"Wings of Death"
"Nuclear Pollution and Human Health"
Volume One of Chris Busby's combat manual for the Science Wars
There is abundant evidence that the health effects of releasing low levels of radioactivity into the environment are hundreds of times greater than explained by the risk model of the International Commission on Radiological Protection. This is one aspect of the Science Wars in which the demands of commerce and national interest confront the public interest and public health.
Wings of Death is a powerfully written attack on the rigidity of scientific culture - the first chapter is aptly entitled "The Emperor's New Clothes". More specifically, the book attacks the culture of the transnational radiation protection community and the conventional model of radiation risk promoted by the International Commission on Radiological Protection which is a UK-registered charity.
Increases in cancer in human populations near centres of nuclear activity (such as Seascale near Windscale/ Sellafield) have been intensively investigated, but man-made radiation has not been held responsible for the disease because, allegedly, no direct causal mechanism has been identified to explain it. (watch Windscale the Nuclear Laundry - the 1983 TV documentary that exposed the childhood cancers on the Cumbrian coast)
Some epidemiologists and nuclear apologists claim that the clusters are statistically insignificant, or are coincidental, or are caused by other factors - the "population mixing" hypothesis advanced by Dr Leo Kinlen is a nuclear industry favourite.
In "Wings of Death" Dr Busby has brought together radiation physics, cell biology, and medical statistics to show that:
- there is a real relationship between exposure to man-made radioactivity and the incidence of cancer;
- conventional radiation protection standards are based on flawed epidemiology which is silent on the effects of inhaled and ingested radioactivity;
- there is a direct causal mechanism whereby some radioactive atoms can damage the genetic material of cells in a way which evades cell repair mechanism, leading to mutation and disease.
"Wings of Death" is a clearly argued and fully referenced examination of a complex subject. It presents all the information a lay reader needs. The reader will be able to follow step by step the arguments about radiation, genetics, and statistics, even if some parts have to be taken on trust. The reader is unlikely to end up extending the same trust to those who defend nuclear pollution of the environment.
The research which is described in "Wings of Death" was funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.
"Wings of Death"
Green Audit, Aberystwyth 1995
£10.99 (in UK)
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