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Mary Olson pays tribute to Rosalie Bertell, the great explainer of radiation impacts on health

My Six Mentors,   by Mary Olson, Gender and Radiation Impact Project, 1 January 20121 

“……………. Rosalie Bertell, PhD

It was Rosalie who most let me know that I am able to contribute original work towards the day that People, to decide not to split atoms any more. Human beings began splitting atoms in Chicago, in 1942. Rosalie, a PhD in mathematics and member of the Order of Gray Nuns, knew more than anyone else I have worked with, that all of it—every last nuclear license, and radioactive emission, all the waste and all the bombs and all the money congress gives to nuclear activities are choices. People made, and continue to make these decisions…and we can change our mind.

Rosalie studied radiation impacts and was committed to service on behalf of future generations. She won the Right Livelihood award for her work with communities impacted by nuclear industry. Often called the “alternative Peace Prize” – she was one of the first women to be honored. As a laureate, she was encouraged to find and mentor students. Rosalie hoped that I, and my coworker Diane D’Arrigo would go to graduate school and she could be our mentor. We decided since we were already in our 50’s to simply study with her, informally. We traveled, 5 or 6 times to the Mother House where she resided and she generously met with us in the last two years of her life. She was always small in stature, but at that point her back was bent and she barely came up to my chest, but still had the intensity of a wolverine!

It was Rosalie Bertell who helped me tackle one of the biggest challenges I have faced. After a public talk on radioactive waste policy that I gave during this time, a woman asked me if radiation was more harmful to women, to her, compared to a man. Even though I had studied and known many of the top independent radiation researchers, including Bertell, I had never heard that biological sex could be a factor for harm—other than in reproduction (pregnancy)—but that is more about the embryo and fetus than the woman. I told her that I was sorry, I did not know and would get back to her. In fact, I forgot.

Two years later, when nuclear reactors exploded in Japan at a site called Fukushima Daiichi, I remembered that question and knew it urgently needed an answer. I was unaware that Dr Arjun Makhijani and a team had written on sex differences in radiation harm in 2006 (see www.ieer.org ) and also did not turn that up as I searched for any information on differences between males and females. My findings, five years later are an independent confirmation of the IEER work.

Since I found nothing on a basic google dive, I called Rosalie, who was at that point nearing the end of her life, to ask if she had studied biological sex. She had not, and the one report she pointed me to was out of print. It was my second call, a week later, that prompted her to tell me that I would have to look at the data myself.

I had no idea that the National Academy of Science (NAS) had published tables with 60 years of data on cancers and cancer deaths among the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Rosalie told me to find out for myself. I was shocked. I had stopped any formal study of math in the 6th grade…she was a mathematician—I asked her to do it, and she reminded me that she was dying. I protested again. It was her next words that pushed me. Rosalie said, “The data is divided by males and females so you can look at this question—and if there is a difference, it will be a simple pattern. It is good you do not have more math because if there is a difference, you will find it and not make it more complicated than it is.” She said to get a few pencils, a sharpener, an eraser and lots of paper, and go to it. I did.

The result was my first paper on the topic, “Atomic Radiation is More Harmful to Women,” (October 2011) published to the web in time for Rosalie to congratulate me. Three years later the paper was the basis for my invitation to speak at the global Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons. Three years later as the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was in the work, I founded the Gender and Radiation Impact Project. Rosalie is the one who put rocket fuel in my determination to help. If the world decides to base radiation protection on Refence Little Girl—make every regulation in terms of protecting females who are infants—five years old, future generations have a chance. Rosalie is the one who modeled for me that it is possible to reach for the best possible outcome, and, indeed, we have an obligation to do so………..……  https://www.genderandradiation.org/blog/2020/12/31/my-six-mentors

 

January 2, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, history, PERSONAL STORIES, radiation, Reference, women, Women | Leave a comment

How the USA and Soviet Union planned to use nuclear radiation as a weapon.

 This was initially seen as a great idea –  you could kill all the people while leaving the omfrastructure intact for your own use.
Death Dust: The Little-Known Story of U.S. and Soviet Pursuit of Radiological Weapons,  Three international security experts chart the rise and fall of radiological weapons programs in the United States and the Soviet Union. The MIT Press Reader

By: Morgan L. Kaplan, 31 Jan 20, 

For decades, the thought of radiological weapons has conjured terrifying images of cities covered in “death dust.” Classified as a weapon of mass destruction — alongside chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons — it has remained a point of mystery as to why these devastatingly indiscriminate weapons were not pursued in earnest by more state and non-state actors alike.

What did early radiological weapons (RW) programs look like? How and why did they arise, and what accounts for their ultimate demise? Aside from a handful of known cases, why have RW programs not proliferated with the same alacrity as other weapons programs?

Thanks to the rigorous and rich historical work of Samuel Meyer, Sarah Bidgood, and William Potter of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, we now have more answers. Focusing on the United States and Soviet Union in the 1940s and 1950s, the authors, in a recent study published in the journal International Security, trace the unique origins of these RW programs, as well as explain why they were subsequently abandoned. Their study, “Death Dust: The Little-Known Story of U.S. and Soviet Pursuit of Radiological Weapons,” reveals a fascinating web of causes, including organizational and bureaucratic politics, international competition, economic and technological constraints, and even the powerful initiatives of well-placed individuals.

While the authors’ work examines the past, it speaks directly to the present and future trajectory of RW programs. If you are interested in military innovation, the history of weapons of mass destruction, the sociology of technology, and science fiction (yes, science fiction!), the exchange featured below is for you.

Morgan Kaplan: First things first, what are radiological weapons? Do any countries or non-state actors have them today?

Samuel Meyer, Sarah Bidgood, and William C. Potter: We define a radiological weapon as one intended to disperse radioactive material in the absence of a nuclear detonation. ……..

……….. May 1941 — the first reference to RW appeared in a U.S. government document: the Report of the Uranium Committee. The report identified three possible military aspects of atomic fission, the first of which was “production of violently radioactive materials … carried by airplanes to be scattered as bombs over enemy territory.” (The other two possible applications noted in the report were “a power source on submarines and other ships” and “violently explosive bombs.”) ………

Technological advances were among the major drivers of RW programs in both the U.S. and the Soviet Union, and RW were initially pursued in tandem with nuclear weapons and chemical weapons (CW) programs. The anticipated promise of RW as a weapons innovation, however, never materialized in either country due to a combination of factors, including technical difficulties in the production and maintenance of the weapons, diminution in the perceived military utility of RW relative to both CW and nuclear weapons, and low threat perceptions about adversary RW capabilities. ……..

the parallelism in many respects between the rise and demise of the U.S. and Soviet RW programs; and (5) the serious but ultimately unsuccessful effort by the United States and the Soviet Union to secure a draft convention at the Conference on Disarmament prohibiting radiological weapons.

MK: Are radiological weapons a thing of the past or do they remain an attractive option for some countries and non-state actors today?

The authors: We are encouraged that no country has either used RW in war or has incorporated them into a national military arsenal. We are concerned, however, that the Russian Federation, despite its own unsuccessful history with RW, has shown renewed interest in advanced nuclear weapons that seek to maximize radioactive contamination. We also worry that some countries may conclude that RW serve their perceived national interests, especially in the absence of international legal restraints. It therefore is important, we believe, to revive U.S.-Russian cooperation to ban radiological weapons and strengthen the norm against their use.


Morgan L. Kaplan is the Executive Editor of International Security and Series Editor of the Belfer Center Studies in International Security book series at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. https://thereader.mitpress.mit.edu/death-dust-the-little-known-story-of-radiological-weapons/

January 2, 2021 Posted by | history, radiation, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

34 years later, food crops near Chernobyl still contain ionising radiation

Unsafe levels of radiation found in Chernobyl crops, By Harry Baker – Staff Writer   https://www.livescience.com/chernobyl-radioactive-isotopes-crops.html19 December 20, The effects of the explosive 1986 disaster can still be seen in nearby crops.

Crops grown near the Chernobyl nuclear site in Ukraine are still contaminated with radiation from the explosive 1986 disaster.

In a new study, researchers found that wheat, rye, oats and barley grown in this area contained two radioactive isotopes — strontium 90 and cesium 137 — that were above safe consumption limits. Radioactive isotopes are elements that have increased masses and release excess energy as a result.

“Our findings point to ongoing contamination and human exposure, compounded by lack of official routine monitoring,” study author David Santillo, an environmental forensic scientist at Greenpeace Research Laboratories at the University of Exeter, said in a statement, referring to the fact that the government suspended its radioactive goods monitoring program in 2013.

Santillo and his colleagues, in collaboration with researchers from the Ukrainian Institute of Agricultural Radiology, analyzed 116 grain samples, collected between 2011 and 2019, from the Ivankiv district of Ukraine — about 31 miles (50 kilometers) south of the nuclear plant.

This area is outside of Chernobyl’s “exclusion zone,” which is a 30 mile (48 km) radius around the plant that was evacuated in 1986 and has remained unoccupied. They found radioactive isotopes, predominantly strontium 90, were above safe consumption level in 48% of samples. They also found that wood samples collected from the same region between 2015 and 2019, had strontium 90 levels above the safe limit for firewood.

The researchers believe that the lingering radiation in the wood, in particular, may be the reason for the continued contamination of crops, almost 35 years after the disaster. When analyzing the wood ash from domestic wood-burning ovens, they found strontium 90 levels that were 25 times higher than the safe limit. Locals use this ash, as well as ash from the local thermal power plant (TPP), to fertilize their crops, which continues to cycle the radiation through their soil.

However, computer simulations suggest that it could be possible to grow crops in the region at “safe” levels if this process of repeated contamination ceased. The researchers are now calling for the Ukrainian government to reinstate its monitoring program and create a system for properly disposing of radioactive ash.

“Contamination of grain and wood grown in the Ivankiv district remains of major concern and deserves further urgent investigation,” study author Valery Kashparov, director of the Ukrainian Institute of Agricultural Radiology, said in the statement. “Similarly, further research is urgently needed to assess the effects of the Ivankiv TPP on the environment and local residents, which still remain mostly unknown.”

The findings were published on Dec. 17 in the journal Environment International.

Originally published on Live Science.

December 19, 2020 Posted by | environment, radiation, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Microwave Radiation ‘Most Plausible’ Cause Of Diplomats’ Ailments

Microwave Radiation ‘Most Plausible’ Cause Of Diplomats’ Ailments, Report Says, NPR

December 8, 2020 Posted by | ASIA, radiation | 2 Comments

Chernobyl’s bumblebees still affected by radiation

This new data shows effects on bumblebees are happening at dose rates previously thought safe for insects, and the current international recommendations will need to be re-evaluated.

November 5, 2020 Posted by | environment, radiation, Reference, Ukraine | Leave a comment

 Tritium is what makes nuclear reactors so dangerous, not only in Fukushima but also in S. Korea

 Tritium is what makes nuclear reactors so dangerous, not only in Fukushima but also in S. Korea,  http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_editorial/967441.html     By Kim Eun-hyoung, editorial writer, Oct.27,2020
Tritium, or hydrogen-3, is identified by the scientific symbol 3H or T. As an isotype of hydrogen, the lightest of all elements, tritium contains two neutrons, whereas ordinary hydrogen (known as protium, identified by the symbol H) contains none. That makes tritium unstable and, as a result, radioactive.

Tritium exists in the natural world, but only in negligible amounts. It’s typically produced during the fission process inside nuclear reactors. Tritium is part of the coolant that lowers the temperature in the reactor core, which is heated by fission.

The contaminated water at the Fukushima reactor that the Japanese government seeks to release into the ocean contains tritium at levels that are 10 times higher than levels permitted by the South Korean government. That has terrified people not only in Japan but also in Korea.

The Japanese government says that the contaminated water doesn’t present a problem because it will be decontaminated through Tokyo Electric Power Company’s advanced liquid processing system (ALPS), before release. But the tricky part about releasing the contaminated water is tritium, which can’t be removed by ALPS because of the strong chemical bond it forms with water.

But Fukushima isn’t the only place affected by the risk of tritium. Heavy-water reactors are cooled with heavy water (deuterium oxide, 2H2O) instead of ordinary drinking water, producing a greater amount of tritium. There are four heavy-water reactors at Korea’s Wolsong plant, including Wolsong-1, which has been in the news recently after government auditors questioned a report about its economic viability, the justification given for shutting the reactor down earlier than planned.

Tritium is regarded as a low-risk radioactive substance, causing less harm than other types of radiation. For one thing, the radiation emitted by tritium is so weak that it can’t penetrate the outer layer of the skin. And even when it is absorbed by the body, its biological half-life — the time required for half the substance to leave the body — is only 12 days.

Even now, Wolsong-2, Wolsong-3, and Wolsong-4 account for 40% of the tritium released by all of Korea’s nuclear stations. Rates of thyroid cancer among women who live near the Wolsong nuclear plant are 2.5 times higher than in other areas, which some think is linked to tritium contamination. The question of nuclear power safety affects Korea in the same way as it affects Japan. It would be foolish and contradictory to view Japanese nuclear plants through the lens of safety and Korean nuclear plants through the lens of economic viability.

But such safety observations only apply to a single dose of radiation, such as an X-ray, and the actual risk depends on the intensity of exposure. That has led various countries to develop strict safety standards for the substance. The European Committee on Radiation Risk warns that internal radiation exposure can cause mutations that could lead to cancer.

October 29, 2020 Posted by | radiation, South Korea | Leave a comment

Using a robot to map the highly radioactive area of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

Unilad 27th Oct 2020, The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant was visited by engineers from the
University of Bristol and Spot on October 22, and the team intended to use
the robot to create a three-dimensional map of the distribution of nuclear
radiation.
The area is extremely dangerous because of the fallout of the
1986 nuclear accident and, as a result, the robot adds new surveying
capabilities to the teams involved. Other robots were also implemented to
inspect and survey the area.

https://www.unilad.co.uk/technology/boston-dynamics-sent-spot-into-chernobyl-nuclear-plant/

October 29, 2020 Posted by | radiation, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Study finds that bees are harmed by quite low levels of ionising radiation

Current Chernobyl-level radiation harmful to bees: study    https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/current-chernobyl-level-radiation-harmful-to-bees-study/article32908484.eceAFP
PARIS, FRANCE, OCTOBER 21, 2020 

Researchers exposed bee colonies in a laboratory setting to a range of radiation levels found in areas of the exclusion zone around the ruined Chernobyl site

Bumblebees exposed to levels of radiation found within the Chernobyl exclusion zone suffered a “significant” drop in reproduction, in new research published Wednesday that scientists say should prompt a rethink of international calculations of nuclear environmental risk.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, set out to discover how ionising radiation affects insects, which are often thought to be more resilient than other species.

“We found that at radiation levels detectable in Chernobyl, the number of new queen bees produced from the colony was significantly reduced and colony growth was delayed — meaning colonies reached their peak weight at a week later,” said the paper’s lead author Katherine Raines.

The lecturer in environmental pollution at the University of Stirling told AFP by email that researchers “anticipate that this may have an effect on pollination/ecosystem services in contaminated areas”.

The authors said they chose bumblebees both because of a lack of lab-based research into bees and because of their crucial role in pollination.

Ionising radiation can occur either from nuclear sites or medical procedures, although the levels tested were higher than those that would likely be found in the environment from normal releases, Raines said.

But she added that the researchers were “very surprised that we could detect effects as low as we did”.

“Our research suggests insects living in the most contaminated areas at Chernobyl may suffer adverse effects, with subsequent consequences for ecosystem services such as pollination,” she added.

The authors said if their findings could be generalised “they suggest insects suffer significant negative consequences at dose rates previously thought safe” and called revisions to the international framework for radiological protection of the environment.

People are not allowed to live near the Chernobyl power station and the abandoned settlements within the exclusion zone are surrounded by forests hosting birds, wolves, elks and lynxes. A giant protective dome was put in place over the destroyed fourth reactor in 2016.

October 22, 2020 Posted by | environment, radiation, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Ionising radiation – the tragedy of the ”radium girls”

They weren’t just making paints, they were doing the painting, too. According to NPR, US Radium hired scores of girls and young women — as young as just 11-years-old — to paint watch dials with the glow-in-the-dark, radium-based paint. As if just working with the paint wasn’t bad enough, they were also encouraged to put the brush between their lips and twirl it into a point. It was the best way to get truly precise numbers and brush strokes, but with each lick of the brush, they were swallowing radium.

the human body isn’t great at telling the difference between radium and calcium. Radium gets absorbed into the bones just like calcium does, and when that happens, the rot starts.

Writer and historian Kate Moore documented the cases of the Radium Girls (via The Spectator) and found that there were a whole host of symptoms. Some started suffering from chronic exhaustion. For many, it started with their teeth — one by one, those teeth would start to decay and rot. When they were removed, their gums wouldn’t heal. In some cases, the jaw would just simply disintegrate at the dentist’s touch. Bad breath was common. Skin became so delicate that the slightest touch would tear open wounds. Ulcers formed for some, and those that were pregnant bore stillborn babies.

THE RADIUM GIRLS HAD TO BE BURIED IN LEAD-LINED COFFINS
The Radium Girls weren’t just sick, they were very literally radioactive. Mollie Maggia was exhumed in 1927, in the hopes that her bones would give still-living Radium Girls the evidence they needed to win in court. According to Popular Science, her coffin was lifted out of the ground, and her body? It glowed. That wasn’t entirely surprising, considering her bones were found to be highly radioactive — and considering radium’s half-life is 1,600 years, they’re not going to stop glowing any time soon.

Eventually, 16 separate sites around Ottawa would be classified as Superfund sites. 

NPR Illinois says that many have been cleaned up, but as of 2018, there was at least one site — a 17-acre plot of land on the Fox River — that still remained a highly radioactive and terrifying legacy of the Radium Girls.

THE MESSED UP TRUTH ABOUT THE RADIUM GIRLS  https://www.grunge.com/181092/the-messed-up-truth-about-the-radium-girls/   BY DEBRA KELLY/DEC. JULY 14, 2020 
History is filled with episodes that prove mankind is just sort of making everything up as it goes. There’s no shortage of things that can kill us or do horrible, terrible things to our soft and squishy bodies, and every time we think we know about them all, it turns out there’s something else lurking around the corner.

And sometimes, it’s disguised as something awesome. Need proof? Look no further than the Radium Girls.

Yes, that radium. Today, the Royal Society of Chemistry says there’s really only one use for radium — targeted cancer treatments, because it’s so good at killing cells. It was first discovered in 1898 by Marie and Pierre Curie, after they extracted a single milligram from ten tons of a uranium ore called pitchblende. And it was pretty darn cool. It glowed, and seriously, how exciting is that? Unfortunately, it was also deadly — as the so-called Radium Girls would find out.

Continue reading

October 3, 2020 Posted by | history, radiation, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

On the moon ”normal” humans (i.e males) will get 200 Times the Radiation Experienced on Earth, (what about females?)

Christina Macpherson’s websites & blogs

 

It is amazing that in all this propaganda for putting a woman on the moon, – no mention is ever made, of the fact that women are much more susceptible to the effects of ionising radiation, meaning that their risk of developing cancer and other illnesses is greater than it is for men. Apparently the space enthusiasts are still buying into that traditional view that the ”normal” human being is male.

Moonwalking Humans Get Blasted With 200 Times the Radiation Experienced on Earth, Smithsonian Magazine ,

By Alex Fox, SMITHSONIANMAG.COM, SEPTEMBER 29, 2020
The new findings will inform how much shielding future astronauts will need to safely explore the moon,  The 12 human beings who have walked on the moon were all bombarded by radiation roughly 200 times what we experience here on Earth, reports Adam Mann for Science. That’s two to three times what astronauts experience aboard the International Space Station, explains Marcia Dunn for the Associated Press (AP), suggesting that any long term human presence on the moon will require shelters with thick walls capable of blocking the radiation.

The 12 human beings who have walked on the moon were all bombarded by radiation roughly 200 times what we experience here on Earth, reports Adam Mann for Science. That’s two to three times what astronauts experience aboard the International Space Station, explains Marcia Dunn for the Associated Press (AP), suggesting that any long term human presence on the moon will require shelters with thick walls capable of blocking the radiation.

Despite the fact that the measurements, which come courtesy of China’s Chang’e-4 lunar lander, are quite high compared to what we experience on Earth, the data is quite useful for protecting future moonwalkers. According to Science, the levels of radiation at the lunar surface wouldn’t be expected to increase the risk of NASA astronauts developing cancer by more than 3 percent—a risk threshold the agency is legally required to keep its astronauts’ activities safely below.

Despite the fact that the measurements, which come courtesy of China’s Chang’e-4 lunar lander, are quite high compared to what we experience on Earth, the data is quite useful for protecting future moonwalkers. According to Science, the levels of radiation at the lunar surface wouldn’t be expected to increase the risk of NASA astronauts developing cancer by more than 3 percent—a risk threshold the agency is legally required to keep its astronauts’ activities safely below……

Some forms of radiation, which is electromagnetic energy emitted in forms like heat, visible light, X-rays and radio waves, can mess with the cells inside the human body by breaking up the atoms and molecules they’re made of. On Earth, most people are familiar with ultraviolet radiation’s harmful effects on our skin, but in space, astronauts are also subjected to galactic cosmic rays, accelerated solar particles, neutrons and gamma rays, according to the research published this week in the journal Science Advances. This material can damage our DNA and lead to increased incidences of cancer or contribute to other health problems such as cataracts and degenerative diseases of the central nervous system or other organ systems.

Humanity measured the radiation astronauts on the Apollo missions experienced on their journeys to the moon, but those measurements were cumulative for each astronaut’s entire journey, per Science. To figure out the daily dose of radiation exclusively on the surface of the moon, the robotic Chang’e-4 lander used a stack of ten silicon solid-state detectors.

The renewed interest in collecting such measurements is partly because NASA has plans to send more people to the moon. The Artemis moon mission, scheduled for 2024, will feature the first woman ever to walk on the moon as well as a week-long expedition to the lunar surface and a minimum of two moonwalks, reports Katie Hunt for CNN.

Berger tells the AP that these new findings suggest the shelters needed to protect Artemis’ astronauts during such a long stay on the moon should have walls made of moon dirt that are some two and a half feet thick. Science notes that the shelter would also need an even more heavily shielded inner sanctum to protect astronauts in the event of a solar storm. Adequate shielding for this inner chamber would be roughly 30 feet of water, and would also need to be reachable within 30 minutes—the current limit of satellites’ abilities to provide astronauts with advanced warning of such hazards.

The findings aren’t exactly suprising: they are in line with calculations made using existing measurements. But they’re a crucial step towards putting people on the surface of the moon for extended periods of time. According to Science, the results confirm that with proper shielding astronauts could spend as long as six months on the moon.  https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/moonwalking-humans-get-blasted-200-times-radiation-experienced-earth-180975926/

October 1, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, space travel | Leave a comment

Radiation exposure on the moon is nearly three times that on the International Space Station

Radiation exposure on the moon is nearly three times that on the ISS, 25 September 2020

By Layal Liverpool Astronauts on the moon would face nearly three times more radiation exposure than those aboard the International Space Station, which could make long-term missions riskier than thought.

“Once you’ve survived being on the moon and come back to Earth, radiation damage is what stays with you for the rest of your life and that’s why this is a critical measurement,” says Robert Wimmer-Schweingruber at the University of Kiel in Germany.

Wimmer-Schweingruber and his team analysed several weeks of data acquired by China’s Chang’e … (subscribers only) https://www.newscientist.com/article/2255545-radiation-exposure-on-the-moon-is-nearly-three-times-that-on-the-iss/#ixzz6Z61souv7

September 26, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, space travel | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s citizen radiation testers still on the job.

Fukushima Has Turned These Grandparents Into Avid Radiation Testers, NPR,     Kat Lonsdorf (@lilkat_bigworldSeptember 11, 2020  Takenori Kobayashi lugs a garbage bag full of soil across a parking lot to an unmarked office. His wife, Tomoko, holds the door to a tiny work space with lab equipment and computers set up. On the edge of Fukushima’s former nuclear exclusion zone, this is the place the couple likes to call their “grandma and grandpa lab.”

It started as a makeshift operation in the city of Minamisoma the year after the 2011 nuclear disaster, when people — mostly elderly — returned to the area and were worried about high radiation levels in their food and soil.”We’ve given up hope that our children and grandchildren will come back to live here,” Tomoko, 67, says. Most young people decided to start lives elsewhere rather than return, not wanting to take the risks with radiation. “But in order for them to come back and visit us,” she continues, “we need to know everything is safe. So we test it all.”

Citizen science like this flourished in Fukushima after the nuclear disaster in 2011, when a tsunami triggered explosions at the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The wind carried radioactive material for miles, covering whole towns and neighborhoods with dangerous, yet invisible, particles. For weeks after the disaster, information was scarce and trust in the Japanese government plummeted. And now, almost a decade later, wide arrays of residents have taken it upon themselves to collect radiation data — from mothers worried about their kids to surfers monitoring beaches to individuals with Geiger counters in their homes — to help regain a sense of control.
Inside the lab, the Kobayashis pair get to work. One measures out soil into small containers, the other starts labeling — so coordinated and practiced, it’s almost like a dance. They put the samples through a donated gamma counter, a big cylindrical machine that measures radioactive particles. Today, they’re testing soil from a nearby farm.

A handful of other residents help run the lab, and throughout the years, experts from nearby universities have come to teach them all about the different equipment and radiation science.

“All the grandparents here are radiation professionals now,” Takenori, 71, says with a smile……..

The maps show that Fukushima’s radiation levels are decreasing, because of both natural decay of particles and large-scale Japanese government decontamination efforts. But there are still a lot of hot spots — places where radiation is worryingly high. The authorities have tried to ease concerns, testing food in supermarkets and setting up radiation monitors in public parks, outside train stations or flashing along highways, but trust in the government is still extremely low. Many residents say they still feel best collecting information themselves. ……… https://www.npr.org/2020/09/11/907881531/fukushima-has-turned-these-grandparents-into-avid-radiation-testers

September 12, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, radiation | Leave a comment

Low Dose Ionizing Radiation Shown to Cause Cancer in Review of 26 Studies

These results contradict the claims of the Japanese authorities who keep repeating that there is no impact observed below a dose of 100 mSv.

The US National Cancer Institute has dedicated an entire volume of its scientific journal, Journal of the National Cancer Institute Monographs, to the impact of low doses of radiation on cancers. The articles are open access.

 

jncmon_2020_56cover

July 13, 2020

An international team of experts in the study of cancer risks associated with low-dose ionizing radiation published the monograph, “Epidemiological studies of low-dose ionizing radiation and cancer: Summary bias assessment and meta-analysis,” in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute on July 13, 2020.  

It is well established that ionizing radiation causes cancer through direct DNA damage. The general public are exposed to low doses of ionizing radiation from medical exposures like computed tomography (CT) scans, naturally occurring radiation (emitted from bedrock with the earth’s crust and cosmic rays emitted by the sun), and occupational exposures to medical, aircrew and nuclear workers. A key question for low-dose exposures is how much of the damage can be repaired and whether other mechanisms, including inflammation, also play a role. This critical question has been long debated for radiation protection standards.

After combing data from 26 epidemiological studies the authors found clear evidence of excess cancer risk from low dose ionizing radiation: 17 of 22 studies showed risk for solid cancers and 17 of 20 studies showed risk for leukemia. The summary risk estimates were statistically significant and the magnitude of risk (per unit dose) was consistent with studies of populations exposed to higher doses.

A novel feature of the research effort was the investigators’ use of epidemiological and statistical techniques to identify and evaluate possible sources of bias in the observational data, for example confounding, errors in doses, and misclassification of outcomes. After a thorough and systematic review, they concluded that most did not suffer from major biases.

The authors concluded that although for the most part, absolute risk of cancer will be small, the data reinforce the radiation safety principle to ensure that doses are “as low as reasonably achievable” (ALARA).   

Additional research is needed to explore risks for cardiovascular disease (CVD) at low doses. Because CVD is a very common disease, even small risks at low doses could have important implications for radiation protection and public health.  

The 26 epidemiological studies were published between 2006 and 2017 and included a total of 91,000 solid cancers and 13,000 leukemias. Studies were eligible if the mean dose was <100 mGy. The study populations had environmental radiation exposure from accidents, like Chernobyl, and natural background radiation, medical radiation exposure like CT scans and occupational exposure including nuclear workers and medical radiation workers.   

Reference:

Epidemiological studies of low-dose ionizing radiation and cancer: Summary bias assessment and meta-analysisExit Disclaimer,” JNCI Monographs. Volume 2020. Issue 56. July 2020.

https://academic.oup.com/jncimono/issue/2020/56

https://dceg.cancer.gov/news-events/news/2020/low-dose-monograph

September 1, 2020 Posted by | radiation | , , , | 1 Comment

Radiation hazard at Dead Horse Bay, Brooklyn

August 27, 2020 Posted by | environment, radiation, USA | Leave a comment

Analysing the evidence on effects of ionising radiation on wildlife

Nature 21st Aug 2020, Tim Mousseau et al: We re-analyzed field data concerning potential effects
of ionizing radiation on the abundance of mammals collected in the
Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ) to interpret these findings from current
knowledge of radiological dose–response relationships, here mammal
response in terms of abundance.

In line with recent work at Fukushima, and
exploiting a census conducted in February 2009 in the CEZ, we reconstructed
the radiological dose for 12 species of mammals observed at 161 sites. We
used this new information rather than the measured ambient dose rate (from
0.0146 to 225 µGy h−1) to statistically analyze the variation in
abundance for all observed species as established from tracks in the snow
in previous field studies.

All available knowledge related to relevant
confounding factors was considered in this re-analysis. This more realistic
approach led us to establish a correlation between changes in mammal
abundance with both the time elapsed since the last snowfall and the dose
rate to which they were exposed. This relationship was also observed when
distinguishing prey from predators.

The dose rates resulting from our
re-analysis are in agreement with exposure levels reported in the
literature as likely to induce physiological disorders in mammals that
could explain the decrease in their abundance in the CEZ. Our results
contribute to informing the Weight of Evidence approach to demonstrate
effects on wildlife resulting from its field exposure to ionizing
radiation.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-70699-3?s=09

August 25, 2020 Posted by | environment, radiation, Ukraine | Leave a comment