What Mr. Boland has written (shown below, top)
contains numerous "logical fallacies." A logical
fallacy is defined as follows:
A correct statement of the form "if P then Q"
gets turned into "Q therefore P".
Let's get started with his first logical fallacy,
which appears in his first sentence. Mr. Boland
equates pro-nuclear baseless denunciations of Dr.
Gofman as proving that he has been "discredited
for years." Okay, perhaps I should have said,
just to emphasize the point, that Dr. Gofman was
not "SUCCESSFULLY" discredited, though in my
opinion that's redundant. Anybody CAN say
anything they want -- as Boland proves with his
letter. That doesn't make it true (as Boland also proves).
That same paragraph continues with a misguided
view of biological function in which no baseline
is given (so we could determine what Mr. Boland
means by "Low Dose Radiation"). Does he mean
radiation above 100 mRem per year? Above 320
mRem? Above 400 mRem? That matters, because the
standard value given by the nuclear establishment
for "natural background radiation" has been
creeping up for decades. At what level does Mr.
Boland think just a little bit more, randomly
given, is beneficial? Pro-nukers NEVER say. And
what amount more becomes dangerous again? They won't say that, either.
In truth, Gofman's studies (and other's) have
shown conclusively that there is no minimum
threshold for ionizing radiation. Any amount can
lead to cancer. As I stated, even the National
Academy of Science's BEIR VII (Biological Effects
of Ionizing Radiation VII) report was forced to
conclude that there is no threshold. All
radiation exposure incurs an elevated risk of
cancer, leukemia, birth defects, heart disease,
and other ailments. Boland's link contains
nothing more than an eyewitness account (that is,
not a scientific study with control groups,
statistical analysis, peer review, etc.) about a
radon mine in which visitors go specifically to
breath radon-contaminated air. I'm sure even the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would
condemn this "cure," just as health professionals
(eventually) condemned x-raying children's feet
to see if their shoes fit properly. Furthermore,
nowhere does Boland explain WHY he believes that
"increased apoptosis" (cell death) MUST be
beneficial. That shoe doesn't fit. Lastly, the
supposed stimulation of "DNA repair mechanisms"
(the most widely-claimed "benefit" of so-called
low doses of radiation) is, again, hardly the
subject of any proper scientific study, and there
is not even a credible scientific theory of how
it would work. Instead, whenever proper studies
are done (such as those by Gofman, or a recent
study of the wildlife around Chernobyl, to name
two examples) the long-term effects of radiation
damage ALWAYS outweigh ANY short-term gains,
except in dire cases of cancer and leukemia,
where LARGE radiation blasts sometimes
successfully kill what would almost surely be a
fatal tumor. Often this is done to people too
old to bear children, and so any genetic damage
will, fortunately, not be passed on.
Boland's next paragraph suggests that according
to Gofman's theory, the fact that we all have
K-40 (a radioactive isotope of potassium) in our
bodies dooms us. This is a most incredible
logical fallacy! Gofman's theory predicts no
such thing, but Boland's twisting of Gofman's
research strongly suggests a severe (possibly
terminal) mental block on Boland's part, such
that he cannot see the forest for the trees. If
P then Q does not mean Q therefore P! If ANY
amount of radiation CAN cause cancer, it does not
imply that therefore ALL radiation inevitably causes fatal cancer.
Boland's next paragraph claims that because
Gofman lived to be 88, therefore the radiation is
his body is the "best evidence" that Gofman was
wrong. Ignoring the unscientific nature of using
a single case to prove anything, Gofman died of a
heart attack. As it turns out, radiation can and
does cause heart disease, too, so Gofman may well
have died from his own radiation exposure. The
fact that this happened beyond the age the
actuarial tables say he would live, on average,
does not mean his death was not premature for
him. Nor does it mean that his death was not a
tragedy. Gofman was still doing valuable
research. I'll wager Boland has NEVER done valuable research of any kind.
Boland next claims that Gofman could not be
buried in Oregon due to the K-40 in his body. I
have not seen the wording of Oregon's law but I
suppose that's possible, since all states have
"silly laws." Of course, it would mean no one
else could be buried in Oregon either, so I
suspect that's not the spirit or the wording of the law.
Lastly, regarding Gofman's "notorious" support of
nuclear weapons, that too is taking his comments
out of context and out of perspective. Gofman
did not think the United States could
unilaterally eliminate ALL our nuclear
weapons. He may have been right about that, too.
Below (bottom) is an essay I wrote earlier this
year, specifically comparing K-40 exposure to the
EPA's limit for tritium (radioactive hydrogen) in
drinking water. There is little question that it
will be beyond Boland's capabilities to follow
along logically, since even the plain-speaking
Gofman threw him for an unfathomable loop, but
the rest of you might appreciate it.
At 01:54 PM 9/4/2007 +0000, John Boland wrote:
>The Hanford email list is dedicated to
>discussion of Hanford cleanup and related nuclear issues.
>Dr. John Gofman, bane of the nuclear industry
>Posted by: "John Boland" firstname.lastname@example.org jlbolandxx
>Tue Sep 4, 2007 12:35 am (PST)
>The single particle theory of Gofman's has been discredited for years.
>There are many in vivo responses to the effects of Low Dose Radiation
>which are beneficial to life, such as stimulating a number of responses
>from the immune systems. These include stimulating the DNA repair
>mechanisms, elevated apoptosis, and a number of others positive
>responses (see attached link to "Hormesis").
>To the extent that all living beings, plant and animal, contain natural
>radioactivity such as radioactive potassium-40, the Gofman theory would
>predict there would be no life at all on earth.
>He is his own best evidence that he was wrong. Dying at age 88 of heart
>failure suggests that the radioactivity in his own body wasn't harmful
>at all, and may have extended it. For the author to say that Gofman was
>never discredited, indicates the author never looked. He was discredited
>internationally by his peers.
>Gofman could not have been buried in Oregon, as his body contains above
>the permissible levels of radioactivity - said potassium-40. His body
>qualifies as Nuclear Waste under Oregon law.
>There is in Gofman's work a clear position that must put the
>Anti-Nuclear movement on the horns of a terrible dilemma – he also
>notoriously supported use of nuclear weapons. The author either
>"overlooked" this position, or worse yet, suppressed it.
It's all about the DNA:
August 7th, 2007
You are highly organized and very
complicated. You are intricate, delicate, and
beautiful. You are unique. One could even say
that God has signed off on YOUR design: His
"Certificate of Authenticity" is your unique DNA
sequence. It describes you and only you, and makes you human.
Estimates vary (some are as low as 10 trillion),
but according to many highly-qualified reference
sources, there are about a hundred trillion ( 1 X
10^14) living cells in your body. Nearly all of
them (except red blood cells and a few other
specialized cells) have a nearly-perfect copy of
your DNA in them. Each copy is so perfect, it
can be distinguished from the DNA of all other
humans even with the crude technologies of today.
YOU HAVE TO PROTECT YOUR DNA ALL YOUR LIFE. You
have a number of tools to do this with: First,
the DNA is attached to histones, which are
protein structures which give it added
stability. Next it is coiled tightly in on
itself, not all strung out, which further
protects it from damage. Next, it's inside the
nucleus of the cell, and -- ideally -- only
"approved" atoms or molecules get into the
nucleus of a cell. The nucleus is usually near
the center of the cell, so it's further protected
by the body of the cell and the cell wall, which,
like the wall of the nucleus, evolved to stop all
DETECTABLE unwanted intruders. (Radioactive
elements masquerade as non-radioactive elements
until the moment of decay. Your body cannot tell
them apart until it is too late.) All your cells
are protected collectively by many layers of dead
skin cells, as well as by hair. All this helps
to protect your DNA from anything that might harm
it. Even outside your body, the earth's
atmosphere, its ozone layer, and its magnetic
field, all help protect your DNA from the violent radiation in space.
Although skin protects everything inside it from
much of the radiation outside your body, other
parts of our bodies are designed specifically to
BRING the outside world inside us -- to provide
you with the air, water and nourishment you need
to live. But ingestion and inhalation is also
how many radioactive substances get inside your
body, and thus, your lungs and your gut are
especially vulnerable to many of radiation's effects.
Indeed, NONE of your biological protection
systems work perfectly, which is why it's so
important, as humans, to also use our BRAINS to
protect our DNA. We choose not to eat poisons,
for example, so as not to harm any of this
stuff. ANY assault against your DNA should be
done with "INFORMED CONSENT." OTHERWISE, YOU ARE
NO BETTER OFF THAN A DOG IN A LABORATORY EXPERIMENT.
A single copy of your DNA is close to 100 billion
( 1 X 10^11) atoms long, arranged in about three
billion "bases." (There are just four different
kinds of bases.) About 97% of your DNA has no
known function. The other 3% is arranged to form
about 30,000 different genes. Genes are the
genetic basis of our individual (and collective)
traits. About half of the genes code for protein
synthesizers (some code for more than one). Your
DNA is further organized into 23 paired sequences called chromosomes.
If stretched out, a single copy of your DNA would
be about six feet long. If laid end-to-end, the
roughly 100 trillion copies of your DNA in your
body would go around the world over four million times.
Each individual cell is, itself, a highly
organized structure. Each cell is an extremely
effective chemical manufacturing plant, capable
of making tens of thousands of DIFFERENT protein
molecules as needed. Your RNA controls this, and
your RNA is a product of your DNA. A typical
protein molecule can have 2300 non-hydrogen atoms
(plus lots of hydrogen atoms) and is incredibly
intricate in design (imagine the number of
POSSIBLE designs of a molecule with so many
atoms). Billions of proteins are created,
modified and destroyed every second in your body.
Each cell is a part of a body-wide Internet,
which communicates from one cell to another, or
from one set of cells to other sets of cells, via
chemical and electrical signals. Often, the
complex protein molecules described above are
used for this information transfer.
While your cells are dividing and replicating
their DNA, the DNA is particularly vulnerable to
damage. Stomach cells divide about every three
days. This is one reason your gut is so
susceptible to radiation damage. Nearly all of
your body's cells will divide over and over
during your life. It's supposed to happen
flawlessly. Cell death without cell division
also occurs -- it happens to about 50 to 70
billion cells per day in the average adult body
-- but it is a pre-planned, carefully organized,
highly controlled, and properly timed
event. Unplanned cell death is just one of MANY
hazards from radioactive materials.
Ionizing radiation CAN destroy ANY chemical bond,
thus, it CAN damage the DNA directly. But it is
much more likely that the atomic decay will
create "free radicals" (atoms or molecules with
unpaired electrons) which roam inside your body
and wreak havoc over and over, until something
(an anti-oxidant) captures the free radical.
In addition to DNA damage, each atomic decay
inside your body can destroy thousands of
chemical bonds. These bonds are normally 100%
secure, solid, and reliable (except when your
body intentionally makes or breaks them).
Radiation randomly damages your body, and its
effect sometimes multiplies by numbers which
appear to be gross exaggerations -- billions,
trillions, etc.. But that's what causes varying
degrees of cellular and / or system disfunction,
including damaging the information transport
systems within your body. Sometimes it kills you.
Less than a microgram (a thousandth of a
milligram) of radioactive Polonium-210 (an alpha
emitter with a half-life of 138 days) was all
that was needed to kill British citizen (and
former Russian spy) Alexander Litvinenko. Enough
was spilled along the way to contaminate dozens
of places and thousands of people, and to be
tracked all the way from London to Moscow via several commercial airliners.
So don't underestimate how important the nuclear
industry's promise of containment really
is. Even a single atom of radioactive material can be a fatal amount.
Ever since the dawn of the nuclear age, the
billions-of-years-old trend towards DECREASING
radioactivity has ceased, and a sharp and
unrestricted INCREASE has begun. This increase
is in the form of minute particles which are not
only invisible to the naked eye, they are
UNDETECTABLE by ANY human sense organ, even in
LETHAL DOSES. This makes it very easy to hide
the damage whenever and wherever it occurs,
especially if you believe (as pro-nukers do) that
simply diluting radioactive materials renders
them harmless. IT DOES NOT. It just spreads them around.
Before World War II, background radiation was
estimated to be under 100 mRem per person per year.
Then, Alamogordo and the nuclear age began, and
up it went. 160, 180, 200, 240, 280, 320, 360,
380 mRem. Reports calling "normal background
radiation" 400 mRem per person per year have even
been found recently! You can watch the creep in
the public literature over the past sixty years.
The human contribution is due to atomic bomb
blasts in war and in endless weapons testing, the
manufacturing of nuclear weapons and the
incomplete sequestering afterwards of the unused
weapons stock, as well as from operating nuclear
power plants, nuclear experiments gone awry,
failed plutonium space launches, uranium and
plutonium processing and reprocessing (now called
"recycling"), planned releases, unplanned
releases, illegal dumping, LEGAL DUMPING,
inadequate containment, and a thousand other
things. Once ANY radiation gets out into the
environment, the pro-nukers and the government (a
subset of pro-nukers) call it ALL "background
radiation" or even "natural background radiation."
There is nothing you can do about most of your
true (or "real") "natural" background radiation
exposure. One major component that CAN be
mitigated and should be is your Radon
exposure. Sometimes as little as a fan or open
window in the right place in a house, to remove
contaminated basement air, suffices to get it out
of your house (and into your neighbor's
airspace). Radon has a relatively short half-life of about 3.8 days.
Another source of "natural" (not manmade)
radiation is Potassium-40 (K-40). When citizens
express concern about man-made radiation,
pro-nukers often try to confuse the citizen by
asking: "Aren't you worried about K-40?"
According to the Health Physics Society (the
radiation-tolerant "protection" arm of the
nuclear industry) the amount of K-40 in the
average adult body is 17 milligrams and the
average adult daily intake of radioactive
potassium (K-40) is about 0.39 milligrams.
You cannot reduce your intake of potassium
without serious health consequences, and a
portion of your potassium intake WILL be K-40
(not much; only about 0.0117% of all potassium on
earth is K-40 and it's pretty evenly distributed
among the two stable natural isotopes of
Potassium: K-39 (93.2581%) and K-41 (6.7302%)).
Your body doesn't need its potassium to be
radioactive, but YOU can't separate it out easily
or cost-effectively. Your body does not store
excess potassium, so no matter how much you eat,
you'll still retain about 17 milligrams of K-40.
But, to really understand how natural radioactive
Potassium (K-40) compares to other radiation you
might be (or ARE) exposed to, you need to look at more than just the weight.
Potassium-40 has a very long half-life of over a
billion years (1.277 X 10^9 years). It decays
mainly by beta emission (89%). According to the
Health Physics Society web site, 17 milligrams of
K-40 has an "activity" of 120 nanoCuries (4.4
kiloBecquerels), which is a measure of the amount
of radiation given off by a substance. One Bq is
one nuclear decay or other transformation per
second. One Curie = 37,000 million Bq..
How often an atomic breakdown occurs is certainly
one basic factor to consider in trying to
determine the relative hazards of various
radioactive assaults, but by itself it can give
an inadequate picture of the relative damage that
any particular type of atomic breakdown can do.
Potassium-40 represents about 5% of your
"natural" internal radiation burden, as measured
in Curies or Becquerels. But there are other
ways to measure the relative damage -- for
example: Rads and Grays consider energy absorbed
per gram. Rems (Roentgen equivalent man) and
Sieverts add in a factor for estimated biological
damage. Another, slightly better, way is by
using the Relative Biological Effectiveness (RBE)
factor, which tries to guess the potential damage
more accurately by paying attention to which
specific organs are being irradiated. But RBE
still isn't a very good measure, mainly because
the tables of values are largely guesswork and underestimates.
ALL ejected electrons (beta particles), whether
they start as "high-energy" beta particles or as
so-called "low-energy" or "soft" beta particles,
eventually reach that lower energy level, and the
VAST MAJORITY of the damage is done at that
so-called "low" energy level. This phenomenon is
known as "Bragg's Curve" and is actually USEFUL
in radiation therapy medicine: The phenomenon is
used to aim radioactive particle beams at tumors
buried inside the body. But "soft beta rays" is
a term the pro-nukers made up to describe what is
really a very deadly atomic bombardment by what
they call "low-energy" beta particles. In fact,
a 6 KeV beta particle (the average energy of a
tritium atom's ejected beta particle) does about
the same amount of damage to biological systems
as a 500 KeV beta particle does (the average
energy of a potassium atom's ejected beta
particle), all other things being equal.
Shocking? Consider a magnet passed over a bunch
of nails. If you pass it over them quickly, it
will not pick any of them up. But when you pass
the magnet over them slowly, the pull of the
magnet has time to interact with the iron in the
nails and can lift them against gravity.
The beta particle (an ejected electron) has a
charge of "negative one." It pulls on anything
that has a positive (opposite) charge and pushes
on anything with a negative (similar) charge. A
beta particle is a very small sub-atomic
object: About 1/1840th the mass of a single
proton or neutron in an atomic nucleus. When
ejected from the nucleus of an atom, the beta
particle has a lot of energy and is traveling at
a significant fraction of the speed of
light. For example, a 6 KeV beta particle
(typical from tritium) is ejected at about 0.15 c
(15% of the speed of light). A 500 KeV beta
particle (typical from potassium) is ejected at
about 0.86 c (86% the speed of light).
At those high speeds, the beta particle's charge
does not have time to cause disruption of other
electrons (pushing) or atomic nucleuses (pulling) as it passes by them.
But, as the beta particle slows down, it has TIME
to interact with things it passes near to. And
THAT'S when it does most of its damage. It
knocks other electrons out of their orbits and
damages molecules by exciting (energizing) their atoms and rearranging them.
The tritium atom was probably part of a water
molecule. If so, when it decays it leaves a
vicious OH radical floating around, too. The
beta particle, once it slows down, often is
captured by an O2 molecule (a pair of oxygen
atoms in solution), creating a "super oxide radical."
In the case of tritium, as opposed to potassium,
the left-over element after the beta particle is
ejected (Helium-3) is ALSO particularly nasty at
first, because it has the recoil energy of the
equal-and-opposite reaction to the ejected
electron (beta particle). It flies back, away
from whatever molecule it was in, where it was
masquerading as a normal hydrogen atom until the
moment of decay. Hydrogen atoms are used just
about everywhere in your body, for many different tasks.
The recoiling atom, now a helium atom, weighs
almost 6,000 times as much as the released beta
particle. The recoiling helium atom can damage
other molecules it bangs into, especially if it
happens to hit a hydrogen atom. Your body (and
the universe) has more hydrogen atoms than any
other, so such collisions are not uncommon.
The beta particle, after it is released from one
of the two neutrons in the nucleus of the tritium
atom, has a negative charge. At the moment the
beta particle is released, one neutron becomes a
proton, and the tritium atom goes from being
hydrogen to being helium -- but with just one
neutron, which is one less than normal helium
(99.99986% of all helium on earth has two protons
and two neutrons in its nucleus).
The process of creating the helium atom has
destroyed whatever it was a useful part of when
it was a hydrogen atom, bonded to something and
involved in one of life's processes.
The new helium atom (formerly a hydrogen atom)
needs two electrons (instead of one) to fill its
electron shells. It probably has one, and will
quickly steal a second one from just about any
other atom that happens to be nearby.
The helium atom is not radioactive and chemically
is extremely inert. Your body doesn't use helium
for anything (probably because its electron bonds
are so strong, it doesn't combine with other
elements to make useful new molecules).
Tritium has a radiological half-life of about
12.4 years, and the United States' EPA standard
for tritium in drinking water allows 740 atomic
breakdowns per second per liter. Your body has
about 40 liters of water, so the EPA thinks that
adding a burden of about 30,000 additional atomic
breakdowns PER SECOND to your body -- just from
tritium alone -- is PERFECTLY OKAY!
This compares with 4,400 atomic breakdowns per
second for all 17 milligrams of K-40 in your
body, which doesn't have nearly as many additional effects.
Is K-40 dangerous? Certainly. But it's
unavoidable, and a relatively small risk.
On the other hand, the EPA limit for tritium in
drinking water is unquestionably too lax. The
nuclear industry is probably UNDERESTIMATING the
death toll from tritium by hundreds (two orders
of magnitude) if not thousands (three orders of
magnitude), and they are ALL entirely preventable
deaths (the pre-nuclear level for tritium was
less than a thousandth of the EPA legal
limit). The standards are based on the damage to
healthy adult males -- the LEAST SUSCEPTIBLE of
all possible groupings. FOR THE UNBORN, INFANT,
OR CHILD, THESE ATOMIC BREAKDOWNS ARE MUCH MORE SERIOUS.
About 1/2 of all humans get cancer some time in
their life. Either the cancer is destroyed or
removed, they die of it, or they have it when
they die of something else. About 1/4 to 1/3 of
all people living today will die of
cancer. Besides causing death, the radioactive
assault causes neuromuscular damage,
cardiovascular damage, fetal deformities, premature aging, etc. etc. etc..
In the case of tritium, nearly all the burden is
created by easily-replaced human activities and
is COMPLETELY avoidable. The tritium burden is
especially harmful because of the ADDED effect of
the resultant "hot" helium atom, the creation of
the OH free radical, the sudden loss of the
hydrogen atom, and several other effects
particular to tritium, which can permeate ANY
part of the human body. In other ways, other
radioactive elements are WORSE than tritium: For
example, Strontium collects in bones and teeth of
the unborn, while Cesium collects in soft tissue,
including muscle and women's ovaries and
breasts. But by many measures, tritium is the worst of all.
When estimating radiation damage from different
sources, one needs to be very
specific. Pro-nukers don't like to get bogged
down in details. They don't like to look their little devil in the eye.
The BIER VII report (Supplement two), after years
of study, was forced to conclude that there is no
safe dose of ionizing radiation. Numerous
scientists I've spoken to over the years
concur. As one recently put it: "I just can't
see how shooting a projectile through a
biological system can be safe. It's not harmless at all!"
To excuse a tremendous and unnecessary manmade
radiation burden simply because there is ANY
natural and unavoidable radiation burden is, in a
word, inexcusable. Your K-40 exposure does not
excuse your tritium exposure. ALL radiation
exposure is damaging and sometimes even a single exposure can be fatal.
Dr. John W. Gofman, one of the most eminent
nuclear physicists and medical doctors of our
time, put it this way: "ANY DOSE IS AN OVERDOSE."
Don't let anyone smudge your DNA -- your personal
combination of "Certificate of Authenticity,"
operating manual, and fundamental building
block. Your DNA is the nano-code within you
which builds all the nano-machines which ARE you.
URL for previous tritium essay:
Tritium Explained (why "Low Level Radiation" can be