Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Radioactive releases from the nuclear power sector and implications for child health

Notes here provided by:

Simon J Daigle, B.Sc., M.Sc., M.Sc(A)

Industrial / Occupational Hygienist, Climatologist,

Environmental Sciences Expert (Air Quality tropospheric Ozone),

Epidemiologist, Citizen scientist 

Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

This BMJ article articulated extremely well the challenges of women’s health, pregnancy and radioactive exposures and includes nuclear power and related industries (nuclear waste). The facts below were known for decades and true to this very day and I quote:

“exposure standards in the USA remain based on a Reference Man—a model that does not fully account for sex and age differences.”

“Early in the nuclear weapons era, a ‘permissible dose’ was more aptly recognised as an ‘acceptable injury limit,’ but that language has since been sanitised. Permissible does not mean safe.”

“As noted by the EPA, this gives radiation a ‘privileged pollutant’ status”

The facts above are not only astonishing, in which the general public may either be oblivious or uninformed, but in 2023, these facts remain true and yet the nuclear industry remain “willfully blind” and disingenuous about the real radiation risks, especially to the most vulnerable groups in our population.

British Medical Journal – Paediatrics (Open Access).

A reputable journal! A recent article in the British Medical Journal – Paediatrics (Oct 2022).

Open access to all. A reputable journal!

Radioactive releases from the nuclear power sector and implications for child health (October 2022).

Link: https://bmjpaedsopen.bmj.com/content/6/1/e001326

Selected excerpts:

“Children, women and particularly pregnant women living near nuclear production facilities appear to be at disproportionately higher risk of harm from exposure to these releases. Children in poorer often Non-White and Indigenous communities with fewer resources and reduced access to healthcare are even more vulnerable—an impact compounded by discrimination, socioeconomic and cultural factors.”

“Nevertheless, pregnancy, children and women are under protected by current regulatory standards that are based on ‘allowable’ or ‘permissible’ doses for a ‘Reference Man’.”

“Early in the nuclear weapons era, a ‘permissible dose’ was more aptly recognised as an ‘acceptable injury limit,’ but that language has since been sanitised. Permissible does not mean safe. Reference Man is defined as ‘…a nuclear industry worker 20–30 years of age, [who] weighs 70kg (154 pounds), is 170cm (67 inches) tall…is a Caucasian and is a Western European or North American in habitat and custom’.”

“However, many studies are unable to link these adverse outcomes to radioactivity because the studies’ authors tend to use several faulty assumptions:

  •  ‘doses will be too low to create an effect’—a beginning assumption ensuring poor hypothesis formation and study design. Therefore, when an effect is found, radioactivity has been predetermined not to have an association with the effect. This exclusion often leads to an inability to find an alternate associated disease agent;

  • ‘small negative findings matter’
    —In fact, what matters are positive findings or very large negative findings;
  •  ‘statistical non-significance means a lack of association between radiation exposure and disease’ — a usage a number of scientists in various disciplines now call ‘ludicrous’;
  •  ‘potential bias or confounding factors are reasons to dismiss low dose studies’—In fact, when assessing low dose impacts, researchers should take care not to dismiss studies with these issues and researchers should minimise use of quality score ranking.

“Consequently, we examine and reference studies even if they contain such faulty assumptions because they still indicate increases in certain diseases, such as some leukaemias, known to be caused by radiation exposure. Additionally, few alternative explanations were offered in the conclusions of these studies, meaning radiation exposure might still have been the cause.”

“Current U.S. regulations allow a radiation dose to the public (100 mrem per year) which poses a lifetime cancer risk to the Reference Man model of 1 person in 143. This is despite the EPA’s acceptable risk range for lifetime cancer risk from toxics being 1 person in 1million to 1 person in 10000. As noted by the EPA, this gives radiation a ‘privileged pollutant’ status. Additionally, biokinetic models for radioisotopes are not sex-specific. A male model is still used for females. The models are also not fully age-dependent. Radiation damage models also fail to account for a whole host of childhood and pregnancy damage.

Highlights (Conclusion)

  • Despite the numerous observations globally, linking radiation exposures to increased risks for children, pregnant and non-pregnant women and the well-demonstrated sensitivity to other toxicants during these life stages, exposure standards in the USA remain based on a Reference Man—a model that does not fully account for sex and age differences.
  • In addition, faulty research assumptions, unique exposure pathways, systemic inequities and legacy exposures to both heavy metals and radioactivity from mining wastes add to the risks for women and children, especially those in underserved communities.
  • Socioeconomic factors that drive higher deprivation of services in non-homogenous low-income communities of colour also put non-White children at higher risk of negative health outcomes when exposed to radioactive releases, than their White counterparts.
  • A first and essential step is to acknowledge the connection between radiation, heavy metal and chemical exposures from industries and the negative health impacts observed among children, so that early diagnosis and treatment can be provided.
  • Measures should then be taken to protect communities from further exposures, including a prompt phaseout of nuclear power and its supporting industries.

  • Studies are also urgently needed where there are none, and the findings of independent doctors, scientists and laboratories should be given equal attention and credence as those conducted by industry or government-controlled bodies, whose vested and policy interests could compromise both their methodologies and conclusions.
  • Finally, in the face of uncertainty, particularly at lower and chronic radiation doses, precaution is paramount.

Notes:

Funding: The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Competing interests: None declared.

Patient consent for publication: Not applicable.

Ethics approval: Not applicable.

Provenance and peer review: Commissioned; externally peer reviewed

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February 12, 2023 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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