Those of us in-the-know about the shabby researched agenda-pushing National Post can lend credence to the fact that it's one of the poorest examples of journalism on the planet. However, the most recent article by Lawrence Solomon emphasizing a study in which plutonium "may in fact enhance human health" takes junk science to new level.
We've all heard the psychotic ramblings from reporters who have reiterated junk studies by the Journal of Pediatrics claiming that mercury is good for us. What about the nonsensical reports that cell phone radiation prevents brain disorders, or that non-organic vegetables grown with pesticides contain more vitamins, or that Ritalin boosts learning. The list goes on and on. We're living in a society far beyond the twilight zone.
Most people don't believe these stories, even when I insist they have been reported on - that is until I actually produce the evidence.
I believe Mr. Solomon's latest and very productive attempt at entering the junk science or junk journalistic hall of fame should be well rewarded. In fact, it deserves 1st place, essentially blowing away all other previous contenders.
In his article Some Plutonium for Pluto, he recalls an assessment of an older study "beagles who received low doses contracted fewer cancers than beagles who weren’t irradiated and beagles who received very low doses — in the range of 8 cGy to 22 cGy — came down with no lung tumours at all."
“These statistics indicate the likelihood that low doses of alpha-particle radiation protected against and reduced the incidence of lung cancer relative to the controls,” reported the researchers, based at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, one of the Department of Energy’s 10 national laboratories.
Solomon then elaborates his jibberish stance stating that "the researchers’ findings, which appeared in an article entitled Carcinogenesis from inhaled 239PuO2 in beagles: Evidence for radiation homeostasis at low doses?, add weight to the growing evidence that low levels of radiation, contrary to conventional wisdom, have health benefits."
All the study really showed was that lower doses of radiation produced less tumours. Duh. Who funds studies like this? We have to wonder.
The reality, of course, is that plutonium and cesium are some of the most carcinogenic substances on earth. One molecule of plutonium lodged in your lung is capable of producing a deadly carcinogenic cascade of events which sends the immune system into a tail spin.
Isotopes and compounds of plutonium are radioactive poisons that accumulate in bone marrow. Studies of the effects of plutonium releases, even small ones, as well as the widespread radiation poisoning sickness and death following the Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, have provided considerable information regarding the dangers, symptoms and prognosis of radioactive poisoning.
The plutonium induced radiation mentioned in this study strictly relates to alpha-particle plutonium. However, there are three types of radiation which are released-alpha, beta, and gamma during the decay of plutonium.
Alpha particles can travel only a short distance and cannot travel through human skin. Beta particles can penetrate human skin, but they cannot go all the way through the body. Gamma radiation can go all the way through the body. Alpha particles, beta particles, and gamma radiation all expose the body to ionizing radiation. There are confirmed reports of all three types of radiation (alpha, beta and gamma) now stemming from the Fukushima plant in Japan.
Even though alpha radiation does not penetrate the skin, it does irradiate internal organs if plutonium is inhaled or ingested. It is more dangerous when inhaled than when ingested. The risk of lung cancer increases once the total dose equivalent of inhaled radiation exceeds 400 mSv. Radiation levels in near Fukushima were confirmed at 500 mSv almost two weeks ago. Many reports are now speculating that radiation levels may be above 700 mSv.
Once in the bloodstream, plutonium moves throughout the body and into the bones, liver, or other body organs. Plutonium that reaches body organs generally stays in the body for decades and continues to expose the surrounding tissue to radiation and thus may cause cancer.
But according to Lawrence Solomon, we need not worry about one of the deadliest elements on earth, because a little bit of plutonium is good for us with "health benefits."
Could somebody please send Mr. Solomon a plane ticket to Japan and courtesy service to the Fukushima plant with the appropriate equipment? I don't wish that he inhale or come in contact with plutonium, but I do think he deserves to see what is actually happening to the Japanese people (many who have risked their lives to save others), especially those who have inhaled and come in contact with plutonium particles.
I don't think he would come back the same man or the same journalist, if we can call him that.
Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.