radiation

“Coffee, Tea, or Me,” or Cancer?

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You might remember that not too long ago there was serious concern over the possibility that cell phones could cause cancer. The phones produce electromagnetic radiation that produces radio frequency energy. After serious research here are some of the official results as posted on cancer.gov “The American Cancer Society (ACS) states that the IARC classification means that there could be some cancer risk associated with radiofrequency energy, but the evidence isn’t strong enough to be considered causal and needs to be investigated further.” The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified cell phone use as ” possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

Cell Phones & Cancer
Do Cell Phones Cause Cancer? | Image by Youtube

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported that “…the majority of epidemiologlic studies have failed to show a relationship between exposure to radio frequency energy from cell phones and health problems.” That according to cancer.gov. Continuing from the site: “The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that no scientific evidence definitively answers whether cell phone use causes cancer.” And “The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) concludes that no scientific evidence establishes a causal link between wireless device use and cancer of other illnesses.”

US FDA
US Food and Drug Administration | Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll through Fierce PharmaCall)

So, for the time being at least, it is relatively safe to use your cell phone without fear. As Forest Gump said “That’s one less thing.” There is another area of research that is, however, quite disturbing.

Stewardess Graduation Picture (old) | Photo by Northwest Orient Airlines

The title of this column article is a reference to the old joking line about airline stewardess (now flight attendants, and males are now included). The stewardess would ask passengers if they wanted something to drink, coffee or tea, and the joke was that they were offering themselves to the male passengers. I added the word cancer to that line because new research has shown a higher incidence of cancer in flight crew personnel than the average population.

Flight Crew
American Airlines Plane and Flight Crew | Photo by Americanairlines.com

The (CDC) reports “The aircrew may be more likely to get skin cancer and the female flight attendants may be more likely to get breast cancer than the general population.” They go on too say “Aircrew are exposed to elevated levels of cosmic ionizing radiation and circadian rhythm disruption from traveling across time zones and working when others would normally be asleep. Some studies suggest that circadian rhythm disruption may also cause cancer.

Harvard University researchers have discovered that cosmic rays may be the cause of cancer in airline flight crews. An article published July 9, 2018 in Spaceweather.com titled “Cosmic Radiation Detected on Commercial Flights Over the South Pacific” was written by Dr. Tony Phillips. The article explains that “High energy particles from space hitting the top of Earth’s atmosphere create a spray of secondary radiation that penetrates the walls above about 20,000 feet.”

Radiation Chart
Radiation Data Chart | Image by Spaceweather.com

The researchers collected data from 3 weather balloon flights and 5 airplane flights in New Zealand. Quoting the article: “We have some new data pertinent to this topic. On June 19th, Spaceweather.com and students of Earth and Sky Calculus flew from California to New Zealand launch a series of space weather balloons. Naturally, we took our radiation sensors onboard the aircraft.” Radiation in the passenger compartment jumped 25-fold just minutes after takeoff and remained that way for the 13-hour flight until they landed in Brisbane. Quoting the article again “peak dose rates were almost 40 times greater than on the ground below. In total, we absorbed a whole body dose approximately equal to a panoramic dental x-ray.”

Neutron Chambers
Neutron Chambers | Photo by Spaceweather.com

The researchers used what are called bubble chambers to measure three types of radiation. They are neutrons, X-rays , and gamma-Rays. I won’t go into the exact technical details of the measurements they took because they are just too complex to understand. Here is what they called the bad news. “Cosmic rays at aviation altitudes are a cocktail of different things: e.g., neutrons, protons, pions, electrons, X-rays, and gamma-rays spanning a wide range of energies. Our sensors sample only three ingredients of that cocktail (neutrons, X-rays, and gamma-rays) at relatively low energies tropical of medical X-rays and airport security devices. This means our data are only the tip of the iceberg. Flight crew and passengers absorb even more radiation than we can detect.

Measuring devices
Devices For Measuring X-Rays and Gamma-Rays | Photo by Spaceweather.com

The research mainly deals with the airline crew, but business people and others also can be traveling many more hours at flight level in airplanes and are exposed to more radiation.

As the research continues hopefully we will learn more about the radiation effects in flight and ways to protect humans from them.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

 

 

OSU Develops Portable Radiation Detector

radiation detector 1
radiation detector 3
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CORVALLIS, Ore. — Some nuclear engineers at Oregon State University say they’ve developed radiation detectors that are small, portable and inexpensive.

They say the devices tell what kind of radiation is around them, how much, and if it’s a health risk, according to findings published in Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research.

“There are a lot of misconceptions by many people about radioactivity and natural background radiation, and technology of this type may help address some of those issues,” said Abi Farsoni. “Sometimes, there are also real concerns, and the device will be able to identify them. And of some importance to us, we want the technology to be very simple and affordable so anyone can obtain and use it.”

The detectors cost about $150 each and are not available to the public yet.

Watch KEZI 9 News tonight at 5 and 6 p.m. to learn why researchers developed this device.

Nuclear power developers convene at OSU

Some of the key players in the emerging field of small modular nuclear reactors gathered in Corvallis this week to talk shop and compare notes on everything from safety features to energy economics.

The three-day technical meeting at Oregon State University, which wraps up today, is not open to the public. But it attracted 20 attendees from around the world, including representatives of private and government-run nuclear power companies from Russia, China, India, South Korea, Jordan, Italy, France and the United States. Two officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency, based in Austria, also took part.

Co-sponsored by the IAEA and OSU’s Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics, the event was billed as “A Roadmap for the Development of Small Modular Reactor Technology.” Touted as both cheaper and safer than conventional nukes, small modular reactors are designed to be built in a factory and then shipped to the generating site.

One of the American companies racing to be first to market with an SMR design is Corvallis-based NuScale Power, which is working to commercialize technology developed at OSU. The university has also developed expertise in high-temperature gas reactors, another developing technology.

“We’ve been around since the inception of this insurgence of SMRs and the development of advanced reactor technology,” said nuclear engineering professor Wade Marcum, one of the organizers of the meeting.

While seen as a promising new technology by both the utility industry and the federal government, U.S. regulatory approval is still years away, and some companies have scaled back their development programs for economic reasons, chiefly the availability of cheap natural gas to fuel large electric generating plants.

That was a hot topic at this week’s meeting, but at least some of the participants see that as a short-term obstacle to developing SMR technology.

“Natural gas historically has been so volatile; it just happens to be at a low state right now,” Marcum said. “We all know in reality that’s going to spike.”

Even Babcock & Wilcox — which along with NuScale is one of only two U.S. firms picked to receive up to $226 million in matching funds from the Department of Energy to speed commercialization of its design — drastically cut back its development funding this year after failing to attract investors for its SMR division, known as mPower.

But Jay Brister, mPower’s chief technology officer, insisted that the company’s long-range plans remain unchanged.

“Babcock & Wilcox is committed to the technology,” Brister said in an interview at OSU this week. “Concerted efforts on licensing and site certification, all of that will move forward, and the technology will continue to be developed.”

Safety concerns were another big topic at this week’s meeting, but participants continue to believe that SMRs offer major advantages over conventional nukes in a number of ways.

For one thing, they’re smaller than traditional 1,000-megwatt N-plants, meaning there’s less radioactive fuel involved. They’re also simpler, with smaller and less complicated process piping to worry about. And they tend to incorporate passive safety features, relying on natural convection currents to circulate cooling water around the reactor core rather than complex systems of pumps and valves that can fail in an emergency.

“This meeting in particular has been an eye-opener,” said Jose Reyes, the chief technology officer for NuScale and former head of OSU’s nuclear engineering program. “As we look at other designs, we also can see there is a unified, consistent desire to make plants safer.”

The meltdown and radiation releases at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan following an earthquake and tsunami in 2011 prompted a worldwide re-evaluation of safety protocols led by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which drafted a plan for improving protective measures.

One of the reasons for meetings like the one in Corvallis this week, IAEA representative David Shropshire said, is to continue to refine that plan and improve safety measures for SMRs and other reactor types.

“It’s a huge international effort,” he said.

And even though many of the participants represent competing companies, Reyes said, they are also collaborators when it comes to making small modular reactor technology better for everyone.

“What’s exciting to me,” he said, “is that this is a very interactive, growing community of SMRs with a focus on making things safer.”

Contact reporter Bennett Hall at [email protected] or 541-758-9529.


July 13 – Morning Headlines

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July 13th Morning Headlines

Listen to the Morning Headlines:
Morning Headlines with Steve Kaye

Tim Chuey Weather:

It looks like the chance of showers is going away for a while starting Thursday and it will warm up a bit too.

Advisories: NONE AT THIS TIME.

An upper level trough of low pressure (“U” shape) has moved through the Pacific Northwest, but a series of ripples in that flow will be followed by an even stronger low that will slide along the coast. That will keep us alternating between periods of clouds and cooler temperatures, and even some light rain or drizzle, then back to some more sunshine and warming temperatures. A frontal system has pushed through the Pacific Northwest spreading showers throughout. Another frontal system approaches the coast Friday AM with clearing and warming behind it for the weekend.

Forecast: Mostly cloudy with a slight (20%) chance of showers this AM, a (30%) chance of showers in the afternoon (under 0.10 in. of rain possible), just mostly cloudy tonight and Thursday AM, a mix of clouds and sun Thursday afternoon and Friday, partly cloudy Thursday night and Friday night highs 70-75 lows 47-50. A mix of clouds and sun and warmer Saturday and Sunday with partly cloudy skies Saturday night, then partly cloudy Sunday through Tuesday highs 76-82 lows near 50. (seasonal averages high 81 low 51)

The Pollen forecast for the Eugene/Springfield Area is for trees and weeds to be low, and Grass to be moderste. (Provided by Allergy and Asthma Research Group)

Because weather forecasting is a combination of science, intuition, and timing there can be no absolute guarantees that individual forecasts will be 100% accurate. Nature is in a constant state of flux and sudden unexpected weather events can happen.

Keep Current on the Weather: timchueyweather4u.com

 

Headlines

  • Disabled veteran attacked in Springfield
    An early morning attack in Springfield leaves a disabled veteran with cuts and bruises.
  • Commissioners balk at jail-bed closures
    Lane County commissioners said they want to avoid closing jail beds for the current fiscal year, and want to consider other service cuts instead to balance the budget. The commissioners noted, however, that an unexpected drop in federal timber pa…
  • GOP lawmaker to introduce ‘Caylee’s Law’ in Oregon
    One Oregon lawmaker is tapping into public outrage over the not guilty verdict for Casey Anthony, the Florida mother accused of murdering her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.
  • Husband sentenced for killing wife
    A 43-year-old Elmira man was sentenced today to 11 years in prison for shooting his wife in the head during a domestic dispute Sept. 30. In a 911 call, Stephen Mark Sullivan initially reported that an intruder had struck him in the head and shot his 51…
  • Man assaulted during confrontation with car thieves
    A homeowner confronted two men who were trying to break into his car and got punched and hit with pepper spray early Tuesday morning.
  • Bethel District leaders take voluntary pay cut
    For the sake of quality education, two members of the Bethel School District are making a sacrifice. They say they are doing it to help win their budget battle.
  • Health officials rebut contamination claim
    Oregon health officials on Tuesday said no detectable amounts of radioactive material have been found in Northwest drinking water following Japan’s nuclear accident in March, countering the claims of a Washington environmental group. Heart of America…
  • Health care premiums tie up Oregon labor bargaining
    Negotiations between the state and unions representing government workers are heating up over the state’s demand that employees chip in part of their health care premiums.
  • Officials will meet with Triangle Lake residents about herbicides
    In what activists call a watershed event, state and federal officials will meet Thursday with Triangle Lake area residents concerned about herbicide exposure. The meeting is a key step in an accelerated response to years of complaints…
  • On-Site Commissary Sale Coming to Springfield
    Local United States military personnel, retirees and their families have a chance to take advantage of a commissary sale without the long drive to Washington.   McChord Field Commissary will host an on-site sale this weekend in Sp…
  • Bugs Around Oak Trees
    If you have oak trees, you may have noticed some peculiar bugs jumping around them.  Ross Penhallegon from the OSU Extension Service explains more about the jumping oak gall.
  • Bellotti: ‘Chip feels like he’s done nothing wrong, and I believe him’
    The University of Oregon football program is in somewhat unfamiliar territory, especially for the guy who led the Ducks for 14 years but is still close to the program.

 

What do you mean you won't pay for part of your own healthcare?

March 22 – Evening Update

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The evening roundup:

Tim Chuey weather update:
The jet stream shows a trough of low pressure ( “U” shaped area) swinging through the Pacific Northwest. Additional storms will be aiming for us like this frontal system that will roll in Thursday.
State radiation monitoring information now available online
Radiation from the damaged nuclear reactors in Japan is not a health risk in Oregon. People can now see daily radiation levels from the EPA monitoring sites in Oregon
Driver survives crash off 100-foot embankment
A Eugene woman suffered injuries but survived when her car rolled down a 100-foot embankment off Highway 126E near Vida on Tuesday morning.
Megasaurus coming to Matt Court for Monster Jam
Are the tall firs of Matthew Knight Arena ready for 50,000 pounds of fire-breathing, car-crushing action? How about a jet-powered golf cart?
Health data breach affects 120,000 Oregonians
State officials says a recent data breach means the health histories of about 120,000 Oregon customers have been missing for more than a month.
‘It’s not like putting raw sewage on the course’
Cottage Grove wants to divert treated wastewater away from the river – and onto the city owned golf course.
Oregon considers free tuition for foster children
Current and former Oregon foster children could get the opportunity to go to college for free. That’s the idea behind a bill getting a public hearing in the Legislature on Tuesday.
Rural Oregon counties face bankruptcy without state help
Rural counties desperate to keep their jails open and sheriff’s patrols on the road if a federal timber-related subsidy goes away are hoping the Legislature will come to the rescue with a stopgap funding plan.

Radiation Dose Chart

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The nuclear disaster is still going on in Japan, and radiation has been detected around the Pacific rim. The government reassures us, rightly so, that levels are not harmful in any way. I just can’t help thinking that a little more information, and a little more, and a little more, (ad infinitum) will always help. So here’s Randall Munroe’s latest contribution to public health awareness, a “chart of how much ionizing radiation a person can absorb from various sources, compared visually. 1 Sievert will make you sick, many more will kill you, however, even small doses cumulatively increase cancer risk.”

This chart of how much ionizing radiation a person can absorb may help in how you think about the difference between Chernobyl and Fukushima.

March 20 – Weekend Update

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Did you catch our waning gibbous supermoon last night? Me either. Here is the Sunday morning weekend update:

Tim Chuey Weather
Shower chances increase again. It’s time for the Springtime warmer temperatures, but where are they?
Harry & David sued over contract issue involving call centers
An Ohio company contracted by Harry & David to provide call center services has filed a nearly $10 million lawsuit after the financially troubled Medford company abruptly severed their relationship last month
Eugene business challenges community to raise money for Japan
A Eugene paint business, Forrest Paint Company, is stepping up to help Japan, while encouraging and challenging other local business and groups to do the same.
Peace march moves through downtown Eugene on 8th anniversary of Iraq invasion
A loud, visible reminder, and a push for peace in downtown Eugene on Saturday, the 8th anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War. — wonder if they are planning one for the Libyan war. -ed.
Tillamook Cheese Factory pauses amid E. Coli concerns
The Tillamook Cheese Factory halted production and stopped serving food Friday and Saturday after fecal coliform and E. coli bacteria were found in the local water supply.
Testing finds no health threat along West Coast
Federal and state officials say testing indicates there are no health threats along the West Coast from radioactivity spewing from Japan’s crippled nuclear reactors.
Bank robbery suspect sought for two heists
Eugene police are looking for a man they believe robbed a U.S. Bank branch not just once, but twice this week. Officers responded to a bank robbery at the U.S. Bank at 1400 Highway 99N at 4:36 p.m. Friday
Bill aims to protect custody rights
Lawmakers are considering a bill that would help protect the custody rights of Oregonians who serve in the armed forces.

March 18 – Morning Headlines

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Ah St. Paddy’s day, you’ve left your mark again:

Tim Chuey Weather
Rain and possible thunderstorms today. Remember, in the Willamette Valley particularly, we more often see small hail a gusty winds, but not the thunderstorms.
Law firm closes after investigation
A Eugene law firm that was the target of almost 100 complaints over its debt collection practices has been shut down following an investigation by the Oregon attorney general’s office
Blaze rips through auto recycling warehouse
A fast-moving fire destroyed an industrial building in west Eugene on Thursday afternoon but caused no injuries and was extinguished before spreading to other structures.
Proposed Bill would change property tax laws
The bill would give school districts a taxing mechanism to help raise the extra money they need to pay for rising personnel costs such as wages, health care and pensions, as well as other expenses.
Council OKs step toward new City Hall
Some call it the scaled down, less expensive and, more realistic plan to replace Eugene’s downtown City Hall.
Record number of homeless receive help at 2011 ‘Connect’ event
Nearly 1,600 individuals checked in to the 2011 Project Homeless Connect event on Thursday at the Lane County Fairgrounds, getting access to dozens of free services provided by local community
Experts: Don’t worry about Japan plume headed to West Coast
A network of radiation monitors continues to track a plume of radioactive isotopes headed toward the West Coast from the nuclear disaster in Japan.

March 16 – Early Evening Update

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Updates early tonight, EDN’s down at HTCC:

Tim Chuey Weather
Reminder: The Vernal Equinox occurs at 4:21 PM Pacific Daylight Time next Sunday March 20th. Rain in the forecast.
Police investigate gunshots, Corvallis house damaged
Police in Corvallis are investigating a series of gunshots that damaged a rooming house.
Oregon House approves legal fix for home brewers
Its official, Oregon lawmakers have unanimously endorsed a bill to allow home brewers and amateur winemakers to share their creations.
Oregon officials say no radiation risk from Japan
Oregon officials say there is no health risk to the state from radiation released by a damaged nuclear plant in Japan.
Oregon turns into a detour for ‘the Horse Logger’
Lee “the Horse Logger” Crafton passed through the in October. He didn’t get far, just down the road a piece to the Pleasant Hill area south of Eugene.
Murder trial continues.
The defense grilled the lead detective of the Stephanie Condon case at the aggravated murder trial of Dale Hill Tuesday morning.

Fear Sparks Rush to Buy Iodine Tablets (updated)

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Apparently some locals are fearing for their safety as nuclear reactors in Japan continue to degrade in the wake of the almost 9.0 magnitude earthquake. Fearing radiation may reach the West Coast, local stores have seen a huge spike in their sales of iodine tablets, often used with radiation exposure. Some stores are even selling out, as Capella Market tweeted this morning  “We are getting calls about potassium iodide. We are sold out. Nat. Health dept is checking w/distributors, but not sure when/if available.” they later followed up by tweeting “Just received word that our supplier is unable to overnight-ship potassium iodide to us. We’re hoping for a shipment later in the week.”

Not sure this will put many people’s minds at ease, but hopefully this will. For U.S. residents “there would be no cause for any concern,” Jerrold Bushberg, a medical physicist at UC Davis and a clinical professor of radiology and radiation oncology, told the Los Angeles Times today.

If you are leaning to the better safe than sorry side of the equation, a potential alternative is Kelp:

A type of seaweed, kelp, tends to be high in iodine as well, with from 0.03 – 0.45 dry weight percent. Because of its high concentration of iodine, brown kelp (Laminaria) has been used to treat goiter, an enlargement of the thyroid gland caused by a lack of iodine, since medieval times. — Wikipedia

Kelp can be found in a capsule form, a pill form, or as a powder.

Some homeopathic sites recommend: “Take kelp now, if you don’t already, in case there is any radioactive fallout from Japan. Take at least 1 – 5 capsules of kelp a day. If you are not used to it, start with one and build up.”

– Lindsey Asay for EDN