What and Why?
Ionizing radiations from nuclear reactions are, unlike electricity and high-intensity radio waves, part of the background against which life continues to evolve on earth. Lovelock points out in Gaia (OUP 1979) that primitive life forms had to cope with about ten times the background radiation we now endure, some of it arising from natural nuclear reactors in the earth’s crust. Evidently we should be able to tolerate appreciable degrees of radiation stress without being adversely affected.
Nevertheless we know that dense pulses of radiation are lethal and that sub-lethal doses age you prematurely and may cause cancer and birth defects many years later. Radiation is the only known cause of leukemia, a blood cancer whose frequency varies a lot from place to place and is unusually high near several nuclear reprocessing plants and power stations. The radioactivity of the main isotopes concerned lasts from 25,000 years upwards, so that the opportunities and implications of leakage and accident cannot be discounted — far less the possibility of nuclear war. These issues must be resolved by public debate, but there are two practical matters you can act on for yourself.
Most atmospheric and geological radiation is inescapable and amounts to a third of your total background exposure. But another third derives from Radon and Thoron, radioactive gases that leak from the earth into the atmosphere. They can pass through conventional building materials and accumulate in buildings that are inadequately ventilated or air conditioned, enormously increasing their significance. The background radiation dosage to people in exceptionally affected houses may be as much as 100 times higher than the average, which in Britain is around 2 milliSieverts annually.
This radiation harms you mainly by producing free radicals, which are viciously reactive chemical fragments like splinters of broken glass. They are highly mischievous, able to set off chain reactions that reverberate through your tissues doing widespread damage. The scope of this damage varies enormously according to the concentration in your tissues of free radical scavengers, chemicals that mop up free radicals and can prevent chain reactions from developing.
What can I do?
Advice to maintain and maximise your health
1. Our radiological protection standards depend on statistical averages and theoretical projections from limited experimental evidence. They make no allowance for the wide variations from average values that are likely to occur in practice, even within small localities. Scientific estimates of what we can tolerate have been revised downwards twice in recent years, so reassurances based on them must be treated with caution.
2. Ventilate your home thoroughly in all seasons whenever the weather permits, to flush out any radon. This applies to upstairs flats too.
3. Avoid using aerosol sprays for any purpose; even most spray-can medications are available in alternative forms. This helps slow down the build-up of halocarbon propellants in the upper atmosphere, where they destroy ozone — our shield against cosmic rays.
4. Eat the diet for health, keeping meat to a minimum. Animals scavenge chemical pollutants over a large area in the course of their growth, whereas root vegetables are somewhat protected from atmospheric fallout and even leaves only collect from a limited area.
5. Supplement this with Vitamin C daily according to your means and the risk you are exposed to. This is the cheapest harmless free radical scavenger available. If necessary, a Naturopathic Practitioner or Clinical Ecologist can test your urine to discover how much Vitamin C you can make use of in this way. Vitamins B5 (Pantothenic Acid) and B6 (Pyridoxine) both help to protect skin and other tissues from radiation damage. (Items 4 and 5 apply especially if you have any radiotherapy.)
6. In emergency make up a Bach Flower Remedy as follows: half a teaspoon of sea salt and two drops each of the Tinctures Cherry Plum, Gentian, Rock Rose, Star of Bethlehem, Vine, Walnut and Wild Oat, all dissolved in 100ml of natural spring water. Four times daily take four drops in a teaspoon of water, savoured well for a few seconds before you swallow it.
7. It does no good to worry about things you cannot personally change. Hopefulness and optimism maintain your own purposiveness and immunity and they favourably influence other people. Enough of us all thinking positively can exert considerable influence on events (see your self).