The Jay M. Gould Public Health Award
On November 29th, Alec Baldwin hosted a reception for the Radiation and Public Health Project at the Harmony Club in Manhattan.
The purpose of the reception was to announce the establishment of the annual Jay M. Gould Public Health Award.
This award will be given each year in recognition of outstanding contributions to the health and well being of humanity.
Fittingly, the first annual award was presented to Dr. Gould.
The following is the complete text of Dr. Sternglass' remarks upon this occasion:
on the Inauguration of
New York City, November 2000
Long before founding the Radiation and Public Health Project ten years ago, Dr. Jay Gould had devoted a half-century of his professional career to work for the well being of our society.
Beginning with the application of his love for mathematics and statistics to the study of how the input requirements and the output of industry could be modeled on a nationwide scale, he realized how such models of the industrial process could be used to prevent the social damage of unfair competition in antitrust litigation where he became an expert witness.
Moreover, he showed that this economic model could also be employed to track the release of industrial wastes and thus prevent the damage to human health resulting from industrial pollution of the environment. As a result of this work, Jay was asked to join the Science Advisory Board of the EPA under the Carter administration.
Inspired by one of the world's foremost economists, Wesley Claire Mitchell, whose lectures Jay attended as a graduate student at Columbia University in the late 1930s, he joined the National Bureau of Economic Research that had been founded by Mitchell after World War I.
There he learned of the development of a new econometric input/output model by the young Russian economist Wassily Leontief, who later won the Nobel Prize in economics for this model, which became the central focus of Jay's own work. Interestingly, Jay applied Leontief's industrial market model to the productivity of the electric power and gas industry in his doctoral thesis published by the National Bureau in 1946. Little did he realize that this subject would, four decades later, turn out to prove crucial in the beginning of his involvement with the serious economic and health problems for society produced by the development of the nuclear power industry.
Fortunately, he was not only able to use the ability to measure industrial markets in the many antitrust cases as a statistical expert, but he was also able to establish one of the earliest data-base companies in 1970 that gave him the financial independence to investigate the environmental implications of the operation of certain industries.
In 1979, Jay was asked by the law firm Donovan and Leisure to use his statistical expertise in behalf of Westinghouse. The company was suing several mining companies on antitrust grounds, alleging that they had formed a cartel to control the price of uranium. His task was to investigate why the price of uranium in the 1970s had suddenly increased six-fold, exactly the increase in the price of oil during the oil-embargo years. Westinghouse had managed to sell a large number of nuclear reactors to the electric power industry by committing itself to supplying the utilities with uranium at a fixed price. The extraordinary price increase forced the company in 1977 to make a payment of a billion dollars to its customers, but when evidence surfaced that the price rise was probably due to collusion, Westinghouse instituted its antitrust suit.
By examining the operating statistics of power reactors, Jay found that there were so many forced stoppages and unforeseen technical problems that the industry was operating at less than half of its rated capacity. He concluded that if the forces of supply and demand were operating freely, the price of uranium should have dropped rather than increased six-fold. But to his great disappointment the case was settled out of court, so that the economic, operational and safety problems of the industry, and the illegal price-fixing of the uranium producers, could not be brought out into the open.
While serving on the EPA Science Advisory Board, Jay had discovered that state and federal epidemiologists were reluctant to investigate the politically-sensitive reasons for the widespread variation in county cancer mortality rates. With the time and resources available to him as a result of the sale of his database company, he decided to start a new career in 1984.
He joined a small New York based non-profit organization called the Council on Economic Priorities (CEP), and with their help published a book in 1986 entitled Quality of Life in Residential Neighborhoods: Levels of Affluence, Toxic Waste and Cancer Mortality in Residential Neighborhoods. In this book, he established a correlation between ZIP code areas with high cancer rates and high concentrations of chemical wastes. He also discovered that some other cofactors had to be considered. For instance, breast cancer rates in Texas and Louisiana were extremely low despite exposure to the highest levels of petrochemical pollution. By contrast, the suburban areas of Westchester and Long Island, New York, with low exposures to chemicals, had among the nation's highest breast cancer rates.
As Jay describes in the foreword to his book, The Enemy Within: The High Cost of Living Near Nuclear Reactors, published in 1996, this mystery began to be resolved when he met me in 1986. Jay had read my book Secret Fallout: Low Level Radiation from Hiroshima to Three Mile Island in connection with his research on the nuclear industry involving the antitrust suit Westinghouse had filed. But we did not have a chance to meet until I retired from my position at the University of Pittsburgh and moved to New York in the fall of 1985 because my wife had accepted a professorship at City College. Learning of his interest in the possible relation between environmental pollution and health, I suggested that he might want to use his large computer databases to look at mortality rates downwind from nuclear reactors. Although he was initially somewhat skeptical, he was surprised to find that in 175 counties located northeast of about 50 reactor sites there was indeed a significant increase in mortality, which he published in December of 1986 in a CEP newsletter entitled ”Nuclear Emissions Take Their Toll."
Since that time, Jay has devoted his efforts to research in this field, organizing a group of Radiation and Public Health Project associates to expand our educational and research work over the years, that now includes: William McDonnell, a computer expert; Joseph J. Mangano, trained in Public Health and now the National Coordinator; Jerry Brown, a professor of environmental studies at Florida International University who serves as Executive Director; Janette D. Sherman, a physician specializing in internal medicine with many years of experience in toxicology; and Marsha Marks, a public health advocate.
Most recently, the "Tooth Fairy Project," initiated by Jay in Long Island a few years ago, has successfully collected and measured cancer-causing Strontium-90 in some two thousand baby teeth with the generous support of a number of foundations and concerned individuals. In addition, Jay was instrumental in gaining the crucial support of David Friedson, Alec Baldwin and Christy Brinkley.
The Strontium-90 measurements have shown that, in areas near nuclear plants, this short-lived fission product that concentrates in bone, like calcium, and destroys the cells of the immune system originating in the bone marrow, has been rising in the bones and teeth of newborn babies to levels seen at the height of nuclear bomb testing in Nevada in the 1950s, when it should have decayed to undetectable concentrations by now.
Jay's untiring commitment to this work with the support of his wife Jane, and generously aided financially by them during the last fifteen years, has led to the publication of a series of books and articles in both the scientific literature and the popular media. This effort has helped to bring out the very serious adverse effects on human health and development produced by the production and testing of nuclear bombs, that the major governments of the world needed to cover up in order to maintain the deterrent value of these weapons, and to preserve the enormous investments in nuclear power plants and uranium.
Thus Jay's efforts to alert the public to the dangers of low levels of fission products released into the environment have undoubtedly contributed to the phasing out of nuclear power by many governments and to an increasing world-wide commitment to the development of less deadly ways to generate electricity using renewable sources such as solar, wind, and hydrogen energy in a future world free of the threat of nuclear war.
It is therefore with great personal pleasure that, on behalf of the Radiation and Public Health Project, I present Jay with the first annual Jay M. Gould Public Health Award, and this plaque that bears the following inscription:
In recognition and honor of your historic contributions to the health and well being of humanity, the Radiation and Public Health Project hereby inaugurates the annual Jay M. Gould Public Health Award, and proudly presents this first award to Jay M. Gould, Ph.D.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
please join me in welcoming Dr. Jay Gould, founder and director of the
Radiation and Public Health Project.
receiving the award, Dr. Gould expressed his gratitude to all those
with whom he has worked, as well as giving an update on current findings
of the Radiation and Public Health Project.
Baldwin concluded the event by giving a vision of what can be accomplished
by working together, as well as detailing some of the obstacles we
are up against.