You are on page 1of 10

Health consequences of exposures of British personnel to radioactivity whilst serving in areas where atomic bomb tests were conducted

Response to: K. Johnston: Ionising Radiation Appeals: Christmas Island Radiation Exposure Revised Dose Estimates. A Note Chris Busby PhD

Castle Cottage, Sea View Place Aberystwyth, SY23 1DZ UK August 25th 2012

I have been asked by the Tribunal to respond to the May 22nd 2012 Paper by Mr K Johnston. 1. Introduction. 1.1 I agree with Mr Johnston that the magnitude of the radiation exposures is the key issue. However the health effects of exposures cannot be safely assessed on the basis of calculations of absorbed dose since the methodology for this is unsafe, as I have pointed out in my previous reports. This is increasingly seen to be so, and in the last year a Petition to the European Parliament, listing the scientific evidence and demanding a reassessment of the risk model has been created and endorsed by a large number of scientific experts from several European countries ( europarl 2012).The issue is being presented by me on behalf of the Union of Arab Jurists at the 21st meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva in September 2012. Therefore, all of the dose calculations that are presented by Mr Johnston are unsafe for the purposes of assessing subsequent harm, even if they were correct, which they are not. My main point, which I will repeat here, is that the veterans inhaled Uranium and Plutonium nanoparticles which were washed out of the mushroom cloud by rain and resuspended from the ground and that the subsequent internal contamination caused a cumulative damage to genetic material that led to general ill health throughout the life of the individual and caused transgenerational genetic effects so that rates of congenital illness in the children and grandchildren were significantly high. Mr Johnstons calculations are flawed by the fact that his data on ground contamination is based on sticky filter gamma dose rates, which are not an accurate representation of the quantities of alpha emitters since these do not emit gamma radiation and in any event even these readings are wrong since rainfall washed the fallout and rainout off the sticky filters if they were out in it, and if they were not, they did not collect fallout, a point which is clear from the letter I referred to in my previous report. This memo by Maj.WG McDougall written from AWRE Aldermaston outlines required operation of fallout collection on Christmas Island (Veterans July 2008157654) is titled Air Water and Sticky Paper samplings. It states: Sticky paper is adversely affected by rain and should be taken in under cover when rain is falling. 1.2 My own estimates of exposure are the best that can be done given the lack of data and I have no way of refining them. It is a feature of this case that there has been insufficient data provided to the experts, apparently because such data must be kept secret. Mr Johnston complains that I have provided no less than three differently derived estimates of internal dose. I will briefly respond to this. My analysis of the debris from the US Dominic fallout was carried out to show that the measured beta/gamma ratio made it clear that the main component of the material was the alpha emitter Uranium and that this was not measured or reported or included in any MoD analysis of the exposures and still isnt. In passing, the measurements made by Oldbury show quite clearly that Mr Johnstons value of the fractionation coefficient, obtained from the tables of Carter, is clearly wildly incorrect when applied to the ground contamination. I return to this below. But in my calculations I was concerned to argue that this failure to include the alpha emitters, mostly Uranium, was a significant oversight and this is still my thesis. The

problem, which I return to below, is that recent scientific research shows from epidemiology and from theoretical physics both that exposure to Uranium nanoparticles causes high levels of health hazard at doses which current radiation risk models, and Mr Johnston, consider to be vanishingly low and of no significance. To support my belief that Uranium from the fallout and rainout contaminated Christmas Island, I drew attention to measurements and statements made by the New Zealand team of AC McEwan who surveyed the island in 1981 [McEwan et al 1981, referenced in my earlier report]. They found significantly high levels of Radium-226 and also reported that Uranium was present in samples, though they gave no numbers for the levels of Uranium. My remark about the exposures associated with this Radium was intended to falsify Mr Johnstons assertions that the radiation doses to those stationed on Christmas Island would be very much less than they would have received had they been in the UK. It was not intended to be a calculation of the doses from weapons fallout, but showed that his assertion (and that of the MoD in all these discussions) that there is no Radon exposure on a coral island, is in this case plainly wrong. Radon is the decay product of Radium 226, and high levels of Radium-226 were actually measured by McEwan et al. I believe that Mr Johnston must now concede this point, one which is a major platform for the Defence arguments. The question of the origin of the Ra-226 remains open, but my belief is that it results from the nuclear test fallout. There is no way that it can be mathematically calculated away as it was measured, it is an empirical fact. The levels were about five times higher than levels normally found in calcium carbonate soils. This is not a marginal point. Mr Johnston says (and the defence has always said) that there is no Radon on a coral island. But then we see McEwan measures from 100-250Bq/kg. If we take 100Bq/kg which was the lower of the levels reported I have calculated that this represents 7.5kBq/sq metre. This is not a complex deduction from fractionation or from theoretical fission yields based on Nevada Test site data but actual measurements made on the ground of Ra-226. Sorry to labour the point. In my Feb 5th paper that Mr Johnson questions I calculate the dose from resuspension of Uranium-238 and Uranium-234 given a resuspension factor of 10-5. The result for a years exposure is about 20mSv. This again is not speculative: I just apply the ICRP72 dose coefficients. If I use the resuspension factor that Mr Johnston originally employed ( 10-3 ) I get 2000mSv. I note he has now adopted the one I used, but in passing, we should be very careful about these resuspension coefficients. Under dusty conditions they can certainly reach 10-3. But Mr Johnston (and the MoD) tell us that living for a year on Christmas Island will convey a dose of 0.6 mSv. If I were to add in the Radon dose from that level of Ra-226 I would have to add another 6mSv. So now we are up to 26mSv (or 2026mSv if you employ Mr Johnstons first resuspension factor). Quite a bit larger than the dose of 2mSv which an individual would have received in the UK. I notice Mr Johnston has wisely avoided discussing this point in his recent report. My final method of approximating the dose was based on the Gisted document results. I assumed (on the basis of well-accepted and described mechanisms) that the Grapple Y explosions drew up seawater into the cloud stem. This was not primarily based on the assertions of John Large that fuse problems resulted in a lower altitude detonation (which may or may not be correct) but in photographs of the explosion taken at the time by the Canberra survey aircraft, photographs which I presented. It was clear from these photographs that seawater was being drawn up into the fireball. This was deposited as

rain which was added to the rain produced by the drawing up of moist tropical air to great altitudes described by the standard work on nuclear weapons written by S. Glasstone. The rain entrained the uranium particles. The fractionation calculations employed by Johnston (which make little difference to his thesis or his calculations) are based on measurements made in the Nevada desert where humidity is very low, and these do not apply to high humidity tropical air, rainy conditions or what is called rainout. I summarise my response to Mr Johnstons criticisms of my approach in Table 1. But it is clear that the fractionation calculations of Mr Johnston are wrong since (a) they use data for dry air and (b) they exclude the relatively large quantities of unburned Uranium. Table 1 Responses to Mr K Johnstons criticisms Criticism Complete misinterpretation of the US debris from the 1962 Dominic test series (wrongly) assumes an isolated deposit of Ra-226 in the South East is indicative of island wide U-238 contamination Response Elaborate please. This is fallout from a nuclear test and shows highly anomalous beta gamma ratios which can only result from missing Uranium But where is the Ra-226 from? According to the MoD and Mr Jouhnston there is no Ra-226 on a coral island, here we have about 10-times the quantity found in other Calcium Carbonate soils. And the authors reported widespread U-238 contamination, they just didnt report the amounts. The veterans and the Canberra reports confirm rainfall, the entrainment of sea water is shown clearly in the contemporary Canberra photographs

(wrongly) assumes that a high proportion of the Grapple Y fallout was rained out over the island following significant entrainment of sea water

3. Fractionation The fractionation of the components of fallout has been studied. The description given by Mr Johnston is a fair account for dry conditions. The distribution of the various nuclides he examines and the tables he cites are based largely on measurements made at the Nevada test site where the air is dry. Nowhere in his account do we find any mention of water, yet in tropical atmospheric tests, the air is highly charged with water, it is tropical humid air that has passed over thousands of miles of Pacific Ocean. The relative humidity is seen in the Tables I gave in my previous report (Feb 5th 2011). Therefore when this air cools as it rises it produces ice crystals and water droplets which entrain the nanoparticles of Uranium. Hence the black rain seen after nuclear explosions in maritime climates e.g. Hiroshima. In the case of Grapple Y, I believe that from the photographs there was also a large amount of sea water being sucked into the stem, and then this would have been contaminated and would have rained out radionuclides. The insoluble nanoparticles will have acted as condensation nuclei. So first, I believe that the mechanisms described by Mr Johnston do not apply to the Christmas Island Tests, over the sea. If they did, then the

fractionation would be reflected in the nuclide make-up of the fallout on the ground. Unfortunately we do not get to see any analysis of the fallout on the ground. It is secret. But what we do have is Woodburys Dominic data which at least has the beta and gamma separately. That is something. Mr Johnston has given us a table from Carter to support his fractionation calculations. I note that there is no Uranium-238 or Uranium-234 in that table. I find it difficult to understand Mr Johnstons point. I copy below the components of fallout as presented by a standard work on the subject. It seems to me that the beta gamma ratio in Oldburys measurements can tell us exactly what remains on the ground after the accumulated fallout and rainout from the US and UK Christmas island tests (Table 2). Table 2 Main isotopes remaining after 2 years from debris of megaton weapons, their beta gamma decay characteristics and their proportions in fallout (Eisenbud and Gesell, 1997; Carter et al 2006; LAnnunciata 1997) Uranium isotopes not listed. Isotope 2 years beta gamma E (Mev) Energy contribution Sr-89 0 Sr-90 0.015 1 0 0 0 Y-90 0.015 1 0 0 0 Y-91 0.001 1 0.003 1.21 0.0036 Zr-95 0.002 1 0.49 0.76 0.3704 Nb-95m 0 0 0 0 Nb-95 0.004 1 1 0.77 0.766 Mo-99 0 0.16 0.75 0.12 Tc-99m 0 0 Ru-103 0 0 Rh-103m 0 0 Ru-106 0.235 1 0 0 Rh-106 0 0 Te-129m 0 0 I-131 0 0 Te-132 0 0 I-132 0 0 Xe-133 0 0 Cs-137 0.044 1 0.85 0.66 0.561 Ba-137m 0.042 0 0 0 Ba-140 0 1 0.26 0.54 0.1404 La-140 0 0 Ce-141 0 0 Pr-143 0 0 Ce-144 0.14 1 0.11 0.13 0.0143 Pr-144 0.14 1 0.01 0.7 0.007 Nd-147 0 0 Pm-147 0.094 1 0 0 0 Eu-155 0.013 1 0.5 0.1 0.05 U-237 0 0 Np-239 0 0

Pu-239 Sum

6.90E-03 0.7519 12

0 3.38

The main problem with Mr Johnstons fractionation approach is the he has listed only fission products and has listed them as proportions of fission radioactivity. So each column of his Table A1 adds up to 1.0. The main missing elements are U-238, U-235 and U-234. These, together represent 99.99% of the fallout by mass and are distributed as sub-micron diameter insoluble particles. It is clear from my analysis of the Oldbury Dominic data that these represent the major part of the residual fallout at Christmas Island some years after the tests. Therefore the evidence is that they fell or rained on the island. There can be little argument: Uranium was found by McEwan et al. on the island many years later, high radium levels (radium is the daughter of Uranium) was also measured by McEwan et al. Here again we see mathematical calculations confounded by empirical evidence. There are many problems with Mr Johnstons calculations of absorbed dose which I do not need to discuss since his base assumptions are invalid for this reason. However I will make two points. First, he assumes that the sticky filter gamma dose rates are indicative of dose rates in the air and on the island at the positions of the sticky filters. I have already shown that it was knowledge at the time that the sticky papers did not work in rain and so there is a large question mark over this assumption. I put it no more strongly. Second, I have to say I am a bit lost over his methodology. I think he needs to say in greater detail what he has done. For example, there are no fissions per sq metre such a concept is meaningless, the fissions all occur in the fireball. But if I look at his Table 4, he seems to be saying that for GZ1, however he derives it, he believes that the unfractionated fission product activity over inhabited areas is 1.11 x 107 Bq/m2. This may be compared with the results found by Tondel et al 2004 [1] for cancer in northern Sweden after Chernobyl. Tondel et al 2004 looked at the small municipalities in N Sweden which suffered fallout from Chernobyl. They found a statistically significant 11% increase in cancer associated with each 100kBq/m2 (i.e. 1 x 107 Bq/m2) of Caesium137 contamination. This is a very comparable experimental result and is epidemiology based. It also agrees well with the predictions of the ECRR2010 risk model. If the contamination level given by Mr Johnston is correct (and I believe it is too low) then we would expect similar effects in the veterans in the ten years following the exposures. 4. New evidence on Uranium and health. Since my last paper on this issue of the veterans new research have been published which shows that internal Uranium exposure represents a far grater hazard than that model by ICRP on the basis of its radioactivity. These discoveries are part of a Petition to the EU Parliament and a submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council in September 2012.

4.1. Cancer, leukemia/lymphoma and heart disease in Uranium workers Irina Guseva Canu and co-workers in the French nuclear risk establishment IRSN have been studying the health effects of Uranium exposure on French nuclear workers who are exposed only to Uranium. There are three relevant published papers [2-4]. These show a number of things. First that very low doses of Uranium exposure by inhalation cause increased hazards of developing lung cancer and lymphoma/leukemia. Second they find that the severity of the risk of a question of the type of Uranium exposure. In addition, the authors show that the exposures cause increased risk of heart disease. By employing exposure matrix the method used by the authors with their earlier correlation between their exposure matrix and absorbed dose as calculated by an ICRP based UK Health Protection Agency computer model it is easy to show that the error in the ICRP model shown by the studies is of the order of 2400-fold. That is to say, there are 2400 times more lymphomas than are predicted by the ICRP risk model. This finding supports the discoveries in Iraq and the Balkans of Uranium effects in those exposed to weaponised Uranium nanoparticles. It is also of relevance for the Test veterans. 4.2 Secondary Photoelectron Effect The ability of high atomic number (Z) elements in the body to act as antennas for natural background gamma radiation was published in 2005 [5,6] and 2008 [7,8]. Briefly, the physical absorption of natural background gamma radiation by elements is proportional to the fourth power of their atomic number Z. This means that nano particles of insoluble high Z elements (Gold, Platinum, Uranium) absorb background radiation thousands of times more effectively than living tissue (mainly water) and then release this energy into tissue as local photoelectrons. This means that the radiation dose near such particles is extremely high. Two computer studies by the radiation establishment have conceded that there is an enhancement of dose near such particles [9.10] but both have shown that the enhancement is finite but modest. The studies are both flawed by the same methodology, which is to dilute the energy into a large volume of tissue. The experimental measurements with gold foil [11] and gold nanoparticles [12] and other computer analyses which examine the dose close to the particles [13] show quite clearly that the effects are those of high enhancement of dose largely predicted by theory. In addition, since Uranium, which has the highest Z of any element also has a strong affinity for DNA, the enhancement of hazard from molecular or ionic Depleted Uranium, shown by a number of studies [14,15] is explained. The SPE has not been incorporated into ICRP risk modelling and these discoveries (and others relating to Uranium hazards [16,17] reported since 1996) falsify the ICRP risk model which is the basis of the BSS. 7. Cancer and genotoxic effects in Iraq following DU exposure A series of studies of the population of Fallujah Iraq shown [18- 20] to have been exposed to Uranium following the 2003-2004 battles have revealed extremely high rates of congenital malformation at birth and cancer and leukemia/lymphoma in adults. The

studies also draw attention to significant sex ratio effects at birth beginning after 2004. These results, and the increases in genotoxic effects in the offspring of Gulf veterans support and are supported by the other sets of observations reviewed above which show that inhaled Uranium nanoparticles represent a very serious hazard which was not incorporated into the BSS and is entirely overlooked by ICRP. Summary I believe that this is a rebuttal of the arguments made by Mr Johnston in his May 2012 paper and I am grateful for the opportunity to draw the Tribunals attention to the recent scientific discoveries relating the Uranium exposure. C. Busby August 29th 2012 Refs [1] Tondel M, Hjalmarsson P, Hardell L, Carisson G, Axelson A, (2004) Increase in regional total cancer incidence in Northern Sweden. J Epidem. Community Health. 58 1011-1016 [2] Guseva Canu I, Laurier D, Car-Lorho S, Samson E, Timarche M, Auriol B, Brard P, Collomb P, Quesned B, Blanchardone E (2010a) Characterisation of protracted low-level exposure to uranium in the workplace: A comparison of two approaches. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health 213 (2010) 270277 [3] Guseva Canu, Irina, Garsi, Jerome-Philippe, Caer-Lorho Sylvaine, Jacob Sophie Collomb, Philippe, Acker Alain, Laurier Dominique (2012) Does uranium induce circulatory ? First results from a French cohort of uranium workers Occup. Envir. Med. OEM Online First, published on March 3, 2012 as 10.1136/oemed-2011-100495 [4] Guseva Canu I, Jacob S Cardis E, Wild P Caer Lorho S, Auriol B, Garsi JP, Tirmarche M, Laurier D (2010b) Uranium carcinogenicity in humans might depend on the physical and chemical nature of uranium and its isotopic composition: results from pilot epidemiological study of French nuclear workers. Cancer Causes Control DOI 10.1007/s10552-011-9833-5 [5] Busby C, (2005) Depleted uranium weapons, metal particles and radiation dose. Considerations of radiation exposure in tissue containing small dense particles of chemical elements of high atomic number as a consequence of secondary radiation fields resulting from scattering and photoelectron excitation. Eur. J. Biol. Bioelectromagn. 1: 82-93. [6] Busby C C, (2005) Does uranium contamination amplify natural background radiation dose to the DNA? European J. Biology and Bioelectromagnetics. 1 (2) 120-131.

[7] Busby C, Schnug E (2008) Advanced biochemical and biophysical aspects of uranium contamination. In- LJ de Kok and E Schnug Loads and fate of fertiliser derived uranium Leiden: Backhuys. [8 Tickell O, (2008) How war debris could cause cancer. New Scientist 6th September 2008 [9] Pattison J E, Hugtenburg R P, Green S, (2009) Enhancement of natural background gamma-radiation dose around uranium micro-particles in the human body. J.Royal Society Interface doi: 10.1098/rsif.2009.0300. [10] Eakins, JS, Jansen J. Th. M. and Tanner R. J. (2011) A Monte Carlo analysis of possible cell dose enhancements effects by Uranium microparticles in photon fields Radiation Protection Dosimetry (2011), Vol. 143, No. 24, pp. 177180 doi:10.1093/rpd/ncq398 [11] Regulla D F, Hieber L B, Seidenbusch M, (1998) Physical and biological interface dose effects in tissue due to X-ray induced release of secondary radiation from metallic gold surfaces. Radiat. Res. 150: 92-100. [12] Hainfeld J F, Slatkin D N, Smilowitz H M, (2004) The use of gold nanoparticles to enhance radiotherapy in mice. Phys. Med. Biol. 49: N309-N315. [13] Howard C V, Elsaesser A, Busby C, (2009) The biological implications of radiation induced photoelectron production, as a function of particle size and composition. International Conference; Royal Society for Chemistry NanoParticles 2009. [14] Huxley H E, Zubay G, (1961) Preferential staining of nucleic acid containing structures for electron microscopy. Biophys. Biochem. Cytol. 11: 273. [15] Nielsen P E, Hiort C, Soennischsen S O, Buchardt O, Dahl O, Norden B, (1992) DNA binding and photocleavage by Uranyl VI salts. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 114: 49674975. [16] Busby C (2010) The health effects of exposure to uranium and uranium weapons. Documents of the ECRR 2010 No 2. Brussels: ECRR download free from [17] Busby C (2009) Uranium WeaponsWhy all the fuss? United Nations Disarmament Forum Vol 3 25-66 Geneva: UNIDIR [18] Alaani Samira, Tafash Muhammed, Busby Christopher, Hamdan Malak and Blaurock-Busch Eleonore (2011) Uranium and other contaminants in hair from the parents of children with congenital anomalies in Fallujah, Iraq Conflict and Health 2011, 5:15 doi:10.1186/1752-1505-5-15

[19] Busby, Chris; Hamdan, Malak; Ariabi, Entesar. (2010) Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 20052009. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 7, no. 7: 2828-2837. doi:10.3390/ijerph7072828 [20] Alaani S, Al Fallouji M, Busby C and Hamdan M (2012) Pilot study of congenital defect rates at birth in Fallujah, Iraq, 2010 J. Islam. Med. Assoc. N. Amer. Published August 29th 2012