Doctors slam uranium company over junk science on radiation safety

April 30, 2012

The Medical Association for Prevention of War released the statement below on May 1.

* * *

The Medical Association for Prevention of War has released a statement (reproduced below) signed by 45 medical doctors calling on uranium mining company Toro Energy to stop promoting the view that low-level radiation is beneficial to human health.

Toro Energy plans to mine uranium at Wiluna in Western Australia and has interests in uranium exploration ventures in the Northern Territory and South Australia. The company has sponsored at least three speaking tours by controversial Canadian scientist Doug Boreham, most recently to the Paydirt uranium conference in Adelaide where he promoted radiation as “anti carcinogenic”.

Dr Peter Karamoskos, a nuclear radiologist and a public representative on the radiation health committee of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, said: “Toro has facilitated several visits to Australia by the Canadian scientist Dr Doug Boreham to present the fringe scientific view that radiation is beneficial to human health.

“To promote such marginal views without any counter-balance is self-serving and irresponsible and it may be time for governments to step in to provide that balance. Recent research has heightened rather than reduced concern about the adverse health impacts of low-level radiation.”

Dr Harry Cohen, former President of CCWA and the Medical Association for Prevention of War and former Director of Gynaecology at the King Edward Memorial Hospital said: "Toro Energy has sponsored "employee radiation training" by Dr Boreham. This is a dangerous and unacceptable situation.”

“The promotion that radiation is safe threatens to undermine the safety culture that underpins workplace safety in a potentially hazardous environment thus could threaten the health and welfare of mine workers.” Dr Cohen concluded.

Statement: Toro energy promotes radiation junk science

May 2012

Toro Energy is an Australian company involved in uranium exploration in Western Australia, the Northern Territory, South Australia and in Namibia, Africa. The company's most advanced project is the proposed Wiluna uranium mine in the WA Goldfields.

Toro Energy has consistently promoted the fringe scientific view that exposure to low-level radiation is harmless. Toro Energy has sponsored at least three speaking visits to Australia by Canadian scientist Dr Doug Boreham, who argues that low-level radiation is actually beneficial to human health.

Those views are at odds with mainstream scientific evidence and expert assessment. For example:

• A 2010 report by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation states that "the current balance of available evidence tends to favour a non-threshold response for the mutational component of radiation-associated cancer induction at low doses and low dose rates."

• The 2006 report of the Committee on the Biological Effects of Ionising Radiation (BEIR) of the US National Academy of Sciences states that "the risk of cancer proceeds in a linear fashion at lower doses without a threshold and ... the smallest dose has the potential to cause a small increase in risk to humans." The report also concludes that claims that low-level radiation exposure may be beneficial to human health are "unwarrranted".

• A review published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (US) in 2003 concluded that: "Given that it is supported by experimentally grounded, quantifiable, biophysical arguments, a linear extrapolation of cancer risks from intermediate to very low doses currently appears to be the most appropriate methodology."

It is irresponsible for Toro Energy to consistently promote fringe scientific views and to ignore mainstream scientific evidence and expert assessment.

Even more alarming is that Toro Energy has sponsored "employee radiation training" by Dr Boreham. Recent scientific research has heightened concern about exposure to radon, the main source of radiation doses to uranium industry workers.

In 2009, the International Commission on Radiological Protection concluded that radon gas delivers almost twice the radiation dose to humans as originally thought and the Commission is in the process of reassessing permissible levels. Previous dose estimates to miners need to be approximately doubled to accurately reflect the lung cancer hazard.

We call on Toro Energy to stop promoting fringe scientific views to uranium industry workers and to the public at large.

Signatories (all medical doctors working in Australia, or retired from working in Australia):

1. Margaret Beavis MBBS FRACGP
2. Peter Karamoskos MBBS, FRANZCR
3. Hilary Tyler MBChB, FACEM
4. Tilman Ruff MBBS (Hons), FRACP
5. Jenny Grounds MBBS, DRANZCOG, Grad Dip Med Acup.
6. Bill Williams MBBS
7. Rosalie Schultz MBBS, FAFPHM
8. James Rossiter AM, DU Deakin Honoris Causa, FRACP, FRCP Ed, MRCS, LRCP, MMSA, DCH, DObstRCOG
9. Rachel Darken MBBS, DPM
10. Michael Fonda MBBS, B.Med.Sci, FRACGP
11. Sue Wareham OAM, MBBS
12. Peter Shannon, MBBS, DPM, FRANZCP
13. Jason Garrood MBBS, FACRRM
14. Simon Leslie MBBS
16. Fiona Russell BMBS, FRACP, MPHTM, Grad Dip(Clin Epi), PhD
17. Megan Passey B.Med (Hons), MPH, MSc, DipFP
18. Ken Harvey MBBS, FRCPA
19. Sandra Thompson BSc(Med), MBBS, MPH, PhD, Grad Dipl Management
20. Marion Carey MBBS (Hons.), MPH, FAFPHM, FRSPH
21. George Crisp MBBS, MRCGP
22. Harry Cohen AM, MBBS, FRACOG
23. Heath Kelly MBBS, Bsc, MPH, FAFPHM
24. Catherine Silsbury MBBS, MHSc, FAChAM
25. Colin D. Butler BMedSci(Hons), BMed, DTM&H, MSc(epi), PhD
26. Peter Tait MBBS, DipRACOG, FRACGP, MClimChng, MPHAA
27. Stephen Connor MBBS, MPH, BPharm (Hons), MRPharmS, Dip.Clin. Pharm
28. Chris Wright MBBS, FRACP, FCICM
29. Bobby Sundaralingam MBBS, FRANZCR, ANZSPNM, BSc
30. Frederick Mendelsohn MD, PhD, FRACP, FAA, AO
31. Sally Attrill MBBS, B.Med.Sci., FRACGP, DRANZCOG
32. Elizabeth Moore MBBS
33. Ruth A. Mitchell BMBS, BA, BSc
34. Janet Bodycomb BSc, MBBS, FRACGP
35. Adam Badenoch BSc BMBS
36. Kristen Pearson MBBS, FRACP
37. Jane Ralls MBBS MRCGP (UK)
38. Tom Keaney MBBS
39. Peter Markey BMBS, DA, DRCOG, DTM&H, MPH, FAFPHM
40. Alison Creagh MBBS, DRANZCOG
41. Linda Selvey MBBS(Hon), PhD
42. Lucy Owen MBBS
44. Lisa Bohlscheid MBBS, FRACGP
45. Miriam Brooks MBBS, FRACGP


How many of the signatories are radiobiologists?
Dr. Boreham works at my university, McMaster, in Canada and is a brilliant scientist. He taught us that radiation is actually good for you, because its kills your cancer. If his science is junk, then why does he also have a job with a big Canadian nuclear power company, Bruce Power, helping their customers to understand that? Also, why would Toro hire him if he wasn't the best?
This is a wild shot in the dark, but, just maybe, nuclear companies hire him because his discredited "science" about the wonderful health benefits of deadly radiation suits their PR campaigns.

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