Wednesday, December 15, 2010

DVD THE LAST ATOMIC BOMB/Study of Baby Teeth Sees Radiation Effects

The Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration Committee is hosting its latest FILM & SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS DVD SERIES. The theme is MAN & WOMAN AGAINST THE MACHINE.   The last film in the series is THE LAST ATOMIC BOMB [USA, 2006], and it will be shown on Fri., Dec. 17 at a private home.  If interested in seeing the DVD, RSVP to Max at 410-366-1637.

 Director Robert Richter goes to Nagasaki and meets hibakushas (atomic attack survivors) like Sakue Shimohira who recall the horror of the bombs and who fear that the world will forget their tragedy once they've passed on. He follows Shimohira and two young human rights activists around the globe as they attempt to appeal to the leaders of the world, asking them to come to Nagasaki on the 60th anniversary of the bomb. They meet with a considerable lack of warmth outside the White House, where security guards tell the survivor to mail her request.  There are interviews from scholars about nuclear proliferation and the steps to take in order to move into the post-nuclear age. There is the hypocrisy of the United States, owner of 10,000 nuclear weapons, hectoring other nations about their nuclear ambitions.  Finally, Richter implores the youth of today to join the resistance.


Doors open at 7 PM, and the DVD starts at 7:30 PM.  There is no charge, and refreshments will be available.  A discussion will follow.


The New York Times

December 13, 2010

Study of Baby Teeth Sees Radiation Effects


Men who grew up in the St. Louis area in the early 1960s and died of cancer by middle age had more than twice as much radioactive strontium in their baby teeth as men born in the same area at the same time who are still living, according to a study based on teeth collected years ago by Washington University in St. Louis.

The study, published on Dec. 1 in The International Journal of Health Services, analyzed baby teeth collected during the era when the United States and the Soviet Union were conducting nuclear bomb tests in the atmosphere. The study seeks to help scientists determine the health effects of small radiation doses, and to say how many people died from bomb fallout. There is very little reliable data on the relationship of radiation to cancer at low doses, so scientists instead use extrapolations from higher doses, which introduces large uncertainties into their calculations.

The study implies that deaths from bomb fallout globally run into the “many thousands,” said the authors, Joseph J. Mangano and Dr. Janette D. Sherman, both of the Radiation and Public Health Project, nonprofit research group based in New York.

However, a scientist with long experience in the issue, Kevin D. Crowley, the senior board director of the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board at the National Research Council, urged caution in interpreting the findings.

“It sounds like the best you could do is say this is an association,” he said. “An association is not necessarily causative.”

R. William Field, an epidemiologist at the University of Iowa, praised the authors for exploring the association between fallout in teeth and cancer, but he that said the sample size was too small and that the study had other limitations. He called for follow-ups.

The study’s authors had previously tried to link strontium in the teeth of children growing up near nuclear power plants to releases from those plants, but those findings have not met with much scientific acceptance. Strontium levels in a person’s body may have more to do with where the person’s food was farmed than with where the person lives. In addition, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission calculated that the doses from radioactive strontium in the environment add only about 0.3 percent to the average American’s background exposure.

But this study tries to link differences in tooth contamination more directly with health outcomes. The study measured the ratio of calcium, a basic building block of teeth and bones, to strontium 90, which is absorbed just as calcium is. The authors said they were using strontium as a proxy for all long-lived fallout components, and they picked boys born in a period when there was a lull in atmospheric testing, so that the boys’ exposure to short-lived radioactive materials, in utero or in the first few months of life, was minimized. They limited their research to boys because men seldom change their names and thus were easier to trace.

The authors found that among 3,000 tooth donors, born in 1959, 1960 or the first half of 1961, 84 had died, 12 of those from cancer. The authors selected two “control” cases, people still living, for each of those who had died. The controls were born in the same county, within 40 days of the person who later died. The study compared incisors with incisors, and molars with molars.

The people who would later die of cancer had an average of 7.0 picocuries of per gram of tooth; the control cases, who have never had cancer, had an average of 3.1 picocuries per gram.

But the picture is not completely clear. Measurements of the teeth of people who later had cancer but survived it did not show strontium levels markedly different from those who had never had cancer, according to the study. One reason may be that those nonfatal cancers were often polyps and melanomas not related to radiation.

Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


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