Monday, 12 October 2015

What Paul Langley gets wrong

Paul Langley is an Australian anti-nuclear activist. A radiophobe.

Paul Langley: But the lingering danger from residual fuel and fission fallout particles -those which emit Alpha and Beta radiation – exist long after the explosion. Alpha is are not detected very accurately by film badges or dosimeters. For this, specialised Alpha detectors are needed. Although the scientists conducting the atomic tests in Australia at the time knew of these dangers, they chose to concentrate upon the dangers of exposure to Gamma radiation. That is, they were more interested in the immediate effects of the Gamma radiation burst at the time of atomic detonations.

My comment: An atomic blast instantaneously produces a large quantity of gamma, neutron and fission products (radiation). The gamma, neutron are gone after the initial damage they do. Fission products decay producing alpha, beta and gamma radiation. Most fission products have very short half-lives so are quickly gone. After 3 months, radiation from fission product decay is 0.1% of its initial value. Even after 12 hours it's well down. Living tissue is damaged by a large amount of radiation all at once (gamma from the bomb blast). That explains the scientists concerns (above). We're not harmed much at all, by small amounts over a long time. This is what Paul Langley misses. Back in the 1970s we believed that any amount of radiation is harmful. Today we know differently. Our bodies have several repair mechanisms to correct major and minor harm from radiation or anything else which damages DNA.

PS: A Nobel prize was just awarded to the scientists who studied these DNA repair mechanisms.

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