J Thomas on December 07, 2010, 08:14:56 pm

There is evidence of radiation hormesis, but we don't really know how or why it should happen. And it seems as if every little bit of radiation exposure carries with it a small probability of chromosome damage, with its attendant consequences. So the mechanism behind extrapolating radiation exposure risks downwards is understood - the probability of a cell getting radiation damage of a sort that would turn it into the starting point for a cancer does scale linearly with radiation exposure. That stimulating the body's defense mechanisms every now and then seems to more than make up for that... do you want to bet your life on something we don't really understand?

You brought up one of the arguments. Radiation damage appears to scale linearly, and if you extrapolate the line down to zero on the y axis, it isn't at zero on the x axis. So if we assume it's linear then there ought to be a threshold with no damage.

But what if it isn't linear? What if it's, say, quadratic? Get out along the arm of a parabola and it will take a lot of data to tell it isn't straight. There are a lot of functions like that. A logistic curve for one. There's a section near the middle that's nearly straight, and a section at the front and bottom that's nearly straight, and one near the top and right. When you get a whole lot of radiation, more doesn't make much difference. Dead is dead.

We have genetic repair mechanisms that fix lots of DNA damage, but they don't get it all and sometimes they misrepair things. Isn't it reasonable that it might not be linear with dose but more like some sort of gamma function? The sum of lots of exponentials?

To me it's plausible that rather than a threshold where below that there is no damage, there might be more like half a threshold. Likely you could model it as two linear functions, with the one near zero having a slower slope, and you wouldn't be far off -- farthest off where they meet. But I don't have the data. I'm making up something that looks plausible to me from the limited data I have seen.

I would much rather we do experiments on all this, than increase the background radiation everywhere in the hope that it won't be bad. If you're against doing anything about global warming on the idea that it would be disruptive to do anything significant and it isn't proven that it would help, that same argument goes about a thousand times as much against spreading radioactivity.

Nuclear war (and even nuclear accident) is disruptive. And it isn't at all proven that fallout is good for you in the long run.

SandySandfort on December 07, 2010, 09:45:38 pm
Nuclear war (and even nuclear accident) is disruptive. And it isn't at all proven that fallout is good for you in the long run.

Actually, it is. You don't need to speculate. Read the literature hormesis. Especially the studies about the improved health, in the Goldie Locks zones around ground zero for the nukes dropped on Japan.

jamesd on December 07, 2010, 11:52:34 pm
My shock at 500 Atom Bombs had more to do with adding to the stupidity of raising the earths natural background radiation. 
Of course anyone not concerned with such things is welcome to free housing and quiet neighborhoods in Pripyat Ukraine.

Lots of people live, illegally, near the Chernobyl reactor.  The government tries to force them out, and sometimes succeeds, but they keep sneaking back.  Life flourishes in and around the reactor.

To live in the vicinity of Chernobyl is treated the way witch finders treat those who doubt the existence of witches.

Here is a description of the Chernobyl cooling ponds:
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I saw that he was carrying the big loaves in his arms. "Follow me," he said as he led us to a railroad bridge near the reactor building which spanned a section of the Chernobyl nuclear facility cooling pond. We carefully stepped from tie to tie on the bridge until we were out in the middle. Our guide then broke off and handed us each large fistfuls of the bread. "Watch this," he said, and he tossed a piece as big as his hand down into the water. We all watched as the bread splashed and floated about 20 feet below. Suddenly there was a boiling in the water and a huge mouth appeared from below, vacuuming the bread down like a grain of rice. The creature headed back for the bottom and we stared in disbelief as its long, dark body slid past. I could not believe it when the great fish's tail finally smacked the water's surface. "What the hell was that?" I gasped in horror. "Catfish," the guide replied, tossing in more giant chunks. "Catfish live here in the cooling pond. They have done well in the warm water from the plant, and the radiation does not seem to have affected them adversely. In fact, the conditions here   actually seem to favor them." My eyes were glued an epic battle below between three of the behemoths for more food. "How big are they?" I asked. "The catfish? Some here are maybe 3 meters. There used to be one here that was really big - huge. They have very large mouths, no?" My mind quickly did the math. 3 meters -   what was that, 8 feet? 9 feet! A little OVER 9 feet! And they do have very large mouths, yes. They looked like they could suck down a toilet. "Do they grow that big because of the radiation?" I asked. "No no, they grow to that size normally.

Plane on December 07, 2010, 11:53:23 pm
 
Posted on: Today at 07:33:27 PMPosted by: Apollo-Soyuz  
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Quote from: SandySandfort on Today at 11:35:14 AM
There is solid evidence to show that we don't get enough ionizing radiation. Most people are gamma ray deficient and we need about 100x background for optimal health. People getting enough gamma have overall better health and far fewer cancers.


Ra-di-a-tion. Yes, indeed. You hear the most outrageous lies about it. Half-baked goggle-box do-gooders telling everybody it's bad for you. Pernicious nonsense! Everybody could stand a hundred chest X-rays a year! They oughta have 'em, too.  ;-)
......
If Hormesis might really stimulated by ionising radiation I have a suggestion for where to gather data on it.

Aircrews fly high enough in the atmosphere to doubble their exposure to Cosmic rays and they keep track of their hours of exposure.

If a reasearcher were to gather the employment records of a few thousand Jumbo Jet aircrew members and compare the hours of their exposure to their health records, a matrix of exposure time vs  helth effects could be made to show how much was beneficial and how much was too much to be beneficial.

I would expect a bell curve to appear if the hormesis effect is real.


J Thomas on December 08, 2010, 01:58:05 am
Nuclear war (and even nuclear accident) is disruptive. And it isn't at all proven that fallout is good for you in the long run.

Actually, it is. You don't need to speculate. Read the literature hormesis. Especially the studies about the improved health, in the Goldie Locks zones around ground zero for the nukes dropped on Japan.

I did a quick search of the online literature, never getting to original sources.

I have a bias. I know that most research is done incorrectly and is usually deeply flawed. Usually when I study a research paper carefully I find important flaws. That's the baseline. When I see a result that agrees with what I already believe, I don't pay a whole lot of attention -- it isn't very interesting. I try not to let it influence me since it's probably wrong, but it does tend to have some influence. When I see a paper that I don't believe, I tend to look at it carefully and find the flaws.

I have not found the documents about the japanese victims. But I know ahead of time that this was not a double-blind study. There's a lot of room for Hawthorne effect here. The surviving Hiroshima victims got a whole lot of medical attention because of Hiroshima. Was there a control group which got the same attention, or did they just pick somebody to use as baseline? If the experimental group got medical attention that the control group did not, that gives lots of chances to detect problems early and treat them. Of course it also gives more diagnosed problems to report. But the special treatment afforded the victims could be enough to increase survival for the ones who were not too badly damaged.

I will regard the issue as unproven until I see that the research was flawless.

It is not plausible to me that radiation hormesis would improve health, reproduction, and longevity due to turning on repair systems etc, but natural selection did not result in repair systems etc which are always on, or at least on more often without radiation.

Consider the changes in north america over the last 30,000 years. A whole lot of evolving going on in a short time, geologically speaking. Was the background radiation count so much higher then? And most plants and animals haven't adapted? I can imagine ways that could happen. I wouldn't bet on them.

Far easier for me to believe that radiation hormesis is real, and there are trade-offs. it gives some good results and some bad ones, regarding health and longevity, and we'll find the bad ones with further research.

If it turns out that it's real and there are no bad effects then I will be very pleased, and will want to find out how it works. I'm not real hopeful, but I don't see it's been proven wrong yet.

mellyrn on December 08, 2010, 09:03:00 am
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Far easier for me to believe that radiation hormesis is real, and there are trade-offs.

There are.  In the exposure range 10R-70R, your risk of developing leukemia is slightly increased, and your risk of breast cancer is decreased.  I'm sorry I can't cite the study for you, but it was in one of the annual BEIR reports iirc.

I'm just an anonymous person on the internet, but fwiw:

Attending various American Nuclear Society conferences, and various Health Physics Society conferences, I have spoken to:

a) a researcher who described what he called the "mega-mouse" experiment, because it involved a million mice.  One control group; one kept in a very low background environment, which included food from which the 40K had been extracted; and 4 groups at progessively higher background levels.  According to my contact, the longest-lived mice were those in the 3x normal background group.

b) a researcher who worked with single-celled critters (chlorella? I forget the specific critter), who were kept in an extremely shielded environment and had their nutrient solution depleted in 40K, and run through several generations to reduce the 40K even further; he said his critters, under the microscope, were textbook-perfect in looks -- and extremely sluggish, barely moving, reproducing rarely if at all.

c) Dr. Bernard Cohen, who compared average home radon levels county by county across the US (~1600 counties), to the lung cancer mortality rates for those counties.  He found a negative correlation:  the higher the average home radon, the lower the mortality.  But wait, said his critics; that runs afoul of the "ecological fallacy"; maybe the counties with low lung cancer mortality had fewer smokers or a lower elderly population, or some such.  So Cohen reevaluated, accounting for something like 54 different socioeconomic variables that could impact lung cancer mortality.  The relationship remained negative.  His critics complained again, so he tried again, taking into account 112 soc-ec variables.  The relationship remained negative.  They complained a third time, and this was when I heard him speak, explaining the nearly 150 different possibly-confounding variables he's considered.   The relationship remains negative.  I do not "remediate" my own home for radon.

d) a Japanese researcher (I can find his info on request) working with terminal cancer patients; they only let him work with those declared terminal.  Instead of chemo, instead of targeted kill-the-tumor radiation, he exposed them to whole-body doses -- "low" doses of merely 7-10R -- twice a week for a few weeks.  He lost a few patients the first year, but fewer than the control group which was on the then chemo "gold standard"; lost a few more the next year, but again fewer than the chemo group lost.  I think he lost one or two more in the third year -- but 5 years out, all the control group had died, but 84% of his trial group was still alive and, at the time of his talk, 14 years later, were still alive.  He has a second similar study running, against the latest (or at least a more recent) chemo "gold standard".  If I ever develop cancer, I'm going to do my durndest to go this route.

The Naval Nuclear Shipyard Workers study is one I think you won't find; to the best of my knowledge, it never achieved publication.  I suggest you find an actual health physicist and take him out for a beer to get the story.  70,000+ workers, all doing much the same work (hence no "healthy laborer" confounding), except that some worked with radioactives and some did not; the ones doing the work for which they needed dosimetry had something like 70% less cancer mortality.

I appreciate that you can't know how well any of these were done.  And please don't think I am advocating nuking anywhere in order to raise the background radiation levels:  I might install some clever device in my home, if it were legal, but then I would have precise control over how much I raised my personal background, which global nuking does not allow.  Moreover, fallout is full of stuff that is chemically toxic -- bleaugh.

SandySandfort on December 08, 2010, 10:22:31 am
I might install some clever device in my home, if it were legal, but then I would have precise control over how much I raised my personal background, which global nuking does not allow.  Moreover, fallout is full of stuff that is chemically toxic -- bleaugh.

I have a science writer friend who buys old Fiesta Ware plates. The red-orange glazing was made with uranium oxide. It is radioactive. He puts plates in and around his seat at his home work station. You can pick up old Fiesta Ware at second-hand stores. flea markets and garage sales. You should buy a radiation detection device so as to monitor and regulate your daily gamma intake.

quadibloc on December 08, 2010, 11:40:08 am
According to my contact, the longest-lived mice were those in the 3x normal background group.
OK, if we take this as accurate, then the turnover point for radiation hormesis is too low for this to have much relevance to space colonization.

The NRC fact sheet on radiation notes that the "linear no-threshold" model is used as a conservative rule for estimating radiation risks, and that, in fact, the people in Denver, Colorado don't show a higher rate of cancer than people living at sea level. As this is a highly conservative source, it doesn't say that there are any health benefits to living there - I suppose the improved rates of exercise from increased access to skiing would mask the effect in any case.

Fiesta Ware, however, is a widely sought-after collectable - and IIRC, it isn't radioactive enough to worry about, as long as you don't do silly things with it. (Although I'm not sure what would constitute "silly", as I don't recall the details well enough.)

J Thomas on December 08, 2010, 02:29:18 pm
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Far easier for me to believe that radiation hormesis is real, and there are trade-offs.

There are.  In the exposure range 10R-70R, your risk of developing leukemia is slightly increased, and your risk of breast cancer is decreased.  I'm sorry I can't cite the study for you, but it was in one of the annual BEIR reports iirc.

What about lifespan?

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Attending various American Nuclear Society conferences, and various Health Physics Society conferences, I have spoken to:

a) a researcher who described what he called the "mega-mouse" experiment, because it involved a million mice.  One control group; one kept in a very low background environment, which included food from which the 40K had been extracted; and 4 groups at progessively higher background levels.  According to my contact, the longest-lived mice were those in the 3x normal background group.

This ought to go without saying, but if you want to cmpare against a group with the radioactive potassium removed, you need to remove the radioactive potassium from all of them and then add it back to the others. It doesn't go without saying because often such obvious steps are ignored.

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b) a researcher who worked with single-celled critters (chlorella? I forget the specific critter), who were kept in an extremely shielded environment and had their nutrient solution depleted in 40K, and run through several generations to reduce the 40K even further; he said his critters, under the microscope, were textbook-perfect in looks -- and extremely sluggish, barely moving, reproducing rarely if at all.

Same thing, did they deplete the radioactive potassium from the controls and then add it back? (It probably wasn't chlorella if they ran through a few generations.)

It doesn't make sense that the cells would depend on low levels of radioactivity to survive. More likely, they would have one or more essential enzymes that depend on the isotope that happens to be radioactive, and the other isotopes don't work as well. Or maybe the things they did to deplete the nutrient solution in radioactive potassium introduced some poison.

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c) Dr. Bernard Cohen, who compared average home radon levels county by county across the US (~1600 counties), to the lung cancer mortality rates for those counties.  He found a negative correlation:  the higher the average home radon, the lower the mortality.  But wait, said his critics; that runs afoul of the "ecological fallacy"; maybe the counties with low lung cancer mortality had fewer smokers or a lower elderly population, or some such.  So Cohen reevaluated, accounting for something like 54 different socioeconomic variables that could impact lung cancer mortality.  The relationship remained negative.  His critics complained again, so he tried again, taking into account 112 soc-ec variables.  The relationship remained negative.  They complained a third time, and this was when I heard him speak, explaining the nearly 150 different possibly-confounding variables he's considered.   The relationship remains negative.  I do not "remediate" my own home for radon.

That's a very suggestive result! But why compare only for lung cancer? Why not compare all cancer rates too, and general mortality? I guess the theory is that you get radon daughters floating in the air and they get trapped by lungs, and they stay in the lungs to make lung cancer. But isn't it plausible they might get washed out of the lungs and swallowed? or transported out of the lungs in the blood or lymph? Did they extrapolate from people who breathed enough radon-air to actually measure where it went?

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d) a Japanese researcher (I can find his info on request) working with terminal cancer patients; they only let him work with those declared terminal.  Instead of chemo, instead of targeted kill-the-tumor radiation, he exposed them to whole-body doses -- "low" doses of merely 7-10R -- twice a week for a few weeks.  He lost a few patients the first year, but fewer than the control group which was on the then chemo "gold standard"; lost a few more the next year, but again fewer than the chemo group lost.  I think he lost one or two more in the third year -- but 5 years out, all the control group had died, but 84% of his trial group was still alive and, at the time of his talk, 14 years later, were still alive.  He has a second similar study running, against the latest (or at least a more recent) chemo "gold standard".  If I ever develop cancer, I'm going to do my durndest to go this route.

That's highly suggestive too. I'd hate it to turn out that the standard chemo kills people, and that a homeopathic radiation dose was the closest they could come to an actual control group. Ouch. That would suck. Just imagine, if the standard treatment killed 5/6 of the patients in 5 years, who otherwise would not have died at all. But it would be unethical to deny treatment to patients who "need" it, just to see how long it takes them to die....

But if we discount that possibility it looks very plausible that radiation hormesis could be important in reality. Maybe there was some other variable that was important, but the radiation is the only candidate we know about.

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The Naval Nuclear Shipyard Workers study is one I think you won't find; to the best of my knowledge, it never achieved publication.

It got repeated a whole lot in the quick search I did. I hate it when urban legends get quoted as central claims.

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I suggest you find an actual health physicist and take him out for a beer to get the story.  70,000+ workers, all doing much the same work (hence no "healthy laborer" confounding), except that some worked with radioactives and some did not; the ones doing the work for which they needed dosimetry had something like 70% less cancer mortality.

That sounds suggestive. But the study was nowhere near double-blind. The shipyard workers who were dealing with radioactivity mostly knew it, and the ones who were exposed and didn't know quite likely got assigned to control and no experiment. The ones who dealt with hot stuff may have had their health monitored more closely. (And I don't know whether that would have given them better treatment, or more false positives.) They might have changed their behavior some if they took the risk seriously. But those are yes-buts, not gotchas. It sounds suggestive. Too bad it didn't get published.

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I appreciate that you can't know how well any of these were done.  And please don't think I am advocating nuking anywhere in order to raise the background radiation levels:  I might install some clever device in my home, if it were legal, but then I would have precise control over how much I raised my personal background, which global nuking does not allow.  Moreover, fallout is full of stuff that is chemically toxic -- bleaugh.

Yes. It was Quadribloc who said that if we had had the nukes, we should have thoroughly nuked Germany in WWII even though he wouldn't depend on radiation hormesis.

If this is true it will have tremendous implications. We can mostly stop worrying about nuclear accidents. And nuclear war would be far more acceptable. Israel could nuke Lebanon and not worry about the fallout. I tend to be suspicious of unexpected results that don't quite make sense, that say exactly what a lot of people want to hear. But my suspicion is nothing like a proof that the unexpected result is wrong.

mellyrn on December 08, 2010, 03:09:22 pm
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Fiesta Ware, however, is a widely sought-after collectable - and IIRC, it isn't radioactive enough to worry about, as long as you don't do silly things with it. (Although I'm not sure what would constitute "silly", as I don't recall the details well enough.)

DO NOT EAT OR DRINK FROM IT.  You know how lead-based glaze can leach lead into your food or drink?  Uranium does that, too, and it's considerably more toxic than lead; in fact, in terms of how it's handled, its chemical toxicity is the more limiting factor, not its radioactivity.

It's true that the dishes are not "radioactive enough to worry about" -- and a good orange Fiestaware plate  pegs the radiation survey meters I use at work.

Heck, you can buy salt substitute at the grocery store, KCl, and if I found a spoonful of it at work and didn't know what it was, I'd have to dispose of it as radwaste, because it does register above background on those same survey meters.

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Quote from: mellyrn on Today at 09:03:00 AM
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Far easier for me to believe that radiation hormesis is real, and there are trade-offs.

There are.  In the exposure range 10R-70R, your risk of developing leukemia is slightly increased, and your risk of breast cancer is decreased.  I'm sorry I can't cite the study for you, but it was in one of the annual BEIR reports iirc.

What about lifespan?

Wasn't addressed; the article was not discussing hormesis at all.  BEIR tends not to go there.

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Same thing, did they deplete the radioactive potassium from the controls and then add it back?

My guy didn't say anything about his controls; his remarks concerned only the appearance & behavior of the low-bkg critters -- so beautiful, but so dead-alive.

Just because a cell is so much water, the most common radiogenic is peroxide.  Peroxide is of course deadly in quantity (hence my mom pouring it on cuts & scrapes), but maybe there is some minimum amount needful for proper functioning.  That's the definition of hormesis, and we observe that many things follow that pattern:  ingesting enough water/vitaminA/salt will kill you, as will too little.

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why compare only for lung cancer?

I imagine it was because the offishul claim is that radon is second only to smoking when it comes to lung cancer.  Uranium miners do have elevated levels of lung cancer, compared to other miners.

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Maybe there was some other variable that was important, but the radiation is the only candidate we know about.

I do wish that principle were more broadly applied.  Proponents of vaccination, for example, cite the dropoff in disease following the introduction of a vaccination program -- totally ignoring that the bringers of vaccination programs tend to bring improvements in hygiene and nutrition, as well.  Talk about confounding factors.

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[Naval Shipyard Workers] got repeated a whole lot in the quick search I did.

Oh, good!  Having got an earful of it @ work, I'd never bothered to see what made it onto the 'net.  The time frame, btw, in case it wasn't clear in your quick search, would have been 1950's-60's-70's; safe handling practices and general attitudes were still evolving.  And the rad workers may have had their health monitored more closely, but iirc the figure was for cancer incidence, not mortality.

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We can mostly stop worrying about nuclear accidents. And nuclear war would be far more acceptable. Israel could nuke Lebanon and not worry about the fallout.

I think the prevailing wind is wrong for Israel to worry about it anyway.

« Last Edit: December 08, 2010, 03:22:08 pm by mellyrn »

wdg3rd on December 08, 2010, 04:50:06 pm
Should I develop any sort of cancer, I will definitely refuse chemotherapy.  It's a cure more painful and deadly than the disease.  I've known a few folks who died of chemotherapy (she who would have been my mother-in-law comes to mind) and a few friends who were HIV "positive" who died of AZT poisoning.  I'd rather just discontinue the disulfiram, wait the couple of months for it to get out of my system, and kill myself naturally.  Probably while carrying a couple of chunks of pitchblende in my pockets.
Ward Griffiths        wdg3rd@aol.com

Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.  --  Denis Diderot

J Thomas on December 08, 2010, 10:10:50 pm
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Same thing, did they deplete the radioactive potassium from the controls and then add it back?

My guy didn't say anything about his controls; his remarks concerned only the appearance & behavior of the low-bkg critters -- so beautiful, but so dead-alive.

Just because a cell is so much water, the most common radiogenic is peroxide.

Tritium? No, you must mean free radicals. One of the major results of ionising radiation which then disrupts chemical bonds.

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Peroxide is of course deadly in quantity (hence my mom pouring it on cuts & scrapes), but maybe there is some minimum amount needful for proper functioning.  That's the definition of hormesis, and we observe that many things follow that pattern:  ingesting enough water/vitaminA/salt will kill you, as will too little.

Peroxide is a by-product of oxidative phosphorylation, which is the main energy-producing route in animals and a major one in plants. The last I heard, there were organelles in each eucaryotic cell whose main function was supposed to be to scavenge peroxide. That sounds implausible to me now that I think about it, which I never did before. Perhaps some other function has been found and this is another by-product. There might be some minimum amount of peroxide needed for cells that grow only anaerobicly but I doubt it's a problem for anything else.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peroxisome
I was right. Peroxisomes do all sorts of things with peroxides, ad getting rid of excess peroxide is probably a side effect. It's like if you had a welding shop that had a lot of fire extinguishers, and an unobservant observer thought the place was for putting out fires. Science marches on and I miss a whole lot of it.

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why compare only for lung cancer?

I imagine it was because the offishul claim is that radon is second only to smoking when it comes to lung cancer.  Uranium miners do have elevated levels of lung cancer, compared to other miners.

That makes sense. And it's plausible that the miners' lung cancer would be due to radon daughters rather than radioactive dust. Thought that's something that would deserve evidence too.

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Maybe there was some other variable that was important, but the radiation is the only candidate we know about.

I do wish that principle were more broadly applied.  Proponents of vaccination, for example, cite the dropoff in disease following the introduction of a vaccination program -- totally ignoring that the bringers of vaccination programs tend to bring improvements in hygiene and nutrition, as well.  Talk about confounding factors.

Often the other factors don't change suddenly. Sometimes it would be possible to compare the last few years before a new vaccine is introduced against the first few years afterward. But there's lots of ways to do statistics wrong.

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[Naval Shipyard Workers] got repeated a whole lot in the quick search I did.

Oh, good!  Having got an earful of it @ work, I'd never bothered to see what made it onto the 'net.  The time frame, btw, in case it wasn't clear in your quick search, would have been 1950's-60's-70's; safe handling practices and general attitudes were still evolving.  And the rad workers may have had their health monitored more closely, but iirc the figure was for cancer incidence, not mortality.

Yes! So if they had more of their cancers diagnosed earlier, that would bias the results in the wrong direction to explain the result.

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We can mostly stop worrying about nuclear accidents. And nuclear war would be far more acceptable. Israel could nuke Lebanon and not worry about the fallout.

I think the prevailing wind is wrong for Israel to worry about it anyway.

Sure, but if they nuked somebody and the fallout drifted even to, say, Italy, they could say "Don't worry about it! We're doing you a favor!".And if they nuked Egypt or someplace where the wind gave them back their own fallout, they could tell that to their own people.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2010, 10:13:19 pm by J Thomas »

Oneil on December 09, 2010, 01:38:52 am
Here is my jab at defining "Silly" in relation to our Planet and Species overall Health.

  • Overlooking other man made irritants such as processed foods, and the hodgepodge of radio, microwave, and magneticwave frequencies some are subjected to PLUS the Background Radiation in your formula that leads humanity to a "Children of Men" type genetic nightmare.   
  • Pretending elevating overall Radiation Levels is as Harmless as dumping thousands of kilotons of Chlorofluorocarbon's into the atmosphere.
  • Acting as if "Fallout" from Nuclear Weapons will effect only a certain area.  Just as the fools think regulating carbon emissions of developed countries and allowing others freedom to make a spreading smog cloud visible from space solves anything.


J Thomas on December 09, 2010, 07:15:34 am
Here is my jab at defining "Silly" in relation to our Planet and Species overall Health.

  • Overlooking other man made irritants such as processed foods, and the hodgepodge of radio, microwave, and magneticwave frequencies some are subjected to PLUS the Background Radiation in your formula that leads humanity to a "Children of Men" type genetic nightmare.   

You're talking about such giant problems that I have to scale back the expectations some. I figure that everything but genetic damage will turn out OK in the long run. Say we have lots of problems in the short run, if we survive them at all then in a relatively few generations we can do OK.

We are close to being able to synthesize chromosomes from scratch. From there it's a simple matter of Somebody Else's Problem and we can clone anything we have a functional genome from. So every species we can catalog genomes for, does not have to be extinct.

Species tend to have a lot of problems when the population size gets down to 100 or so individuals. But if we had 10,000 different genomes for a species we'd probably be pretty much OK. make it 100,000 to be safe. And now we have the hard disk space to do that! About a million species, 100,000 individuals, that's only 100 billion genomes! (Assuming the procaryotes and protozoans can mostly take care of themselves, which they can. We'd probably want to sequence some that we know are important to specific higher plants, etc. Something to coexist with legumes, etc.)

So if we can maintain a technological civilization that can maintain the data and can clone genomes etc, we can restore the world provided we can create an environment those species can survive in.

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  • Pretending elevating overall Radiation Levels is as Harmless as dumping thousands of kilotons of Chlorofluorocarbon's into the atmosphere.

The radiation hormesis claim is that elevating overall radiation levels is far better than dumping chlorofluorocarbons. For a long time there were people who claimed that chlorofluorocarbons were harmless, that there was inadequate data to say otherwise, but they've mostly retreated to saying there's no data for Global Warming and given up on the chlorofluorocarbons. Now it's radiation good, chlorofluorocarbons bad.

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  • Acting as if "Fallout" from Nuclear Weapons will effect only a certain area.  Just as the fools think regulating carbon emissions of developed countries and allowing others freedom to make a spreading smog cloud visible from space solves anything.

Fallout is worst near the strike, and the lower in the atmosphere the detonation takes place the more that's true, right?

What would be a good AnCap position about allowing other nations to pollute or burn fossil fuels? If their actions will tend to kill you, they are committing aggression and it's morally OK to make them stop. But it looks to me like the whole concept is so fraught with problems for libertarians that it's far easier to just claim that it isn't really a problem so nobody needs to be regulated. Then we can all be free.

mellyrn on December 09, 2010, 07:39:26 am
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And the rad workers may have had their health monitored more closely, but iirc the figure was for cancer incidence, not mortality.

Yes! So if they had more of their cancers diagnosed earlier, that would bias the results in the wrong direction to explain the result.

You lost me.  How does "observing the cancer earlier" relate to "seeing fewer cancers"?  You write so thoughtfully, I know I must be missing something here and have prepared a nice soft pad to thwack myself in the forehead when I get it.

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Tritium? No, you must mean free radicals. One of the major results of ionising radiation which then disrupts chemical bonds.

The only practical way to get tritium produced in a cell is if the radiation is specifically neutron bombardment.  The mind boggles at alphas doing it (I don't know that it's impossible, but it ain't common), and neither beta nor gamma radiation can.  And neutrons don't travel far in air.  "Ionizing" radiation means production of ions, so yes to the free radicals.


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There is evidence of radiation hormesis, but we don't really know how or why it should happen

Indeed we don't.  We don't, because we don't study it.  We don't study it because radiation hormesis is obviously "junk" science.  It's obviously junk because no one can say what the possible mechanism for it might be.... 


 

anything