When it comes to the truth about radiation and health effects, there are no experts who are honest - not in government, not in science, not anywhere. Yet, people would rather listen to liars than challenge their assumptions about the sources of the so-called truth and disregard the purveyors of actual truth on this topic: the non-creditialed self-taught. - Andrew Kishner, May 18, 2013
Hey reader! You should read Chapter 2 ('Justice Denied - How film became more important than life (American downwinders)') to get the background on this criticism of a NAS 'review' of RECA
In a nutshell
The NAS concluded radioactive fallout - except for Iodine-131 exposure - was more or less the same as exposure to natural background radiation. Except for I-131, all of the plutonium and strontium and cesium, they argue, in our water and food and air supplies are not a substantial contributing cause to cancer. The NAS argued that RECA expansion would "result in few successful claims" for compensation and it'd be unlikely that even persons who got thyroid cancer from Iodine-131 exposure would qualify: "...it is unlikely that a very large number of individuals with cancer, even thyroid cancer, would be newly eligible for compensation." The NAS also felt that even persons currently eligible for compensation had a 'generally low' risk of radiation induced diseases.
So, the NAS report, if fully acted upon by Congress, would expand RECA to many more states, but basically no one, not even the persons who are eligible under the present version of RECA, would qualify.
How did the NAS make such a conclusion? Well, they used the scientific evidence available, which amounted to horse-crap. That data comprised governmental monitoring and health studies information on fallout that for decades have been sabotaged, stonewalled, defunded, and defanged by U.S. government health and environmental agencies. Data included: the 1950s gummed-film data ( that had a collection efficiency of as low as 10%) collected at 40 to 95 monitoring locations in the United States; the only major U.S. health study into exposure to fallout that concentrated on just Iodine-131, yet Iodine-131 was one of hundreds of fallout isotopes from Nevada testing fallout - that study relied exclusively on this shoddy gummed-film data and 'calculated' fallout deposition in each and every one of 3,000 counties in the U.S.!
In the report, the NAS asserted as their main conclusion the finding from a 1997 National Cancer Institute report that found the U.S. population's dose of Iodine-131 covered a wider geographic distribution than was understood when RECA was established in 1990. The NAS report concluded that persons living outside current RECA boundaries during nuclear testing 'could have received as high or higher thyroid doses' as those within the RECA boundaries.
National Academy of Sciences review
In 2002, the National Academy of Sciences, via the National Research Committee to Assess the Scientific Information for the Radiation Exposure Screening and Education Program, began an investigation to assess recent scientific evidence to determine whether the RECA program should be expanded to include additional geographic areas, other types of cancers and other "classes of individuals." The NAS's Board on Radiation Effects Research (BRER) panel heard testimony from afflicted persons in St. George, Utah in December 2003, Window Rock, Ariz., in May 2004, and Salt Lake City in July 2004. The NAS committee planned the hearing at the Navajo Nation (in Arizona) after Native Americans showed up en masse at the St. George hearing. Also, a last minute public meeting was held in Boise, Idaho, on November 6, 2004 but only three NAS staffers attended. After reviewing scientific literature, compiling evidence on cancer rates and assessing the levels of radioactivity that fell in various areas, the NAS released their final report - as a recommendation to Congress - in April 2005.
|The NAS St. George hearing (12/15/2003): Watch the recorded video or listen to the audio (also for podcasting) of the hearings using the links below:|
As for expanding RECA geographically, the NAS did not recommend adding any specific region but only that the boundaries should be expanded. Their conclusion that RECA's current boundaries were inadequate and ought to be expanded to include all U.S. states and territories was based on their conclusion that fallout reached all U.S. counties.
As for changes to eligibility, the NAS recommended a complete overhaul. They suggested that eligibility on who gets payments should not be based any longer on where you lived (and if you contracted a suspected fallout-disease during a specific time-frame), but if you can prove your disease is linked to fallout. They advocated a scientific-based compensation scheme that would employ a probability model. The NAS noted that such a model has been used in other types of compensation programs.
As for being a waste of time....Since the NAS was forced to "base its conclusions on the results of best available scientific information" and the 'best science' included only a few studies on the fallout-health link, a few of which had somewhat inconsistent observations, the NAS's study was a waste of time. The NAS simply regurgitated the basic tenet of science back to concerned downwinders: that if there is no evidence linking X to Y, then there is no link.
The NAS recommended in its report for more science studies. But they also did something that most downwinders will never understand or forgive them for: they actually advised that Congress implement a science-based compensation scheme.
The NAS suggested a scheme in which every American can apply for aid if they can prove a high probability of radiation, regardless of where they lived. But the NAS clearly noted that the probability was low. Really low. They asserted that "in most cases it is unlikely that exposure to radioactive fallout is a substantial contributing cause of cancer in downwinders" and that, if you excluded Iodine-131, fallout was "the same magnitude or less" than natural background radiation (solar radiation and sources like radon).
As you can guess, the NAS, under this no-harm no-foul conclusion, suggests that RECA expansion would "result in few successful claims" for compensation and that it was unlikely that even persons with thyroid cancer would qualify: "...it is unlikely that a very large number of individuals with cancer, even thyroid cancer, would be newly eligible for compensation."
The NAS also felt that even persons currently eligible for compensation had a 'generally low' risk of radiation induced diseases, a statement that sent shock-waves into communities of downwinders who may be currently eligible and fear their rights will be stripped away.
More studies, a problem?
The NAS, noting the lack of studies into the fallout-cancer link, suggested that government health agencies complete dose estimates for "all significant radionuclides" in fallout to at-risk population groups, not just for Iodine-131, and have that data reflected in a dose calculator similar to one that exists for I-131 to determine doses to key organs. They also suggested that impacts from global fallout (testing by Russia, China, etc...) and exposure from underground tests that resulted in atmospheric releases should be considered in RECA. The NAS also recommended improved education and communication about the risks of fallout.
Although the NAS recommended more studies into fallout (there are over 125 radioisotopes found in fallout, only 1 has been studied with regards to its relation to cancer), the federal government has not been looking into it. The National Cancer Institute (NCI), for instance, took 14 years to complete a study determining a link between thyroid cancer and Iodine-131. The results were known as early as 1989, compiled in a final draft report by 1993 but the report was held from the public for four additional years until 1997. In that time, the NCI never made an attempt to broaden the scope of its study to include the health impacts from exposure to other fallout isotopes (other than Iodine-131), especially the ones that are much longer-lived and present in our living environment. Those include Cesium 137 and Strontium 90, both common 1950's and 1960's fallout elements found in our food and water supplies that have only decayed to about 25% of their original radioactivity. As another example of how the government has dropped the ball on health studies: in 1998 the Centers for Disease Control began a long-term study into the health consequences from nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960s on people living in the American southwest. They began tracking the thyroid conditions of 4,000 former students who lived in southwestern Utah and eastern Nevada in 1965 but in 2005 the government pulled the plug on the long-term study before it was complete, citing financial considerations. The lead researcher on the study told the Deseret News, 'The only interpretation I can put on it is that the Bush administration doesn't want to know the health effects of fallout on American citizens." When one digs deeper into history, it is clear that the government time and time again dropped the ball on health studies regarding downwinders, either by withholding funding or the studies themselves: academic scientists said that a 1965 study by the Public Health Service - that found 9 leukemia deaths in southern Utah above the expected statistical incidence rate - merited further study, but that follow-up study was never initiated for lack of funds. The Chicago Tribune noted in a 1979 article that a Dept. of Health, Education and Welfare study in the mid-1960s looked at leukemia clusters in several Utah towns and in Fredonia, Ariz., but the results 'apparently were never released.'
Outside the government sphere, researchers at the Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP) are nowadays following up on a study commenced in the 1950s with thousands of residents of St. Louis, Missouri, who donated their baby teeth to Washington University for an initial study which found an 'early apparent link' between fallout and health problems - that study helped bring about the 1963 atmospheric test ban treaty. The RPHP, a privately-funded research group, is measuring those old toddler teeth for levels of Strontium-90 - a common fallout isotope with a half-life of some 28 years that traveled through the grass-cow-human chain - in hopes of making connections between those levels and later-life health impacts, such as cancer. What use carbon-14 is for measuring the age of an artifact, strontium-90 can be used, even today, for measuring fallout levels absorbed in the collected 1950s toddlers teeth.
Although the above researchers are making use of archived data in the form of gummed film paper and baby teeth, the great challenge, going forward, to researchers, whether independent or governmental, is that the body of historical fallout data is not robust enough. The number of baby teeth collected and monitoring stations available at the time of the testing may not provide enough details about how widespread exposure was, thereby affecting scientific-based understanding and the feasibility of a workable scientific-based compensation scheme.
Why NAS's report is faulty
Although the NAS's recommendation for a science-based compensation scheme might be one respected by most scientists, it carries the same blatant disregard for downwinders, whether they are living, dying or dead, as RECA now does for Native Americans.
RECA requires that claims must be accompanied by proof of residency and medical history but fallout-victims in the Navajo Nation in Arizona, for example, like their peer tribes, lack these resources. RECA doesn't allow sworn statements vouching for residency for RECA downwinder claims. So, because of an inconvenience caused by cultural differences, Navajos have been disproportionately denied payments. Through 2007, about 40 percent of Navajo RECA downwinder claims were denied and it's suspected that thousands of additional legitimate claims have not been filed largely because of the difficulty of proving residency and disease.
The sad truth is that downwinders are dying without compensation because RECA policymakers and governmental-scientific bodies are putting into place requirements that are the most impossible ones for most downwinders to meet.
It gets worse. The NAS, it turns out, also has made it hard for downwinders to meet in its hearings and meetings. Critics denounced the NAS's hearing process in 2004, when it held meetings in a few key cities for downwinders to testify. The hearings were held in a select few cities, leaving out Arizona, Salt Lake City and Idaho. And even when those areas got their meetings, they were poorly advertised. The founder of Downwinders Inc. told the Salt Lake City Weekly in 2004: "They didn't even tell people in northern Utah about the hearings. Downwinders from there only showed up because I told them about it....They're still not letting the advocates and the groups that represent victims know a damn thing about what's going on."
It's not the first time the NAS came under fire for their lack of interest in public involvement. A different committee under the NAS did little to reach out to the public to solicit comments on its formal review of the government's follow-up study to the 1997 NCI report (A Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population from Nuclear Weapons Tests conducted by the United States and other Nations). The announcement of the NAS review was deeply buried on the NCI's website and attracted protest from the President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research who wrote to the NAS in a letter in September 2002: 'We are particularly aggrieved and dismayed that the NAS review committee took a pro-forma and completely ineffective approach to notifying the public on an issue of obvious public health importance.'
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on your house | solar storm dangers | plutonium dust is a problem north of Vegas | Chernobyl contamination was 95% from Chernobyl; 5% Was From a U.S. Secret Radiation Release | Nuclear Reactor Operators Don't Really Monitor Their Pollution - They Guess Believe it or not: U.S. Government Gave Secret Fallout Maps to Kodak, But Never to Americans
About Us | Contact | Donate | Prefixes & equivalents, radiation conversions | One-stop atomic elements references | Japan Finds Radioactivity in More Foods From California: The California Radiation Report | Map of eastern U.S. reactors | link to us
Popular pages: Updates (Fukushima and Pacific coast n' catch) | Subcritical nuclear test news | Downwinder Day | Trinity nuclear test | Contaminated wallboard/phosphogypsum | Caged human experiments at nuclear test sites
Important pages: Gummed film & fallout maps | Scientists misled Americans about 'hot' halibut | Fukushima formed a 'hotspot' in California | EPA is not exactly 'monitoring' our milk for radiation | Montana cows died from radiation? | FDA is barely testing our food for radiation | spent fuel fires could harm us all | a NUCLEAR REACTOR from SPACE could land on your house | solar storm dangers | plutonium dust is a problem north of Vegas | Chernobyl contamination was 95% from Chernobyl; 5% Was From a U.S. Secret Radiation Release | Nuclear Reactor Operators Don't Really Monitor Their Pollution - They Guess
Believe it or not: U.S. Government Gave Secret Fallout Maps to Kodak, But Never to Americans| Unexploded Nuclear Bombs North of Las Vegas Could Still Detonate or Reach Criticality| Your Cremated Remains Would be 180 Times the Limit Allowable by the EPA for Beta Radiation in Drinking Water | Quaker Oats and Boston universities gave radioactive cereal to unwitting special needs children