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Who is giving out advice on how to deal with an act of nuclear warfare

Dear Reader,

I have noticed that one web site is offering advice on what to do if some horrible persons let off an atomic bomb near your bomb or if a reactor accident occurs.

http://www.ki4u.com/guide.htm and http://www.ki4u.com/illwind.htm

While the advice contains some very good points such as

1. If you see a bright flash (which you suspect might be an atom bomb) do not go to the window to take a good look at it. Instead seek shelter under a table or a desk.

2. Make sure you store plenty of water (I have paraphrased both bits of advice)

It is important to bear in mind that many people who give out advice have a vested interest which is likely to colour the advice. I think that KI4U is a company which wants to make some money out of marketing potassium iodide pills, Geiger counters and fallout shelters. I saw a photo of a underground blast and fallout shelter (ready for sticking in the ground) all painted in a rather fetching yellow.

At the other end of the spectrum the antinuclear lobby have in the past suggested that the best advice is to campaign for a world free of atom bombs and for an end to the nuclear industry. For example Edward Palmer Thompson edited a book named “Protest and Survive” which was a parody of the UK government’s advice booklet to the general public on nuclear warfare which was named “Protect and Survive”. The title of this book suggests that the way to survive is to protest and demand a nuclear free world.

The antinuclear movement gave and does seem to give out the message that the only action which people can take to protect themselves is to demand an end to all nuclear activities.

To my mind it is like trying to protect children from being run over by cars by banning cars rather than teaching them to cross the road in a safe manner. I would like to point out that Marie Curie’s husband (Pierre) was run over and killed by a horse drawn cart so banning cars will not stop road deaths.

In the time after the Japanese reactor accident I saw a blog entry which suggested that a “Quiet death awaited children” because cesium had entered the drinking water in “Tokio’s groundwater”, the blog was little more than a link farm which included an article which suggested a tiny trace of Cs-137 was in the drinking water (less than 1 Bq per litre, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-04/radioactive-cesium-is-found-in-tokyo-water.html) and a self citation to a blog post which seemed long and full of silly ideas (http://tekknorg.wordpress.com/2011/03/19/effect-of-cesium-and-strontium-on-japanese-children-japanese-officals-irresponsible/),

The blog claimed that a Dr Dörte Siedentopf of the IPPNW stated that “The cesium is biological similar to the potassium and the human body can not distinguish between the good potassium and cesium. The body takes it on the breath and the food. You can not protect yourself.”

I sincerely hope that the medical doctor is being misquoted, while in the human body (and many other organisms) cesium can act as a replacement for potassium it is possible to protect humans and animals from the effects of cesium.

1. Through adjustment of the diet (mushroom and wild game soup will be much worse than most things)

2. Prussian blue can be used to increase the rate of cesium being lost from humans and animals, also the cesium bonded to prussian blue does not leach out into soil.

3. Farming methods can be altered to reduce the transfer of cesium to humans.

To me the idea of a medical doctor giving out the advice that a person’s condition is untreatable while in fact it is very treatable is an outragous breach of the Hippocratic oath. It reminds me of the unethical experiment in the USA where black men were experimented on in the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. In this experiment effective medical treatment was withheld from the men, and they were not even told the nature of their condition thus placing others at risk.

The text of the oath is

I swear by Apollo, the healer, Asclepius, Hygieia and Panacea, and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgment, the following Oath and agreement:

To consider dear to me, as my parents, him who taught me this art; to live in common with him and, if necessary, to share my goods with him; To look upon his children as my own brothers, to teach them this art.

I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.

I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and
similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.

But I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts.

I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation
to be performed by practitioners, specialists in this art.

In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction and especially from the pleasures of love with women or with men, be they free or slaves.

All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession or in daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keep secret and will never reveal.

If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all men and
in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my lot.

I have placed in bold the part of the text which I think deals with the doctor who withholds treatment or medical advice. I think that if the members of the IPPNW want to be experts on the field who offer advice then they should offer better advice than bland statements that “Nuclear power is bad for your health”. They should also provide real and useful advice for people who are living in contaminated areas which allow them to reduce their intake of radioactivity.

If they are not able to do so then I suggest that they leave the whole nuclear area alone, years ago I read a book from the IAEA on industrial radiographic work which has the joyous title of “lessons to be learnt from accidents in industrial radiography”. My pet name for this book is “the little book of horrors”, it is a book which is all about what can go wrong when men and women go out into the field armed with moderate sized (circa 1 to 10 curie) gamma sources to do radiographic work. One of the bits of advice which the IAEA issue is

“Radiographers should refuse work which they is either not trained or equipped for” (My paraphrase)

I hold a view that this advice applies equally well to other areas of life, I think that the medical doctors of the IPPNW should refuse to comment on nuclear matters if they lack training / experience in the field. It is important to bear in mind that dealing with the medical effects of something is not guaranteed to give you an education in the innermost details of the thing which caused the injury or the disease.

In the same way clinical experience in treating bullet / shrapnel injuries does not qualify a person to work with firearms / explosives, a clinical experience of cancer does bestow on a doctor a deep insight into either the chemical and nuclear industry. I hold the view that I am part of the solution rather than part of the problem, so if any members of the IPPNW who either want to improve the training materials they use on medical students or to educate themselves then please feel free to contact me. I can supply suggestions for text books and other things which can be used to provide a person with a proper view of the subject.

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