Fukushima Recovery Workers Probably Safe, Scientist Explains

TUSCON, Ariz., Sept. 6, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A standard hazard function model shows that Fukushima recovery workers probably will suffer no life-threatening radiation damage, writes Bobby R. Scott, Ph.D., of the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in Albuquerque, N.M.

In the same article in the fall issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (www.jpands.org/vol16no3/scott.pdf), Scott also warns that predicting long-term effects based on the discredited linear no-threshold hypothesis—that no dose is safe—could cause harmful radiation phobia.

High-dose radiation damages many body systems, but the bone marrow or blood-forming system is the most sensitive and is the key one for assessing life-threatening damage. There is a threshold dose for a specific "deterministic" effect such as lethal marrow injury because a lower dose does not damage a sufficient number of cells. A higher dose is tolerable if delivered more slowly.

Using a standard model, the likelihood that a worker received a life-threatening dose accumulated during successive work shifts, during which he received doses monitored by a personal dosimeter, can be calculated. With the annual limit set at 250 mSv, one scenario in which the worker may require medical intervention is a hydrogen explosion that suddenly caused a large spike in released radionuclides.

Fears of long-term effects in persons far from the reactor assume that one radiation "hit" to each person in a very large population will cause at least one cancer. Scott points out that every person in the U.S. receives more than 86 billion hits per day from natural radiation. Those who took potassium iodide pills probably got more radiation from the natural potassiuim-40 in the pills than they could possibly have gotten from radioactive iodine from Fukushima.

Unwarranted fears are potentially harmful, Scott states, pointing to some 100,000 abortions of normal babies because of fearmongering after the Chernobyl disaster.

AAPS, a national organization representing physicians in all specialties, www.aapsonline.org was founded in 1943. Its Journal is committed to "promoting open debate and scientific integrity."

Contact: Bobby Scott, Ph.D., 505-348-9470, bscott@LRRI.org or Jane Orient, M.D., (520) 323-3110, janeorientmd@gmail.com

Association of American Physicians and Surgeons

1601 N. Tucson Blvd. Suite 9

Tucson, AZ 85716

(800) 635-1196


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