"Epidemiology Without Biology: False Paradigms, Unfounded Assumptions, and Specious Statistics in Radiation Science (With Commentaries by Inge Schmitz-Feuerhake and Christopher Busby and a Reply by the Authors) has been recently published in the journal Biological Theory. The authors are Bill Sacks, Gregory Meyerson, and Jeffry A. Siegel.
The abstract to the article is quoted below and addresses assertions about the linear no-threshold (LNT) hypothesis, science, and scientific literature:
Radiation science is dominated by a paradigm based on an assumption without empirical foundation. Known as the linear no-threshold (LNT) hypothesis, it holds that all ionizing radiation is harmful no matter how low the dose or dose rate. Epidemiological studies that claim to confirm LNT either neglect experimental and/or observational discoveries at the cellular, tissue, and organismal levels, or mention them only to distort or dismiss them. The appearance of validity in these studies rests on circular reasoning, cherry picking, faulty experimental design, and/or misleading inferences from weak statistical evidence. In contrast, studies based on biological discoveries demonstrate the reality of hormesis: the stimulation of biological responses that defend the organism against damage from environmental agents. Normal metabolic processes are far more damaging than all but the most extreme exposures to radiation. However, evolution has provided all extant plants and animals with defenses that repair such damage or remove the damaged cells, conferring on the organism even greater ability to defend against subsequent damage. Editors of medical journals now admit that perhaps half of the scientific literature may be untrue. Radiation science falls into that category. Belief in LNT informs the practice of radiology, radiation regulatory policies, and popular culture through the media. The result is mass radiophobia and harmful outcomes, including forced relocations of populations near nuclear power plant accidents, reluctance to avail oneself of needed medical imaging studies, and aversion to nuclear energy—all unwarranted and all harmful to millions of people.
Forbes magazine published a commentary on the article, which gives a summary and provides additional points for reflection.
Join us in Spokane, Washington, for a full slate of professional-enrichment opportunities before and during the 61st Annual Meeting of the Health Physics Society (HPS). Register for the meeting and find the preliminary program on the HPS website.
The week kicks off with the Professional Development School (PDS) "Decontamination and Decommissioning—Case Studies." This PDS will be held on Thursday and Friday, 14 and 15 July at the Davenport Grand Hotel (the conference hotel). The PDS features an impressive array of topics presented by nationally and internationally renowned speakers. You can find more information about the PDS in the April issue of Health Physics News (page 11).
The PDS is followed by three full-day courses on Saturday, 16 July, put on by the American Academy of Health Physics (AAHP).
- "The Role of a Radiological Operations Support Specialist (ROSS)" – presented by William Allen. This AAHP course, adapted from the larger training curriculum currently being developed for radiological operations support specialist (ROSS) certification, consists of both instruction and group activities to help develop skills that will be needed in a radiological emergency by the ROSS.
- "Lessons in Communication From HPS Ask the Experts" – presented by Linnea Wahl, CHP. Communicating about radiation and its risks is arguably one of the hardest things a radiation protection professional does. How can we communicate difficult information successfully? We will share the lessons we've learned, illustrated by examples drawn from Ask the Experts questions and answers, on effective communication.
- "How Randomness Affects Understanding of Radiation Risk Assessments and Decisions for Radiation Safety" – presented by Ray Johnson. In this course, discussions and several tools will be presented for effective risk communication in the face of randomness in measurement uncertainties, risk assessments, and safety decisions.
Sunday through Thursday, numerous Professional Enrichment Program (PEP) courses will be offered, covering the spectrum of health physics. Courses begin Sunday with PEP 1-A, "EH&S Boot Camp for Radiation Safety Professionals" and conclude Thursday afternoon with PEP Th-5, "A Million Ways to Fill a Bottle." Sunday will feature three sessions, each containing eight course offerings. The opportunities continue throughout the week, with five courses at each of the noontime PEP sessions. The PEP listing can be found in the May issue of Health Physics News (pages 8–9).
If that isn't enough professional enrichment for you, continuing education lectures (CELs) are offered each morning before the technical sessions begin. Topics range from "Strategies for Keeping Your Radiation Safety Program on Course in a Sea of Constant Change" (CEL-1) to "Channeling Richard Feynman: How Lessons From the Great 20th Century Physicist Can Inform and Inspire Great Health Physics in the 21st Century" (CEL-6) and much more!
Be sure to take advantage of these professional education opportunities—see you in Spokane!
Join us at the 2016 Health Physics Society (HPS) Annual Meeting in Spokane, Washington, for an impressive array of technical sessions that the Program Committee has assembled. The preliminary program is available at http://hps.org/documents/2016_annual_preliminary_program.pdf and the main meeting page is available at http://hps.org/meetings/meeting39.html.
You can register here.
The plenary session—"The Wild and Wonderful World (Universe) of Health Physics"—features speakers of national and international standing. Sigurður Magnús Magnússon will be presenting a discussion on the Heads of the European Radiological Protection Competent Authorities (HERCA) and the cooperation between the radiation safety regulators in Europe. Andrea Browne, DABR, PhD, will be speaking on the Joint Commission's guidelines for radiation safety and medical physics. Hiroko Yoshida, PhD, will discuss the environmental levels of radiation around Fukushima, and Richard Toohey, CHP, PhD, will present "Lessons Learned and Unlearned From the Social, Regulatory, and Political Aspects of Health Physics." Sayed Rokni, CHP, PhD, will be describing a technical standard being developed for clearance of at least one accelerator facility based on a previous American National Standards Institute (ANSI) draft standard, ANSI 13.12. "Health Physics in Space—The Final Frontier" will be presented by John Boice, ScD. John Lanza, MD, PhD, will close the session with "Health Physics in Homeland Security." Don't miss this wide-ranging and interesting plenary session assembled by HPS President Nancy Kirner!
Once again we will have a full day of general sessions going through Thursday, thanks to all of the high-quality technical abstracts that were submitted. Plan to stay in Spokane through Thursday to ensure that you get to see all of the informative and interesting general sessions on topics like medical health physics, emergency response, and homeland security. A full program of technical and special sessions throughout the week includes:
- Radioactive Sealed Source (RSS) Decommissioning and Disposal. This session is chaired by John Hageman, CHP, and examines the local and international perspectives on the processes available to prepare for the eventual removal of RSSs from facilities. Panel members will address specific questions that you may have about planning for the successful decommissioning and disposal of your RSS.
- U.S. Transuranium and Uranium Registries (USTUR): Five-Decade Follow-Up of Plutonium and Uranium Workers. This full-day session will begin with Ron Kathren's keynote address "The USTUR: Where We Have Been and Where We Are Going" followed by Gene Carbaugh with "The Atomic Man: Case Study of the Largest Recorded 241Am Deposition in a Human." The morning technical session will present five talks highlighting internal research by USTUR scientists, while the afternoon technical session features five selected USTUR collaborative studies represented by speakers from Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The special session will end with a roundtable discussion.
- Decontamination and Decommissioning (D&D) of the McCluskey Room at Hanford's Plutonium Finishing Plant. On 30 August 1976, at Hanford's Plutonium Finishing Plant, an exchange column in the americium recovery facility exploded, rupturing the waste-treatment box and resulting in extreme contamination of both the recovery room and a nuclear chemical operator named Harold McCluskey (a.k.a. "The Atomic Man"). McCluskey, then 64, was showered with glass and metal fragments and concentrated nitric acid and was exposed to hundreds of times the occupational standard for 241Am. His medical and radiological statuses were followed until his death in 1987 from a cardiac condition totally unrelated to the accident, which had actually predated the accident. However, this is NOT the end of the story. This special session describes the D&D process and some of the unusual radiological problems confronted and solutions required. An initial presentation describes the accident in detail, discusses probable causes, and provides radiological conditions when the McCluskey Room was reopened. A series of subsequent presentations describes the planning and implementation of the D&D of the McCluskey Room, followed by a panel discussion focusing on the overall planning and execution of the D&D of the McCluskey Room.
Topics of other informative and interesting special sessions will include environmental radon; National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP)/RADAIR; Academic, Industrial, Research Radiation Safety (AIRRS) Section; Nuclear Weapons (American Academy of Health Physics); and many more. Look for another special session to be highlighted in the July issue of Health Physics News!
Thanks to all of those who submitted abstracts or supported those who did—it is the members of the HPS and everything that you do that allows us to continue to have great and successful meetings. See you all in July! Register here.
Best dressed D&D worker, Photo courtesy of Joseph E. Smith
A new federal study of the potential dangers of cellphone radiation, conducted in rats, found a slight increase in brain tumors in males and raised long-dormant concerns about the safety of spending so much time with cellphones glued to our ears.
But the study had enough strange findings that it has caused other federal scientists to highlight flaws in the research, and experts said these findings and those from other studies continue to suggest the potential risk from cellphone radiation is very small.
The National Institutes of Health study bombarded rats with cellphone radiation from the womb through the first two years of life for nine hours a day. It found tumors in 2 to 3 percent of male rats, which the study's authors called low. But females weren't affected at all and, strangely, the rats not exposed to the cellphone radiation died much faster—at double the rate—of those that were.
The results were preliminary, and only part of what will ultimately be released. They were made public before they were officially published—and despite strong criticism from other NIH scientists—because the results were similar to other studies that hint at a potential problem, said study author John Bucher.
The study is part of a seven-year, $25 million effort conducted by the National Toxicology Program at the request of the Food and Drug Administration. It looked at the specific type of radiation that cellphones transmit, called non-ionizing radiofrequency.
"This is the first study to actually show that non-ionizing radiation (causes) cancer," said Dr. Otis Brawley, the American Cancer Society's chief medical officer. The cancer society in a statement praised the study for "evidence that cellphone signals could potentially impact human health" but notes that it doesn't quite address real risk to people.
"If cellphones cause cancer, they don't cause a lot of cancer," he said in an interview. "It's not as carcinogenic as beef."
He said people should be far more concerned about "distraction caused by cellphone," which he said causes more deaths.
Both Brawley and Bucher said this would not change how they use their own personal cellphones.
While the study found what Bucher called a likely cause of cancer in rats, he cautioned that how that applies to humans "is not currently completely worked out. This may have relevance. It may have no relevance," he said.
Since about 1986, U.S. brain cancer deaths have not increased or decreased, Brawley said. That suggests that whatever effect cellphones may have it is so small as to be undetectable amid regular cases of brain cancer.
Also, Brawley and others point out that cellphone technology has improved so much in recent years to emit less radiation than medical studies simulate. Bucher said the levels the rats were subjected to would be considered "heavy."
Comments by John Moulder1 regarding the preliminary data are:
The report is a fragment of a preliminary version of a much bigger study. It suggests that long duration exposure to high levels of radiofrequency radiation (RFR) might cause a slight increase in brain cancer in male rats. The statistical significance of the result is questionable (that is, it might be noise) and the effect did not occur in female rats and probably not in mice. The implications of this for the safety of mobile phone use is between questionable and nonexistent. Serious evaluation of the health implications of the findings will need to wait for the final report which will be released with "peer review and public comment by the end of 2017."
Items of note are:
1) Both rats and mice were tested, but this report includes only the rats; it is implied (but not clearly stated) that the mouse studies did not find the same glioma increase.
2) Multiple types of tumors were studied, but only data on brain glioma and heart schwannomas are reported; it is implied (but not clearly stated) that results for other tumor types were negative. If all other tumor sites showed no effect, then the statistical and biological significance of the glioma effect is much diminished.
3) Each sex of each species was exposed at 3 different doses. The highest dose (6 Watts/kilogram) and the exposure time (18 hrs/day for 106 weeks starting in utero) were well above what people are exposed to.
4) The higher exposures were thermally significant. That is, they were high enough to cause heat stress in the animals. Since there is some evidence that heat stress may be carcinogenic in its own right (via epigenetic pathways), this makes the results of the higher doses of questionable relevance to human exposure (where RFR-induced heat stress is not an issue if current safety standards are followed).
5) Two different exposure regimens were used (GSM and CDMA-modulated).
6) Survival in the exposed male rats was longer than that in the unexposed group. The cause of this mortality difference is not stated, and this is a critical issue that the final report must address.
7) Four of the six groups of exposed males had higher rates of gliomas than the unexposed males (2–3 tumor per group vs. none in unexposed). This effect was not seen in females (and presumably not in mice?).
8) It is not explicit that the glioma increases in male rats were statistically significant, and it would appear that they are not.
9) Glioma incidence in the unexposed males was lower than that seen historically. If even 1 glioma (and 1–2 were expected) had appeared in the unexposed group, all statistical and biological significance of the results would have vanished.
1John E. Moulder, PhD, is a professor and director of radiation biology, Department of Radiation Oncology, at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Dr. Moulder has lectured on ionizing and nonionizing radiation biology and human health to biologists, physicists, physicians, policy makers, and industry groups around the world and has served as a consultant and expert witness in several cases involving the alleged health effects of exposure to ionizing and nonionizing radiation. Two areas of his research are the biological basis for carcinogenesis and cancer therapy and the biological aspects of human exposure to non-ionizing radiation. Moulder has published extensively in these areas, and his research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society.
Get ready to go to Spokane—a city of beauty with waterfalls downtown and lots of dining options and things to do. You don't want to miss the 2016 Health Physics Society (HPS) Annual Meeting!
Accommodations are available at both the Davenport Grand and the DoubleTree by Hilton and both are connected to the Convention Center.
- The Davenport Grand (part of the Marriott Autograph Collection), 333 West Spokane Falls Boulevard, Spokane, WA 99201, United States; $126 per night. Click on the hotel name to make your reservation.
- The DoubleTree by Hilton, 322 North Spokane Falls Court, Spokane, WA 99201; $129 per night. Click on the hotel name to make your reservation.
The cut-off date for both hotels is 15 June or until blocks are sold out and group rates are no longer available, so make your reservation early.
Secure online registration is open for the 2016 annual meeting here. Register by 8 June 2016 for discounted rates. This is your chance to make tour reservations; tours that don't fill up will be cancelled.
Have you registered for the professional development school (PDS)?
You can do it here. The PDS will be held at the Davenport Grand, 14–15 July. The topic is "Decontamination and Decommissioning—Case Studies." You can find the details here.
Annual Meeting Program Details
View the sessions and program information including tours, American Academy of Health Physics courses, Professional Enrichment Program courses, and continuing education lectures in the preliminary program on the HPS website.
Highlights of the meeting include:
- The plenary session—"The Wild and Wonderful World (Universe) of Health Physics"—including talks featuring speakers from the Icelandic Radiation Safety Authority, The Joint Commission, SLAC, M.H. Chew & Associates, the Florida Department of Health, and the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements.
- A special NORM/TENORM Industry Day on Tuesday.
- Social events including a pub crawl, bike tour on the Hiawatha Trail, 5k run and walk, and private cruise on Scenic Lake Coeur d'Alene.
- Radioactive Mike Night.
- An app for the meeting to keep you up to date with the latest changes and additions.
- A great exhibit hall and much more!!
For more information contact the HPS Secretariat at 703-790-1745 or email@example.com.
Registration forms and online registration for the 2016 Health Physics Society Annual Meeting in Spokane, Washington (17–21 July 2016) and the Professional Development School (PDS) "Decontamination and Decommissioning—Case Studies" (14–15 July 2016) are available on the meeting website.
Preregistration for the meeting and the PDS, with the lowest fees, is available until 8 June 2016.
Waste Control Specialists LLC (WCS) submitted an application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a license to construct and operate a Consolidated Interim Storage Facility (CISF) for used nuclear fuel. The filing comes after a year of preapplication meetings with the NRC and maintains the timeline WCS outlined in February 2015.
The application is being led by WCS, along with its partners AREVA and NAC International, both global industry leaders in the transportation and storage of used nuclear fuel.
The license submittal puts WCS on track for completion of a CISF as early as 2021 if such steps are accomplished within their expected time line.
Timely solutions for the used nuclear fuel challenge in the United States have proved elusive for more than 40 years. Now, a private-sector solution for secure storage has been proposed by a company with a proven track record for licensing success.
WCS is the only privately owned and operated facility in the United States that has been licensed to treat, store, and dispose of Class A, B, and C low-level radioactive waste (LLRW). Located in an arid, isolated part of west Texas, WCS offers one of the most geologically characterized locations in the United States as a result of the multiyear licensing process for that facility.
More information is available on the WCS website. This article was adapted from the WCS press release.
The 2016 NORM VIII Symposium will be held 18–21 October 2016 and will bring a worldwide audience to Rio de Janeiro, where the first effort of a worldwide exchange of experiences in the naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) field occurred 17 years ago. The Technologically Enhanced Natural Radiation (TENR II) Symposium was attended by participants from 22 countries, representing all regions of the world.
The 2016 symposium will address the radiation protection control of NORM and will include the results of new research, explore practical case studies of industrial applications and waste-disposal practices, and evaluate the practical implication of international and national standards, as well as identifying new societal needs and technical requirements for regulators and industry on NORM. Possible solutions for using, recycling, and disposal of NORM residues will be another focus area, as well as the quality of NORM sampling and measurements.
The event is an essential platform for NORM industries, academic and research institutions, and regulatory authorities to share experiences, review progress made, identify opportunities, and provide an in-depth analysis of current challenges. The symposium offers a multitude of possibilities and opportunities for networking.
Taking into account that NORM VIII is an excellent opportunity for students and young professionals to get the newest technical information, while making important industry contacts, the 2016 NORM VIII Symposium committees invite students and young professionals to apply for the Young Professional Awards.
This opportunity is only open to students or professionals up to 35 years old who are the first author of a paper and whose extended abstract and presentation have been better rated by the Award Committee. Three awards will be delivered to the selected young scientists and professionals: first place (US$1,500), second place (US$700), and third place (US$350), according to the Award Commitee criteria. The awards will be announced in the closing ceremony of NORM VIII.
The contributed papers submission deadline is soon—18 May 2016.
A two-day professional development school (PDS) will be held in Spokane, Washington, on Thursday–Friday, 14–15 July 2016, just before the 2016 Health Physics Society Annual Meeting. The registration fee for the PDS is $695. It will be added to the registration form soon.
Alan Fellman, CHP, PhD, as academic dean, has put together an impressive agenda and list of national and international speakers.
The agenda for "Decontamination and Decommissioning—Case Studies" includes a review of many practical aspects of decontamination and decommissioning as well as lessons learned from actual case studies. The full agenda is available and includes the following topics:
- Health, Safety, and Environmental Planning
- Characterization and Early Site Assessment
- Remediation and Radiological Controls
- Waste Management
- Case Studies—Chernobyl, Fukushima, and Others
- Cost Estimating and Project Management
- Instruments and Analyses
- Surveys of Material and Equipment
- Final Status Surveys
- Revisions to MARSSIM—2016
Contact Ray Johnson (phone 301-370-8573) for information on the PDS.
A new benefit for members of the Health Physics Society (HPS) is available on the Members Only side of the HPS website. Members now have full access to all of the International Commission on Radiation Units & Measurements (ICRU) reports for free. The PDF files downloaded from this page are for HPS member individual use only.
The ICRU develops and promulgates internationally accepted recommendations on radiation-related quantities and units, terminology, measurement procedures, and reference data for the safe and efficient application of ionizing radiation to medical diagnosis and therapy, radiation science and technology, and radiation protection of individuals and populations.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has authorized its staff to issue a construction permit for a first-of-a-kind facility dedicated to medical isotope production. The permit will allow SHINE Medical Technologies™(SHINE) to build the facility for the production of molybdenum-99 and other radioisotopes. The facility will be located in Janesville, Wisconsin, about 64 kilometers southeast of Madison.
SHINE will submit a separate operating license application for NRC approval before it can start production. There is additional information on the SHINE website.
The Health Physics Society (HPS) election results are in. Elected to take office at the 2016 HPS Annual Meeting in Spokane, Washington, in July are:
President-elect: Eric Abelquist
Secretary-elect: Karen Langley
Directors: John Cardarelli, Jason Harris, and Tara Medich
Recently, a number of websites have reported grossly false information regarding radioactive releases during the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. Here are the key facts that refute those claims.
The erroneous information cites a recently “declassified report”:
The claim is that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) “declassified” documents about Fukushima in December 2015. The truth is that the documents were requested through the Freedom of Information Act and were provided in May 2012, and more documents were provided in March 2014. None of these documents were ever “classified” in the legal sense.
The erroneous information claims that the report says “25% of the total fuel in unit 2 . . . , 50% of the total spent fuel from unit 3 . . . , and 100% of the total spent fuel . . . from unit 4” was released to the atmosphere:
Yes, these are the hypothetical releases that were evaluated in an attempt to understand the worst possible situation. No, these are not the amounts that were released from the reactors or spent fuel rods.
The truth is that there was a high degree of uncertainty regarding actual releases early in the accident and continuing for several weeks. As a result, the NRC asked the National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center (NARAC) to provide dose estimates for two or more hypothetical scenarios to set bounds on the potential protective actions that might be taken.
The NRC documents clearly identify those percentages as a hypothetical bounding case, which they asked NARAC to consider. The hypothetical releases were described as a “worst-case scenario” and “realistic worst case.” The NARAC report clearly states the scenario was hypothetical, and the documents also state “There is no evidence this scenario has occurred.”
What was released?
Actual (not hypothetical) data show that ultimately there was major fuel damage in Units 1, 2, and 3 reactor cores. Through about mid-March of 2011, releases from these cores were primarily volatile fission products released to air, as well as some soluble fission products released to water. There has been no evidence of releases from any of the on-site spent fuel pools (http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/safety-and-security/safety-of-plants/fukushima-accident/). The total release from the Fukushima accident was about 10-15% that of Chernobyl, though by element, the iodine release was less than 25% and the cesium release was less than 45% of the Chernobyl releases (http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/Publications/PDF/AdditionalVolumes/P1710/Pub1710-TV1-Web.pdf).
Want more true facts about the Fukushima accident?
Check out the reputable resources listed on the Health Physics Society’s website at http://hps.org/fukushima/.
Barbara Hamrick, CHP, JD
In 2011 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) replaced the color-coded alerts of the Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS) with the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS), designed to more effectively communicate information about terrorist threats by providing timely, detailed information to the American public.
It recognizes that Americans all share responsibility for the nation's security and should always be aware of the heightened risk of terrorist attack in the United States and of what they should do.
Next year's Local Arrangements Committee is already working on the 61st Annual Meeting of the Health Physics Society, which will be held 17–21 July 2016 in Spokane, Washington.
The committee has set up a website that is full of information on things for you and your family to do in your free time. More information will be added as plans are confirmed. Plan to attend the meeting and to enjoy the local area.