BY MICHAEL R. FOX PHD – It is an article of faith, journalistic dogma, and green liturgy that all radiation is deadly.  The false logic goes “radiation = cancer = death”. End of story. Our nation has paid a terrible and deadly price for this simplistic nonsense.

Let us provide some context to this discussion of radiation and radioactivity. I dare say that 99% of the general public could not provide a 5 minute discussion of natural radioactivity, and most of them have never heard of it. (This does not reflect well upon our public school systems, the dogmatic journalists, and dishonest greens).

Natural Radioactivity

Natural radioactivity exists in all soil samples, water samples, and many air samples.  Much of this information depends upon how good your detectors are. Your author worked with such instruments and managed radiochemistry laboratories will all of those high tech detection goodies.

Don’t ever let anyone convince you that such radioactivity does not exist.  It does and it is quite measurable.  In fact it is often regarded as an ever-present nuisance when operating a radiochemistry laboratory.

Natural radioactivity is a very interesting part of our environment, one which most environmental groups seem to ignore. It begs the question “When will the environmentalists ever learn about our environment”?  Some people on the Earth have lived for generations in impressively high levels of natural radioactivity. I also believe that if the public were to be familiar with this ubiquitous natural radioactivity, they would be far less vulnerable to the 50 years of scare stories.

Such radioactivity is in our food, water, soils, and even in our bodies, in measurable amounts. Many scientists make a living knowing and measuring these levels of radioactivity.  Journalists avoid such experts like the plague, not wanting to challenge the media template and their own personal prejudices that all radiation is deadly.

Such fear is resulting in a perversion of the science of radiation particularly in nuclear medicine. Consider the questions:

1.      “Do we have the technology to detect and kill cancers selectively without damaging healthy cells?”
2.      “Would it be possible to selectively kill such cancers using radioactive materials administered in the doctor’s office, with the patient being treated as an outpatient?”
3.      “Would it be possible to successfully treat cancer patients who have failed whole-body radiation and many rounds of chemo-therapy?”
4.       “Would it be possible to do all of this therapy with minimal side effects, such as boredom (an actual reported side effect from protocol patients)”?
5.      “Would it be possible to treat cancer patients at 1/5 to 1/10 the costs of traditional cancer therapies with remission rates of 85%?”

As might be suspected these results have already been achieved in clinical trials on a small number of cancer types and a small number of cancer patients.  This technology is often called cell-targeted therapy (CTT); it has been kept in infancy for nearly 20 years, thanks to fear of all things nuclear.

Consider Sue

Sue was a medical professional and a cancer patient with Hodgkin’s disease.  After surviving 13 rounds of chemo and whole body radiation she was found to be terminal and sent home to die in 6 months. She was the single parent of two teenaged sons and this didn’t seem very fair.

She learned of a new cancer therapy which treated this disease with an injection of a special chemical bound to a special type of radioactivity.  Thanks to this new treatment, she defeated the cancer, and got her life back In 6 months after being sent home to die; she was skiing in Colorado and leading a productive life. In a bit of special irony, the radioactivity used in Sue’s treatment, was separated and purified from Hanford nuclear wastes in Eastern Washington.

Her cancer treatment was as an outpatient, with no more than an injected radioactive cancer drug. The treatment was obviously far more efficacious than past treatments, 1/10 the cost, with no side effects.  She lived for another 5 years, succumbing finally to the side effects of those 13 rounds of chemo and whole body radiation. Patients with other kinds of cancer have had similar results showing as much as 90% remission rates (after 5 years)!!   These are true stories about real people.

Obviously, such therapies for thousands of cancer patients per year will require large amounts (kilocuries) of pure, new special radioisotopes from the Fast Flux Test Facility (FFTF) at Hanford, the only reactor of its kind in the world.  The reactor is/was capable of producing dozens of special isotopes simultaneously.

All one has to see are the dozens of letters from Principal Investigators (PIs) pleading to FFTF experts for some of these special isotopes (often unavailable anywhere in the world), to be used by their patients in clinical trials. The need to tell PIs that there are no longer such isotopes available, (since the FFTF is targeted for destruction), has been simply heart breaking

In one case the clinical trial had been started on nearly 2 dozen cancer patients using one of these special isotopes. Since the FFTF could no longer produce the isotope (there are hundreds of millions of dollars involved with the destruction of the FFTF), those patients could no longer continue in their cancer trials without the isotope, and were simply sent home to die.

The political choice was made by political leaders in Olympia and Washington D.C. to spend the $250,000,000 dollars in the destruction of the FFTF, instead of retaining this amazing reactor for the purposes of advancing cancer diagnosis and therapy. We even had several Senators from other states ready to support the use of the FFTF, but the Washington State delegation chose not to support the FFTF, opting for its destruction.

The reactor still is largely intact except for some attempts to damage the core. We believe the damage to be reparable. We would have thought that Washington State political leaders would have chosen the decency of supporting life-saving technology over the destruction of such a life-saving machine. After all there are about 500,000 new cancer diagnosed annually.  We have all been wrong about our leadership.



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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