Acceptable Risk? – Health Consequences of a Nuclear Accident

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Acceptable Risk? – Health Consequences of a Nuclear Accident

About PSR

P.S.R.: Non-profit scientific and educational organization with a core mission to prevent nuclear warfare and nuclear proliferation.  Prevent what we cannot cure. 50,000 members and e-activists.

Founded in 1961 and helped end atmospheric nuclear testing. PSR is the largest physician-led organization in the country working to protect public health from nuclear and environmental threats.

In the 1960’s, PSR helped end atmospheric nuclear testing by documenting the presence of strontium 90, a radioactive by-product of nuclear tests, in children’s deciduous teeth. PSR was the American recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War in 1985.

P.S.R. Soon became opposed to nuclear power because of its risk to public health and its association with the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

All large nuclear power reactors, regardless of their design, produce enormous inventories of deadly radioactive compounds.

An accident at one nuclear reactor has the potential to release massive amounts of radioactive fallout that can cause harm to health and the environment. Unfortunately, experience has borne this out.

My aim is to give you some basic scientific facts about Radiation and Health, and how Nuclear Reactor accidents can create risks to the health of the public. One consequence of exposure to Ionizing radiation is damage to vital biological processes in human cells, and this can lead to cancer.

According to the National Academy’s BEIRVII Report, any radiation, even background radiation, increases a person’s risk   of developing cancer. There is no safe or non-harmful level of radiation.

Natural background radiation comes from the cosmic rays arriving from outer space and from the natural decay of radioactive minerals on the earth. Radiation from nuclear weapons or energy is not natural and should not be included in background.

The National Research Council of the National   Academies reported (BIER   VII) there is a linear relationship between the amount of radiation and the risk of developing cancer.

Example: 100 mSv dose: 1:100, etc. but 10K in 1 million)

The degree of risk is variable and hard to estimate precisely:

And depends on intensity of exposure, route of exposure,

And the age and sex of the people.

The health risk of radiation was only gradually appreciated.

The early scientists and radiologists became ill.

Even one X-ray in utero increased a fetus’ chance of getting leukemia in later life.

Route of exposure: Inhalation or ingestion is much more damaging to your body because it will continue to irradiate you.

•We have been told that Fukushima radiation detected in US rainwater and food is comparable to a cross-country flight or x-ray.
•But internal emitters are very different from external beam radiation.
•If you are near an external source of radioactivity, you are only exposed while you are near it.
•But if you inhale or ingest a radioactive particle, that particle will continue to irradiate you for as long as the particle is in your body and remains radioactive.


[quote]The July 12, 2011 NRC Near-Term Task Force began with a dedication to individuals who responded to the Fukushima disaster for their efforts that have resulted in “no fatalities and the expectation of no significant radiological health effects” from the disaster. This statement is puzzling at best. 

We can’t say yet what the health impacts from Fukushima will be, especially since it’s far from being over. But given the levels of radiation detected both near and far, an educated assumption is that this disaster will have serious health impacts for years to come.


According to a 1982 NRCstudy, a meltdown at one of San Onofre reactors could cause: 130,000 ‘prompt’ fatalities; 300,000 latent cancer, and 600,000 cases of genetic defects within 35 miles of the site. Since then, the population in the area has increased substantially.

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