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Radiation Limits, Dirty Bombs, and Chaos

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  • J. Marshall Reber
    Interesting article ... http://www.antiwar.com/utley/?articleid=7397 Antiwar.com September 28, 2005 Radiation Limits, Dirty Bombs, and Chaos by Jon Basil Utley
    Message 1 of 3 , Oct 1, 2005
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      Interesting article ...

      http://www.antiwar.com/utley/?articleid=7397

      Antiwar.com
      September 28, 2005
      Radiation Limits, Dirty Bombs, and Chaos

      by Jon Basil Utley

      New Orleans, of course, showed up Washington's unpreparedness for
      emergency
      response. But there's an even far greater threat on the horizon:
      government
      radiation limits and the true risks from a "dirty bomb."

      Realistic radiation health limits need to be properly understood by first
      responders and affected citizens. Otherwise, panic may do economic
      destruction far, far beyond the actual damage. Indeed, the government
      emergency site Ready.gov just tells people to get as far away as
      possible,
      without specifying distances. Texas-sized traffic gridlock would then
      paralyze whole cities. In actuality, a dirty bomb might contaminate
      only a
      few city blocks, while current EPA limits could entail shutting down
      square
      miles of central cities. After New Orleans, one can easily imagine
      soldiers
      going into people's homes and offices, demanding that they leave to
      comply
      with government "danger" levels, while, like New Orleans, criminals
      stayed
      to loot the abandoned areas.

      The Federation of American Scientists Web site declares, "Areas as large
      as
      tens of square miles could be contaminated at levels that exceed
      recommended
      civilian exposure limits. Since there are often no effective ways to
      decontaminate buildings that have been exposed at these levels,
      demolition
      may be the only practical solution. If such an event were to take place
      in a
      city like New York, it would result in losses of potentially trillions of
      dollars."

      Similarly, a recent article in the National Journal, "Surviving a Nuclear
      Attack on Washington, D.C.," states, "Meeting the EPA standard for public
      safety - no more than 15 millirem of radiation exposure per year - would
      cost trillions of dollars for a midsized city, according to a study led
      by
      Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. But the cost drops by half or more
      when the acceptable threshold is raised to 100 or, better, 500 millirem,
      which is still just 10 percent of the 5 rem level approved for nuclear
      reactor workers." The study refers to an actual nuclear bomb, but
      confirms
      the catastrophically low EPA thresholds. The author has little faith in
      government response. He warns, "Plan to be completely on your own."

      Add to this the unrealistic limitations for first responders. These
      might be
      terrified and run away or at best be handicapped by unnecessary,
      ponderous
      anti-radiation suits. Some are subject to OSHA rules that mirror the EPA
      limits, and any authority or property owner who ignored them might later
      be
      sued for liability damages by their employees. All of this together makes
      for a possibly unimaginable economic catastrophe from just a small dirty
      bomb. America needs immediate emergency modification of these rules.

      There are some variations in different state responses. Washington
      State's
      regulations, for example, allow 5 rem (50 mSv) as the accepted exposure
      limit for emergency responders. Exceeding 5 rem requires a review and
      approval of the state health officer. The state then allows exposure up
      to
      25 rem for life saving and higher for volunteers "who understand the
      risks."
      Other responders (in New Orleans, for example) are told to leave the
      area at
      over 10 rems.

      Exposure Limits Should Be Far Higher

      Scientists are now learning that humans can absorb much higher radiation
      limits than formerly supposed. There is accumulating evidence that
      radiation, within limits, even increases life spans and health. In
      Chernobyl, for example, the latest UN report [.pdf] describes how
      radiation
      harm was far less than predicted. According to the 600-page report
      (shorter
      version [.pdf]), the accident caused fewer than 50 deaths, most of them
      among emergency workers who died in the first months after the 1986
      disaster. Early estimates of deaths were in the thousands. An increase in
      thyroid cancer in children did result, but only nine children died from
      it.
      Ninety-nine percent of the 4,000 children who developed the illness have
      already survived for 20 years. The report describes the 20-mile exclusion
      zone around the reactor as abounding in animal life, full of wolves, elk,
      wild boars, eagles, etc. The World Health Organization's summary also
      states, "No evidence or likelihood of decreased fertility among the
      affected
      population has been found, nor has there been any evidence of congenital
      malformations."

      Environmental journalist Michael Fumento has reported how the European
      public was terrified with reports of 15,000-30,000 people dying and
      women as
      far away as Italy having abortions in fear of radiation. Out of 5 million
      people who received "excess" radiation, 4,000 are now estimated to be at
      risk for premature cancer, and even that number is an estimate lacking
      proof.

      Similarly, after the Three Mile Island panic, no one died, and nearby
      residents were exposed to more radiation from the granite in the Senate
      Office Building where they testified than they had received near the
      accident.

      Doctors for Disaster Preparedness (DDP) offers a most informative Web
      site
      with medical references. Its newsletter, Civil Defense Perspectives
      (CDP),
      recently warned that "the government is 'protecting' Americans with
      extremely costly measures against non-threats--while leaving them totally
      vulnerable to the really big threats."

      The July 2000 CDP described"radiation denial," in both its good and bad
      aspects. Some examples:

      "The EPA and the radiation protection industry remain committed to the
      Linear No Threshold theory - it being necessary for their agenda or
      livelihood. LNT defenders rely on studies and methods that Dr. Luckey
      places
      in 19 categories such as the following: ignoring health benefits, lumping
      data to eliminate dose-response information, misrepresenting data,
      omitting
      data, using single-tailed statistics, using the median instead of the
      mean,
      blocking publication, extrapolating from cells to intact organisms, using
      old animals for growth studies, and leaving out the low-dose category. .

      "Nuclear Workers. Based on more than 7 million person-years of
      experience in
      the U.S., Britain, and Canada, low-dose radiation decreased cancer death
      rates by 52 percent."

      What Are the Realistic Limits?

      Dr. Jane Orient, director of DDP, provided me with a short, rough
      estimate,
      noting that there are two important factors, the amount and the time
      exposed.

      "100 rems over 100 days might not be harmful at all. Chronic exposures to
      levels much higher than background have actually been associated with
      improved longevity. One can have a scientific debate about the shape of
      the
      dose-response curve, but after a nuclear explosion, the issue is taking
      action to reduce the immediate casualties."

      (A detailed explanation of radiation limits and damage levels can be
      found
      here [.pdf].)

      There are other potential problems with first responders. As CDPexplains,

      "Radiation monitoring instruments, calibrated in microrads/hr., reflect
      concerns about very low levels of radiation. The highest dosage
      measurable
      by many instruments carried by first responders is 15 mrem/hr. These
      would
      be off-scale and worse than useless in a nuclear attack."

      As concerns the risk of cancer, Dr. Orient cited an article from the
      Journal
      of American Physicians and Surgeons, "Is Chronic Radiation an Effective
      Prophylaxis Against Cancer?," which indicates the opposite, that low
      doses
      may help prevent cancer.

      Another excellent, short explanation of risks and treatment is the
      "Radiological Terrorism Fact Sheet - Dirty Bombs" [.pdf]. See also the
      National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements reports.

      Note also that the aforementioned National Journal article has excellent
      information about civil defense and survivability in the event of a real
      nuke in an American city. Even a Hiroshima-size attack on Washington on
      the
      ground (which would collapse every building within a half mile of the
      explosion) could be survived by those farther away from the blast zone,
      if
      they knew the rudimentary rules for seeking shelter, in particular from
      the
      fallout path during the first 24 hours (which falls mostly downwind, only
      10-15 minutes after the explosion, allowing some time to seek shelter).
      The
      article notes that the radiation threat from nuke bombs dissipates
      quickly.
      Ninety percent is gone after seven hours, 99 percent in 49 hours. Fallout
      spreads according to the wind patterns, but citizens can protect
      themselves
      for the few hours necessary and then by disposing of outer clothing,
      washing, using a simple breathing mask to keep alpha particles out of the
      lungs, etc.

      What really needs to be done is to explain to Americans how to protect
      themselves from radiation, specifically by sealing rooms and staying in
      place rather than panicking and trying to leave town. Most Americans are
      ignorant about radiation, and politicians want to "show that they care"
      by
      establishing the lowest limits. But the new threat of dirty bombs makes
      it
      vital that the government and the media tell the truth, before the
      reaction
      to an attack causes needless panic, waste, and chaos.

      Find this article at:
      http://www.antiwar.com/utley/?articleid=7397
    • Boomologist
      Most interesting reading especially the link to Surviving a nuclear attach on Washington D.C. . The article mentions Prussian Blue as a way to get certain
      Message 2 of 3 , Oct 1, 2005
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        Most interesting reading especially the link to "Surviving a nuclear attach on Washington D.C.".
        The article mentions "Prussian Blue" as a way to get certain radioactive particles out of the body. How is it administered?

                             Thanks,
                                    Ron
      • prutchi
        Hi Ron! Capsules... From the FDA site: http://www.fda.gov/cder/drug/infopage/prussian_blue/Q&A.htm#2 FDA has determined that the 500 mg Prussian blue
        Message 3 of 3 , Oct 1, 2005
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          Hi Ron!

          Capsules...

          From the FDA site:

          http://www.fda.gov/cder/drug/infopage/prussian_blue/Q&A.htm#2

          "FDA has determined that the 500 mg Prussian blue capsules, when
          manufactured under the conditions of an approved New Drug Application
          (NDA), can be found safe and effective for the treatment of known or
          suspected internal contamination with radioactive cesium, radioactive
          thallium, or non-radioactive thallium."

          "...We are unaware of any clinical data demonstrating the
          effectiveness of Prussian blue for treating patients contaminated
          with any other elements. When the nature of the radioactive
          contamination is not known, Prussian blue may be given together with
          other drugs, such as potassium iodide, calcium or zinc DTPA, or
          sodium alginate, with known effectiveness in treating contamination
          from other radioactive substances."

          And from the CDC:
          http://www.bt.cdc.gov/radiation/prussianblue.asp

          "Prussian blue was first produced as a blue dye in 1704 and has been
          used by artists and manufacturers ever since. It got its name from
          its use as a dye for Prussian military uniforms. Prussian blue dye
          and paint are still available today from art supply stores.

          People SHOULD NOT take Prussian blue artist's dye in an attempt to
          treat themselves. This type of Prussian blue is not designed to treat
          radioactive contamination and is not made for that purpose. People
          who are concerned about the possibility of being contaminated with
          radioactive materials should go to their doctors for advice and
          treatment."

          And now my $0.02... Just in case of extreme emergency I keep a bottle
          of Mrs. Stewart's Bluing ( http://www.mrsstewart.com/ ) in
          my "doomsday kit" - right next to the Duck Tape and the doxycycline.


          David

          --- In CDV700CLUB@yahoogroups.com, "Boomologist" <Boomologist@G...>
          wrote:
          > Most interesting reading especially the link to "Surviving a
          nuclear attach on Washington D.C.".
          > The article mentions "Prussian Blue" as a way to get certain
          radioactive particles out of the body. How is it administered?
          >
          > Thanks,
          > Ron
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