BY MICHAEL FOX PHD – Recently, there was a cable news segment which featured another know-nothing MD to discuss Fukushima and health effects of low leverl radiation.  Such “experts” are commonly featured in media coverage of the Japanese reactor situation.  Even my educated non-scientific wife caught some of the misrepresentations by this “expert”.

The “expert” guests routinely ignore the vast amount of information dealing with the health effects of low level radiation and Iodine-131 in particular. A huge world of scientific context is ignored. Additionally many of the experts from antinuclear advocacy groups who are more eager to misepresent this situation and scare the public rather than discuss the advances in the recent years on reactor designs, waste management environmental effects, as well as the advances in our knowedge of the health effects of low dose radiation.  There are many interest groups and lobbying groups who have opposed nuclear technology for decades.

The expertise from the medical profession regarding the health effects of low level radiation is quite thin in general. Extreme care should be used by the media is selecting such “expert” guests.  As a graduate student I used to teach watered down chemistry to the medical students, as required at the time. There are MDs out there who cannot draw the molecular structure of water.  I know since I corrected their papers.
One of the scare stories coming out of Japan is related to the release of radioactive iodine-131. Iodine-131 is one of about 4000 known isotopes, about 3700 of which are radioactive. These are systematically presented in the Chart of Radionuclides. It’s a radioactive world out there.

For example, some of the scientific omissions by the guest experts regarding Iodine-131 include:

1. They don’t mention the massive use of I-131 in medical applications involving the thyroid, nor of the many epidemiology studies done on tens of thousands of such patients showing no harm to the patients.

2.  In fact according to Zbigniew Jaworowski ( and ( and Lars Erik Holm, these thousands of thyroid patients medically exposed to I-131, showed exactly the opposite:  Real reductions in the rates of thyroid cancers.  There was a 38% reduction among the thousands of Swedish patients, and a 17% reduction in the English study. This shows that there were fewer thyroid cancers among the I-131 patients than among the unirradiated control groups. Given the current public alarm over trace amounts of I-131 from Japan, Educated guests should be providing this valuable context from their own profession.

3. They don’t mention the UN findings of the health effects around Chernobyl.  They don’t mention some of the results of the UN study of low dose effects of radiation ( and (

4.  They don’t mention the incredible UN findings of thousands of occult (inactive) thyroid cancers that are being found in patients around Chernobyl, asymptomatic and having nothing to do with I-131.  Since these occult thyroid cancers are asymptomatic, they are rarely diagnosed but often found during autopsies.

5.  The rates of occult thyroid cancer in populations are surprising, and studiously ignored by the media and the always wrong advocacy groups.  In Belarus 9% of the population have these, in the US 13%, and in Finland 35%.  Variations in dietary iodine levels may be involved but this is still not known   Occult thyroid cancer most assuredly has nothing to do with I-131, as much as the greens would wish otherwise.  We do know that both dietary Iodine deficiencies and excesses cause a host of thyroid diseases.

6.  The “experts” don’t mention T.D. Luckey’s recent compilation of 2000 research papers indicating that there are no adverse health effects of radiation at these low doses.
But what the hell, the television MDs are photogenic if uninformed, dress nicely, and media leaders adore such shallow, uninformed people.

7.  I also suspect that such “experts” are trained inappropriately about the low-dose health effects of radiation since they apparently use the Linear No-Threshold Theory (LNT).  The LNT has been completely discredited since it predicts harm at all radiation doses above zero, which simply is not observed in the real world. The LNT grossly over states the risks of radiation at low doses.  The compliance to the discredited LNT has cost billions to the American public in nuclear reactors.

In defense of the medic al “experts”  they have serious liability issues and still have to go through the pretense that the LNT is valid, because of trial lawyers, you know.  Unfortunately, the fear of low dose radiation can adversely affect the outcomes of the doctors’ patients’ treatment if they limit the use of CT scan and x-rays, and thus limit the diagnostic information needed to better treat their patients.

The television expert made no mention of the other context in that the entire Earth is radioactive and is quite measurable.  Thus when the media hysterically announces that radioactivity is being found around the Fukashima reactors, the newsbyte is frightening, meaningless, and unhelpful.  Natural radioactivity has already been there for billions of years.  It is found in all soil samples, water samples, sea water samples, and in all food and animals.

In fact there are places on Earth where people have lived for ages in geological formations which are impressively high in radioactivity (  They show no adverse health effects from living and raising families in these areas.

The largest adverse health effects at Fukashima earthquake and the tsunami are the thousands killed. Yet we get a non-stop perverse sense of hysteria from the media about low dose radiation.

The media have wasted many opportunities to be informative to their viewers about low level radiation.



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Michael R. Fox, Ph.D., a nuclear scientist and a science and energy resource for Hawaii Reporter and a science analyst for the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, is retired and now lives in Eastern Washington. A former Hawaii resident, he has nearly 40 years experience in the energy field. He has also taught chemistry and energy at the University level. His interest in the communications of science has led to several communications awards, hundreds of speeches, and many appearances on television and talk shows. He can be reached via email at