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Why Low dose radiation can be more dangerous- more cancers per person than at high doses

LeRoy Moore: Low-dose radiation can be more dangerous, 31 Mar 19  Though Maddie Nagle’s beautifully written column of March 8 criticizes me, more important is that she downplays the significance of low-dose exposure to the alpha radiation of plutonium at Rocky Flats. This could harm people unaware of the danger. Carl Morgan, the “Father of Health Physics,” studied the effects of radiation for those building Manhattan Project nuclear weapons. He knew that the alpha particles released by plutonium cannot be harmful unless inhaled or taken into the body through an open wound.

Toward the end of his life he spoke to Robert Del Tredici. He said “down at the low doses you actually get more cancers per person rem than you do at the high doses … because the high levels will often kill cells outright, whereas the low levels of exposure tend to injure cells rather than kill them and it is the surviving injured cells that are the cause for concern.” The effects of a small exposure “will be much more severe than had been anticipated.”(Del Tredici, “At Work in the Fields of the Bomb,” 1987, p. 133)

Nagle also makes misleading remarks about Tom K. Hei of Columbia University. Hei and colleagues demonstrated that a single plutonium alpha particle induces mutations in mammal cells. Cells receiving very low doses are more likely to be damaged than destroyed. Replication of these damaged cells constitutes genetic harm, and more such harm per unit dose occurs at very low doses than would occur with higher dose exposures. “These data provide direct evidence that a single alpha particle traversing a nucleus will have a high probability of resulting in a mutation and highlight the need for radiation protection at low doses.” (Hei et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 94, April 1997, pp. 3765-3770.)

April 1, 2019 - Posted by | radiation, Reference, USA

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