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Andrew A
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Joined: 01 May 2015, 17:06
Location: Auckland
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Hello

Post by Andrew A » 01 May 2015, 18:59

My name is Andrew and I am pleased to become a member of this forum.

My interest in spectroscopy is primarily related to the fukushima meltdowns. I grew up on the west coast of Canada and I would like to learn more about the long term effects of the accident - or at least become more knowledgeable on the subject. I was first introduced to spectroscopy in high school like everyone else, but I wasn't paying enough attention at the time. I have an interest in astronomy and cosmology. I don't currently own a spectrometer, but I have a geiger counter which will measure gamma rays, an RF sensor that measures all energy in the 100 MHz to 8 GHz range, and a metal detector which is fun to take out to the beach.

I am looking forward to learning more and making some good friendships.

***edit***

I just realized that my geiger counter is a spectrometer of sorts, I guess what I meant to say is that it is not a machine that is useful for any detailed analysis. It's a small russian made one that would be useful for measuring background gamma radiation.

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brehwens
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Re: Hello

Post by brehwens » 01 May 2015, 21:09

Hi Andrew!

During the past year, in my role as a radiobiologist, I have been involved in a radioecological project aimed at studying the effects of fallout on biota. As a consequence of this, I have been vacuuming the litterature about effects of Fukushima on wildlife.

I was later planning to start a thread presenting what papers that are available publicly. I have also access (at least for some more time) to material restricted for subscribers, which I can not share (openly anyway).

As a brief comment, I can just mention a Japaneese group investigating the effects of fallout in japan on the Pale Grass Blue butterfly. They have published a series of papers in which they (claim) to have detected deleterious effects in terms of mortality, mutations etc in this insect. These papers have recieved alot of attention, but also some criticism. With that said, the authors have been responding to the criticism quite openly, and I have not read another study to date that has been the subject to such scrutiny. When a study fails to detect anything "exciting", people are not so eager to question the methods it seems...

Another big problem in effects studies is poor dosimetry. This makes any results difficult to put into context, as it all boils down to at what dose were the effects observed. For example, insects in general are very radioresistant, making the results from the Japaneese studies quite surprising.

well, more on this later..
Karl Brehwens
Eskilstuna, Sweden.

Setup: 5 cm lead castle, 2mm copper lining. Gamma Spectacular Pro 2002, Sound Blaster Live! 5.1,
Primary detector: Scionix refurbished 2x2" NaI(Tl) well detector, 7.5% @ 662 keV

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brehwens
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Re: Hello

Post by brehwens » 01 May 2015, 21:14

Ok, I found the famous "butterfly" paper, it was open access so everyone can read the full text

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3414864/

There are in turn also published "commentaries" both questioning and defending these findings...
Karl Brehwens
Eskilstuna, Sweden.

Setup: 5 cm lead castle, 2mm copper lining. Gamma Spectacular Pro 2002, Sound Blaster Live! 5.1,
Primary detector: Scionix refurbished 2x2" NaI(Tl) well detector, 7.5% @ 662 keV

Andrew A
Posts: 4
Joined: 01 May 2015, 17:06
Location: Auckland
Contact:

Re: Hello

Post by Andrew A » 02 May 2015, 05:55

Thanks for the link. This is exactly why I am happy to join this group.

http://www.fukuleaks.org/web/?page_id=13773

You can submit a study here, or pull from a number of studies that are linked to a dropbox account.

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brehwens
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Re: Hello

Post by brehwens » 02 May 2015, 17:21

Looks like an interesting web page. I had a quick look, it seems to contain alot of information.

Still, I get a feeling that some people believe there to be a "conspiracy" to cover up any potential effects of Fukushima, and therefore any study that shows effects is more or less accepted to be true without the need of proper scientific scrutiny, because it was a "whistleblower".

My viewpoint is, that poor education about radiation is what kills far more people following a radiation incident. From Chernobyl, many liquidators died due to sustaining high doses in the cleanup work. How many that committed suicide because their wifes did not dare to have kids with them, I don't know.

From what I know, nobody has sustained any dose so high as to suffer from ARS (Acute radiation syndrome) following Fukushima, although a few workers have sustained doses in the 100s mGy range. However, many hospital patients and older citizens have died as a result of not being allowed into hospitals (staff fear of contamination) or simply abandoned in buses. Thus, the indirect effects of the accident is likely to have a far more severe impact on the population than the radiation per se.

Add to this, that low doses of radiation (mGy range) has also (mostly in lab studies) been shown to be beneficial. In fact, for most toxic agents low doses will have a beneficial effect, and the toxic effect appears at higher doses. Radiation hormesis was a big field some decades ago, but this research has now been largely forgotten. One reason could be the "linear no threshold (LNT) hypothesis, stating that any increase in dose confers an increase in risk of stochastic (cancer) effects. Reality is, that we simply do not know how the dose-response curve looks below 100 mGy, as there is too little epidemiological data in this dose range.

You can read more about the LNT hypothesis here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linear_no-threshold_model

To summarize, I think one should be aware of all the sides of this complex issue, and critically read any study, especially if it has not been peer reviewed. It is also quite easy to find studies from both sides of the camp; it has even been suggested that any harmful effects the Chernobyl accident had on the local wildlife is overshadowed by the positive impact from people leaving the area alone. But it might be a tough cookie to swallow, that our presence can have a larger impact than a nuclear disaster...

There are also scientists that believe there is a conspiracy against their research, forcing them to publish it themselves via their own channels. This I believe to be bullshit. While some findings may provoke the community, sound scientific methods win in the end.
Karl Brehwens
Eskilstuna, Sweden.

Setup: 5 cm lead castle, 2mm copper lining. Gamma Spectacular Pro 2002, Sound Blaster Live! 5.1,
Primary detector: Scionix refurbished 2x2" NaI(Tl) well detector, 7.5% @ 662 keV

Andrew A
Posts: 4
Joined: 01 May 2015, 17:06
Location: Auckland
Contact:

Re: Hello

Post by Andrew A » 02 May 2015, 20:29

I agree the full body external exposures to ionizing radiation from Fukushima would have a very small negative health impact, although you would have a hard time convincing me that ingesting a little bit of plutonium might be good for me :). Is it possible that a small amount of exposure might send the immune system into over-drive resulting in an apparent benefit that would not be sustainable or beneficial in the long run? Is it possibly only a provocation of a built in defense mechanism giving the outward appearance of strengthening while in actuality being a compensation for the increased stress?

Where are the 280+ tonnes of reactor core (107 of which contain plutonium)? That is the big question.

Thanks for the comments.

Andrew A
Posts: 4
Joined: 01 May 2015, 17:06
Location: Auckland
Contact:

Re: Hello

Post by Andrew A » 02 May 2015, 21:17

The accident also has a huge potential political and economic fallout as well. Conspiracy might be too strong of word, but definitely financial reasons to diminish the scale of the accident. I don't think anyone even heard about Chernobyl until the Swedes mentioned it.

It is my understanding that since the accident:

- Japan has enacted a strict whistle blower law.

- Canada and USA have increased allowable levels of radiation in food and water.
(Based on the hormesis theory I imagine. You can read a criticism of a peer reviewed study that was said to heavily influence the new guidelines here
http://www.fukuleaks.org/web/?p=6081 The MIT study was done on rats over a 5 week period.)

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brehwens
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Re: Hello

Post by brehwens » 02 May 2015, 23:34

It is my point precisely, that the major impact of the Fukushima accident is secondary effects, not the radiation effects per se. The general population will see very small doses, I think too small to be able do detect any effects over the high (appr 30% cancer incidence) background.'

The Chernobyl accident was indeed first detected by the Swedish NPP "Forsmark", who I have visited nearly 10 times. I don't think it possible to compare the soviet union at its verge of collapse at the end of the cold war, to the situation in Japan. Since Chernobyl, people have become much more aware and more people own geiger counters and detectors. Now, after Fukushima you have a global community with a fairly large group of individuals that can make fairly sophisticated measurements.

Reasons to increase permissible levels I believe have nothing to do with hormesis. You won't find a single government telling its population that "it is probaly only healthy in these quantities". It is very difficult to turn back from the view that any dose carries a potential risk, although there is plenty of evidence to suggest this (as there is evidence for the opposite being true).

The changing of permissible levels I believe is a product of dose estimates under current contamination loads; it makes no sense (economically) to keep the limits so low compared to how much is consumed by the people. This is a problem in itself, as it gets confusing for the public when limits are changed ("don't your know how dangerous this stuff is??"). Japan has also changed the limits in food, and the same was done in Sweden following the Chernobyl disaster.

Also, I think it is important to put risk into a perspective of all other risks one exposes oneself to. A radiation-induced cancer (I-131 induced thyroid cancer being the exception) is indistinguishable from other cancers, which have many other risk factors. Per Sv (acute whole body exposure) there is a 5% excess risk of cancer ( I hope I got this number right form the back of my mind). What risk (of immediate death) does commuting to work carry?

Of course, like with all business ventures, profit is a big factor. Just think about tobacco companies.... why people still smoke is maybe a bigger enigma...

Interesting discussion!
Karl Brehwens
Eskilstuna, Sweden.

Setup: 5 cm lead castle, 2mm copper lining. Gamma Spectacular Pro 2002, Sound Blaster Live! 5.1,
Primary detector: Scionix refurbished 2x2" NaI(Tl) well detector, 7.5% @ 662 keV

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