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Perspectives on Chernobyl and Fukushima Health Effects: What Can Be Learned From Eastern European Research? via the Journal of Health and Pollution

Timothy Mousseau; Anders Pape Møller

This is part of the frst half of the monograph: “Critical Analysis of the Concept of an ‘Efective Dose’ of Radiation”. The monograph in its entirety features two review papers from prominent Russian scientist Alexey Yablokov looking critically at the current standards of human radiation safety, accompanied by two editorials presenting a point/counterpoint perspective on Professor Yablokov’s work. Te second paper and editorial will be published in the next issue, due later this year.

J Health Pollution 5: 2-6 (2013)

It is now evident that much more is known concerning the health and ecological consequences of radioactive contaminants than is being acknowledged or appreciated by the mainstream scientifc and regulatory communities. Tis became apparent following the 2005 publication of the influential Chernobyl Forum report, in which a large body of literature from Eastern Europe was ignored and an attempt was made to downplay eforts to predict health outcomes for human populations living downwind from the Chernobyl disaster.[...]
Given that most scientists are essentially tradesmen selling their research as wares, scientifc investigation generally will not happen unless it is commissioned via a grant from a funding agency. Tis is especially true in the U.S. academic environment, where researchers are required to obtain grants to wholly or partially underwrite their own salaries and where indirect cost payments by granting agencies to research institutions are used to pay for discretionary programs.
[...]
Principal among the recent efforts is the New York Academy of Sciences- (NYAS) published monograph written by Alexey Yablokov, Vassily Nesterenko and Alexey Nesterenko, and edited by Janette Sherman- Nevinger, entitled Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for the People and the Environment.7 This volume is currently the best available comprehensive compilation of the extensive literature from Eastern Europe regarding the effects of Chernobyl. When first published in 2009, it was met with acclaim by the anti-nuclear community and with derision by the pro-nuclear establishment. These positions were largely politically motivated without regard to the merit of this unique compilation. Sadly, pro- nuclear proponents prevailed in influencing the NYAS to post a disclaimer regarding the volume and to discontinue the print version (although an online version isfreely available to NYAS members and institutional subscribers to the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences). The monograph is not without shortcomings: the translation leaves room for improvement and it does not stylistically align with typical Western scientific monographs. For the most part, it is an abbreviated yet encyclopedic listing of the many hundreds of research reports generated on the various topics covered by the book with little or no statistical treatment or assessment of the quality of individual reports. However, this in no way discounts the enormous value of the empirical content, most of which cannot be found in English anywhere else.
[...]
When taken collectively, there is a diverse array of studies that provide strong evidence of large biological and public health impacts associated with the Chernobyl disaster. These studies have largely been overlooked and not effectively considered when it comes to regulatory discussions of “safe” levels of exposure to radiation. Many of these non-cancer effects may not have yet been demonstrated to directly associate with human mortality (e.g., radiation damage to chromosomes). But where there is smoke, usually there is fire, and it is intuitively obvious to any biologist that genetic damage is often a prelude to larger consequences for the organism or its descendants. It is precisely for this reason that health surveillance programs of workers involved in the nuclear industry and nuclear medical fields utilize bio-dosimetric methods involving estimates of genetic damage that are presumed to serve as bio- indicators of longer-term health consequences for exposed individuals. Indeed, the very term “effective dose” was designed to capture all negative health outcomes from radiation exposure, not just cancers

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