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Contagion or radiation?
Part one of a two part article on ionising radiation.
In this article, we take a closer look at ionising radiation and how it can affect us.
Radiation-emitting particles can be transmitted from one person to another, and contaminated materials and / organisms, including animals, insects, and plants can contribute to the spread.
Thus, a source of ionising radiation is able to explain in full the various measures that were enacted for COVID, and for ‘viruses’ more generally.
Some background information
Radiation exists in two forms: ionising and non-ionising. Ionising radiation refers to a form of radiation that has the ability to add or remove electrons from atoms and molecules, forming charged particles called ions. When an ionising particle or wave interacts with another atom or molecule, it transfers ionising energy to the atom or molecule’s electrons. Ionising energy is a form of kinetic energy; energy acquired by an object or particle due through motion. This energy can overcome the binding electromagnetic force that holds electrons in their orbits and eject them. These displaced electrons can then go on to interact with other atoms and molecules, causing further ionisation. The process can disrupt chemical bonds and cellular structures, leading to various biological effects and potential damage.
Non-ionising radiation is a form of radiation with less energy than ionising radiation. Examples include frequencies (RF) electromagnetic waves (such as those used for telecommunications), infrared and ultraviolet light. Non-ionising radiation does not carry sufficient energy to remove electrons from atoms or molecules.
Ionising radiation is emitted by radioactive materials – materials that can exist in various physical states (solids, liquids, or gases), and are radioactive because they contain unstable atomic nuclei. In order to reach a more stable form, they undergo a spontaneous process of change known as radioactive decay. During radioactive decay, the nucleus of the emitting materials will release energy in the form of alpha particles (helium nuclei), beta particles (electrons or positrons), or gamma rays (high-energy photons). For example, uranium-238 undergoes a series of radioactive decays forming a chain of intermediate isotopes, that include thorium-234, protactinium-234, and uranium-234. This chain eventually leads to the formation of lead-206 (more commonly known as just ‘lead’). The relative importance of the types of energy emitted depend on the specific isotope; some isotopes primarily emit alpha or beta particles, and are labelled accordingly as either alpha or beta emitters.
In 1895, Wilhelm Röntgen discovered X-Rays. Then, in 1896, Henri Becquerel discovered that uranium salts naturally gave off rays similar to those discovered by Röntgen – what are now known as gamma rays. His doctoral student, Marie Curie, gave this phenomenon a name; radioactivity. Curie was awarded the Nobel Prize twice; once in Physics in 1903 alongside Henri Becquerel and her husband Pierre for their work with radioactivity, and then again in 2011, this time in Chemistry for her discovery of radium and polonium.
During their work, the Curies also discovered that radium destroys diseased cells faster than healthy cells, and thus that radiation could be used to treat tumours. This led to the development of radiotherapy for the treatment of cancer. Soon after, a flurry of new products were brought to market claiming to provide a cure for just about every ailment. For example, businessman William John Aloysius Bailey developed a range of products sold through his company, Bailey Radium Laboratories, that included Radithor; a distilled water solution containing radium-226 and radium-228. It was advertised as an effective treatment for over 150 conditions, including sexual impotence. Other companies and individuals developed products that included radioactive toothpaste, condoms, and even radioactive percolators such as the ‘Radium Emanator’; a device that irradiated water overnight, ready for drinking the following day. Like arsenic, the physical properties of radioactive materials led to their widespread use in a number of products, which included the creation of a luminous paint known as ‘Undark’; a mixture of radium carbonate and zinc sulphide, that was primarily used to paint clock and watch dials. Uranium was used as a pigment for colouring ceramics and glass. Sadly, the condoms were not endowed with this feature.
The genetic effects and increased cancer risk associated with radiation exposure were first recognised by Hermann Joseph Muller in 1927, who went on to receive the Nobel Prize in 1946. In 1932, American socialite Eben Byers died from what was then referred to as ‘radium poisoning’. Radium is primarily a beta-emitter. To this day, beta-emitters are typically used over alpha-emitters for therapeutic purposes. After several years of taking his treatment, Byers began developing symptoms of radiation poisoning, which included his teeth falling out. At the behest of regulators who were starting to clamp down on the use of radiation in pharmaceuticals, his lawyer issued a statement that Byers’ “whole upper jaw, excepting two front teeth, and most of his lower jaw had been removed”, and that “all the remaining bone tissue of his body was disintegrating, and holes were actually forming in his skull”. When he eventually died at the age of 51, only six of his teeth remained. Radithor’s inventor, William Bailey, insisted that his invention was safe, and carried on using it until his death from bladder cancer in 1949. His corpse was exhumed 20 years later, and his remains were found to have been “ravaged by radiation”.
The full gravity of the effects caused by radiation however, were not fully understood until the 1940s, when Harry K. Daghlian Jr. and Louis Slotin, two scientists involved in the Manhattan Project that died in separate incidents involving them being exposed to high doses of radiation. These incidents paved the way for stricter protocols and safeguards when working with radioactive materials.
In 1945, the world’s first atomic bomb, ‘Little Boy’, was dropped on Hiroshima, followed shortly by ‘Fat Man’ over Nagasaki. Actress Midori Naka who initially survived the bombing of Hiroshima, died 18 days later of acute radiation poisoning. She became the first person in the world whose death was officially certified to be a result of radiation poisoning, referred to at the time as ‘Atomic bomb disease’.
How ionising radiation impacts the body
As discussed earlier, ionisation can disrupt the normal chemical and biological processes within an atom or molecule, which can in turn lead to a number of undesirable effects, including damage to biological tissues or changes in the behaviour of substances.
Alpha particles (helium nuclei) are relatively large and heavy. They have a positive charge and relatively low penetrating power, and due to their size, can only travel short distances – typically a few centimetres in air, even less in denser materials. They can be completely stopped by a sheet of paper or the outer layer of skin.
As the particles travel through a given medium, they will collide with atoms and molecules present in that medium, which causes them to lose energy, slow down, and eventually come to a halt, at which point they will undergo further interactions with the atoms in the medium to eventually form stable helium atoms.
Alpha particles travel at a speed of ~ 20 million meters / second in air, meaning 1 cm can be travelled in approximately 0.5 nanoseconds. Thus, if the alpha emitting source is external to the body and located at a significant distance, the alpha particles will either dissipate or be absorbed by the surrounding environment before they are inhaled and given the opportunity to do any damage. The danger of alpha particles primarily arises from radioactive sources that are embedded inside the body, or if they are either inhaled, ingested, or enter the body through some other means, by a source that emits them in close proximity to an opening, such as fine particulate matter suspended in air. The DNA-damaging energy deposited by alpha particles is estimated to be 100 – 1000 times greater than that of beta particles.
Beta particles are fast-moving electrons or positrons emitted from the nucleus of radioactive atoms. They are smaller and lighter than alpha particles and can travel several meters in air and penetrate deeper into body tissues. They can, however be stopped by thicker materials, such as a thin sheet of plastic or a layer of clothing. As with alpha-emitters, beta-emitters are most hazardous when they are inhaled or swallowed. Some beta particles are capable of penetrating the skin and causing damage such as skin burns.
According to a guide published by the University of Nottingham concerning safety protocols when working with beta radiation emitting materials, a 1cm perspex (acrylic sheet) will do the job. Thermofisher sell an acrylic bench top radiation shield, similar to the plastic screens those that were (and still are), sold for ‘COVID’.
Disposable sanitary masks such as those used during ‘COVID ‘were made from multiple layers of recycled plastic, and reusable ones from a variety of materials including cloth. A study published in 2020 carried out a series of tests using materials commonly used for cloth-based face masks (cotton, silk etc) and found that they provide “good protection” – that is to say, more than 50%, for particles sized anything from 10nm to 6 micrometers. Similar tests were carried out with the FDA-approved disposable sanitary masks.
Gamma radiation consists of high-energy photons and is the most penetrating form of ionising radiation. It can travel long distances and easily pass through most materials, including body tissues. Shielding with dense materials like lead or concrete is needed to attenuate gamma radiation.
Legitimate concern, or ‘fear-mongering’?
An article published in 2017 by David Ropeik, an international consultant, author, teacher, and speaker on risk perception and risk communication, opined that “nuclear accidents have demonstrated that fear of radiation causes more harm to health than radiation itself”. The article cites a figure reported by The Japan Times in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, that the evacuation killed 1656 people whereas the earthquake ‘only’ killed 1,607. Also cited is a report published in 2016 by the WHO, that found that the Fukushima evacuation increased mortality among the elderly people who were put in temporary housing; “the dislocated population, with families and social connections torn apart and living in unfamiliar places and temporary housing, suffered more obesity, heart disease, diabetes, alcoholism, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, compared with the general population of Japan. Hyperactivity and other problems have risen among children, as has obesity among kids in the Fukushima prefecture, since they aren’t allowed to exercise outdoors”.
On the 26th of April 1986, the Chernobyl power station disaster happened. The Guardian reported that “a major nuclear power accident in the Soviet Union yesterday sent a cloud of radioactivity drifting across much of Scandinavia”. At the time, despite Sweden’s Environment Minister reassurances that the contamination reaching her country was “not considered harmful to health”, The Guardian reported that “many Scandinavians intend to stay indoors until they are certain it is safe to go outside”. Thus, Chernobyl set out a clear precedent for how the public – at least, in some countries – might be expected to behave in the event of an incident involving radiation. It is however, important to note, that the aforementioned scenarios are all ones where the source of radiation are said to have been accidental. If it was disclosed that the incident was in fact a deliberate attempt to cause harm, it is reasonable to assume that much more reassurance would be needed.
A report published in 2006 by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) found in regards to Chernobyl that “the mental health impact of Chernobyl is the largest public health problem caused by the accident to date … Rates of depression doubled. Post-traumatic stress disorder was widespread, anxiety and alcoholism and suicidal thinking increased dramatically”. Undoubtedly, the fear of something can lead to outcomes sometimes be worse than the thing itself. This is one premise that underpins certain acts of terror, including those that may involve so-called ‘dirty bombs’. Unlike nuclear bombs, ‘dirty bombs’ are referred to by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission not as ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ but as ‘Weapons of Mass Disruption’. A report published in 2005 by Dr Frank Barnaby explains; “deaths and injuries caused by the blast effects of the conventional explosives and longterm cancers from radiation exposure would likely be minimal. The true impact of a dirty bomb would be the enormous social, psychological and economic disruption caused by radioactive contamination. It would cause considerable fear, panic and social disruption. The explosion of a dirty bomb could result in the radioactive contamination of tens of square kilometres of a city requiring the area to be evacuated and decontaminated. This is likely to be very costly, perhaps 100s of millions of pounds, and take weeks or, most likely, many months to complete”.
These opinions do not appear to take into consideration the full gamut of possible deleterious effects that would result from chronic exposure to radioactive materials disseminated in this way. For example, we previously explored the role arsenic plays in the development of diabetes. Similar findings apply to ionising radiation; a study published in 2003 found a “a significant and documented increase in the incidence of Type 1 diabetes in children and adolescents after Chernobyl in the radioactively contaminated area of Gomel compared to Minsk”. Animal studies have also found that irradiation can provoke sustained beta cell death, which is said to be the hallmark of type 1 diabetes. Regarding heart conditions, a study published in 2023 found “a causal association between radiation exposure and cardiovascular disease at high dose, and to a lesser extent at low dose, with some indications of differences in risk between acute and chronic exposures”.
In short, is difficult to see how articles such as that published by Ropeik can come to the conclusions they have come to, if the full effects of exposure to ionising radiation are not being accounted for, which is difficult to do, particularly given that some of the deleterious effects caused by exposure to radiation do not manifest until some years later (in the case of cancers, 2 years for Leukemia, 10 years for tumours).
Symptoms of radiation poisoning
Like other forms of poisoning, the symptoms of radiation poisoning are wide-ranging and depend on various factors including the dose, type of radiation, length and mode of exposure. And like arsenic, the effects of radiation exposure are cumulative; a study published in 2009 that sought to investigate the impact of the growing use of low-dose radiation-emitting imaging procedures in the US, found that repeated exposure can result in “high cumulative effective doses of radiation”.
Radioactive iodine therapy is among other things, used to treat a number of health conditions, such as hyperthyroidism. According to Cancer Research UK, side effects of this treatment can include; “inflammation of the salivary glands, dry mouth and changes to your taste, a swollen or tender neck, feeling flushed, feeling sick (nausea)”. In 2011, in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, an article was published detailing the Pentagon’s quest for a more “effective antidote to radiation sickness”. According to Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute spokesman Colonel Andrew Huff “the symptoms of acute radiation sickness will be just exactly like a terrible flu. The person would have headache. They would feel very tired. They would have little bit of fever. They might have some vomiting at higher doses all of this and more but at survivable doses it would come on within 24 to 36 hours”. This delay in the onset of symptoms is similar to that said of types of ‘viral infection’, such as the various ‘strains’ of COVID-19.
Other symptoms can include a variety of rashes. As previously discussed in the research on the various ‘poxes’, it is interesting to note that monkeys irradiated with high doses of X-Rays developed the symptoms of ‘monkeypox’. According to the researchers, the procedure made the monkeys more ‘susceptible’; “irradiation, by decreasing host resistance, may lead to the appearance of clinical disease”.
Externally, beta radiation can result in a rash not all too dissimilar to a sunburn – so-called ‘beta burns’.
This reaction is remarkably similar to the apparently characteristic rash that develops at the site of a tick bite in cases of so-called ‘Lyme disease’, which is also known, like syphilis once was, as ‘The Great Imitator’.
As we saw earlier with the example of Byers, radiation also affects the integrity of teeth and bones. A literature review published in 2015 found that patients undergoing radiotherapy for head and neck cancers are prone to developing dental problems. Among other things, the review concludes that patients should make use of sodium fluoride to reduce the risk of ‘radiation caries’. Sodium fluoride is a known neurotoxin, but has indeed been found to prevent radiation caries both in humans, and in rats. In a study carried out in 1956, two groups of rats were given drinking water to which sodium fluoride had been added. One group was also given radioiodine. The decay rate in the group receiving the sodium fluoride was 29% less than than in the control group. A study published in 1998 found that in mice, “high fluoride intake significantly inhibited the radioiodine uptake”. Fluoride and iodine are both halogens. The former easily displaces iodine in the body because it is much lighter and therefore more reactive. This in turn raises some questions as to why the fluoridation of drinking water was introduced. We will dig into this in a future article.
Lethal dose or LD50 for short, is the amount of an ingested substance that kills 50% of a given test sample. Like other substances, this amount differs quite substantially from species to species for radiation. A paper published in 1996 summarised the differences.
Bats are able to withstand doses of radiation that are 50 times greater (150 Gy) than humans can (3 Gy). Interestingly, bats are also said to be a ‘unique viral reservoir’; a paper published in 2021 states that they are have an “exceptional ability to host viruses without presenting clinical disease”, and that they “host more zoonotic pathogens than any other known mammalian species”. These include ‘coronaviruses’, and bats have been identified “as the richest source of genetically diverse coronaviruses”.
Insects, such as ticks, which are said to spread a number of ‘diseases’ including for example, ‘Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever’, ‘Rocky Mountain spotted fever’, ‘Coloardo tick fever’ and ‘Lyme disease’, also appear to be radiation resistant – as are the ‘pathogens’ they carry. A 2019 study sought to investigate the prevalence of Borrelia burgdorferi (the bacteria said to cause ‘Lyme disease’) and other agents such as Rickettsia raoultii (bacteria said to cause various forms of spotted fever). They found that “the prevalence of some zoonotic pathogens were significantly higher in the ixodid ticks from the CEZ (Chernobyl exclusion zone)” when compared to ticks collected from Kyiv.
These findings not only suggest that animals may contribute to the spread of ‘viruses’ through themselves being exposed to ‘environmental pollution’ but also that some, such as ticks, could potentially be deliberately bred and exposed to such materials, and then released into the wild. Entomological warfare is a type of biological warfare that involves using insects and / animals to damage crops, or directly harm enemy combatants and civilian populations. This is a topic we will explore in more detail in a future article.
Other markers for radiation poisoning
‘Bystander effect’ is the context of radiation exposure refers to a phenomenon whereby non-irradiated cells respond to signals received from nearby irradiated cells. These can include gene expression, cell proliferation and cell death.
We previously discussed the uncanny resemblance shared between exosomes and ‘viruses’. A paper published in 2022 found that exosomes released from irradiated cells activated two stress-induced protein kinases: ATM and ATR in recipient cells. ATM coordinates DNA repair by activating enzymes that fix the broken strands, ATR is involved in sensing DNA damage and activating the DNA damage checkpoint, leading to cell cycle arrest. Cell cycle arrest refers to a temporary halt or pause in the progression of the cell cycle, which may in some cases lead to cell death or apoptosis. Cell death is used by virologists in cell culture experiments as a form of indirect evidence to demonstrate the pathogenicity of the samples they are working with.
In the same way that we have found an association between bacteria and the presence of arsenic species, so too is there an association between radiation exposure and the presence of certain microorganisms, such as radiotrophic fungii. One such example is Cryptococcus neoformans; a radio-resistant fungus that is found can be found in highly radioactive environments, such as Chernobyl. Another example is Histoplasma, which is said to cause an infection known as histoplasmosis. According to the CDC “the fungus lives in the environment, particularly in soil that contains large amounts of bird or bat droppings”. Histoplasma is also known to be highly resistant to radiation. A case report from 2007 details an individual who developed histoplasmosis following radiation therapy.
Like other microorganisms, ‘co-infection’ between these and certain ‘viruses’ appears to be relatively common. For example, a case report published in 2021 details a case of Cryptococcus in a patient with “severe COVID-19”. According to a paper published in 2020, Cryptococcosis is the most common fungal disease in HIV-infected persons, and is said to be ‘AIDS-defining illness’ for 60 – 70% of HIV infections. Interestingly, the WHO’s HIV / AIDS European surveillance report for 2018 (based on data from 2017) found that two countries alone – Ukraine and the Russian Federation — accounted for 75% of all newly diagnosed infection cases in the WHO European Region, and for 92% of cases in the east.
An organism that has been irradiated cannot ‘transmit’ the energy deposited in them by the radioactive materials onto others. However, an organism that has ingested or inhaled the emitting materials can transmit these materials on to others through various bodily fluids and excreta, in much the same way ‘viruses’ are said to spread.
In 2003, in Taiwan, it was reported that 8 healthcare workers were contaminated with radioactive iodine (iodine-131) contained within spilt urine originating from thyroid-cancer patients. Radioiodine is also secreted in saliva and faeces. A study published in 2018 found that approximately 24% of the administered radioiodine found its way into the patients saliva. Similar findings apply to other materials, such as caesium-131, although the levels appears to differ, and are not always predictable. The accumulation of these substances in saliva suggests in turn that an individual exposed to them can contaminate others by sneezing, coughing or spitting – either directly or by contaminating surfaces those others then come into contact with.
An article published in 2022 details the various safety protocols the author had to follow after having been treated for ‘Grave’s disease’ with radioiodine. Measures included; staying 6 feet away from others, sleeping alone, no kissing or sexual contact, no close contact with pregnant women or children, no non-emergency medical and dental treatments, and no busy social situations. Such measures appear to be warranted; a study published in 1992 researching the resulting levels of room and air contaminations following radioiodine treatment found that the researchers found “significant levels of [radioactive] activity in the perspiration, saliva and breath of patients treated with [radioiodine] for thyroid cancer during their hospitalizations”.
In order to prevent the accumulation of radioactive materials, health authorities also recommend ensuring that any space occupied by a patient being treated in this way be well-ventilated; “you should stay in a well-ventilated room with a window to the outside that can be opened, separate from other people in your home if this is possible. Keep the door closed”. A literature review published in 2017 on the subject referenced a study also notes that studies such as the aforementioned that are carried out in hospitals do not account for differences in conditions in other environments where a contaminated patient may be located; “the room at home may have fewer air exchanges per unit time that that typically found in the hospital, leading to higher air concentrations at home”.
A similar pattern appears to apply to ‘viruses’, such as ‘COVID’. A study published in 2021 found that the risk of outdoor ‘transmission’ for ‘COVID’ in the summer was higher on days with low wind speed.
Animals and plants accumulate and dispose of radioactive materials in a similar way. In 2003, a group of scientists reporting finding had high levels of radioactivity in bird droppings and plants on an island close to the Arctic. The chain of transmission was hypothesised to be the following; “birds eat contaminated fish and crustaceans, and the radioactive material is then concentrated in their faeces. The extra nutrients the droppings provide encourage plants to grow, and the plants take up and concentrate the radioactive material”. At the time, this method of dissemination appeared to be a novel idea, with one commentator stating “I don’t think people have looked at this particular pathway before”.
Another story published in 1998 concerned radioactive pigeons that had become contaminated at the UK’s Sellafield plant in Cumbria. Janine Allis-Smith campaign co-ordinator for the Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment campaign stated in relation to the story that “we are obviously concerned that pigeons could be flying around with particles of radioactive dust on their wings which could fall on people and be inhaled.” The same site made the news in 2010, but this time, it was seagulls that were of concern.
In 2010, it was reported that some ‘radioactive rabbits’ were found in the Hanford nuclear reservation, a decommissioned nuclear production complex. Contaminated rabbit droppings were found in the area, with several rabbits found to be highly contaminated with radioactive caesium. According to the article, one theory is that the “rabbit might have been sipping water that collected in the building’s basement after water was sprayed during demolition to suppress dust”. In 2003, a number of radioactive wasp nests were found across the same site. According to the article, these nests were built by mud dauber wasps who had used the mud created from the water being sprayed to control the dissipation of dust during the demolition of a basin attached to the reactor.
In 1998, the same site was home to a story about gnats and flies. According to the article; “a fixative with a sugar base that Hanford officials use as a spray to prevent radioactive materials from becoming airborne may be contributing. The fixative, which consisting mostly of glucose, is sprayed onto equipment destined for maintenance work. It then dries to a hard finish, supposedly immobilising any radioactive materials. But Hanford officials suspect it may be attracting insects.”
In 1993, a story was published concerning ‘radioactive bats’ that had made their home at a children’s holiday camp in a suburb of Chelyabinsk, Siberia. According to the article, the bats had fed at Lake Karachay. Located in the eastern part of Russia, close to the border with Kazakhstan, Lake Karachay won in 1951 the Guinness Book award for ‘most radioactive lake’. Established in 1945 as the primary production facility for the Soviet nuclear weapons program, the Mayak Plutonium Plant used the lake between 1951 and 1953 as a dumping ground for radioactive waste. The practice carried on until the 1990’s. In 1957, the plant was the site of a major disaster; an improperly stored underground tank of high-level liquid nuclear waste exploded, contaminating thousands of square kilometers of land, now known as the Eastern Ural Radioactive Trace. The disaster spread hot particles over more than 52,000 square kilometres. ‘Hot particles’ are microscopic pieces of radioactive material, such as those disseminated by a nuclear explosion or ‘dirty bomb’. Due to their small size, hot particles may be swallowed, inhaled or enter the body by other means.
In 2000, a paper discussing the problems associated withLake Karachay area, and how it can spread elsewhere; “what is of real danger is opened water surface. Spread of the radioactive aerosols by the wind still take place. Thereto we mustn’t eliminate a possibility of tornado or storm above Karachay (only in this century thirteen tornados were registered at the Ural region). The consequences of this can be much more severe than an accident of 1967 or 1957”.
In summary, a great deal of the phenomena attributed to ‘viruses’ and other ‘germs’ can be explained by ionising radiation, as can many of the measures taken to allegedly to fend of ‘viral particles’.
In the next article, we will be taking a closer look at other methods by which radioactive materials can be dispersed, and in particular, so-called ‘dirty bombs’.
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