Bulletin Board
Rants, Raves, Interesting Science & Awful Puns
February 5, 2002


Victims of Nucleophobia

Another interesting piece from Robert Rackansky. Rob writes:

The United Nations has revealed that people who were evacuated from the areas around Chernobyl died at a higher rate than those left behind. Many of these deaths were caused by psychosomatic and stress-related disorders which resulted from people being told that they had been contaminated, even though the levels of radiation in the areas they were forcefully evacuated from were lower than natural levels of radiation in other parts of the world.

The misguided reaction was caused by the mistaken belief that ANY amount of radiation above zero is harmful.

The full story, entitled "Chernobyl's Real Victims," appears at Tech Central Station, by Dr. Roger Bate, Director of the International Policy Network, London. Some quotes from Dr. Bates's article:

  • The UN Development Programme and UNICEF have finally admitted in a new report what many scientists and policy wonks have known for years. Chernobyl killed thousands--not from radiation, but from policy based on radiophobic hysteria.
  • The exhibitions of photographs of deformed victims, which raised millions of dollars for pressure groups and charities, have been exposed as fraudulent.
  • According to Professor Zbigniew Jaworowski, a medical adviser to the UN on the effects of radiation "perhaps the most important factor in creating the Chernobyl mythology was the assumption that any radiation dose, even one close to zero, has some detrimental effect." . . . . This hypothesis contradicts all experimental and epidemiological evidence. That evidence demonstrates no harm?and even some benefit?at low radiation doses.
  • Yet, according to the UN Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, the death toll from the accident itself and directly related effects is 41. There were no early death cases among the public. Apart from increase in thyroid cancer registry (probably due to increased screening rather than a real increase in incidence) there is no evidence of a major public health impact related to the ionizing radiation 15 years after the accident. No increase of overall cancer incidence or mortality that could be associated with radiation exposure has been observed.
[For previous postings on radiation see the Energy Section of the Bulletin Board Archives]
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