Reconsidering nuclear and radiation hazards
Nuclear and radiation hazards, historically linked to nuclear apocalypse, have been considerably overestimated. In the presentation, short consideration of nuclear detonations and their consequences (serious but far not apocalyptic) is followed by comparison to an interesting related phenomenon: nuclear-weapon-sized detonations of meteoroids in the atmosphere. Then, we proceed to considering radiation risks. The linear no-threshold (LNT) model, based on the assumption that every radiation dose increment constitutes increased cancer risk for humans, arose in late 1950-s concurrently with the nuclear arms race and massive governmental investment in science. Mistreatment of experimental (epidemiological) data systematically lent support to LNT. The presentation will describe our meta-analysis of several studies including Japanese atomic bomb survivors, Chernobyl and Fukushima residents, and children subjected to CT scans. The results of the meta-analysis show that (1) the Japanese data lack statistical power to support LNT, (2) recently-acknowledged overdiagnosis of thyroid cancer (reaching 90% and more of the reported incidence) is the main factor of increase in cancer incidence after Chernobyl and Fukushima, and (3) the data fit demonstrating increased risk of cancer after CT scans in childhood is "too good to be honest", so the data have been probably manipulated somehow. In addition, our recent analysis showed that even assuming LNT true, the present guidelines for population evacuation in case of radiological emergency are at least five-fold too stringent; the overall effect of such evacuations (including those after Chernobyl and Fukushima) is life shortening instead of the intended life extension.