Compendium of evidence

2) Studies showing a risk not accounted for by NRPB/ ICRP model

         "I'd be the last one to deny that there is substantial biological uncertainty regarding internal emitters, where that resides, and its relationship in terms of track lengths, and structure to target cells. This is probably one of the biggest uncertainties that we've got - in lung, in bone, more or less everywhere."         Dr Roger Cox, Head of Bio-Medical Effects Department, U. K. National Radiological Protection Board. (Busby 1998d)

"Although adequate models are available for assessing doses from intakes of many radionuclides, there remain areas for which the appropriateness of current approaches needs further work. One such area is that of the non-uniformity of deposition of radiation energy, especially that from alpha particles, low energy beta particles, auger electrons and `hot particles' in cells and tissues. The uncertainties in dosimetry associated with the non-uniform distribution of radiation energy within cells and tissues will be reviewed in order to determine the extent to which there is a need to stimulate research into new approaches to assess the spatial patterns of radiation energy deposited at the cellular and sub-cellular level."
Gunther Dietze describing remit of an action group dealing with "Dose and Effects in Man".
Dr Dietze is Co-chairman and Co-ordinator of "Environmental and Occupational Dosimetry: an Integrated Approach to Radiation Protection Covering Radioecology, Dosimetry and Biological Effects".
This is a Joint Concerted Action of EULEP, EURADOS and UIR in the Nuclear Fission Safety Programme of the European Commission.(Dietze 1997)

The whole concept of absorbed dose, crucial to the present model of radiation risk, is under attack. Click here to see further criticism published in the European Radiation Protection Research newsletter, January 1999.
See this link for cartoon illustrating the absorbed dose fallacy.

A senior official from the radiation protection section of the European Commission recently (January 1999) told NRPB that it is no longer possible to talk in terms which equate doses from radioactive discharges with doses from eating Brazil nuts.
The EC says the remark (which LLRC's reporter noticed was not well received by NRPB) was made as "a loose quote from a discussion at Sintra (Portugal) during a working group session on the radioactive substances strategy at the OSPAR Interministerial meeting in July 1998. The usual arguments were advanced about the negligible effects (in terms of radiological effect on man) of discharges to sea. A delegate said that the discussion should not be reduced to the level of brazil nuts."
The inference is that popular understanding of radiation biology has reached a pitch where people won't be fobbed off with simplistic models.

What do brazil nuts have to do with it?
The nuclear establishment always seeks to allay fears about their discharges by comparing them with doses from eating brazil nuts or from taking a flight from London to Tenerife twice a year. Brazil nuts are slightly radioactive because they grow on monazite sands, which commonly contain about 6% thorium and 0.3% uranium (i.e. alpha radiations). Flying at high altitude exposes you to a higher rate of irradiation from cosmic rays (i.e. gamma radiation) than you get at the earth's surface.
These things are not risk free - especially if you work as an airline pilot or if your entire diet is grown on monazite sands.
But the point is that direct comparisons between natural and artificial sources are false; comparisons between alpha and gamma rays are questionable; comparisons between internal and external radiation are a huge area of uncertainty.

Alexander, Cartwright et al. 1990. Significant excess of leukaemia associated with estuaries.  

The working hypothesis (that is, the prior hypothesis these researchers were investigating) was that the estuaries contain man-made radioactivity from Sellafield and other sources, and that radiation was a known cause of leukaemia. The link was supported by the findings, even though they left out (with no explanation) the estuaries of north Wales - some of the most contaminated. So the question is: Why did Cartwright subsequently take over from Alexander as head of the cancer epidemiology unit at the Leukaemia Research Fund, and why did the UK Childhood Cancer Study, which he designed, intentionally omit exposure to man-made radioactivity?
The 1994 report of the Wales Cancer Registry says that a major exercise to validate leukaemia in the 0 - 14 age group was under way, because of concern about the apparently high rates in Wales. In 1995 Dr Mary Cotter, the Medical Director of WCR, told Busby and Bramhall of LLRC that the exercise showed that registrations had been 95% accurate. In 1996 WCR was closed and its functions transferred to the new Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit, who within a few months had erased a substantial proportion of WCR's registrations. Anybody smell rats?

Whyte 1992: marked disturbance in rates of infant mortality correlating strongly with fallout. among environmental factors [possibly explaining the increased rate of neonatal death in England, Wales and USA 1954 - '80] is the rise in exposure to Strontium-90 from atmospheric weapons testing which has been closely correlated, both temporally and geographically, with excess foetal and infant deaths...
Whyte 1996 expands this argument in a letter to LLRC (Bramhall 1997 page 129)

and praises Prof. E. Sternglass' original work on infant mortality (Sternglass 1971) which persuaded President Kennedy of the need for the 1963 test ban treaty.
A. Busby 1993 congenital malformations correlate with fallout

None of the confounding factors investigated explain the disturbances in infant mortality trends reported by Sternglass and Whyte.
Busby and Scott-Cato 1998 Leukaemia in children along the Irish Sea coast of Wales.

Risk of leukaemia in children under 4 years living within half a kilometre of the sea is between 2.7 and 4.6 times average rates for England plus Wales Size of excess risk varies depending on which data set is used; 2.7 is from recent cancer registry figures. Risk increases consistently with increasing proximity to the sea. Same effect seen for all cancer sites and age groups.
Busby 1998a Increases in leukemia in infants in Wales and Scotland after Chernobyl.

Confirmed existence of a temporally distinct 5-fold effect in 0 - 1 age group, which has few possible confounding factors; effect protracted over 18 months suggesting that contaminated hay and silage fed to cattle in winter 1986-7 passed significant dose via dairy and meat products; the implied error in official risk estimates is calculated. Now [June 2000] published in Energy and Environment.
Gibson 1988 Increased leukemia in young children in Scotland after Chernobyl.

Petridou 1996 infant leukemia in Greece after Chernobyl

Statistically significant 2.6-fold increase in a country where the average Chernobyl exposure dose was about 2000µmSv.
Mangano 1997 Infant leukemia in United States.

30% increase in infant leukemia, even at the low doses delivered this far from Chernobyl, probably less than 10µmSv.
The three papers above comprise a meta-analysis of infant leukaemia after Chernobyl, giving a large combined population and very high statistical strength to the findings.
Beral and Rooney 1993 internal contamination and prostate cancer



nuclear industry workers monitored for internal contamination have a higher risk of prostatic cancer.
An earlier study ( Beral and Inskip 1985) had found an increased risk but no correlation with external dose.
"Rooney and colleagues' study may be pivotal in highlighting the fact that certain internally decaying nuclides may enhance the risk. The increase in prostatic cancer in Wales is only one aspect of a general and unexplained increase in cancer in Wales between 1975 and 1987 (the last year for which data are available)." -- Busby 1994b letter to BMJ
Tamplin and Gofman 1970 Fallout and infant mortality.

Internal beta and gamma radiation at less than Natural Background: mortality correlated with fallout levels.
Sternglass 1971, 1981 Fallout and infant mortality.

Increase in infant mortality and general morbidity had temporal and spatial correlation with weapons test fallout.
Gould and Goldman 1991 USA weapons test fallout in downwind populations in USA.

Fallout had temporal and spatial correlations with cancer.
Bentham 1991 Perinatal mortality and Chernobyl fallout.

Temporal and spatial correlation
Busby 1996a Strontium-90 and infant death from congenital heart defects in UK

Temporal correlation between infant mortality and Strontium-90 (Sr-90 deposition and Sr-90 in milk).
Busby 1995 Strontium-90 and cancer and infant mortality in Wales.

Temporal and spatial correlation with Sr-90 deposition.
Bentham and Haynes 1995 leukaemia in high rainfall/ high fallout areas of UK.

Significant correlation
Dubrova, Jeffreys et al. 1996 inherited genetic mutation

Doubled rate of genetic mutation in children born 300km from Chernobyl some years after the disaster
Dubrova, Jeffreys et al. 1997 Follow up confirming earlier findings.

NOTE: NRPB answers this (Clarke 1998) by irrelevant reference to studies based on the Hiroshima study and control groups, which were equally exposed to internal radiation.
Kazakov 1992, Savchenko 1995 Thyroid cancer increases in Belarus after Chernobyl

The scale of thyroid cancer and the speed of onset after the disaster were far greater than expected. There is controversy about how doses have been estimated - they have been revised upwards. It has been claimed that thyroid doses were high because of an allegedly pre-existing iodine deficiency in the region. It has also been claimed that increased cancer registrations are due to closer scrutiny, and that increasing cancer rates are due to social disruption and radiophobia induced by the activities of anti-nuclear scaremongers.
Merculova 1996 thyroid cancer Belarus

the greater part - 60% - of the children with thyroid cancer had very low doses of radiation exposure. The data actually show greater risk at the lowest dose.
Gould and Sternglass 1989 Infant mortality in USA after Chernobyl Increased rates of infant mortality in all parts of USA showed correlations with Iodine 131 in milk.
Gould and Goldman 1991 AIDs related death after Chernobyl Post-Chernobyl mortality statistics in USA show damage to immune system was a cause
Gould and Sternglass 1994 low birthweight Correlation between Strontium-90 in bone and low birthweight
Gould Mangano and Sternglass 1996 neonatal hypothyroidism associated with Iodine-131 in milk after Chernobyl
Busby and Scott-Cato 1997 leukaemia mortality in Berkshire and Oxfordshire High death rate near nuclear sites
Dickinson 1997 leukaemia mortality in Berkshire and Oxfordshire confirms existence of elevated risk in Berkshire and Oxfordshire found by Busby and Scott-Cato 1997
Viel and Pobel 1995, 1997,
Leukaemia near Cap de la Hague
Childhood leukaemia up to 15-fold excess near Cap de la Hague. Risk associated with frequency of visits to beach near and with eating local seafood.
A new study by Guizard, Boutou et al.(June 2001) confirms the existence of the cluster, showing a six-fold incidence in the 10 kilometer ring nearest to the Cap de la Hague plant.
Black 1984 10-fold leukaemia cluster in Seascale Seascale was massively contaminated in the 1950s with Plutonium (Jones [BNFL] 1993) and Strontium-90 (Anon. 1960)
Heasman 1986 Six-fold leukaemia incidence at Dounreay History of plutonium leaks
Beral Roman Bobrow 1993 childhood leukaemia near Aldermaston and Burghfield. Case control study showing that the significant excess risk was in those children whose fathers had been monitored for internal contamination.
Ziggel 1998 German leukaemia cluster 5-fold relative risk of leukaemia for children aged 0 - 4 living within 5 km of Krummel nuclear power plant, N. Germany. Elevated levels of chromosome aberrations in blood of local people supports hypothesis that radiation is a cause of the leukaemias.
Cook-Mozzaffari 1989a leukaemia clusters near nuclear sites. An aggregated sample of populations near nuclear sites showed an increased risk of leukaemia (age 0 - 24 yrs)
Roman 1993 Excess leukaemia which could be accounted for by a relationship with external dose. Authors concluded that "... the possibility that it could be due to internal contamination by radioactive substances or some other exposure at work should be pursued."

Other categories of evidence:
studies on which radiation protection standards are based, and those which undermine them:
3) studies which are said to demonstrate that there is no unappreciated risk but which have demonstrable flaws or which do, in fact, show an excess risk.
4) animal studies.
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This page was last updated May 2001