Date: Monday March 28, 2011
Radiation has long been identified as a serious risk factor in various human diseases. Previous disasters at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island have highlighted the risks and fears, but now another tragedy has occurred, with implications yet to be determined. The earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the resultant ongoing struggles to contain radiation released from reactors there, has brought radiation to the forefront again. What are the primary risks to human health, of both acute high-level and lower-level exposures? Are there scientifically valid strategies for minimizing harm in those exposed? And how might such disasters best be avoided in the future?
This call featured two leading experts on these issues, with opportunity for some questions and answers.
Arjun Makhijani, PhD, President of The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, holds a Ph.D. in engineering (specialization: nuclear fusion) from the University of California at Berkeley. He has produced many studies and articles on nuclear fuel cycle related issues, including weapons production, testing, and nuclear waste, over the past twenty years. Most recently, Dr, Makhijani has authored Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy. He is the principal editor of Nuclear Wastelands and the principal author of Mending the Ozone Hole, both published by MIT Press.
Ira Helfand, MD, is a past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, and is a nuclear expert who has dedicated his life to educating the public and the medical establishment about nuclear energy. He has published articles about the real and potential public health consequences associated with nuclear reactors. He is a board-certified internist in Springfield, Massachusetts and a graduate of Harvard University and Albert Einstein Medical College.
The call was moderated by Steve Heilig, CHE Director of Public Health & Education, and Director of Public Health & Education, San Francisco Medical Society.