Trump's EPA Rethinking That Whole 'Radiation Is Bad For You' Thing

Not content with giving the USA the gifts of more toxic pesticides and filthy coal-mine runoff, the Environmental "Protection" Agency is moving to embrace the idea that some level of exposure to radiation is perfectly safe, and maybe even good for you. (Attention kids: do not try Trump Science at home.) Needless to say, some in the nuclear industry, as well as fringe scientists, fans of radiation, and those hoping to become mutant superheroes, are awfully receptive to the proposal. Honestly, now that we've decided science is just a matter of who shouts loudest, why the hell not?

The Associated Press explains this rad new idea:

Supporters of the EPA's new proposal argue the government's current no-tolerance rule for radiation damage forces unnecessary spending for handling exposure in accidents, at nuclear plants, in medical centers and at other sites.

"This would have a positive effect on human health as well as save billions and billions and billions of dollars," said Edward Calabrese, a toxicologist at the University of Massachusetts who is to be the lead witness at a congressional hearing Wednesday on EPA's proposal.

Calabrese, who made those remarks in a 2016 interview with a California nonprofit, was quoted by EPA in its announcement of the proposed rule in April.

The article explains that radiation is everywhere, but this proposal involves the nasty stuff, "higher-energy, shorter-wave radiation, like X-rays, that can penetrate and disrupt living cells" -- the stuff you're not supposed to play with or use to paint clock dials anymore.

Already, this radiation-friendly thinking has penetrated -- like gamma gays! -- the EPA's online guidance on radiation exposure safety. In March of this year, the site warned, "Current science suggests there is some cancer risk from any exposure to radiation." That's still there, but in July, another part of the site added this reassurance:

According to radiation safety experts, radiation exposures of ...100 millisieverts usually result in no harmful health effects, because radiation below these levels is a minor contributor to our overall cancer risk.

Further revisions next year are expected to recommend hurling spent nuclear fuel rods at Prius drivers because it'll really piss off the libs.

Calabrese, the guy who loves radiation so much he wants you to marry it, is very passionate about people becoming more laid back about radiation, because just think of all the money to be saved!

Calabrese and his supporters argue that smaller exposures of cell-damaging radiation and other carcinogens can serve as stressors that activate the body's repair mechanisms and can make people healthier. They compare it to physical exercise or sunlight.

Mainstream scientific consensus on radiation is based on deceptive science, says Calabrese, who argued in a 2014 essay for "righting the past deceptions and correcting the ongoing errors in environmental regulation."

Fans of the book Merchants of Doubt (or its film adaptation), may recognize the name of one of the Trumpers pushing this fun new approach:

The radiation regulation is supported by Steven Milloy, a Trump transition team member for the EPA who is known for challenging widely accepted ideas about manmade climate change and the health risks of tobacco. He has been promoting Calabrese's theory of healthy radiation on his blog.

Yup, Milloy is part of the same wrecking crew of corporate shills who have sought to undermine science for DECADES. And now, after insisting the jury was out on whether smoking causes cancer, he'd like you to stop bitching about itty bitty nuclear spills, please.

Not mentioned by the AP: One of the biggest fans of the notion that a little radiation is good for you is billionaire nutjob Robert Mercer, who helped buy Donald Trump an election and whose daughter remains the biggest financial backer of Dead Breitbart's Home For White Resentment, yes, even after Mercer's divorce from Steve Bannon last year.

Mercer finds the whole idea simply enchanting, and apparently picked it up from Arthur Robinson, the crazy rightwing Oregon doctor and sheep rancher who wants to collect everyone's urine and find the secret of NIMH, or at least immortality. In addition to filling his ranch with Mercer-donated freezers (which in turn are filled not with Indianas Jones, but with 14,000 pee samples), Robinson fills the minds of dumb billionaires with fake science, as this lovely Jane Mayer profile of Mercer discussed in 2017. Mercer, you see, likes to

downplay the dangers posed by nuclear war. Mercer, speaking of the atomic bombs that the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, argued that, outside of the immediate blast zones, the radiation actually made Japanese citizens healthier. The National Academy of Sciences has found no evidence to support this notion. Nevertheless, according to the onetime employee, Mercer, who is a proponent of nuclear power, "was very excited about the idea, and felt that it meant nuclear accidents weren't such a big deal." [...]

Robinson appears to be the source of Robert Mercer's sanguine view of nuclear radiation: in 1986, Robinson co-authored a book suggesting that the vast majority of Americans would survive "an all-out atomic attack on the United States." Robinson's institute dismisses climate change as a "false religion."

Well OF COURSE it does. We know of no evidence Mercer or Robinson directly influenced the new EPA thinking, but obviously those kooks are part of the anti-science deregulatory machine surrounding Trumpworld. Part of the background radiation, if you will.

If this Stop Worrying And Learn To Love The Bomb stuff all sounds a little nutty, that's because most scientists and doctors are in on the fakery, you see, insisting there's no such thing as a safe level of radiation.

Jan Beyea, a physicist whose work includes research with the National Academies of Science on the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant accident, said the EPA proposal on radiation and other health threats represents voices "generally dismissed by the great bulk of scientists."

The EPA proposal would lead to "increases in chemical and radiation exposures in the workplace, home and outdoor environment, including the vicinity of Superfund sites," Beyea wrote.

She noted that while individual risk from radiation may be small, more radiation in the environment would increase the total risk in the population, with corresponding increases in cancers and medical costs. Which is really a socialist way to think about health, because the only meaningful unit of measure is the individual, now isn't it?

Still, scientists seem not to recognize that in our brave new world, it's every lifeform's individual responsibility to just not bathe in radiation. One researcher, Roy Shore, told the AP a recent review of public health studies still supports the conclusion that there's no "healthy" amount of radiation exposure:

If there were a threshold that it's safe to go below, "those who profess that would have to come up with some data," Shore said in an interview.

"Certainly the evidence did not point that way," he said.

If'n you want further discussion of why the current, conservative (as in careful, not rightwing loonypants) model of radiation risk holds up, see this here fine Twitter thread.

Heck, maybe if itty tiny amounts of radiation are no big, folks like Arthur Robinson, Robert Mercer, Edward Calabrese, and Steven Milloy would be willing to set up homesteads, with their children and grandchildren of course, somewhere in the exclusion zone around Chernobyl. They could boldly laugh every day at fools who think that might be a bad idea. Just think what a great reality TV show that would be!

We are kidding of course. Not only would that be cruel, but if anyone in their family did get cancer, they'd blame vaccines.

[AP / New Yorker / New Republic]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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