July 2000 (vol. 16, #5)
1601 N Tucson Blvd #9, Tucson AZ 85716
c 2000 Physicians for Civil Defense


The ``ideal'' radiation dose of zero would probably have the same consequences as other policies (such as global energy rationing or a global ban on DDT) advocated by environmental zealots: Zero Population Growth and Death.

To prove that radiation is actually essential for life would be extremely difficult. An experiment would require four generations of animals raised more than 1 km below the surface in a thick steel structure lined with 1-cm of lead, cadmium sheeting, and copper foil. Low-radionuclide food, water, and air would have to be provided. Reducing the dose to zero would be impossible, but levels less than 1% of background should be achievable (Luckey TD, Radiation Hormesis, CRC Press, 1991).

Experiments with nonvertebrates have clearly shown that subambient levels of radiation are detrimental. The viability of brine shrimp eggs decreased to around 10% (versus >60% for controls). After 6 months, barley seeds failed to vegetate. The growth rate of protozoans declined significantly (ibid.).

Low-dose irradiation has been experimentally shown to enhance growth, reproduction, immunity, radioresis- tance, mental acuity, and mean life span, and to decrease infections, sterility, heart disease, cancer deaths, and premature death.

TD Luckey, Professor Emeritus at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine, defines ``low dose'' to mean a dose between background and the zero equivalent point (ZEP), or the threshold of a dose-response curve. For chronic whole-body exposures of mammals, Luckey believes the ZEP to be about 10,000 times natural background levels or about 10 Gy/yr. (1 Gy = 100 rads.) The optimal level, he states, is about 10 times the ``high'' background level (found in places like Denver), or 0.1 Gy/yr (10 rads/yr). He suggests that safety limits should be increased by a factor of 200, from 5 mGy/yr to 1 Gy/yr: a revolutionary proposal to health physicists.

In his book, Luckey states: ``The data support the suggestion that appropriate radiation supplementation would release most populations from the deprivation of a partial radiation deficiency and allow full development of their physiologic potential. This improved quality of life includes a longer life span.... A 50-fold increase in background radiation gives reasonable promise of a new plateau of health.''

At the DDP meeting in July, Dr. Luckey stated that he has a uranium rock under his bed, ``aimed at my spleen.'' He has recently ``re-retired'' at the age of 89.

The EPA and the radiation protection industry remain committed to the Linear No Threshold theory-it being necessary for their agenda or livelihood. LNT defenders rely on studies and methods that Dr. Luckey places in 19 categories such as the following: ignoring health benefits, lumping data to eliminate dose-response information, misrepresenting data, omitting data, using single-tailed statistics, using the median instead of the mean, blocking publication, extrapolating from cells to intact organisms, using old animals for growth studies, and leaving out the low-dose category.

Together with James Muckerheide of Radiation, Science, & Health, Dr. Luckey presented substantial evidence debunking the LNT theory and supporting a hormetic effect for low-dose ionizing radiation.

Nuclear Workers. Based on more than 7 million person-years of experience in the U.S., Britain, and Canada, low-dose radiation decreased cancer death rates by 52%. The ``healthy worker effect'' does not explain this because the control group was made up of nonnuclear workers.

Atomic Bomb Survivors. The effect of an instantaneous exposure to gamma radiation and neutrons is not applicable to low dose-rate exposures. There are many problems with dose estimates and confounding variables. Still, cumulative data from 86,000 survivors show radiation hormesis in cancer death rates-if one looks at the data rather than the conclusions of the Radiation Effects Research Foundation.

Breast Cancer in Women Fluoroscoped for TB. Although it is alleged, on the basis of extrapolation from high doses, that 900 excess breast cancers would be expected in 1 million women exposed to a dose of 15 cGy, the actual data in the Canadian fluoroscopy study show a 33% reduction in breast cancer in women receiving that dose-2.7 standard deviations below a zero increase in risk. That equates to 10,000 fewer cancers in 1 million women.

Radium Dial Painters. Bone sarcomas in radium dial painters, who tipped the brushes with their lips, are said to provide the most definitive dose-response relationships for persons with a body burden of alpha-emitting radionuclides. However, BEIR ignores all the dial painters who were exposed to less than 10 Gy (a cumulative average skeletal dose of 1,000 rads) and had no bone cancers. In American dial painters, there is an inverse relationship between radiation exposure and cancer mortality. In 1983, the U.S. Department of Energy initiated termination of the monitoring program that was supposed to continue for the life of the painters, with more than 1,000 subjects still alive. Of 2,383 cases with reliable body content measures, 64 sarcomas occurred in the 264 cases with > 10 cGy, and 0 in the 2,119 cases with < 10 cGy.

Uranium miners. Data from uranium miners are the mainstay of allegations about the harmfulness of radon. There are many confounding factors including cigarette smoking and the presence of other known or potential carcinogens in the mines (silica, arsenic, vanadium, smoke from diesel fuel, and partial hypoxia with increased CO and CO2). Excess lung cancer mortality has also been reported in workers in open iron mines. In any event, there is little or no excess lung cancer mortality at exposures below a cumulative 70 WLM.

The term ``denial'' is a favorite of psychologists and social workers for refusal to face up to a problem. It is seldom used for efforts to cover up a benefit, or to obscure lack of evidence of risk. Regulators may ask, ``What harm is there in being unduly cautious?'' The answer is: plenty.

The LNT-which Prof. Gunnar Walinder of UNSCEAR called ``the greatest scientific scandal of the 20th century''-has caused the waste of trillions of dollars worldwide. The public has not only been deprived of the economic and health benefits of low-cost nuclear technology but of the measurable health benefits of enhanced exposure to irradiation at hormetic levels.

Current government policy kills real people by denying them the benefits of radiation-in the name of public health.


Chronic Whole Body Exposure in Mammals

For low linear energy transfer (LET) radiation (beta, gamma, and X-rays), TD Luckey proposes the following (Table 9.2 in Radiation Hormesis, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, 1992):

mGy/y Designation Comments

10-3 Lethal Extreme conditions
10-2 Moribund Laboratory conditions
10-1 Deficient Unusual environments1
1 Minimal Low background
10 Marginal High background
102 Optimal Recommended allowance
103 Acceptable Work limit
104 MaximalHealth limit2
105 ExcessiveChronic radiation syndrome
106 Lethal Acute radiation syndrome

1 These include beneath the surface in Antarctica and the oceans or large lakes; in gold, salt, and other selected mines; and in the middle of gold storage rooms.

2 ZEP, the zero equivalence point, is near this dose for many physiological parameters. No data were found for ZEP in human beings.

1 centisievert (cSv) = 1 rem
1 centigray (cGy) = 1 rad; 1 Gy = 100 rads

[The U.S. EPA has proposed a standard of a maximum of 0.15 mSv per year for a hypothetical maximally exposed person to ``protect'' people in the vicinity of the National Repository for nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, NV (Science 2000;288: 1177-1178). This would be a deficient dose were it not supplemented with natural background radiation.]

Additional Information

Tapes of presentations at the 2000 DDP annual meeting, including those referenced here by TD Luckey and J Muckerheide, are available. Use the enclosed order form, or contact DDP at (520) 325-2689, 1601 N. Tucson Blvd. Suite 9, Tucson, AZ 85716. On the same subject are talks at past meetings by Bernard Cohen, Myron Pollycove, Petr Beckmann, and Howard Maccabee, recorded on the 1992-1999 CD-ROM.

A number of excellent articles, including ``What's Wrong with Being Cautious?'' by Theodore Rockwell, ``The Rise and Fall of the Linear No-Threshold (LNT) Theory'' by Myron Pollycove, ``Test of the Linear No-Threshold Theory of Radiation Induced Cancer'' by Bernard Cohen, ``Radiation Risk and Ethics'' by Zbigniew Jaworowski, and ``Radiation Hormesis after 85 Years'' by Marshall Brucer, have been compiled by Radiation, Science, & Health


Absent Heat Wave

The routine weather map in the NY Times (7/25/00) states that ``temperatures near the surface of the earth as measured by satellite averaged below normal in the Southern Hemisphere for the 16th consecutive month. Warm spots included the western United States, Europe, and northern Russia.'' In addition, there was ``missing warmth'' in several spots from the Mississippi Valley to the upper Middle West. Some parts of the Northeast had the coolest July in 100 years-and there is no volcanic eruption to account for it. Cold Harbor, Alaska, also had the coldest winter since recording began in 1940. Could it be global warming? Or, just possibly, a variation in major source of Earth's heat, namely the Sun? (See Willie Soon's talk on ``The Sun Also Warms'' at the DDP meeting, and the July 2000 issue of conference cosponsor Access to Energy (PO Box 1250, Cave Junction, OR 95723).


The League of Constant Concern (LCC)

The LCC adheres to the ``law of constant concern,'' which holds that the level of concern remains constant regardless of the level of risk. The concept is explained by William Nierenberg, who was the first Chairman of the NASA Advisory Council, the Director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography for 20 years, and the winner of the 2000 Edward Teller Award:

``It is fascinating to observe the rigidity of the LCC in insisting on the negligible sea level rise while refusing to acknowledge the beneficial effects [such as increased plant growth] of the atmospheric CO2 rise'' (George C. Marshall Institute News, Winter 2000).

Nierenberg has evidently discovered a law with broad application to American politicized science: radiation, pesticides, second-hand tobacco smoke, particulate matter in air, and so on.


Government Precautions

When contemplating government ``insurance'' against global warming and other catastrophes, remember the fire that engulfed Los Alamos. This wildfire-a high-temperature blast wave that consumes everything in its path-began with the Cerro Grande ``event'' set by the National Park Service on May 4. This was a ``controlled burn'' meant to forestall worse problems. It was started under impermissible low-humidity/high-wind conditions, and allowed to burn for 3 days before the alarm bells started to ring. A call to the NPS fire-fighting central in the early morning of Friday, May 5, was answered by a machine, advising a callback during normal working hours. The senior official making the call let it go at that (The Week That Was 5/20/00,


Smallpox in Russia

Eight children in Russia's Far East contracted a mild version of smallpox from expired ampules of vaccine found in the trash at a local health clinic. No cases of the disease had been registered since 1977, and vaccination was stopped 3 years later. The local epidemiologic center kept boxes of smallpox vaccine to use in case of germ warfare and did not properly discard them when the vaccine expired. The children were not in life-threatening danger, according to a local health official, but a television report said they would probably have facial scarring (Immunization Newsbriefs 6/19/2000).

GLOUCESTER: secret mischiefs that I set abroach,
I lay unto the grievous charge of others....
[T]hen I sigh, and, with a piece of scripture,
Tell them that God bids us do good for evil:
And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With old odd ends, stol'n out of holy writ;
And seem a saint, when I most play the devil.

Shakespeare, King Richard III, I,iii