from power reactors.
The only online sources of the paper we could find were the EBSCO and ProQuest services used by many public and college libraries. The article specifies that you can request reprint from lead author (Joseph Mangano, Radiation and Public Health Project, 286 Carroll St #9, Brooklyn NY 11215). Mr. Mangano's email address isn't mentioned there, but is listed on the radiation.org website as firstname.lastname@example.org.
August 21, 2003
August 1, 2003
* BREAST CANCER: Risk higher for young women with Hodgkin disease treated with radiation
Treatment with alkylating agents alone resulted in a reduced risk (40%) of breast cancer, and combined alkylating agents and radiotherapy in a 1.4-fold increased risk. Risk of breast cancer decreased with increasing number of alkylating agent cycles. Risk also was low (60% reduced risk) among women who received 5 Gy or more delivered to ovaries compared with those who received lower doses.
"Despite our quantification of this serious late effect," the paper concludes, "it is clear that the major gains and successes in the treatment of HD greatly outweigh the treatment-related risks of breast cancer and other late sequelae. Given current modifications in approaches to radiotherapy, in the future late effects should have less impact on the lives of women with HD. In the interim, for current survivors of HD, the high risk of radiation-associated breast cancer, which in our study did not diminish at the highest doses or in the longest follow-up, suggests the need for programs of clinician and patient awareness, lifetime surveillance, and possible prevention strategies."
Joachim Yahalom, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, wrote, in an accompanying commentary, that the "results reported by Travis et al. clearly demonstrate the influence of radiation dose on the risk of breast cancer. Within the range of doses that have been used in the past, more radiation translates into a higher risk of developing breast cancer. This information, as well as data from earlier publications, supports the notion that 'lower is better' as long as the radiation dose used augments the cure rate for HD... The pendulum of therapy for HD that has swung from wide-field, full-dose radiation alone to full-dose chemotherapy and no radiation is likely to settle in the middle, providing a safer cure for Hodgkin disease by using brief chemotherapy and reduced radiation. The efficacy of this strategy already has been demonstrated, but determination of potential long-term toxicity will require more time."
CANCER MORTALITY: Researchers assess cancer mortality risk of workers at the Mayak nuclear complex
The risk numbers in this paper are very similar, but a bit lower than, the numbers coming out of the a-bomb survivors research. The increase in an individual's risk appears to be greatest, by far, within 3-5 years after exposure. The authors seem pretty convinced that asbestos was not a significant hazard at Mayak, so the number of mesothelioma cases prompts their suggestion that the link be further researched to see if, say, plutonium may play a role in the etiology of mesothelioma.
July 30, 2003
Japan A-bomb survivors continue to fare better, health-wise, than many expect
45% ... of the more than 120,000 survivors of the 1945 atomic bomb blasts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki are still alive today. .. [C]omprehensive and long-term studies [have been] conducted by the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF)... [T]he group held its 38th annual meeting June 18-20 in Hiroshima... Evan Douple, director of the board of radiation-effects research at NAS, said the study results have been remarkable. "RERF studies have found that radiation-induced cancers are much lower than most people would expect in atomic bomb survivors ... and to the surprise of many, no health effects were observable in the first generation of children born to" survivors, Douple said.
[Ref: Anat Maytal, "U.S. and Japan jointly study bomb survivors: Work overcomes initial skepticism", The Hill, July 30, 2003, p. 19 (subscription required)]
July 23, 2003
Yet another incredible tale about the health benefits of chronic exposure to radiation
One of the poster papers at this week's annual meeting of the Health Physics Society may prompt a lot more public health wonks to take the hormesis theory much more seriously. Here's the abstract from an earlier presentation on the research by the same team of Taiwanese researchers: There was an incredible radiological incident in Taiwan. About 1700 apartments were contaminated with Cobalt-60, and about 10,000 residents in the contaminated apartments had received quite amount of gamma radiation dose averaged in about 0.34 Sv, highest up 7 Sv until 2000. Based on the RERF report and ICRP publication, such amount of radiation could induce the residents to have many times of excess spontaneous leukemia and some excess solid cancer deaths, actually no excess leukemia and solid cancer deaths were observed, on the contrary, the overall spontaneous cancer deaths of the residents were sharply reduced to only 3.6 % of the general population. So that the radiation received continuously or chronically (nomenclature hereafter as chronic radiation) in the Co-60 contaminated apartments is always hormetic and could effectively immune from cancers. It is different from the health effects of radiation received instantaneously or acutely (nomenclature hereafter as acute radiation) in the nuclear explosion or accident that could cause higher cancer mortality, cause injure syndrome, and even cause death in higher doses. As chronic radiation is very much similar to the radiation received in the peaceful use of nuclear energy and medical use of radiation, chronic radiation should never be afraid by public but should be earnestly and medically employed as immunity from cancers, and it might also immune from hereditary diseases. The conventionally policies, standards and measures for radiation protection should be managed separately for benefiting not only the peaceful use of nuclear energy and medical use of radiation, but also for effectively used as immunity from cancers and hereditary diseases. The hormetic health effects of chronic radiation might also occur in other substances, such as toxic chemicals and microorganisms, it might conclude that any toxic substances received in low dose rate is always beneficial to humanity even in quite amount dose.
Source: Y.C. Luan (Nuclear Science & Technology Association, Taipei, Taiwan), M.C. Shieh, S.T. Chen, W.K. Wang, K.L.Soong, C.M. Tsai, W.L. Chen, T.S. Chou, S.H. Mong, J.T. Wu, C. P. Sun, "The Hormetic Health Effects of Radiation Observed in the Incident of Co-60 Contaminated Apartments in Taiwan", presentation at BELLE conference on Non-linear Dose-Response Relationships in Biology, Toxicology and Medicine, June 11-13, 2002 [online abstract.
I don't know of an online source for the full paper, or whether it has been submitted to any journal [update:
See paper -- Chen et al., "Is Chronic Radiation an Effective Prophylaxis
Against Cancer?", Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons 9(1):6-10, Spring 2004. Thanks to David Hidson of Health Canada for providing journal citation]
. You may request a hard copy of the paper from the lead authors:
June 24, 2003
Health Physics Society revises position statement on acceptable dose
Here's newly-added point: "The Health Physics Society supports the establishment of an acceptable dose of radiation of 1 mSv/y (100mrem/y) above the annual natural radiation background. At this dose, risks of radiation-induced health effects are either nonexistent or too small to be observed." [Ref: "IONIZING RADIATION -- SAFETY STANDARDS FOR THE GENERAL PUBLIC", June 2003.
May 22, 2003
May 19, 2003
April 21, 2003: There's been much interest in potential effects of radiation exposure on the thyroids of children. Most of the research has centered on children exposed directly or in utero. But there has also been speculation about potential transgenerational effects on children conceived long after the I-131 levels have decayed. A study of children in two villages approximately 100 miles from former Soviet a-bomb test site (SNTS) published in current issue of Endocrine Journal by a team of Japanese and Russian researchers concludes that "These results suggest that there is no transgenerational risk for schoolchildren born from parents irradiated as a result of tests carried out in SNTS."
Ref: Aiko Hamada et al., "No Evidence of Radiation Risk for Thyroid Gland among Schoolchildren around Semipalatinsk Nuclear Testing Site", Endocrine Journal 50:85-89, February 2003 [abstract available online] Special thanx to the folks at NewsRx.net for reporting on this interesting study.
April 15, 2003:
The U.S. collects a lot of data on cancer incidence and mortality, and this is often used by various researches into effects of radiation exposure. The National Cancer Institute's annual SEER update was released today. It includes an interesting discussion of the uncertainties related to census data.
Ref: Ries et al. (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2000, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, 2003.