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Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999 13:47:42 -0400
From: Michael Mariotte <>
Organization: NIRS
Subject: Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR) VII ALERT


A Radiation Standards-Recommending-Committee has been set up to "reassess" health dangers of low-dose radiation. It is heavily biased toward the nuclear industry.

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Committee on the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR) VII membership has been announced. THE PUBLIC HAS UNTIL JUNE 22, 1999 TO COMMENT. To do so, e-mail directly at the NAS BEIR VII web-site (detailed instructions below). Include in your email message the BEIR VII project number "BRER-K-98-02-A".

BEIR VII Committee Members are heavily weighted toward the nuclear industry and those who claim "low-dose" radiation is either not harmful or much less harmful than currently presumed. The panel is not balanced by inclusion of any of the credible scientists that have shown low-dose radiation to be even more harmful than current official estimates presume.

The decision of these committee members will affect RADIOACTIVE WASTE DISPOSAL SITES, RECYCLING OF RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS IN CONSUMER PRODUCTS, NUCLEAR REACTOR EMISSIONS, and a whole host of other radiation issues as they affect human health. The industry hopes that this packed BEIR VII panel will recommend relaxed radiation standards, permitting more radioactive contamination to be left in place at contaminated sites, more radioactivity to be dumped into our air or water, and recycled into our consumer products. The industry can save billions of dollars if its surrogates on this panel are left unchecked by scientists representing the full range of opinion in the radiation community; untold numbers of people may come down with cancers if already-lax radiation standards are weakened further.

Write or call NAS Board on Radiation and ask them to BALANCE or DISSOLVE THE BEIR VII PANEL. In addition, make sure to leave your email comments on their website.

DEADLINE: June 22, 1999

The National Academy of Sciences has been contracted by the US Environmental Protection Agency, the US Department of Energy and the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to assess if radiation exposure standards should be altered. The NAS recently announced the BEIR VII committee membership of sixteen researchers to assess the impacts of LOW-DOSE RADIATION on human health.

The membership list with cursory biographies, and absent conflict-of-interest forms, can be found at
At the bottom of the Web page click on current projects
Click on By Subject
Click on Search
In the search panel type "BEIR VII-phase 2" and click on search button
Click on: Health Risks From Exposure To Low Levels Of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR VII-phase 2)
Click on: Committee Membership
-- which goes to:
Scroll down and click on Feedback
-- which goes to:
At the top, it will ask for the Project Information Number. Type in (or cut-and-paste) the text "BRER-K-98-02-A".

Talking Points:
Tailor These To Your Specific Needs And Send Or Call In Your Comments ASAP.

The panel does not include scientists that represent the full range of conclusions and scientific methodology concerning radiation and human health that exists in the current research literature. Additionally, it contains no representatives, scientists or otherwise, from affected reactor and weapons complex communities and therefore lacks credibility both from a scientific and public health standpoint.

Several members defend radiation exposure by comparing it to other voluntary and involuntary risks (driving, eating bananas or peanut butter, smoking, crossing the street, flying in an airplane, etc.). Some (including Mossman, Howe, Sankaranaryanan) have concluded that radiation is a low priority and that other things will kill you first. A "risk communication" specialist has been included despite the fact that such a panel should provide facts, not a prepared interpretation of selective information. We question why the risk communication category is included on the panel at this early stage in the NAS proceedings.

At least four members of the panel (Mossman, Cardis, Gilbert, Kellerer) claim that we lack sufficient data on protracted low doses of ionizing radiation despite the existence of such analyses.

They rely on data from Hiroshima and Nagasaki to assess for low dose exposure in humans. BEIR VII is assessing continuous or routine low doses, but data from Hiroshima and Nagasaki are not adequate predictors of the full range of health effects for various types of exposure. Many of these researchers recognize this shortcoming of the A-bomb study by claiming it a high-dose study; but they still use it selectively to make unfounded assumptions regarding low doses of radiation. For instance, any health effects not found in Hiroshima and Nagasaki but found in low dose studies are often discounted as non-radiation induced. Conversely, any health effects found in the A-bomb data which are not found in the low-dose study population are used to argue that any other disease prevalence is not due to ionizing radiation exposure.

Mossman and Evan Douple (the NAS staff member who helped form the committee) both contend that radiation is a relatively weak carcinogen. Mossman is lead author on a position paper by a nuclear industry advocacy group pushing for eliminating consideration of harm for any doses less than 5 rem. Yet he is on the panel which is to evaluate his own extreme claims; and no one on the other side of the debate is allowed on the panel.

Scientists often argue that epidemiological studies will not show any increases from radiation exposure because the doses would be low or disease is obscured by background disease. When these studies do show increased disease, (as in studies by Cardis, Gilbert) they often try to mitigate the results in the most cursory way or just simply don't bother to address the issue. Sometimes the health effect is hidden by combining populations and disease incidence, such as those from bomb factory sites (Cardis, Gilbert). This methodology is highly questionable and widely criticized.

At least four, have tacit or blatant industry connections either by testifying against radiation victims or by working for or contracting out to the nuclear industry (Whipple, Buffler on EMF radiation, Hoel, Monson).

Davis conducted a Hanford thyroid disease study, the results of which were extremely controversial. This study is often cited by those attempting to relax radiation standards. No scientists of studies showing different results are on the panel.

Mossman admits that 10% of the population may be radiosensitive, but says there is no need to reduce radiation standards to accommodate them. He also states that allowing larger radiation exposures would be economically beneficial to the industry.

In short, most of the committee members have minimized the impact of low-dose radiation on human health, even when their research indicated otherwise.

We object to the absence of any balancing scientists. The committee membership fails to represent a major section of scientific work on low dose radiation and human health and will, therefore, fail to represent and protect the public adequately.

The public has been routinely excluded from the procedure at NAS. We are being denied documents integral to the committee selection process. Demand that the NAS release the conflict of interest forms completed by each committee member. Call for balancing the panel with scientists whose work differs from the prevalent perspective on this industry and government- heavy panel.

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