NYTimes: Radiation in “small doses could actually be disproportionately worse” says report — “Doses spread out over time might be more dangerous than doses given all at once” — Renewed importance after Fukushima

Published: May 2nd, 2012 at 3:22 pm ET


Title: The Low-Level Radiation Puzzle
Source: NYTimes.com
Date: May 2, 2012, 10:34 am

[In the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists May-June issue Dr. Jan Beyea, an environmental scientist who has opposed nuclear reactors
for decades and worked on epidemiological studies at Three Mile Island,] challenges a concept adopted by American safety regulators about small doses of radiation. The prevailing theory is that the relationship between dose and effect is linear – that is, that if a big dose is bad for you, half that dose is half that bad […] 

Some radiation professionals disagree, arguing that there is no reason to protect against supposed effects that cannot be measured. But Dr. Beyea contends that small doses could actually be disproportionately worse.

Radiation experts have formed a consensus that if a given dose of radiation delivered over a short period poses a given hazard, that hazard will be smaller if the dose is spread out. To use an imprecise analogy, if swallowing an entire bottle of aspirin at one sitting could kill you, consuming it over a few days might merely make you sick. […]

Dr. Beyea, however, proposes that doses spread out over time might be more dangerous than doses given all at once. He suggests two reasons: first, some effects may result from genetic damage that manifests itself only after several generations of cells have been exposed, and, second, a “bystander effect,” in which a cell absorbs radiation and seems unhurt but communicates damage to a neighboring cell, which can lead to cancer. […]

Renewed Importance

The subject of low-dose radiation […] has assumed renewed importance since the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors in Japan in March 2011. The accident contaminated the surrounding area, and questions persist about whether residents should be allowed to return or whether the radiation doses they would receive are too big a threat to their health. 

Read the report here

Published: May 2nd, 2012 at 3:22 pm ET


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32 comments to NYTimes: Radiation in “small doses could actually be disproportionately worse” says report — “Doses spread out over time might be more dangerous than doses given all at once” — Renewed importance after Fukushima

  • CaptD CaptD

    Finally some reality from the NYT…

    Expect to see many more of these "new" discoveries as the truth from Fukushima leaks out and MSM begins to feel comfortable talking about it!

    + Uranium Aerosolized Into Atmosphere


      Agreed CaptD. I think they're becoming aware of the global significance of this nightmare; that no one's going to walk away unscathed. Still, showing-up to the party late is better than never having bothered. Hat's off to the NYTs for taking some initiative. All the other 'majors' are apparently still playing with their navels…

    • moonshellblue moonshellblue

      No Plutonium detected that is good news

    • What-About-The-Kids

      I would read Matthew Wald's article again, CaptD. From what I have read of his articles about nuclear in the "Green" blogs section of the NY Times, Matt seems time and again to be a subtle apologist for the nuclear industry. Time and again, he seems to tow the industry line. The NYT can do much better, I'm afraid.

      Read the comments by his readers for this article. 99% are pro-nukes.

      I take issue with many of his statements, including:

      "One problem in the radiation field is that little of the data on hand addresses the problem of protracted exposure."

      Oh yeah? Tell that to the new generations of children of Chernobyl who are somewhere between 80-98% in ill health, thanks to "protracted exposure" from nuclear radiation and being born to irradiated parents.

      There are over 5,000 scientific studies and articles which were consulted and form the basis of Yablokov's book: "Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment":


      Download the free .pdf of his book to learn more about just what protracted exposure to radiation does to children and other living things:


  • "…the problem of protracted exposure." You don't have to be a Rocket Surgeon OR a Brain Scientist to figure this one out.

    Soon, we will no longer need to postulate on these theories.

    However, if you are a lawyer for a Power company.

    Special to the New York Times;
    Metropolitan Desk
    July 9, 1982, Friday (NOTE the YEAR)

    "Dr. Beyea's testimony was attacked by lawyers for the Consolidated Edison Company, which owns Indian Point 2, and the State Power Authority, which owns Indian Point 3, as being based on an extremely improbable event and being overly pessimistic about the biological effects of radiation."

    linked from within article above:

    • _"extremely improbable"_ ???

      I don't think so. 🙁

      'Highly likely' and increasing in probability with each moment of each day as these monstrosities age is my opinion!

    • What-About-The-Kids

      Oh that's a good one (sarcasm): "…overly pessimistic about the biological effects of radiation."

      Where do these guys come up with this stuff?

  • Could be they are reading the people for the mass deaths coming our way VIA Fuku cancers !

    • CaptD CaptD

      The CLAIM from the Nuclear Industry that Nuclear Power has never killed anyone is about to be shattered BIG TIME, surely by Summers end…

      • Wreedles Wreedles

        "The CLAIM from the Nuclear Industry that Nuclear Power has never killed anyone is about to be shattered BIG TIME, surely by Summers end…"

        No. The industry will find new and ever more imaginative ways to cling to and promote this lie. It's what they do.

  • Gotham

    It's too late for all this Sunday night quarter backing. The genie is out of the bottle.

    The only thing new on the horizon we need to worry about is "When does the next shoe drop?" And it surely will somewhere in the world.

  • Bobby1

    It's called the Petkau effect:

    A number of independent researchers have demonstrated that long-term, relatively low levels of radiation may wreak up to 1000 times more biological havoc than the currently accepted "risk levels" that are being used as reference points for decisions about licensing and operating nuclear plants.

    In 1972, a researcher in Canada, Dr. Abram Petkau, found that when cells were irradiated slowly, a smaller total dose was needed to cause damage. Since this critical discovery it has been verified that a small dose of radiation over a long time is more damaging than one larger dose. Imagine the ramifications! This means that the small amounts of radiation that are released from the everyday operation of the world's 400 nuclear plants are doing much more damage than calculated.

    This discovery, known as the "Petkau Effect," showed that the amounts of radiation that are legally released from nuclear power plants, combined with the leaks, spills, and accidents, are a cause of extreme damage to our health because continuous low-level exposures produce hundreds to thousands of times more free radicals than the same dose delivered at one time, as in an X ray, for example.


  • SteveMT

    The definitive study for this was completed in 2006.


    The committee concludes that the current scientific evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that there is a linear, no-threshold dose-response relationship between exposure to ionizing radiation and the development of cancer in humans.


    detractors of Dr. Jan Beyea will claim her research is speculative; they have the studies which shows low-level radiation is benign and naturally occuring. So, let's say the issue's still up-in-the-air (nice one huh), I'd still have to ask, whose paying for 'their' studies? I can guess why someone would pay for 'research' that reassures the public; thereby 'inadvertently' promoting the continued use of nuclear power. That's a no-brainer. But in her case, she's simply doing what she feels is right. Is it possible that her research (and resulting warnings) are predicated on a genuine concern for the public's health and security? The whole issue reminds me of the Big Tobacco's 'research' into lung cancer and tobacco use.

    I've also seen this same pro-nuke crowd attacking the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists for being alarmist and out-of-touch. From what I'm seeing these days, they were – and continue to be – spot-on in their warnings…

  • Whoopie Whoopie

    I missed this – DID YOU?
    In an email to The SunBreak, Pallister let loose:
    http://thesunbreak.com/2012/04/30/a-staggering-mess-as-tsunami-debris-hits-alaska-coast-early/ OMG! THIS WILL BE TERRIBLE!
    Tens of thousands of miles of coastline from California to the Aleutian Islands are going to be hit with billions of pounds of toxic debris. NOAA’s latest estimate is that 1.5 million tons of largely plastic debris will hit the western United States coast. That is 30 billion pounds. We expect Alaska to get the largest percentage of that with much of it lodging on northern Gulf of Alaska beaches. Most of this will be plastic which is full of inherent toxic chemicals that will leach into the environment for generations.

    • moonshellblue moonshellblue

      I read that the majority of debris will join the big Pacific trash bin of plastic, etc. and that an occasional item or items will reach the shore but not all at one time thus sporadically.

      • moonshellblue moonshellblue

        GAK what a great organization thanks Whoopie for linking this article. We all need to stop using plastic bottles, bags, etc. Geez tons of plastic extracted from the ocean. Once again kudos to GAK.

        • Whoopie Whoopie

          That article warns of MAJOR CONTAMINATION FOR DECADES! I hadn't heard that before now. omfg.

      • moonshellblue,
        Doesn't much matter, the amounts will be too much to handle and the thousands of miles of beaches and shore, sand and rock or both !
        It will truly be a trash nightmare and no way to clean it up quickly or efficiently !
        We do have to think radiation also ! Need more Hammatt folks, … will make the B P workers on the beach look like very dew as to the need for workers this time !

    • Harley Davidson Motor Cycle Survives Tsunami, Floats Up In B.C. *Photo*Video*
      To Japan Earthquake on Tuesday, May 01, 2012

      • arclight arclight

        a harley davidson that floats!! lol! says alot about the handling characteristics!

        should have bought a honda deauville 700 abs 🙂
        from the LLRC


        "…Example 1: According to Japanese chief cabinet secretary Yukio Edano, the dose from exposure to radioactive milk from Fukushima is so low that you would have to drink milk for a year to get the equivalent of a CT scan dose. A CT scan dose is about 10 milliSieverts (mSv) Assuming you drink 500ml a day, the annual intake is 180litres so the dose per litre is 0.055mSv. The ECRR dose per litre is at maximum 0.055 x 600 = 33mSv. Thus the lifetime risk of cancer following drinking a litre of such contaminated milk is 0.0033 or 0.33%. Thus 1000 people each drinking 1 litre of milk will result in 3.3 cancers in the 50 years following the intake.

        From the results in Sweden and elsewhere following Chernobyl, these cancers will probably appear in the 10 years following the exposure….."


      • See in video how he had to get to were he found this debris !

  • voltscommissar

    "The accident contaminated the surrounding area" … yeah, it's called the Northern Hemisphere.

  • ali-ali-al-qomfri ali-ali-al-qomfri

    I saw a news piece on PBS via NHK whereby there was a snowboarding event being covered in Fukushima to promote that ‘the area is safe’ and ‘everyone should come and support this event’. They had some American snowboard pro to speak out and shill up that it’s all good here in Fukushima, no problems……just wait….so sad.
    And to compare Fukushima dosages to kids and unborn to Chernobyl’s? A one time blast event with dispersal versus a continual dispersal? that was lied about for months?
    Look at how awful it is in Chernobyl 25 years later, that is Fukushima’s fate….multiplied…it is all our fate.

  • Blown Camaro

    Oh yes, I believe there is NO safe exposure to radiation. It causes cellular damage, no doubt about it. And when they become damaged enough, then we have cancerous cell reproduction. The longer someone is exposed, the greater the amount of damage that can occur.


    • What-About-The-Kids

      From the ENS-Newswire press release I posted the link to in my earlier comment above, about Yablokov's book on Chernobyl and the extent of the damage it has wreaked on the world:

      "The book explores effects of Chernobyl fallout that arrived above the United States nine days after the disaster. Fallout entered the U.S. environment and food chain through rainfall. Levels of iodine-131 in milk, for example, were seven to 28 times above normal in May and June 1986. The authors found that the highest U.S. radiation levels were recorded in the Pacific Northwest."

      W-A-T-K: Oh that is just great. I learned about Hanford's nuclear mess it had showered upon the PNW during the Manhattan Project era only after moving here a few years ago. I have been learning about the Fuku fallout we've been doused with in the PNW (are being doused with still…) over the past year.

      And now I learn after reading this that, once again, it was the PNW that received the highest radiation levels in the U.S. from Chernobyl's fallout?

      This is just too disgusting to stomach. No wonder there seems to be such a high level of people with MS here, and children with brain tumors. We've been doused time and time again.

      Hmmm…Perhaps the Weather Modifiers, in all their "great wisdom" decided that since Hanford created the worst nuclear radiation polluted site in the nation, all fallout coming our way should be directed to the PNW, to save other areas of the U.S. from contamination?…

      • What-About-The-Kids

        And more from the above press release…We've apparently all been exposed to this stuff in our food and environment for years. No wonder the cover up and silence of the MSM has been so extensive. We would have shut down all nuclear power plants YEARS AGO if we only knew the truth and the extent of our contamination:

        "Americans also consumed contaminated food imported from nations affected by the disaster. Four years later, 25 percent of imported food was found to be still contaminated.

        "Little research on Chernobyl health effects in the United States has been conducted, the authors found, but one study by the Radiation and Public Health Project found that in the early 1990s, a few years after the meltdown, thyroid cancer in Connecticut children had nearly doubled."

        This is not to downplay the horrific effects on the poor children of Chernobyl and other areas of the former Soviet Union and Europe who received even more contamination from Chernobyl. It is ALL just so WRONG, it makes my blood boil!!! 🙁

  • A gift for NYT … wouldn't want yer research to be too taxing

    Low/High Internal/External Exposure & Effects of Radiation

  • Spectrometising

    The concept of "dose" is usually talking about a mythical radiation that is external to the body.
    Ultra high doses from a point source given to surrounding cells is not considered in these broad sweeping statements where the word "dose" is used.

    That's my understanding of the coverage on this crazy little word/thing called "dose".

  • hbjon hbjon

    Have we gotten any wiser since the midevil days of Europe where the alchemists would dose people with God know what to witness the sinister effects of their magic? Whenever one uses the word "dose", they should add an element of frequency of time to go with it. "Half-life tells us something", but remember, the atom disintegrates in three important ways. Alpha, beta, and gamma. Each with their own powers. Alpha has the greatest power, yet they call it "low dose". I guess if your not disintegrated from a nuclear explosion, everything else is a "low dose".

  • Anthony Anthony

    So the significance of the SFP4 and potentially worse common spent pool is a guaranteed death sentence then? Seems to me to be an enormous Petkau effect experiment.

  • CaptD CaptD

    Every time someone mentions "dose" we should ask for a definition…

    That way we can separate out the Nuclear Baloney comments, as there are as many definitions as there are ways to measure that "dose"…

    Topic: Internal/External Low/High Measurement, Exposure and Effects of Radiation http://is.gd/pvB4ul
    Whitewash that's Hogwash. Nuclear Power, Safety, the WHO & the IAEA
    A critique of the use of hormesis in risk assessment.