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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mangling Radiation Health Effects To Confuse People

I'm referring to this article.  There's no clarity provided by the writer by addressing genetic risks in one paragraph, cancer risks in another, and thyroid problems in yet another.

How is the average reader (an accountant, a truck driver, a store clerk, etc.) going to interpret that cacophony of info?

I don't know, but I'll take "Erroneously" for $500, Alex.

To the main point, "fear of increased genetic defects" (in humans) is very exaggerated.

The Doubling Dose (DD) is the dose which doubles the frequency of mutations in the next generation.  For humans, our best estimate of the DD is about 1 Gy.  Most mutations are neutral.  From BEIR VII, this pans out to a total risk increase of all classes of genetic diseases of about 0.5% excess per Gy.

According to the WHO's preliminary estimates (see my page on that, upper right of this page) the highest doses estimated around Fukushima are about 50 mSv (which I'll equate with 50 mGy) and those doses are applicable to very few people.  For those people, should they choose to have offspring, we estimate a (50 mGy) (0.5% risk increase/1000 mGy) = 0.025% increase in risk of an unwanted outcome (if my math is right).

No statistically significant increases in unwanted pregnancy outcomes have been found among the Japanese A-bomb survivors who received much higher doses.  (Because the risk is so low).

If those facts induce "fear", don't have kids.


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