Radiation andPublic Health Project
Home About RPHP Projects Publications & Reports Journal Press Room


Evidence vs. Slogans
Joseph J. Mangano, MPH, MBA

Letters To The Editor
The Putnam County News and Recorder
Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Michael Slobodien (Dec. 9) blasts the scientific research on radiation from the Indian Point nuclear plant and local cancer risk. He uses name-calling and slogans like "nuclear power is safe and clean" - not facts.

Slobodien works for Entergy, which operates Indian Point. Naturally, he will be biased against any study that suggests nuclear plants—the source of his income—are harming humans. Slobodien is a physicist, not a health researcher. He has never published a journal article on cancer near nuclear plants. I and my colleagues at the Radiation and Public Heal th Project have published 25.

Slobodien assumes exposures to low doses of radiation are safe. This assumption has often been made in the past, only to be proven wrong by scientific studies. For example:

  • Doctors used to give pregnant women X-rays to their abdomens. When studies by Oxford University and others showed these X-rays raised the risk of the child developing cancer, the practice was stopped.
  • For years , federal officials denied that atomic bomb fallout harmed Americans. But a 1997 study by the National Cancer Institute concluded that fallout caused up to 212,000 Americans to develop thyroid cancer.
  • Officials also denied nuclear weapons workers were at risk for cancer. In 2000, the U.S. Energy Department produced a report admitting these workers were at greater risk, based on dozens of studies, and began a program of compensating workers with cancer.

Radiation is dangerous , even at low doses. Indian Point, like all reactors, has been producing these poisons and releasing them into the air since 1962. Thyroid cancer is known to be sensitive to radiation exposure. And thyroid cancer rates in counties near Indian Point are very high. These are facts —facts published in medical journals.

While more research is needed, these facts should be taken very seriously, especially in a society besieged by cancer. Understanding health risks of Indian Point should be based on evidence, not slogans. Our people, and their health, deserve nothing less.

Joseph J. Mangano MPH MBA is Executive Director of the Radiation and Public Health Project, a research and education group based in New York.

Back to Spotlight