Monday, March 11, 2013

Today at the Fukushima Symposium


All the speakers were very interesting, except one who drove me crazy.

Who drove me crazy?  David Brenner. He drove me crazy because he began his presentation by emphasizing uncertainty in our understanding of radiation effects. But, then he gave us a low-ball figure for mortality with certainty.

I agree that there is considerable uncertainty in predicting risk, not simply because our knowledge is limited and contested but also because radiation effects are mediated by age, general health, diet, vector of exposure (e.g., internal versus external), cummulative body burden, synergistic effects from other carcinogens in the environment, etc.

I recently read that parents with high levels of exposure can have children that are radio "sensitized" and are therefore more vulnerable to radiation damage from exposure levels not likely to cause disease in other populations.

I would cite the source but I'm typing from my ipad in NY and don't have access to my research piles.

The thing is that predicting disease and disability is fraught with uncertainty.

Yet, then Brenner used a very conservative estimate to give us a very fixed number of likely deaths from cancer with no accounting for his calculating, with no variability in risk afforded to children or unborn beings, with no acknowledgement of internal doses, etc.

Helen Caldicott wasn't too comfortable with his presentation and called him on the issue of internal contamination, whereupon an ingested or inhaled radioisotope decays beta and gamma radiation intenally thereby directly targeting organs known to bioaccumulate the radioisotope (e.g., radiocesium in the heart).

His response was that the effect of an external X-ray is no different to a cell than a beta particle.

While that may be true, what his comment overlooks is the fact that beta decay from an ingested radioisotope like cesium-137 is ongoing and has longer duration.

Darn. NOw the italics are on and I cannot figure out how to turn them off on my ipad, which is driving me crazy today.

Brenner did acknowledge that alpha particles - emitted from isotopes of uranium and plutonium - is worse because its energy can sever DNA.

However, he stated that very little plutonium was emitted from Fukushima.

Gundersen agreed, although he stated earlier that unit 3 had a detonation which spread fuel far and wide.

I wanted to remind the speakers of the plutonium that was found in Lithuania and fingerprinted to Fukushima by the Cesium 134 to 137 ratio but the audience had no opportunity to speak.

Brenner is a smart guy. He studies the bystander effect and understands genomic instability.

My question is WHERE is he getting his GRANT MONEY?

Follow the money and we will probably understand why he was so very eager to discount internal contamination and intergenerational effects.

please disregard the typos. I'm really struggling typing on this ipad.


16 comments:

  1. But we know for a fact that boatloads (that's the scientific abbreviation for 10's of tons) of uranium and plutonium were aerosolized and most certainly we breathed these in.

    http://nukeprofessional.blogspot.com/p/uranium-aerosolized-into-atmosphere.html

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  2. Brenner was known to have a pro-nuke viewpoint:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/29/science/earth/29brenner.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    "Some interviewers tried to push him to say the danger was much greater than he believed it to be. He resisted, and canceled one appearance when he realized that the host group had a strong anti-nuclear agenda... Asked whether he was for or against nuclear power, he paused, then said, “I think there is a role for safe nuclear power.”"

    I liked the Mousseau talk, and the press conference with the sailors was poignant and important. But I couldn't help thinking, "Two years of radioactive contamination for the Japanese, Americans, and Canadians, 450 million people, and this is the best that academia could muster?"

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  3. David Brenner is the director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University — the oldest and largest such center in the world.

    He has received numerous grants from America's NIH which currently metes out $30 per year in medical research grants. He has received his fair share from NIH and also DOE:

    P.I. of NIH Grant “High Throughput Technology for Assessing Global DSB Repair Capacity” 2011-3
    P.I. of NIH Grant “Center for Minimally-Invasive High-Throughput Radiation Biodosimetry” 2005-15
    P.I. of NIH grant "Radiological Research Accelerator Facility" 1996-2013
    P.I. of NIH grant “Cancer Risks Attributable to Radiation from Pediatric CT” 2002-2007
    P.I. of DOE grant “A High-LET-Radiation Specific Biomarker in the Mayak Worker Cohort” 2001-2009
    P.I. of DOE grant “The Bystander Effect: Modeling, experiments, and More Modeling” 2001-2007
    P.I. of DOE grant: “mFISH Measurements of Chromosomal Aberrations in Individuals Exposed In Utero to Low Doses of Gamma Rays” 2002-2005
    P.I. of Society of Pediatric Radiology grant: “Credible risk estimates for pediatric CT exams” 2001-2
    P.I. of NIH grant “Clinical mammographic imaging and cancer risks” 1998-2001
    P.I. of DOE grant “Genetic, cytogenetic and oncogenic effects of low doses of low-energy (< 50 keV) x rays, measured at the National Synchrotron Light Source” 1998-2002
    P.I. of NIH grant “Chromosomal Fingerprints of Exposure to Neutrons and  Particles”, 1996-2000
    P.I. of NASA grant "Dose Rate Effects with Fast Protons", 1992-1993.
    P.I. of ACS Grant "High vs Low Dose Rate for Cervical Carcinoma", 1991-1994.
    P.I. of NIH grant "Radon, Bronchial Morphometry and Occupational Health", 1991-1994
    P.I. of NIH Grant "Early Effects of Radiation-Induced Radicals", 1985-1989

    Credit: http://www.columbia.edu/~djb3/papers/cv.pdf

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    Replies
    1. ...America's NIH which currently metes out $30 billion per year in medical research grants.


      Sorry...typo...left out "billion"

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  4. Of special interest is this NIH grant that is a collaborative and Dr. Brenner has a lead role:

    COOPERATIVE CENTERS FOR MEDICAL COUNTERMEASURES AGAINST RADIATION (CMCRS)

    This excerpt below tells details the push to develop anti-radiation medicines and how the members are expected to exhibit "Synergistic interaction":

    "Very few medical products exist to counter the variety of acute and long-term injuries that can result from nuclear or radiological attacks. In addition, there is currently no rapid means to detect the radiation dose that an individual may have received. The threat of nuclear or radiological attacks has grown in recent years, with increased activity of global terrorist organizations and a rise in illicit trafficking of radioactive materials. To expand the medical options available to prevent or treat radiation-induced injury, and thereby help minimize the terrorist threat, as well as develop effective countermeasures and biodosimetry triage tools, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) established eight cooperative Centers for Medical Countermeasures against Radiation (CMCRs) in September 2005.
    The CMCRs are intended to serve as multidisciplinary, extramural research centers comprised of academic, commercial, and government laboratories that are funded to: 1) move candidate countermeasures through the regulatory process into the national stockpile; 2) develop new techniques and devices to provide accurate dose assessment in a triage scenario; 3) conduct basic and translational research to identify new countermeasures; 4) develop and validate new animal models or in vitro assays to evaluate countermeasures or underlying biology; and 5) provide new or expanded education resources to improve expertise in radiobiology.
    Each CMCR participates as a member of the CMCR network, which includes all CMCR awardees (principal investigators) as well as other NIAID-designated partners such as U.S. federal government laboratories and/or private companies. The CMCR network facilitates interactions among the awardees and assists in interactions with regulatory and public health organizations. The Centers network is governed by a CMCR Steering Committee, charged with coordinating and facilitating research activities for the overall program.
    The CMCR program is designed for optimal research flexibility, synergy, and efficiency with the goal of rapidly developing effective countermeasures and/or biodosimetric tools for clinical use. The program is milestone based, and includes the flexibility to quickly redirect or replace research projects during the funding period. The Cooperative Agreement mechanism (U19) is used to support the work of multi-investigator teams with a scope of activities not possible with other funding mechanisms. Synergistic interaction with other Centers and the NIH will be a key feature. Each Center provides unique and complementary strengths in terms of technical potential and specific areas of investigation, and all Centers share responsibility for program development and resource coordination via the CMCR Steering Committee. When appropriate, and in accordance with NIH policies, project personnel are expected to collaborate; share novel reagents, assays, and animal models; and share both positive and negative results that would help guide the research and development activities of other CMCR network members."

    http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/radnuc/Documents/CMCR_renewal_SCIENTIFIC_PROGRAM_DESCRIPTIONS.pdf

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  5. SP: Certainly worthy work as well as lucrative. But private industry is beginning to beat them to some of the new discoveries:

    "BioShield-Radiation® - the world’s first patented, safe anti-radiation pill using anti-oxidant science"

    http://www.mypmcinside.com/images/pdf/MEDIABioshieldRadiationBackgrounder03292011.pdf

    SP: Snake oil merchants? Perhaps...but at least they offer their product to the general public without letting a thousand government nucleocrats make the decisions on who gets it. *;-)





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  6. Sorry...majia...your word count whacked my section on Brenner's flagship continuing 2005 grant of which he is just about the number 1 Key Personnel of 8 centers:

    COOPERATIVE CENTERS FOR MEDICAL COUNTERMEASURES AGAINST RADIATION (CMCRS)

    "Very few medical products exist to counter the variety of acute and long-term injuries that can result from nuclear or radiological attacks. In addition, there is currently no rapid means to detect the radiation dose that an individual may have received. The threat of nuclear or radiological attacks has grown in recent years, with increased activity of global terrorist organizations and a rise in illicit trafficking of radioactive materials. To expand the medical options available to prevent or treat radiation-induced injury, and thereby help minimize the terrorist threat, as well as develop effective countermeasures and biodosimetry triage tools, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) established eight cooperative Centers for Medical Countermeasures against Radiation (CMCRs) in September 2005.
    The CMCRs are intended to serve as multidisciplinary, extramural research centers comprised of academic, commercial, and government laboratories that are funded to: 1) move candidate countermeasures through the regulatory process into the national stockpile; 2) develop new techniques and devices to provide accurate dose assessment in a triage scenario; 3) conduct basic and translational research to identify new countermeasures; 4) develop and validate new animal models or in vitro assays to evaluate countermeasures or underlying biology; and 5) provide new or expanded education resources to improve expertise in radiobiology."

    http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/radnuc/Documents/CMCR_renewal_SCIENTIFIC_PROGRAM_DESCRIPTIONS.pdf

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  7. Key part of that collaborative:

    "The CMCR program is designed for optimal research flexibility, synergy, and efficiency with the goal of rapidly developing effective countermeasures and/or biodosimetric tools for clinical use. The program is milestone based, and includes the flexibility to quickly redirect or replace research projects during the funding period. The Cooperative Agreement mechanism (U19) is used to support the work of multi-investigator teams with a scope of activities not possible with other funding mechanisms. Synergistic interaction with other Centers and the NIH will be a key feature. Each Center provides unique and complementary strengths in terms of technical potential and specific areas of investigation, and all Centers share responsibility for program development and resource coordination via the CMCR Steering Committee. When appropriate, and in accordance with NIH policies, project personnel are expected to collaborate; share novel reagents, assays, and animal models; and share both positive and negative results that would help guide the research and development activities of other CMCR network members."

    SP: I think this sentence defines the type of cooperation expected: "Synergistic interaction with other Centers and the NIH will be a key feature"

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  8. Having found all this "collaboration" with such a mandate I am still feeling a lot better about Brenner than some of the rabid pro-nukers. Give me ten Brenners for every one Ann Coulter. *;-)

    I think he is a very intelligent guy who realizes and promotes radioactive fallout is dangerous even in low dosage.

    But I am afraid the nucleocrats taboo word "plutonium" may be far reaching in his circles and to expect him to comment on large quantities expelled at Fukushima Unit 3 is probably never going to happen until he retires from making the big bucks at Columbia U.

    That doesn't necessarily make him a bad guy in my book. We know what happens to the nail that sticks out in Japan.

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  9. Majia, here's the plutonium in Lithuania Enenews story:

    http://enenews.com/journal-aerosolized-plutonium-from-fukushima-detected-in-europe-spent-fuel-indicated

    Also, Brenner (imo) looked like he was shaking his head 'no' when someone brought up the Yablokov book, "Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment"

    http://www.strahlentelex.de/Yablokov%20Chernobyl%20book.pdf

    It will be interesting to hear what Mr. Yablokov has to say tomorrow.

    Are nuclearhotseat (Libbe) and Enformable (Lucas) there? If so, say hello!

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  10. Yablokov? Wow! I wonder if any of the New York Academy of Sciences brown-nosing censors are going to be there to shake their heads in disagreement. *;->

    I'm sure Atomic Rod will be watching with interest since he detests the Yablokov book:

    http://atomicinsights.com/2011/10/devastating-review-of-yablokovs-chernobyl-consequences-of-the-catastrophe-for-people-and-the-environment.html

    The comments are interesting...Rod gets a little primer lesson in Google 101 since he exhibited a failing grade for his knowledge of how Google works in an attempt to castigate the Yablokov controversy at the NYAS. That's OK Rod...computers are very complicated. *;-)



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  11. I just watched the movie "Dead Again." Robin Williams plays a disbarred psychiatrist.

    "Do you want a cigarette? You just looked three times at the pack... You are either a smoker or a non-smoker. There is no in-between. Decide what you are and be that."

    Helen Caldicott needs to decide whether she is pro-nuke or anti-nuke, and be whatever it is that she is. This lukewarm stuff does not work.

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  12. Most of us know that the main name players have been compromised. Obviously Arnie has - I suspect Helen has too in some way. Busby is no longer in the limelight.

    Brenner is obviously trying to downplay it.

    Bottom line: They cannot give up the plutonium blast out of #3. Plutonium is part of what rained down on USS Ronald Reagan - that's why it spent the last 18 months in dry dock and still - as of this date has not returned to active service.

    If Brenner says "not much plutonium has been released" ask him how he knows. Ask him where the measurements are.

    Ask him how you measure fuel that has melted out of the containment and the spent fuel pools and know that it hasn't been released to the atmosphere.

    Ask him how far nano particles of plutonium dioxide would travel if they were released in an explosion? When he says they were not released ask him how he knows.

    Truth is, nobody knows. I'm pretty sure pluto was released, but I don't know for 100% certain. We do know it was found "kilometers" from the plant, and in California (before the EPA shut down radnet because the sample gatherers were in too much danger to get the sample filters) and apparently in Lithuania - that would indicated it traveled.

    They won't give it up, so you're going to have to ask a hypothetical, or better yet get a reporter to do it.

    Good Luck

    james.

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  13. Columbia University is practically the epitome of the Establishment, so all you should expect is an intelligent or cunning opponent, not someone who means well.

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  14. Thank you all for your comments. They mean a lot to me!

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  15. James I had no opportunity to ask any questions.

    no dialogue.

    No discussion.

    Just lecture.

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