Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by rfisher, Mar 14, 2011.
Nod to Anita.
rfisher and other experts: my (former) dentist said that dental xray cause the same amount of radiation as your usual every day exposure to the elements. Is this true? Sounds strange.
Anita, staying out of the sun completely may lead to the depletion of vitamin D. Choose your poison. But yes, unequivocally, STOP SMOKING!!!!
True, and yet one starts believing in the studying biology of cancer. Almost.
The lab I was in in grad school was not a DNA repair lab, but a few of my fellow labmates worked on some stuff with the NHEJ pathway (trying to downregulate several components). I was always so glad that my project was in a completely different area.
I've come away with biology/genetics with a different view. I look at some of this stuff and think it all arising by chance is as likely as a tornado blowing through a scrap yard and the result being a shiny Boeing 757 airplane.
At any rate, there is just so much we don't know about so many things when it comes to cancer, DNA repair, checkpoints, apoptosis, etc. Although, reading, it feels like everything always somehow goes back to p53.
ETA: Just to complicate things, and throwing this out there, I worked on the inflammatory response some. And while it can cause a lot of cellular damage, you don't always want to avoid it because it is sometimes necessary for efficient handling of pathogens that could cause even more illness/damage.
The more I type, the more I realize we really have no idea what's going to kill people or not.
^^^^luuurves geek talk!
NHEJ! That's totally what we do! And yeah, it really is like a tornado blowing through a scrap yard and resulting in a shiny new Boeing. I might have to use that analogy sometime.
You're right, the body definitely developed the inflammation response for a reason. It's just that when it's chronic inflammation (lots of sunburns, smoking habit), that it's bad. Too much of anything is bad, pretty much.
Oh, I see you meant that some of it had to be designed. I'm actually of the opposite view, but it's not "chance," really. Just "this thing worked and so we're gonna go with it!"
sorry - wrong thread
If your dentist uses a modern X-ray device and it is properly administered the radiation exposure is indeed very small in a dental exam. The exposure is higher in a bigger exam like a thorax exam and significantly higher for CT - these should only be done if really necessary.
The exam yes. However, the dose is confined to a very small area. If you compared the lethal whole body dose to the allowed occupational dose for the lens of the eye, for example, the whole body dose is less because of the volume of exposed tissue.
There are many different factors that determine whether a specific radiation exposure will have some effect. Presence or absence of oxygen (oxygen is a radioenhancer), the specific part of the cell cycle of a targeted cell (G1 is most radioresistant, early S is radiosensitive, mitosis some where in between, the type of cell (short lived cells such as lymphocytes are more radiosensitive than neurological tissue), the age of the individual. The younger the organism, the greater the sensitivity. Stem cells are more sensitive than mature. The thing is, it's entirely random. There is no way to predict exactly what will happen, however, given all the biological data accumulated over the last 100 years, it's clear the overwhelming majority of radiation photons pass through without permanent damage. The radiolysis of water is the most likely event to occur. In most instances the electron removed from the hydrogen will immediately rejoin the atom. It is possible that if two molecules are struck in close proximity, the hydrogen and OH can form free radicals. They will react very fast and usually reform water but can form hydrogen peroxide. This are indirect effects.
Radiation carcinogenesis is indistinguishable from non radiation cancers and is entirely dependent on dose and how that does is delivered. A large dose delivered at once is much more damaging than fractionating that dose over time. This is what is done in radiation oncology. We can deliver a dose of radiation that if given as a whole body exposure would possible kill the patient, but given over a period of time allows recovery.
The situation in Japan seems to be getting out of the engineer's control. It simply remains to be seen what happens and how big a health risk this becomes. There are many different factors that can determine what happens. Sadly, there's nothing anybody can do except deal with it. If people are exposed, they're exposed. Most won't know the full impact until years from now.
A professor we consulted with for a good chunk of my dissertation research put it best; when it comes to biological functions, for the most part, you want things somewhere in the middle. Not enough of a response and too much of a response are usually what causes trouble. Not enough of a response, you're body can't fight an infection, etc. Too much, you end up with damage. I worked on inflammatory response in the GI tract. Too much of a response there leads to permanent damage, which can lead to malabsoprtion and nutrition problems. On the otherhand, if you don't get enough of a controlled response, it may possibly be detrimental in fully priming the immune system in the GI tract. On a related note, I completely agree that inflammation from smoking and sunburn aren't so muchly so beneficial.
I'm a Methodist who believes in The Big Bang and evolution, if that tells you anything. More or less, I believe in some divine imput/design, but also the ability for things to adapt and change (and the Earth is totally more than 6000 years old).
The BBC has an explanation page re: radiation dosages, health effects, and Fukushima, here:
Others more in the know can comment on how accurate their info is.
Thank you for all the educated, caring members who are willing to share their expertise with us on this issue.
I'm learning so much.
It's brief but accurate. The only thing I'd comment on is that the levels of leukemia were actually greater % wise than thyroid ca at Chernobyl. Not that that is good news since thyroid ca is quite treatable. Leukemia requires bone marrow transplants which are iffy. But, otherwise it is correct. One caveat about the potential genetic effects, to date, there is no documented evidence of radiation induced genetic effects in humans. This includes both the Japanese and Chernobyl data, particularly the Japanese. This may be the consequence that a germ cell (egg or sperm) that was sufficiently damaged by radiation is not likely to either survive or divide correctly.
That's my biggest issue too.
Last year I visited the Death Valley National Park from Las Vegas, and was surprised to hear that the local people want that dump site (Yucca Mountain) because it will bring money to their state.
I wish there was an economical way to process the radioactive waste. At the local (Arizona) nuclear power plant I was told they just store it on site, surrounded by heavy concrete walls. How long can they keep doing that? At some point something will need to be done about all the radioactive waste.
I remember reading sometime back that the option to shoot it out into space was being considered. Do you know anything about that?
I second that.
No, but given what's happened in Japan with things no one anticipated, I can just envision a saturn rocket loaded with radioactive waste exploding on launch.
Power generation is a real conundrum. Coal powered plants are bad because of emissions, oil is limited, water requires damning major rivers, wind has it's own issues. There's no really good solution.
Yes. I work on air quality, and get to read about everything that's related to it, including energy/power generation. I have resisted nuclear power for a long time because of the radioactive waste problem. We as the human race (at least part of it) have abused our resources for generations and now the time is ripe to pay for it.
Thank you for saying that wind has it's own issues. My brother and his friends are spouting that (we) deserve what (we) got and that the only way to go is green, i.e. solar and wind.
I also think that what the tornado created is more in line with the TARDIS than a shiny jet. It's a jumble of stuff that does much more than you'd expect from the creaking and whining but, if you were to actually design it from scratch, you'd make the system much less complex and less jury-rigged.
I have a questions about genetic effects from radiation... many decades ago my Father commissioned a study because of abnormal amount of births with deformities - we lived beside a nuclear power plant and there was a leak.. the whole thing was hushed up and the place even changed its name.. and my dad's study - the funding was stopped.. but what started this was the number of live births with deformities and the peak in the number of miscarriages during the first year after the 'leak'.. the place was called 'windscale' - but after the final leak changed its name... I know years later there were further studies but they focused on cancer.. are you aware of any studies on genetic effects - not necessarily on the sperm but the woman in the first trimester?
my family members live right beside tons of wind farms.. my brother doesn't even notice the noise anymore.. they are beside him.. ditto for rest of family.. for me - at first found them unsettling like a Dr. Who episode But now am so used to them doesn't bother me anymore.. what about natural gas?? or do those clean burning fossil places actually work?? Quite confusing these days..
The types of things you're describing sound like congenital defects that occurred during fetal development, not genetic as in a mutation in an egg or sperm cell that is carried into the next generation. The data from Japan clearly demonstrated congenital defects and spontaneous abortions. Based on that data and animal studies, researchers know there are critical points in fetal development that high doses of radiation can cause specific types of deformities. While nobody says there are no genetic effects in humans because they are theoretically possible and can be demonstrated in animals. However, none were documented in the Japanese population after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If they were a significant consequence of radiation exposure, they should have been present in that population source.
oh thanks.. I was an arts major at grad school that makes sense.. thank you so much for taking the time to do this
CNG or natural gas (and other renewable energies) is definitely one of the alt fuels being used more. Here is a helpful link about different types of energies. Near the bottom of the page there is a link to natural gas basics. That should answer some of your questions.
(Look under renewable energy)
There are many clean energy alternatives that need to be developed further. When used in combination, they could help our planet. That's why I am not high on nuclear energy, although long ago (before these energies came up) I would have supported nuclear.
Here in Arizona, at work, we were sent an email to answer any questions about radiation. I am surprised that people are even concerned here, considering how far we are from Fukushima, but this must be SOP (to inform employees).
I found the FAQ thread quite useful. Those are simple questions (many were already answered by RFisher), and the links they have provided are very good. It will take me a while to get through those. The only link I regularly access is the EPA one, since I work in that field.
What really surprised me- about radiation treatment -was that they use Prussian Blue to treat some of the radiation damages to the body. May be RFisher mentioned it, but I somehow missed that. I have used that color in my paintings, and I was shocked to read that it is used in treating radiation (under medical supervision, of course).
Possibly to treat skin burns? I don't know. It would only be useful to treat acute radiation syndrome which occurs from a whole body exposure. It would have no effect on long term consequences (cancer and cataractogenesis). ARS is divided into 3 syndromes which are dependent on dose. The first is hematologic and is totally dose dependent. The second is GI and is fatal. However, this is related to extremely high dose. The third is neurologic and is also fatal, but is also extremely high dose.
If there are *high* levels of exposure, they would not be high enough to cause any but the hematologic syndrome which is treatable with medical intervention. The dose that would even theoretically impact the US wouldn't reach the level of any of these. The others pretty much require that the individual is at ground zero.
Here is the info on Prussian Blue. It says it is used to treat internal contamination.
Here's a site which has updates on the situation plus general information about the reactors, radiation and the effects thereof.
This site measures radiation levels in real time.
And this is spreadsheet keeps the tracked data. Quite an interesting read. You can see the spikes during the two fires but the radiation levels haven't changed much (if any) since the fires were put out.
ETA: He doesn't have the 3/15 data on the google docs sheet anymore but I believe he keeps it in CSV format (which can be opened in Excel) on his site
That's amazing. The possible side effects: Blue tongue and mouth (if not swallowed whole), blue stool, constipation and stomach upset.
After they get out of the hospital, the nuclear plant workers deserve a three-month detox stay in a fancy spa.