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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Global Warming Convert Doesn't Understand Health Physics

I had a post several months ago on a global warming denier who once he actually looked at the evidence, changed his mind.

The Atomic Ideologies blog has made me aware of a recent op-ed regarding Fukushima health effects from the same person.

He clearly shows some health physics denialism here:

"I am uncomfortable with these large numbers of predicted deaths. They are based on a theory that assumes proportionality in the way that radiation increases the likelihood of cancer—a theory that has never been tested, will not be tested in the foreseeable future, and which is known to fail for leukemia"

LNT has been tested time and again, the atomic bomb study is still ongoing.  It doesn't "fail" for leukemia.  Leukemia has a linear-quadratic (LQ) dose response.  Solid cancers can be modeled with either an LQ or Linear dose response, they are statistically the same.  For parsimony we stick with Linear.

He also confuses cancer incidence with cancer mortality, for example:

" A dose of 25 rem causes no radiation illness, but it gives you a 1% chance of getting cancer—in addition to the 20% chance you already have from "natural" causes."

It's actually a dose of 10 rem that gives a representative POPULATION an increased risk of 1% for getting cancer.  25 rem gives the population a 2.5% increase risk of getting cancer, and a 1.25% risk of dying from it.   Individual risks can differ from the population's.

His dose estimates don't jive with the WHO's (see my page on the topic).  Other than thyroid doses, the max is only 5 rem, first year.  First year thyroid doses as high as 20 rem.

In the embedded video in the WSJ article, he speaks of Denver's 300 rem dose, but he obviously means 300 mrem per year dose.

Of course, Fukushima isn't even over, though I agree with his larger point that the number of excess deaths from excess radiation will be small.  That's partly due to the evacuation of the people, though evacuations pose their own risks.

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