What they say about "Wings of Death"

Some independent reviews of Wings of Death and the Second Event Theory

Dear Dr Busby, Thank you very much for allowing me to read your interesting manuscript concerning possibly enhanced mutagenic effects of internally emitting radionuclides that undergo sequential decay pathways. I find your idea an interesting one, and your theoretical model seems reasonable. . . It seems to me that it would be particularly valuable if you could develop a testable hypothesis based on exposure to a specific radionuclide with a sequential decay pathway. One could then examine whether your hypothesis predicted the biological findings.
John D Little, M.D. , Simmons Professor of Radiobiology, Harvard School of Public Health. USA (1991)

Dear Dr Busby, Many thanks for your two interesting letters. I think that the 'second event effects' that you postulate are plausible, although I have to speculate a little on the geometry. I have a feeling that if you just consider the beta radiation dose from 90Sr-90Y you will have a rather homogenous distribution, especially in the mouse, whereas two sequential local doses from e.g.Auger avalanches from metal atoms bound to the nuclear material might exert a much greater effect. Best wishes for your interesting approach.
Professor Lars Ehrenberg, Director, Institute of Radiation Biology, University of Stockholm, Sweden.(1992)

I found it (Wings of Death) very informative and helpful ...a great deal of valuable new material with regard to the effects of nuclear fission products ... and a strong case in support of the contention that man-made radioactivity is vastly more biologically damaging than radioactivity from either natural background radiation, external gamma rays from nuclear bombs or medical sources. I want to congratulate you on your splendid work..
Ernest Sternglass, Emeritus Professor of Radiation and Health, University of Pittsburgh Medical School (1995)

This is a book that had to be written. It will upset the powers that be. It establishes a clear distinction between natural radiation, which the cells of living things have evolved to deal with, and those man-made isotopes with decay sequences that can interrupt the cellular repair mechanisms. Busby suggests that present risk estimates for certain incorporated radioisotopes, e.g. Strontium-90, are more than 500 times too low.
Hugh Richards, Secretary Welsh Anti-Nuclear Alliance (1995)

Busby has found something very interesting. . . any attempt to verify his findings should be carried out by independent epidemiologists, not left to the National Radiological Protection Board.
Alice Stewart, Emeritus Professor , Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Birmingham. (1996)

Congratulations. . . for the first time I see there is scientific research to show that natural and artificial radiation (fallout) cannot be calculated in the same way. Your work on differences between internal and external radiation and the chemical concentration effects of certain fission products and the possibility of resulting daughter products is a very important part of the whole puzzle.
Ralph Graeub, Zurich, radiation researcher, author of The Petkau Effect: the devastating effect of radiation on human health. (1995)

I thought Wings of Death was very well argued and well balanced. Dr. Busby has summarised my own work better than have any other commentators. I issued a challenge through my paper in the BMJ in 1992 and at two international paediatric meetings inviting perinatologists to suggest hypotheses alternative to the notion of Strontium fallout as a cause for the disturbances in the falling trend in infant mortality and stillbirth rate (in the late 1950s). I can now report that no such alternative hypothesis has been advanced... I can add a little more evidence, as presented a couple of years ago at the European Congress of Perinatology. Where there is adequate data describing first day mortality and stillbirth rate from the 1930s to the present day there is a relationship between the size of the disturbance in mortality data and the expected precipitation of Strontium 90. The countries in the northern hemisphere with twice the fallout over that period experienced twice the attenuation in the fall on mortality rates. There is also no doubt that the phenomenon I described in the BMJ article is visible in all countries for which there is data.
Dr. Robin Whyte M.B. F.R.C.P, Dept of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia (replying to notice of Westminster Symposium 1996)

Wings of Death is an important and striking book which I hope will help awake public awareness about radioactive pollution.
Professor Alexey Yablokov, Chairman, Centre for Russian Environmental Policy, Moscow, Special advisor to President Yeltsin. (1996)

It is my personal judgement that it is unlikely that the hypothesis would provide sufficient enhancement factors to explain the very large discrepancies between standard risk estimates and the numbers that are being suggested from epidemiology, but I cannot say it's impossible. (However) the second Event theory is nicely specified and is open, by its very nature, to a variety of experimental tests. I'm sure a variety of university and other groups could be encouraged to be interested and to carry out tests, provided that the funding was there.
Professor Dudley Goodhead, Director of Radiation and Genome Stability Unit, Medical Research Council, Harwell (speaking at Westminster Symposium 1996)

There appears to be no intrinsic implausibility in the 'second event' mechanism.
Professor Ross Hesketh, Scientists for Global Responsibility. (1996)

Atmospheric testing might have stopped, but epidemiologists will be able to follow peaks and troughs decades and generations on. We had better have more Busbys than nuclear apologists crunching the numbers.
Dot Tumney, Biologist and Reviewer, Broadway, NSW, (1996)

The two-event hypothesis is of potential importance.
Douglas Holdstock, of MEDACT ('96)

I think that this is an interesting theory, and one that deserves to be discussed, whether you agree with it or not.
Gillian Duchesne, Department of Oncology, University College, London Medical School.(1996)

Wings of Death is a fascinating and important book. I have checked much of the science and found it to be sound.
Professor Watkin Williams, lately Professor of Plant Genetics, University of Wales, Aberystwyth. (1996)

Busby may have a point! ... Those interested in epidemiology should read the arguments ... particularly on the difficulty of selecting study/control populations. The data are not conclusive at the present time, however the hypothesis merits serious consideration. The book should stimulate many questions and will hopefully lead to the definitive study which Dr Busby is hoping to promote.
A. Perkins, Consultant Medical Physicist, University Hospital, Nottingham (from book review in Public Health, May 1996)

Dear Dr. Busby, I just started to read your book and I like to commend you for having produced an excellent introduction not only to the scientific-political context of radiation epidemiology but you also provide the general reader some excellent assistance in understanding complex technical issues, in some way comparable to the writings of John Gofman. Your book is a valuable source of information, complementary to Catherine Caufield's "Multiple Exposures", which Dr. Koehnlein and I helped to bring to the attention of German readers a few years ago.
Rudi H. Nussbaum, PhD

"... your book ... is very well written and I can imagine how much work it was to get together this important material. I am sure that it is an important contribution to the public awareness concerning the nuclear crime to humankind. If you are interested, I could send you some articles out of a german magazine from the seventies, written by a former Uranium miner from Czechoslovakia, who describes the deadly early effects of radiation even before the dial painter tragedy.
Univ. Doz. Dr. Peter Weish Studienkoordination Oekologie Universitaet Wien

Deeply flawed biological mechanisms do not, in my view, add scientific respectability to highly selected and statistically inadequate epidemiological data that claim to show substantial carcinogenic effects at low doses of radiation.
Dr. Roger Cox, Head of Biomedical Effects Department, National Radiological Protection Board. (speaking at Low Level Radiation Campaign Symposium, House of Commons 24th April 1996) [see link below]

Dr. Cox's remarks were followed by many more partisan attacks from the establishment. They are in the Second Event section.
But to get things in their chronological order you should first go to the
Symposium at the House of Commons, Westminster
Use the Second Event section button on the left to skip the Symposium

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This page was last updated May 2001