Health Effects of Radiation Exposure
1. Both urnanium and radon are classified by EPA as class A carcinogins(13). Because
exposure rates for the general population from radiation are hard to document and assess, most
studies have concentrated on exposure of workers at nuclear facilities where records of
exposure are available. Although not all such records have been made public, studies of the records of several facilities that have made the records public have found higher cancer rates among nuclear workers exposed to low level radiation(below health standards). Some of the
(a) Based on average worker exposure of 3.4 rem for workers in British nuclear facilities over a
long period of time, the risk of fatal cancer per unit of radiation received is approx. 10 cancer
deaths per 10,000 person-rems. The study supported the thesis that low level doses appear to produce cancer at similar rates per unit of exposure as high doses. No threshold value where cancer impact is reduced per unit of dose was found(1,18).
(b) A Federal study in 1977 of medical and exposure records of Hanford nuclear facility
workers found an increased cancer rate and an average exposure to disease period of over 10
(c) Based on records of over 7,000 workers at the Hanford, Washington nuclear facility, a
study found a significantly higher cancer rate among the worker group than would be expected.
The types showing higher cancer rates were myeloid lukemia and cancers of the respiratory and digestive systems and blood forming tissues(3).
(d) A study of death records of nuclear workers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory found
33% higher than expected lukemia mortality and a 63% higher death rate for white males.
Higher cancer deaths were primarily of the lungs, pancreas, larynx, and bladder(4).
(e) An epidemiologic study of workers at Federal nuclear laboratories found long-term cancer
risk of low level radiation poses a cancer risk approx. 10 times higher than indicated by studies
of Hiroshima survivors(5).
(f) An epidemiologic study of workers exposed to uranium at Rocketdyne/Atomics International
between 1950 and 1994 found a strong dose- respose gradient for upper air tract and blood
and lymph system cancer(19)
2. High rates of Down's Syndrome have been documented in a government study of children
living near the Pickering Nuclear Power Plant in Toronto, Canada(6).
3. Based on a study of medical records of Japanese survivors from atomic bomb exposure, a
dose related cancer rate of 8 cancer deaths per 10,000 person-rems was estimated(7). The
study also found that at acute doses of radiation, the risk of excess cases of cancer over normal
rates rises directly with the dose.
4. The half life of plutonium-239 and thorium-230 is approx. 10,000 years. The half life of
radium-226 is approx. 160 years. The half life of strontium-90 and cesium-137 is approx. 30
years. The shorter the half life, the higher
the specific activity(8). A panel of the National Acadamy of Sciences said that the risk to the
public from radioactive waste at a waste depository site will remain for hundreds of thousands of
years, which greatly complicates development of standards to protect the public from such
waste and increases the cost(10).
An average ton of coal contains 1.3 ppm uranium and 3.2 ppm thorium. For each million tons of
coal burned, this amounts to 1.3 tons of uranium and 3.2 tons of thorium released either as
emissions or in the ash pile. Coal ash contains considerable amounts of radioactive isotopes(12).
5. Cancer rates in the northern Ukraine and other regions near the breached nuclear plant at
Chernobyl(1986) have increaed by over 2000 percent since the accident(16). For the Ukraine
as a whole thyroid cancer rates in 1993 were over 500 % higher in 1993 than before the
accident and in Belarus the thyroid cancer rate in children in 1995 is 36 times its previous
rate(11). Children in Pripyat, 3.5 km from Chernobyl, had a thryroid cancer rate 100 times the
normal rate. According to the chief pediatrician for the Russian Health Ministry, over half of the
children in western areas of the Russian region of Bryansk show signs of radiation sickness, such
as lymph gland inflamation, digestive tract and kidney failure, anemia, chronic fatigue, and low
count of red blood cells(11).
Similar findings apply to affected areas of Belarus and the Ukraine. Thousands of men who
worked at the Chernobyl site to contain the breach and cleanup the site have died from radiation
poisoning and over 1 million people have had their health adversely affected according to some
estimates by biologists studying the records(11). Areas where millions of people live have
significantly heightened levels of radiation. Plutonium and other dangerous radioactive elements
have worked their way into ground water, wetlands, major waterways, and drinking water in
northern Ukraine(16). Plutonium is more radioactive and is more quickly absorbed into human
and other organisms, causing cancer and other health problems. A group following victims says
that over 150,000 have died and over 55,000 are disabled from Chernobyl-related diseases in
Higher cancer rates related to Chernobyl fallout have been documented as far away as
Greece(17). Leukemia rates among children in Greece exposed in the womb more than
doubled. The exposures were less than 5 times the normal exposure rate and appear to indicate
that even low level exposures result in higher cancer rates.
6. Naturally occurring humic acids in both groundwater and surface water can leach radioactive
materials from borosilicate glass, the type planned for long-term encapsulation of radioactive
wastes, according to studies at Federal laboratories(9). Long-term exposure to moisture can
also transform the structure of that glass, causing it to release radionuclides into water.
7. Phosphogypsum wastes from phosphate mining in Central Florida have been found to have
levels of radium-226 that exceeds health- based screening criteria
at most sites tested(14). An analysis of data from 11 studies of the relationship of radon
exposure to humans and lung cancer found a strong link(15). For equivalent doses, those
delivered more slowly were the most dangerous, i.e. chronic long term exposure is more
dangerous than higher short term exposure.
8. Medical radiation is a significant cause of cancer and appears the be the most significant
cause of cancer mortality in the U.S. in the Twentieth Century(20).
Medical radiation is a significant cause of death from Ischemic Heart Disease, inducing mutations
in the coronary artiries and dysfunctional smooth muscle cells(20,21).
9. Studies have documented that x-ray radiation interfers with developmental processes and can
lead to developmental disabilities(22).
(1) G.M. Kendall et al, British Medical Journal, Vol 304, Jan 1992.
(2) Len Ackland, "Radiation Risks Revisited", Technology Review, Feb/Mar 1993.
(3) M. Stewart and G.W. Kneale, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, April 1993.
(4) S.B. Wing et al, Univ. of N. Carolina, Journal of the American Medical Association, Mar
(5) Science News, Volume 139, page 181.
(6) Citizens Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste Newsletter, June 1992.
(7) National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, BEIR IV, National Academy
Press, Jan 1990.
(8) Institute for Energy & Environmental Research Newsletter, Tacoma Park, Md, Spring 1992.
(9) Science News, Vol 141,page 173 & Science News, Vol 141, page 294.
(10) National Acadamy of Sciences, 1995, in Tallahassee Democrat, 8-3-95,p 6A.
(11) Ukranian Research Institute of Endocrinology, Nature, June 1, 1995 &
Science News, June 17, 1995, P383 & "Chernobyl radiation far worse than reported"
Tallahassee Democrat, April 14, 1992, p1A & Tallahassee Democrat, "Rate of thyroid cancer
high among Chernobyl children", 11-21-95.
(12) W.A. Gabbard, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Review, Fall/1994 & Science News, Vol 146, Oct 1994, p223.
(13) U.S. EPA, Hazardous Air Pollutant Hazard Summary Fact Sheets, EPA:
In Risk Information System, 1995.
(14) U.S. EPA, Report to Congress on Special Wastes from Mineral Mining, PB90-258492,
(15) Science News, Volume 147, page 383.
(16) Associated Press, Tallahassee Democrat, 4-4-96; & V.A. LiVolsi, Univ. Of Pennsylvania,
Cancer, July 1 ,1999, p95; & Science News, vo 156,Aug 7,1999. (17) Study in Nature, 1996,
in Tallahassee Democrat, 7-25-96.
(18) R.Graeub, The Petkau Effect: The Effect of Nuclear Radiation on Human
Health, Four Walls Publications, 1994,N.Y.
(19) Ritz B, Morgenstern H, Crawford-Brown D, Young B. The Effects of Internal Radiation
Exposure on Cancer Mortality in Nuclear workers at Rocketdyne/Atomics International.
Environ Health Perspectives, 108(8), Aug 2000.
(20) Dr.J.W.Gofman, Radiation fro Medical Proceedures in th Pathogenesis of Cancer and
Ischemic Heart Disease, C.N.R. Book Division, Committee for Nuclear Responsibility, 1999,
POB 421993, San Francisco, Ca 94142.
(21) Wright, E et al, Dental X-Rays: genetic effects,
Science 1998 and Nature 1998, & Dr. Lambert, Karolinska
Institute, Stockholm; & Heavy Metal Bulletin, Issue 1,
(22) Rice DC, Barone S. U.S. EPA, Critical periods of
vulnerability for the developing nervous system. Environ
Health Perspect June 2000, Vol 108(suppl 3).
Subject: Pathology of Radiation Damages issues to immune health.
> The damage by alpha damage is pretty well disclosed----it involves the
>plutoniums, uraniums, amerecums, radons, and others alpha emitters. The
>effect depends on the tissues involved. The are photos of lung damage with
>tiny specks of plutonium. These high energy alpha emitter actually do
>ballistic damage to the surrounding tissues. They also do damage to the cell
>DNA/genes during cell division and thru ballistic effects. The signs of
>failure are cancers------their is other issues of immune impairments of the
>t-cells that cause failures of the body to kill cancer cells as well as the
>issues of how much alteration of the damaged cells is necessary to trigger
>the killer cells responses.
> These light DNA/gene damage effects in local areas of cell divisions also
>contirbute to the fibromyalgae type spongifor disorders that produce less
>hearty groups of tissue cells.
> The beta radiations have different dominant effects. Sr-90 is one of the
>worst. It is primarily a bone seeker and goes into the blood forming organs.
> Here it acts like calcium invades the Ca++ networks of cells. This affects
>the DNA/gene resequence issues as it responds to antigenes on the surface of
>the cells. The effect is the valence change issues of Sr-90 into Y-90 and
>screws up the Ca++ communications and makes for light alterations of the
>DNA/gene. This can happen to the stem cells where it produces a vastly
>magnified effect and can make cells with reduced effectiveness to viral
>challenges and results in ineffective antibodies to kill the challenge. When
>this happens the levels of antibodies increase and stay increased and a large
>part of the immune response gets stuck here. The levels of the viral loading
>increase and even get into the cells themselves along with larger bacteria.
>The immune indicators of these effects are the Epstein-Barr issues and when
>it get worse even the very weak HIV can florish. These virals produce waste
>products like ammonias in the wrong places that damage nerves and cell
> In trees the same process can happen via damaging the tree DNA/genes and
>over a period of time the genetic/DNA heartiness of treee or man is reduced.
> In man the serious DNA/gene damage issues manifest themselves as
>leukemias---where the cells are so DNA/gene altered the body no longer
>recognizes them and the white killer cells fire with the immune repsonse with
>red against white. The problems are treated via killing all the blood cells
>in the body with radiation and chemotherapy and taking a part of the person
>blood before that and looking for the healthy non damages stem cells----the
>person own healthy DNA/gene stem cells are cultured into sufficient quantity
>for injetion and reseeding into the person to revive the blood cells to near
> This same process has been tried in Canada on persons with severe chronic
>fatigue issues---near death and many have been returned to total restored
>function. It does not work 100% of the time---but is progress.
> In brain tissues beta radiations cause immediate dysfunctions and reduced
>reasonsing abilities. Beta radiations also cause intense sharp cutting pains
>in joints and can be issues of tritium or Sr-90 exposures. Encheaphalitis
>issues are tied to beta damage issues in ways similar to the fibromyalgae
>distributions of damage.
> Gamma radiation generally does even distribution damages and are generally
>recoverable if the immune fuctions are functioning at high enough
>levels-----if takes very high levels of gamma to do the same levels of damage
>that internal doses of alpha and beta radiation can do as they are organ
>selective in the body.
> It takes very little Sr-90 over a continuous period of time to do extreme
>immune damage----picocurie levels are dangerous------Sr-90 has the same toxic
>damage capability as Plutonium---just in different effects. Plutonium the
>size of a pin head is rated to be able to kill the population of New York
>city and one pound rated to kill the world----if it is optimally
>supplied----fortunately this does not happen or we would all be dead right
>now. But the effects do happen with Sr-90 and it is causing extreme effects
>in local health, US health, and world health. Most of the issues of all
>these new viruses and E-coli and enchephalitus issues are tied to reductions
>in human immune resistance issues----not any new viruses---those are just the
> So, you should be close to being able to understand the methods to
>determine immune damage effects from fibromyalgae considertions, levels of
>viral and bacteria in the blood, levels of mental functions, encephalitus,
>birth weights, spontaneous abortions, AIDS, and HIV levels, ALS, MS, and how
>all these trace back to DNA/gene issues and damage to that producing the
>follow on indicators.
>Jim(Oak Ridge National Laboratory)
Environmental Health Perspectives Volume 108, Number 8, August 2000
The Effects of Internal Radiation Exposure on Cancer Mortality in
Nuclear Workers at Rocketdyne/Atomics International
Beate Ritz,1,2 Hal Morgenstern,1,2 Douglas Crawford-Brown,3 and Bambi Young1
1Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of California-Los
Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA
2Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, School of Public Health,
University of California-Los Angeles, Los
Angeles, California, USA
3Institute for Environmental Studies and Department of Environmental Sciences and
Engineering, University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
We examined the effects of chronic exposure to radionuclides, primarily uranium
and mixed-fission products, on cancer mortality in a retrospective cohort study of
workers enrolled in the radiation-monitoring program of a nuclear research and
development facility. Between 1950 and 1994, 2,297 workers were monitored for
internal radiation exposures, and 441 workers died, 134 (30.4%) of them from
cancer as the underlying cause. We calculated internal lung-dose estimates based
urinalysis and whole-body and lung counts reported for individual workers. We
examined cancer mortality of workers exposed at different cumulative lung-dose
levels using complete risk-set analysis for cohort data, adjusting for age, pay type,
first radiation monitored, and external radiation. In addition, we examined the
potential for confounding due to chemical exposures and smoking, explored whether
external radiation exposure modifies the effects of internal exposure, and estimated
effects after excluding exposures likely to have been unrelated to disease onset.
Dose-response relations were observed for death from hemato- and lymphopoietic
cancers and from upper aerodigestive tract cancers, adjusting for age, time since
monitored, pay type, and external (gamma) radiation dose. No association was
found for other cancers, including cancers of the lung. Despite the small number of
exposed deaths from specific cancer types and possible bias due to measurement
and confounding, the positive findings and strong dose-response gradients
observed suggest carcinogenic effects of internal radiation to the upper
aerodigestive tract and the blood and lymph system in this occupational cohort.
inferences require replication of our results in other populations or confirmation with
an extended follow-up of this cohort. Key words: cancer mortality, hematopoietic
cancers, internal (alpha) radiation, lymphopoietic cancers, occupational cohort
upperaerodigestive tract cancers. Environ Health Perspect 108:743-751 (2000).
[Online 28 June 2000]
Address correspondence to B. Ritz, Department of Epidemiology, School of Public
Health, UCLA, Box 951772, Los Angeles, CA
90095-1772 USA. Telephone: (310) 206-7458. Fax: (310) 206-7371. E-mail:
We gratefully acknowledge the contributions of G. Wilkinson, F. Yu, Y. Wang, J.
Moncau, and T. Riggs. We especially thank R.
Harrison, L. Bilick, and members of the study's advisory panel.
This study was supported by a grant from the Department of Energy (subcontract
324A-8701-SO163), which was administered by the Public Health Institute in
association with the California Department of Health Services. B. Ritz was
supported in part by a fellowship of the German Academic Exchange Program.
Received 24 January 2000; accepted 11 April 2000.
Dr. John Goffman