Linear No Threshold Model (LNT) Is Inaccurate


The Linear No Threshold (LNT) model is a measurement of Radiation Dose vs Risk of Cancer.  Because of research performed with the effects of radiation on Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors scientists were able to obtain data on high doses of radiation (>500 millisievert (mSv)).  However it was uncertain what effect low doses of radiation had on people so the assumption was made that there was “no threshold” and all radiation levels were dangerous. The average worldwide background radiation dose is 2.4mSv per year.

The LNT model was adopted in 1959 but in reality there is doubt that doses of radiation under 100mSv are harmful or cancerous (The safety threshold is probably higher than 100mSv). A survey found that only 23% of scientists in the field subscribed to the LNT model and only 36% of 1,737 Department of Energy scientists. See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1299203/ . A report to the US Senate on Radiation Standards in June 2000 stated:

"According to a consensus of scientists, there is a lack of conclusive evidence of low-level radiation effects below total exposures of about 5,000 to 10,000 millirem (50 to 100 mSv).  The model under which these effects are assumed, lacking conclusive evidence, is called the “linear, no-threshold” hypothesis or model. According to this model, even the smallest radiation exposure carries a quantifiable cancer risk."

The evidence of inaccuracy can be seen at high altitudes where radiation doses are higher as there is less atmosphere to protect people against it.  People who live at higher altitudes (example states in the USA are Colorado, Utah,  Idaho) are exposed to twice as much ionizing radiation as the average level and these areas show the lowest levels of cancer. Colorado has a population of over 5 million people and a radiation level higher than most other states due to uranium deposits.  According to the LNT model Colorado should have an excess of 200 cancer deaths per year but has a rate less than the national average.   Airline pilots and aircrews spend a lot of time at extremely high altitudes and they have 20 times more radiation than the average radiation level. This equates to an average flight crews working year they are exposed to 1100 chest X-rays and with no increase in cancer rates.

The most radioactive place in the world, Ramsar in Northern Iran
The most radioactive place in the world is in a town called Ramsar in northern Iran (due to Radium-226  in several hot springs in the area, see image of Ramsar to the right).  It has a background radiation 200 times greater than the average radiation level and the residents receive a yearly radiation dose of between 100-260mSv. This is several times higher than the radiation level at the Chernobyl exclusion zone.  Food grown in the area also has a radiation level approximately 3 times higher than the average background level. Not only is there no adverse affects but the residents have longer and healthier lives and there is a possibility they have built a resistance to radioactivity. 

"Ramsar, Iran is the site of a well controlled study of two large populations living together in one city, either in a high background area of 300 to 700 mSv/year, or in a low background area of 2 to 3 mSv/year. High background area residents demonstrate a marked increase in DNA repair and a marked reduction of standardized mortality rate and of age adjusted cancer mortality, similar to that seen in the US Nuclear Shipyard Worker Study" 1

There are also similar areas to this in China, Norway, Sweden, Brazil and India. Radiation at Chernobyl after the disaster is 4.9mSv and Grand Central Station in New York is 5.4mSv or Guarapari in Brazil is 37mSv. Finland has radiation levels 3 times higher than the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

The LNT model is simplifying the risks of radiation because it can't accurately scale it for certain.  The LNT model  interprets radiation dose as if you put your hand in water that is 100 degrees Celsius you will get a bad burn and if you put your hand in water that is 10 degrees Celsius you'll get burned but less so.  LNT is used to prove that if a million people put their hands in 10 degree Celsius water at least 500 will get third degree burns.


The Health Physics Society is another of many organisations that doesn't agree with the LNT model.  It states:

"The Health Physics Society recommends that assessments of radiogenic health risks be limited to dose estimates near and above 10 rem (100mSv). Below this level, only dose is credible and statements of associated risks are more speculative than credible. Thus, compliance with regulations to achieve very low levels of exposure result in enormous expenditures of money with no demonstrable public health benefits."2

Dr. James Conca (international expert on the environmental effects of radioactive contamination, working at America’s national labs and nuclear waste repositories with over 30 years experience) stated that:

"For radiation this philosophy [LNT] has failed. The LNT theory has been long since disproven. We are bathed in radiation every day and we know that low levels of radiation or even ten times background levels have never hurt anyone. It doesn’t cause cancer. Yet the global fear of nuclear energy and radiation has diverted billions of dollars from more serious health issues. The amount of funding the U.S. spent since 1990 protecting against what, in many parts of the world, are background levels of radiation, could have immunized the entire continent of Africa against its three worst scourges. Instead we saved not one life. This is an ethical issue. The science is easy, the politics are not."

However, the last BEIR VII report on low dose radiation, published in 2006, reconfirmed that the Linear No Threshold model is the most practical model to estimate radiation risks, especially for radiation protection purposes. The BEIR VII report states: 

“The [National Academy of Sciences] Committee concludes that the current scientific evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that there is a linear, nothreshold dose-response relationship between exposure to ionizing radiation and the development of cancer in humans.”

The BEIR VII report does not conclude that the LNT theory is correct but the data appear to be consistent with the LNT theory. The report does not rule out the possibility of a threshold. Richard Monson, a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health and chair of the group that conducted the study, said:  “We judged that the most reasonable shape is a line through the origin.”

Another report in 2007 from the French Academy of Sciences, called “The Dose-Effect Relationship and Estimating the Carcinogenic Effects of Low Doses of Ionizing Radiation",  raises doubts about the validity of using the LNT theory to estimate carcinogenic risks at doses less than 100mSv and is even more skeptical of such estimates at doses less than 10mSv.  It states:

"A linear no-threshold relationship (LNT) describes well the relation between the dose and the carcinogenic effect in this dose range where it could be tested. However, the use of this relationship to assess by extrapolation the risk of low and very low doses deserves great caution....

...it can be noted that besides LNT, other types of dose-effect relationships are also compatible with data concerning solid tumors in atom bomb survivors, and can also satisfactorily fit epidemiological data that are incompatible with the LNT concept, notably the incidence of leukemia in these same A-bomb survivors. Furthermore, taking into account the latest available data, the dose-effect relationship for solid tumors in Hiroshima-Nagasaki survivors is not linear but curvilinear between 0 and 2 Sv (0 and 2000mSv)"

The French Academy of Sciences pointed out that the LNT theory of radiation damage can be appropriately used as a risk management tool but not as a risk assessment tool.  The French report focuses on the radiobiological science and does not try to interpret these results in a policy context. In contrast, the BEIR VII report attempts to interpret the current state of knowledge into a policy context.

It also states that extrapolation of cancer risk using the LNT theory assumes that a very low dose administered to many people has the same carcinogenic effect as high doses administered to a small number of people. They further noted that this assumption does not have a scientific foundation, as UNSCEAR and ICRP have pointed out.

"The efficacy of defense mechanisms, the diversity of the strategies used by the cells, the tissues and the whole organism to reduce or eliminate carcinogenic risk are now better understood. They strongly suggest that a threshold or a practical threshold does exist and even, for some cancer sites, as in animals, so does a hormesis effect. It seems that during three billion years of evolution in a sea of ionizing and ultraviolet radiation living beings have developed systems of defense and repair capable of preventing harmful effects due to doses of the same order of magnitude as those received due to natural radiation (1 to 20 mSv/year). These defenses seem to be overwhelmed at higher doses and the effect of intermediate dose zones should be determined, especially for doses between 20 and 100 mSv at high dose rates and moderate irradiations (< 500 mSv) at low dose rates."

                         Low Dose Radiation & Hormesis

Some scientists believe small doses of radiation actually stimulate the activation of repair mechanisms in the human body that protect against disease (see Radiation Hormesis or the Reference page on this site).  Studies were done shielding one group of mice from natural background radiation and another group exposed to natural background radiation.  The group that were shielded from natural radiation died sooner than the other group. In 1963, the Atomic Energy Commission repeatedly confirmed lower mortality in guinea pigs, rats, and mice given low level radiation. In 1964, the cows exposed to about 150 rads after the Trinity A-bomb in 1946 were quietly euthanized because of extreme old age.

There were apartments constructed in Taiwan in 1983 that accidently contained increased amounts of cobolt-60 which is radioactive. Occupants recieved a dose of 75mSv/y which is 5 times over the US recommended radiation dose. Over 16 years there were only 5 cases of cancer out of the 10,000 occupants of the apartments.  According to the Taiwanese average cancer rate (with age considered) there should have been 170 cases of cancer,  thats a 96% decrease in cancer rates. 


The waters of such European spas as Lourdes, Bath, and Bad Gastein, known for their beneficial health effects since Roman times, all have high radioactivity levels. Areas noted for high radiation backgrounds, such as the Caucasus, southwest England, northwest India, have high longevity and low cancer incidence.

Indian, Canadian and British studies also found that workers in nuclear power plants had lower rates of cancer than the general population.  British data on over 10,000 UK Atomic Energy Authority workers show cancer mortality to be 22% below the national average. For Canada the figure is 33% below the average.

Taking India for one example, in the past 16 years eighty workers at the 20 nuclear power plants across India were diagnosed with cancer. Employees working in nuclear power stations in close proximity of radiation are not prone to any higher rate of occurrence of disease, particularly cancer, than the general public, K M Mohandas said, director of Centre for Cancer Epidemiology, Tata Memorial Centre. The study covered the health profile of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) employees at nuclear power stations for over 15 years.

In 2010, Indian nuclear power plants had a total of 6,859 employees. According to the study the average incidence rate of cancer among these employees is 54.05 per 100,000 of population while the national cancer incidence rate is 98.5 per per 100,000 of population. The average death rate due to cancer among nuclear power employees is 29.05 per 100,000 of population while that of the general public is 68 per 100,000 of population. The study found that there was no significant difference in the number of cases of cancer among nuclear power workers who work close to the radioactive sites and others who work out of the realm of radioactive sites.

A study was funded by the DOE  to research the effects of low level radiation on
nuclear industry workers which lasted 10 years and was completed in 1987 but not released until 1991.  The study is Matanowski, G. M. "Health effects of low-level radiation in shipyard workers, Final report, June 1991". DOE DE-AC02-79 EV10095, 1991 (http://www.orau.org/ptp/PTP%20Library/library/Subject/Risk/shipyard.pdf).  This study used between 30,000 to 40,000 nuclear shipyard workers and non-nuclear shipyard workers and compared the health effects, such as cancer, between the two groups.  Before the study began it was expected that nuclear workers would suffer an increase in cancer mortality when compared to non-nuclear workers (as the LNT model perscribed) and it was with great surprise to everyone when the exact opposite occurred.

The Nuclear Shipyard Workers Study reported that the high-dose mortality rate of the nuclear workers was 0.76 that of the non-nuclear workers in the control group.  However,  this report was not selected by the
International Association for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the data were kept out of BEIR V.  IARC  misrepresents its own data in order to to claim that its results support the LNT model.  The IARC used  weaker nuclear worker data, which was then proclaimed as a “definitive study,” to claim that the IARC study is the “best evidence of the linear dose-response to low doses.”

The IARC claim rests on data for one cancer, leukemia (absent chronic lymphocytic leukemia) with 119 deaths in a total of 15,825 deaths in the study. One data point in the small highest-dose group at “more than 40 cSv” (centi-sieverts) shows 6 observed deaths vs. 2.3 expected deaths. The 116 leukemia deaths in the six dose groups below 40 cSv show no excess leukemia. The IARC “analysis” discounts data points in the four data groups that are below the controls. This enables the IARC analysts to produce a “trend analysis”  in which the 6 vs. 2.3 deaths data point alone causes a positive slope 3.
See website http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7724726 for the study they used to make radiation fit into the LNT mold.


Lower rates of deaths from cancer are also found in  the areas of countries that have higher radiation levels as mentioned above. Radiation Hormesis is a politically and socially controversial topic,  especially now, but if interested in further information on it see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2564764/ .  There are others that believe radiation has no health benefits but at low doses doesn't cause harm.  You can have safe levels of something dangerous and dangerous levels of something safe.

The US National Cancer Institute has found there is no excess mortality rates in areas with nuclear power facilities than without.  The study included 16 types of cancer including leukemia and thyroid cancer and used all 52 commercial reactors built prior to 1982. (see http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/nuclear-facilities). If you live within 75 kilometers of a nuclear reactor, you’d get an estimated trace exposure of 0.009 millirem a year, which is smaller dose than eating one banana, which contains the radioactive isotope potassium-40.

Radiation is also used to cure cancer.  To cure cancer in patients a beam of radiation that sometimes delivers doses of between 30,000 to 60,000mSv to the affected tissues is administered. This is supposed to kill cancer cells and is then allowed time for the cells to recover.  Radiotheropy  could do more damage than good in some cases. The human body has natural defenses against excess radiation but differs depending on the cells and tissue, the type and dose of radiation,  the magnitude and duration aswell as the part of the body exposed,  the sex, age and general health of the person.


                        Hiroshima, Nagasaki & Chernobyl

Peak radiation levels from the atomic bomb explosions were from 10,000-100,000mSv which killed many people instantly and more over the later weeks. The people that survived the blast had a radiation dose between 10-500mSv. 
The study of 80,000 Japanese atomic bomb survivors who were living in either Hiroshima or Nagasaki found that there was a 6% increase from the normal rate in cancer.  This was surprisingly low compared to what was expected. In the year 2000, 55 years after the atomic bomb,  over 40% of the  survivors on that study were still alive and well.  There were also no genetic defects or abnormalities in children born from either one or two parents who were survivors from the atomic bomb.  The United States and Japan still fund an intensive study into around 70,000 offspring of the atomic bomb survivors today.

The BEIR VII report published by the National Academy of Sciences states:

•The risk of radiation-induced mutations in sperm and eggs, resulting in heritable disease "is sufficiently small that it has not been detected in humans, even in thoroughly studied irradiated populations such as those of Hiroshima and Nagasaki".
• Regarding transmissible genetic damage from the exposure of future parents, such as "spontaneous abortions, congenital malformations, neonatal mortality, still births and the sex ratio of offspring … there is no consistent evidence of an association of any such outcomes with exposure to environmental sources of radiation."

Pregnant women were pressured to have abortions after Chernobyl but all those that refused had perfectly healthy children.
Professor Gerry Thomas, who worked on the health effects of Chernobyl for the UN committee, said there is absolutely no evidence for an increase in birth defects. The fear and ignorance people have of radiation has probably killed more people than actual radiation.

Professor John Crown (
Prof. of Oncology at University College Dublin and recipient of awards from the American Cancer Society, European Society of Medical Oncology) stated "Sadly, approximately two per cent of all newborns worldwide suffer from congenital malformations. This figure did not go up after Chernobyl. The children whose deformities were highlighted by the charities did not develop them as a result of radiation."  There are charities and groups that promote birth defects around Chernobyl increasing by 100%,  150%, 200%, 250%..... they are all different statistics and are probably just propaganda for political or financial gain.

The UN believes most of the deformed babies photographed by Western charities to raise funds have nothing to do with Chernobyl, but are the normal deformities that occur at a low level in every population. 'The direct effect of radiation is not that substantial...
There is definitely far more psychosomatic illness than that caused by radiation.'' said Oksana Garnets, head of the UN Chernobyl programme. 

The problems in Belarus for example (where birth defects are mostly blamed on radiation from Chernobyl)  is grinding poverty, alcoholism and neglect of its population by its government which is a dictatorship (see Unicef report 2010 http://www.unicef.by/junisef_v_belarusi/unicef_belarus_annual_report_2010/ ).

Workers and firefighters at the Chernobyl accident had radiation exposures between 800-16,000mSv according to
USNRC.  The Ukrainian evacuees had 17msv and the Belarussian evacuees had an average 31msv.  Using the LNT model for the Chernobyl accident in 1986 there should have been approximately 9,000 people killed from radiation exposure expanding all the way to Kiev.  However,  the Chernobyl Forum study in 2005, which is the most authoritative study and is an International organisation of scientific agencies including a number of United Nations bodies, found that the most severely effected people were from the 200,000 clean up workers with 134 suffering acute radiation sickness and out of these 28 died within a few months and a further 19 died by the year 2002.  

There was an increase in thyroid cancer in children at Chernobyl due to radioactive iodine infecting the pastures and cows eating the grass and infecting children through their milk. The thyroid gland absorbs much more iodine in growing children than adults so they are far more at risk. Radiation-related risks from Chernobyl decreased with age at exposure, and studies have not shown any increase in risk for those exposed as adults, according to analysis by UCSF epidemiologist Lydia Zablotska, MD, PhD.  The increase was reported to be  4,000 children but there is also doubt that all these reports are due to radiation at Chernobyl. A massive medical program to search for cancers was undertaken after Chernobyl and if you are looking for something you are going to find more of it.  The screenings also detected cancers that never progressed to a clinical thyroid cancer. These cases also could have been prevented by taking potassium iodine tablets which was not done after Chernobyl until it was too late. 

Out of these 4,000 children,  9 died from thyroid cancer bringing the total deaths from radiation at Chernobyl to 56 which is less than the weekly death toll on Britain's roads. Mitsuyoshi Urashima, MD, PhD, MPH, a pediatric oncologist and molecular epidemiologist at the Jikei University School of Medicine in Tokyo, gives a slightly varied estimate of 15 extra thyroid cancer deaths attributed to the Chernobyl accident and that thyroid cancer almost always can be treated successfully.  For the children with advanced tumors treatment has been highly effective although some will have to take drugs for the rest of their lives to replace thyroid function.  It is fortunate that thyroid cancer has a high survival rate compared to the other types.  However,  there were no other increases of any other types of cancer after the Chernobyl accident.  More people will die from smoking cigarettes in the Ukraine than ever die from radiation at Chernobyl. The Ukraine still relies on nuclear power for 50% of its electricity today and plans on increasing their reactors from 15 to 22.  


                                           Life in Chernobyl

In the largely deserted village of Chernobyl, 18km from the reactor and deep inside the government's total exclusion zone, the UN's report was welcomed among the 600 people who have illegally returned to their old homes.  Nina Melnik, 47, who edits a local newsletter, said:  


"I don't just know that relocating people killed more than the radiation did, it is scientifically proven. It was totally the wrong thing to do. They should open up the area and let everyone come back."

 The UN report suggested that the relocation of hundreds of thousands of people "destroyed communities, broke up families, and led to unemployment, depression, and stress-related illnesses." Oksana Garnets, head of the UN Chernobyl programme, stated:

"The first reaction was to move people out. Only later did we think that perhaps some of them shouldn't have been moved. It has become clear that the direct influence of radiation on health is actually much less that the indirect consequences on health of relocating hundreds of thousands of people.... The direct effect of radiation is not that substantial."

Hanna Semenenko moved back to her village of Illintsi which is in the middle of the officially-evacuated, 30km zone around the Chernobyl nuclear plant in 1987. She stated in 2007:

"Radioactivity? That's nonsense! I've lived here for twenty years and everything's clean.... Officials come and check us, they check our food and our clothes. There is nowhere as clean as here! We have electricity, thank God, and I get water nearby. We grow potatoes, cabbages and tomatoes, and mobile shops visit us twice a week."

Some people returned to the exclusion zone almost immediatly after being evacuated and carried on with life as before,  eating eggs from the chickens, fruit from the trees and vegetables from the ground.  Wildlife and nature has prospered.
Przewalski's horses,  a rare species introduced to Chernobyl.
Nature has also repaired itself from the Chernobyl disaster.  Wildlife returned to the Chernobyl exclusion zone and prospered.  House pets such as cats have multiplied,  with no deformed kittens.  Roe deer, brown bears, deer,  elk, badgers,  beavers, Lynx,  bats, wild boar, wolves, bees, butterflies, spiders and even Przewalski's horses and bison which are a rare species that were introduced to the area are all thriving in the exclusion zone and making Chernobyl their sanctuary.  The zone is being used for wild release programs of endangered species.  Plants and fruit trees still grow and are eaten by the wildlife.  Scientists are finding nature is flourishing and endangered species now living in the Chernobyl exclusion zone which is unfit for human habitation. A wildlife survey of the zone in 2006 recorded 66 species of mammals, 112 species of reptiles and 249 species of birds.  Over 40 endangered species of animal now live in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Wild boar have multiplied eightfold between 1986 and 1988.  Lots of birds such as starlings, pigeons, swallows and redstart are nesting inside the sarcophagus,  which is the steel and concrete shield erected over the reactor that exploded in 1986.

However, some scientists such as ecologists Anders Møller from the University of Paris and Professor Tim Mousseau from the University of South Carolina (Biological Sciences) and a National Geographic Society grantee thinks there are some adverse health effects going on in the Chernobyl exclusion zone.  They published a paper in the journal Biology Letters in 2009.

"We find an elevated frequency of partial albinism in barn swallows, meaning they have tufts of white feathers.... In Italy around 40 percent of the barn swallows return each year, whereas the annual survival rate is 15 percent or less for Chernobyl," Mousseau said.

Both Møller and Mousseau thinks that migratory species, such as the barn swallow, are particularly vulnerable to radioactive contaminants, because they arrive in the area exhausted and with depleted reserves of protective antioxidants due to their arduous journey.

Mary Mycio, author of Wormwood Forest, a natural history of the Chernobyl zone, stated:

"Nature’s law is the survival of the fittest. In the wild, mutants die. And if they do survive, they are like the partly albino swallows that did appear in the early years after the disaster. They were not considered attractive and found it hard to mate, so their mutations didn’t pass on to future generations."

Mousseau also states:

"One of the great ironies of this particular tragedy is that many animals are doing considerably better than when the humans were there. But it would be a mistake to conclude they are doing better than in a control area. We just don't know what is normal [for Chernobyl]. There just haven't been enough scientific studies done."

Doctor Sergey Gaschak from the International Radioecology Laboratory in Kiev and the leading expert on the wildlife of the exclusion zone having worked in the zone since 1990, said he drew opposite conclusions from the same data the group collected on birds. He claims the study,  which he was also involved,  was flawed from the start. Researchers selected study sites that varied in radiation levels, but they failed to control for important differences in habitat vegetation, which would affect bird distributions. After seeing their conclusions Gaschak asked for his name to be removed from the paper because he did not agree with the interpretation but his request was denied.

Also in 2003, the Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty ruled that Møller had fabricated data in a 1998 paper on oak leaves while he was based in Denmark. Other researchers have also claimed that Møller fabricates bird studies for which he is most well known. Even though Møller claimed his publications had declined since the misconduct claims were made public he still managed to churn out nearly 30 studies in 2008.

The research on the brain size of birds from Chernobyl by Mousseau and co-authored by Anders Møller (which was used to state radiation caused the size of brains of birds to decrease by 5%), used field work data from one of Gaschak’s colleagues, Igor Chizhevsky. The paper was published with Chizhevsky as an author despite him not seeing a draft version before publication. Chizhevsky also didn't agree with Mousseau and  Møllers interpretation of his data and believes that a 5% difference is just not statistically significant. As he says you can measure a bird head size 10 times and get 10 different answers.

Gaschak notes that he collected the raw bird data in the Red Forest, the highly contaminated region that surrounds the power plant, but when he saw Møller's analysis before publication it contained "quite unexpected results." Gaschak said he voiced his concerns of Møllers research methods to Mousseau but it only seemed to irritate him and the issue was ignored.   He also doubts that the team could have obtained the volume of data they have based on the time they spent in Chernobyl. Gaschak stated:

"They have an idea to show by any means that radiation has exclusively negative effects, that's it. Truth is not their target." 


Mousseau denies the accusations of their study saying he questions Gaschaks analytical experience and has no concerns about the reliability of the data Møller collected or of the analysis.

However, research conducted in 2012 by
Professor Jim Smith, of the University of Portsmouth and environmental physicist at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and colleagues from the University of the West of England has cast doubt on earlier studies on the impact on birds of the catastrophic nuclear accident at Chernobyl in April 1986 and can be applied to Fukushima accident in 2011. (Published in the Royal Society journal "Biology Letters"). Professor Smith stated:

"I wasn't really surprised by these findings -- there have been many high profile findings on the radiation damage to wildlife at Chernobyl but it's very difficult to see significant damage and we are not convinced by some of the claims...We can't rule out some effect on wildlife of the radiation, but wildlife populations in the exclusion zone around Chernobyl have recovered and are actually doing well and even better than before because the human population has been removed.

We showed that changes in anti-oxidant levels in birds in Chernobyl could not be explained by direct radiation damage. We would expect other wildlife to be similarly resistant to oxidative stress from radiation at these levels.

Similarly, radiation levels at Fukushima would not be expected to cause oxidative stress to wildlife. We believe that it is likely that apparent damage to bird populations at Chernobyl is caused by differences in habitat, diet or ecosystem structure rather than radiation.

It is well-known that immediately after the Chernobyl accident, extremely high radiation levels did damage organisms. But now, radiation levels at Chernobyl are hundreds of times lower and, while some studies have apparently seen long-term effects on animals, others have found no effect.

Some Belarussian and Ukrainian scientists who live and work in the Chernobyl exclusion zone have reported big increases in wildlife populations since the accident, due to the removal of humans from the area."

Their study modeled the production of free radicals from radiation, concluding that the birds' antioxidant mechanisms could easily cope with radiation at density levels similar to those seen at Chernobyl and Fukushima.

There were wild horses and cattle 6km from the nuclear plant that died within a month after the accident from thyroid illness but all the next generation were found to be normal.  In all the research of Doctor Sergey Gaschak, he has only found one mouse with cancer-like symptoms. He has found evidence of DNA mutations, but nothing that affected the animals' physiology or reproductive ability. "Nothing with two heads," he says. "We marked animals then recaptured them again much later," he says. "And we found they lived as long as animals in relatively clean areas."  

Mary Mycio argues that the benefits to wildlife of removing people from the zone, have far outweighed any harm from radiation. 

"The zone is not a wasteland — if we imagine a wastelandto be barren and lifeless. It is very much alive because the evacuation of people from an area of nearly 2,000 square miles in Belarus and Ukraine freed up a huge territory for wildlife. One of Chernobyl’s many paradoxes is that human activities such as agriculture and industry are much more damaging to nature than radiation. To paraphrase Pogo, we have met the environmental disaster and it is us.

That is not to say that all species are doing well. Great tits in the Red Forest, which is one of the most radioactive outdoor environments on the planet, have lower reproductive success than their counterparts in other zone environments.  Insects with long development periods in soil also suffer because that’s where more than 90% of the radioactivity is concentrated.

Chernobyl today
The Ukraine has 190 new cancer cases per 100,000 per year which is a lot better than most other countries (with or without nuclear power).  Ironically,  Denmark has the highest cancer rates in the world at 326 per 100,000.  Australia has 314,  New Zealand has 309,  United States has 300,  Canada has 296 and the United Kingdom has 266 per 100,000.

                                             Fukushima

It is becoming apparent at Fukushima that the evacuation from the "exclusion zone" has been excessive. Dr. Robert Gale, who has worked as a consultant to the Japanese government on the accident and who helped treat radiation victims at Chernobyl, said that some of the areas that have been evacuated probably suffered so little contamination that they could be reoccupied, but that it was easier to set the lines simply by drawing a radius around the plant.  Professor John Boice, a cancer epidemiologist and professor of medicine at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center said the radiation doses at the Fukushima exclusion zone are too low to perform any epidemiological studies that have any chance of success.

The UN Scientific Committee reported: 



"The UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) has reported that despite skin contamination of several workers, no clinically-observable effects have been reported and there is no evidence of acute radiation injury in any of the 20,115 workers who participated in Tepco’s efforts to mitigate the accident at the plant. Eighteen UNSCEAR member states provided 72 experts for the assessment. UNSCEAR is also surveying Fukushima prefecture and will compare its data with Japanese measurements of exposures of some 2 million people living there at the time of the accident. A final report of radiation effects will be presented to the UN late in 2013.

A preliminary report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) has made an estimate of the radiation doses that residents of Japan outside the evacuated areas have received in the year following the accident. The report's headline conclusion is that most people in Fukushima prefecture would have received a radiation dose of between 1 and 10 mSv during the first year. This compares with levels of about 2.4 mSv they would have received from unavoidable natural sources, and the regulatory limit of 1 mSv from nuclear plants in normal operation. In two places the doses were higher - between 10 and 50 mSv, still below any harmful level. Almost all were “below the internationally-agreed reference level for the public exposure due to radon in dwellings” (about 10 mSv/yr). "


In May 2013, after further studies by 80 scientists from 15 different countries, the UN Committee further reported the following:


"The additional exposures received by most Japanese people in the first year and subsequent years due to the radioactive releases from the accident are less than the doses received from natural background radiation (which is about 2.1 mSv per year). This is particularly the case for Japanese people living away from Fukushima, where annual doses of around 0.2 mSv from the accident are estimated, arising primarily through ingestion of radionuclides in food.
No radiation-related deaths or acute effects have been observed among nearly 25,000 workers (including TEPCO employees and contractors) involved at the accident site.

Given the small number of highly exposed workers, it is unlikely that excess cases of thyroid cancer due to radiation exposure would be detectable. Special health examinations will be given to workers with exposures above 100 mSv including annual monitoring of the thyroid, stomach, large intestine and lung for cancer as a means to monitor for potential late radiation-related health effects at the individual level.

The assessment also concluded that although the rate of exposures may have exceeded the levels for the onset of effects on plants and animals several times in the first few months following the accident, any effects are expected to be transient in nature, given their short duration. In general, the exposures on both marine and terrestrial non-human biota were too low for observable acute effects" 

A study in 2007 (http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/7/49) shows that “normal” pollution in some big cities, like Tokyo, is a larger mortality risk than the levels of radiation that are being recorded in the evacuated areas around Fukushima.

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Burton Richter (former director of the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California) presented a calculation of the years of life that would have been lost due to the health effects of pollutants emitted by fossil fuel-burning power plants if Japan had relied on coal or gas instead of nuclear power. Richter states nuclear power beats gas by a nose and coal by a mile. For each terawatt hour of electrical output, the use of coal causes the loss of 138 years of life, gas is 42 years  and for nuclear power, 30 years, including losses attributed to the Fukushima accident by the Ten Hoeve-Jacobson paper. Richter stated: "The obvious conclusion is that nuclear power is better for your health than other choices, a conclusion that may come as a surprise to many."  

Richter added that the Fukushima analysis by Ten Hoeve & Jacobson "is a first rate job and uses source of radioactivity measurements that have not been used before to get a very good picture of the geographic distribution of radiation." He endorsed their use of the LNT model "to give an upper bound to the biological effects."4.

According to a recent study (Pushker A. Kharecha, James E. Hansen. Prevented Mortality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Historical and Projected Nuclear Power. Environmental Science & Technology, 2013 global use of nuclear power has prevented about 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths and release of 64 billion tons of greenhouse gases that would have resulted from burning coal and other fossil fuels.
                                                  
                                         The Radium Girls

In the early 1900’s there were factories that produced radioactive materials such as luminous paint to be applied to the dials of watches and clocks.  This paint contained radium which is what made it luminous and of course dangerous if ingested.  The women dial painters would lick the tips of their paint brush to give it a point and on occasion paint their lips or teeth luminous for fun.

A dentist in New Jersey who had clients working at the watch factory discovered a link with certain mouth ailments and the factory.  An investigation confirmed that the radium in the paint was causing nose and throat cancers.  In 1929 the department of labor investigated 31 plants involved in dial painting or involved in substances containing radium and discovered that out of approximately 2,000 employees there were 32 deaths and 19 others made ill caused by radiation over sixteen years.

These “radium girls” were made part of a study by researchers and tracked for a further 70 years, the last surviving radium girl had her 100th birthday in 2006. Federal radiation protection standards were able to be established from the research  and no new cases appeared again.  Many of the same radium painters continued to paint luminous dials for use on military aircraft in World War II years later.

                                             NYAS Report

The New York Academy of Sciences released a Chernobyl report with outrageous claims regarding Chernobyl and a million people dying due to radiation.  It should be stressed that this report was initiated and effectively edited by Greenpeace. Chernobyl is probably the most investigated industrial accident in history but the NYAS report dismisses all other reports from the Red Cross, IAEA, UNSCEAR, and the World Health Organisation,  claiming they are in a conspiracy with the nuclear industry but provide no supporting evidence.  For more information on Greenpeace click here.

Douglas Braaten, the Director and Executive Editor (Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences),  stated “In no sense did Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences or the New York Academy of Sciences commission this work; nor by its publication do we intend to independently validate the claims made in the translation or in the original publications cited in the work. The translated volume has not been peer-reviewed by the New York Academy of Sciences, or by anyone else.”

Ramsar - Two survey meters show the dose rates of 142 and 143 micro Gy/h on the wall of the bedroom of one dwelling. This is several times more than the Chernobyl exclusion zone and people have lived long and healthy lives. 

1 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2664640/ 

2 http://hps.org/documents/riskassessment_ps008-1.pdf

3 (M. Pollycove, 1997. “The Rise and Fall of the Linear No-Threshold (LNT) Theory of Radiation Carcinogenesis,” American Physical Society Meeting, Physics and Society Forum (April).) 

4 http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2012/07/is-nuclear-power-good-for-you.html?rss=1