Dr. Ernest Sternglass 6/24/98 UN Press Club Information

Dr. Ernest Sternglass presented evidence from a study that correlated plutonium releases from the Rocky Flats plant in Denver with sharply rising cancer rates, increasing most sharply at low doses and then leveling off at high doses. Therefore, a straight line extrapolation for the dose-response curve used by NASA to estimate the risk at low doses from high dose studies greatly underestimates the true risk. He also presented evidence showing a large increases in infant and total mortality above the normally expected rates with rising levels of plutonium and fission products during bomb-tests in the U.S. and Great Britain. In addition, he showed that the recent five-fold increase in lung cancer among women in the U.S. began only in the early 1960s after the large plutonium triggered hydrogen bombs were exploded, while the percentage of women smoking cigarette actually declined since then. This indicates that, just as was seen for uranium miners who smoked compared with others who did not, that it is the combined effect of low-level radioactive and other chemicals and cigarette smoke that is primarily responsible for the rise in cancer incidence since the 1960s.

He also explained the reason why the effects of protracted low-dose exposures to plutonium and other radioactive elements inhaled or ingested are hundreds to thousands of times greater than expected on the basis of studies involving individuals exposed to the brief flash of the A-bombs or to medical X-rays, so that the number of individuals that would die of cancer and other diseases in the event of an accident during fly-by could be in the tens of millions.

Radioactive chemicals like plutonium concentrate in key organs of the body and act primarily via the production of free-radicals which damage cell-membranes increasingly efficiently as their concentrations in human cells decrease, or as the dose is spread out over days, months and years. On the other and, brief exposures to external radiation sources like A-bomb gamma rays or X-rays with the same total dose produce such large momentary concentrations of free-radicals that they collide with each other and deactivate each other into harmless ordinary molecules. Recent papers demonstrating the vast underestimation of chronic internal exposures to man-made radioactive chemicals acting on the immune and hormonal systems will be available on a new website of the Radiation and Public Health Project, http://www.radiation.com, beginning in August 1998.

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