The public and political apprehension to nuclear radiation is historical and cultural with very little basis in science. Appreciating this misunderstanding in everyday terms is not difficult, but future prospects for world economic prosperity and a sustainable environment depend critically on overcoming these concerns through explanatory education and improved public trust in science.
Only then may the known benefits of nuclear technology such as; global electric power, unlimited fresh water by desalination, cheap food preservation with irradiation without refrigeration, uncounted blessings in clinical medicine and others yet to be discovered, will low dose radiation (LDR) be widely accepted and realized. And, for those reasons, LDR is a friend.
Annually, there were over 9000 deaths from the effect of ionizing radiation (IR) on living tissue (sun burn) in the US based on actual annual mortality figures. There was no plethora of international committees to discuss this significant danger. In spite of a fair number of identified deaths every year, nobody would choose to threaten the economy or social health of a whole society on this account. And yet that is what we have done in the US, Japan and Germany with zero nuclear radiation limits that has greatly altered the direction of their energy policies. And for that reason, fear of LDR is the foe.
So the question is why do we threaten the US economy and the nuclear industry when there has never been a reported death cause by radiation exposure in the US from nuclear power plants? There has been only one commercial nuclear power plant accident back in 1979, over 35 years ago or should I say 315,000 potential deaths from sun burns over that time period. Then there was the accident at WIPP last year and both plutonium and americium low dose radiation was release for a very short time period and not a single person exposed had reported ill effects.
Current safety regulations of radiation for the public environment are designed to ensure that doses are kept ‘As Low As Reasonably Achievable’ (ALARA) under regulated limits. These limits are many thousand times lower than those used in medical treatment, and over a hundred times lower than the doses received by the public naturally as background (from the sun and earth). Those early regulated limits are totally unreasonable with today’s actual data from decades of nuclear power usage.
The scientific basis of ALARA is the Linear No-Threshold (LNT) Hypothesis which was based on a single (that would be one) fruit fly test back in the 50’s that was accepted because there was no counter data yet. Since then, there has been a lot of actual data from TMI, Chernobyl and Fukushima (and a few others that never got any attention) to disprove that early hypothesis that no dose is the only acceptable dose. High dose radiation is what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 and the effects have been studied very thoroughly through the generations since.
It is time to rethink the safety of low-dose radiation (LDR) by adapting ‘hormesis’ hypothesis, a term used by toxicologists to refer to a phased dose response to an environmental agent characterized by low dose stimulation. That is exactly what radiation treatments for cancer and CT Scans are in therapeutic nuclear medicine. Now LDR is also being used in preventive medicine to strengthen our DNA (that was a new one for me too).
So what should be our attitude toward nuclear technology? Madame Marie Curie wrote “Nothing in life is to be feared. It is to be understood”. That is what I live by and I encourage you to do the same.
Support Video: http://energyforhumanity.org/myth-busting/health-risks/