What is Radiation?

People want to know about radiation exposures and doses.

In this video produced by Natural Dentistry in Clearwater, Florida, Dr. Ray Behm interviews Fairewinds President Maggie Gundersen and Fairewinds Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen as they explain the difference between ‘background’ radiation and man-made radiation as well as clarify what’s really going on with added fluoride in drinking water. Recently released and put together from clips filmed in December 2013, this informative conversation will help clarify the question, “What is radiation?”





Intro: Fairewinds Maggie and Arnie Gundersen were interviewed by Dr. Ray Behm, a natural dentist in Clearwater, Florida. In this broad-ranging video on numerous nuclear issues, Fairewinds discusses the types of radiation, effects on the body from radiation, and the effects of nuclear power globally. We would like to thank Doctor Behm for this professional quality production. His website is posted at the end of the video.

RB: Hi. I want you to know that we have two important people that we ran across in our practice of natural dentistry. You see, Maggie and Arnie at Fairewinds dot com are important to the whole planet. We feel like everyone should know about them.

AG: I’m Arnie Gundersen from Fairewinds and today I’d like to talk about the real cause of the accident at Fukushima Daiichi, and how close we came, not just at Fukushima Daiichi, but at three other nuclear sites, and at 10 other …

RB: The message right now is what these two – this couple does right now for the planet along this line of radiation and how it’s just working against life forms across the board. I think Maggie and Arnie are an epitome of someone that’s doing something about it to help. So this interview is to help you navigate into that channel of what radiation is. I hope you can enjoy it.

MG: I founded Fairewinds Associates as a paralegal services firm and expert witness firm in 2003 and incorporated in 2005. I am a paralegal and I work on nuclear cases with many different attorneys throughout the country and throughout the world. Additionally, we were looking at several radiation studies and had people ask us if we could look at nuclear power risk and radiation exposure, or nuclear power releases, dose, and those issues. At that time, we founded – I founded as a founding director, and Arnie’s on the Board with me – we founded a 501(c)(3) because people wanted to underwrite this type of work. And Arnie’s background is unique in the nuclear engineering field.

AG: Yeah. I got a bachelors and masters degree in nuclear engineering in the early 70’s. And back then, we weren’t worried about carbon dioxide. We were worried about running out of oil. And I actually thought I was going to save the world by preventing energy shortage. I wound up with a reactor operators license and I was an Atomic Energy Commission Fellow, and ultimately worked my way up to be a senior vice president in the nuclear industry. Along the way, I worked at Three Mile Island and had people working for me when I was a VP at Three Mile Island, and tried to recover the plant and minimize the radiation that was coming out of it. I left the industry in 1990 as a nuclear whistleblower and John Glenn held congressional hearings that exonerated all of the issues that I had brought up that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had deliberately tried to cover up for several years before that. And when Fukushima Daiichi came along, I saw the same lies being told by the Japanese government that my government had told to the Americans during Three Mile Island, and that the Russians had told to the people in the Soviet Union after Chernobyl. And I really told myself, this is the third time. I’ve seen this lie happen too many times. And I really dedicated the last part of my life to informing people about the dangers of radiation and in particular, the dangers that are associated with the Fukushima Daiichi accidents. You know, in Japan today, the vast majority of the people believe that they shouldn’t start back up the remaining 50 nuclear power plants that weren’t blown away at Fukushima Daiichi. But yet the government is continuing to push for nuclear startups and more nuclear power plants in the future. Why is that when the people in Japan, especially the women in Japan, don’t want this form of energy to endanger their country ever again. And the reason is money. There’s an enormous amount of money on the line here. And the people that invest in nuclear power plants get about a 10 or 11 percent return every year on their investment. Let’s take a new power plant that might cost $20 billion. Well, the investors get 10 percent of that - $2 billion a year for the life of the power plant – 40 or 60 years. It’s a good deal if you’re an investor. It’s a bad deal if you happen to live next to it like the people in Japan. The first use of nuclear power was with a nuclear bomb. And that was created through an enrichment process. In Tennessee, we had enrichment plants that were a mile long and were so top secret that no one knew they existed. They used a gas in those enrichment plants called uranium hexafluoride – that’s uranium with six fluoride atoms in it – hexa. Well, that fluorine had to be gotten rid of after. Well, guess where it went? It wasn’t disposed of. They found a use for that fluorine in fluoride toothpaste. Fluorine is the most electronegative element on the planet. It wants to attach itself to anything. It can attach itself to a uranium atom in an enrichment plant, or it can bond to your teeth.

MG: I was a commissioner for the Department of Public Works, and we oversaw the water supply for the City of Burlington. Our public water director and our commission came to the conclusion that we should remove fluoride from the water. Fluoride that is added to water is a chemical waste product, as Arnie said. Some comes from the nuclear industry; some comes from the phosphate fertilizer industry. None of it is pharmaceutical grade. And none of it is healthy. Dr. Paul Connard (?7:12) is a scientist who’s done an enormous amount of studies and has published a book. He is with Fluoride Action Network. You can go to their website and read why fluoride is so detrimental to personal health and how important it is for us to remove it from our water supplies.

AG: Human beings have always been exposed to background radiation. There are cosmic rays that come down from the sky. There’s the radioactive earths emit gamma rays that come up into your body from below. Bananas have potassium 40 in them. And when you eat that, you are absorbing radiation.

MG: So you’re telling us that there’s a difference between background radiation and man-made radiation? Is there?

AG: (8:05) Oh, yeah. The nuclear industry wants people to believe that Fukushima emitted no more than a couple billion bananas’ worth of radiation. We call that the banana equivalent does, by the way, which is a joke. The radiation from a banana, potassium 40, is very weak. It doesn’t have a lot of energy. The radiation from Cesium 137 is very powerful and likely does 100,000 to a million times more damage than a single decay in potassium 40. So there’s different types of isotopes. The man-made isotopes in general are more energetic than the isotopes that have been here forever and ever. Cesium 137 is a perfect example. It’s a very powerful energy source.

MG: Isn’t cesium called a muscle seeker?

AG: Yeah. Cesium gets absorbed in your muscles and causes an illness called Chernobyl Heart in children. Young children near Chernobyl had enormous heart deformities after the accident. Yuri Bendeshankov (?9:15) did some studies that clearly show that the exposure the children were getting and the heart damage that they were getting were identical to the damage he had shown in laboratory rats that he had been able to dissect. So that this concept of Chernobyl heart has been well known now for close to 20-plus years. Bendeshankov, by the way, was thrown in jail for four years, and that certainly puts a damper on analysis of a very serious question.

MG: And cesium is absorbed – it’s called a muscle seeker because it’s absorbed like potassium into the body.

AG: Yeah. Cesium on the periodic chart – the thing you learned in high school chemistry – cesium and potassium are in the same column on the chart. Another isotope is strontium 90. Strontium is just like calcium so it goes to your teeth, it goes to your bone. It creates leukemia. So strontium 90 doesn’t exist in the natural world; it’s a man-made isotope. Cesium 137 doesn’t exist in the natural world; it’s a man-made isotope. And in general, they’re much nastier because the energy they have is deposited inside your body much more energetically than the potassium from a banana, for instance.

MG: So Arnie, talk to us about fallout, because I remember that there were some pockets of fallout. What is fallout? And how does a radiation plume move? I’ve met Magdalena Verginer (?11:00) and we had her on one of our podcasts and her father, Dr. Ignes Verginer, was critical to the seminal studies on radiation plume movement. Could you talk to us more about that after the accident?

AG: When the Daiichi units had their meltdown, the first fallout was detected on an American aircraft carrier than was 100 miles offshore. The Ronald Regan was mobilized for a rescue effort and soldiers and sailors were coming in from being on deck, highly radioactive. It was later found that the whole flight deck of the aircraft carrier was also contaminated. A lot of those people received excess doses of radiation. And the government really hasn’t been forthcoming about the amount of it. Another source where radiation fell on was the United States Embassy in Tokyo. We’ve got those numbers for the amount of radiation that hit the U.S. Embassy. Clearly, authorities knew that there was an enormous rain coming down from the sky of these particles being emitted from Fukushima Daiichi. Well, it didn’t just stop near Fukushima Daiichi. It floated up into the atmosphere and came down throughout the United States. Parts of the country got it and parts of it didn’t. It seems like where there were rain, especially thunderstorms, it could go up into the upper atmosphere and pull this radiation down. We had hot spots in Arkansas. We had hot spots in Wyoming. We had hot spots in Seattle. The first radiation in the U.S. was picked up in San Diego five days after the accident. What we were able to show at the beginning of the accident was that the average person in Seattle at the end of March and all the way through April and into the beginning of May, was breathing in what we call hot particles from Fukushima Daiichi. We set up filters – little air filters – almost like a cigarette filter, and pulled air through the filter at the same rate that your lung breathes air in. And then we’d open those filters up, lie them on x-ray film and put that x-ray film in a safe for about a week. And you can actually see the burn holes in the film from where these hot particles had lodged. So the average person in Seattle received something on the order of ten hot particles in their lungs for the month of April as a result of what came out of Fukushima Daiichi. These particles were such small size that they could go into your lung but they still had an electro-negativity, which means the attached themselves to the lungs. So I would expect an increase in lung cancer in the Seattle area in the next 10 years as a result of the accident. When the nuclear reactors melted down at Fukushima Daiichi, the first thing that came out of the nuclear fuel were things called noble gases – xenon and krypton. Now scientists had long thought they didn’t react with anything. But for five days after the accident the cloud of these noble gases that hung over Fukushima was enormous. In a cubic meter – 3 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet, there was as much as a thousand disintegrations from noble gases every second. So that exposure to people from the outside was the first exposure that the International Atomic Energy Agency is not taking into account. The next thing that came out was iodine. And iodine lodges in your thyroid. Now they could have taken pills and in fact the pills were available, but the government didn’t release the pills for the first week. So the iodine that was in the air got absorbed by people’s thyroids and we’re already seeing an increase in thyroid nodules and thyroid cancers. The last thing that came out of the nuclear reactor was strontium 90 and cesium 134 and 137 and hundreds of other isotopes as well that are heavier, including plutonium, uranium and things called trans uranics. Those are still lying on the ground. The iodine is long gone. The noble gases are long gone. And the only thing that the Japanese seem to be worried about is the radiation exposure they’re getting from the cesium. That’s a big mistake. They’re deliberately underestimating the exposure that their population received. And I suspect there’ll be an enormous amount more cancers than the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Japanese government are willing to discuss right now.

MG: (15:56) We get a lot of questions from our viewers and listeners on what should we do in this radiological age to mitigate or minimize the impacts of radiation upon our bodies. And a doctor we know on the West coast – Dr. John Abslee (?16:12) has put out a book called “The Fukushima Meltdown and Modern Radiation, Protecting Ourselves and Our Future Generations.” And in it, he has gone into details about what vitamins and supplements one can take to help lessen the impact of radiation, to which we’re all exposed.

AG: We’ve been talking about the radiation that comes out of a nuclear power plant and how that’s ionizing radiation that damages the cellular links and DNA and in your molecules it can cause cancer. There’s a lot of other radiation on the spectrum of radiation and the energy of materials that are a little less than from a nuclear power plant can also be damaging and also have benefits. Your cell phone, for instance, emits a field of electromagnetic radiation that can be hazardous. I used to cross country ski in Upstate New York and whenever I went under power lines, you could tell the snow was different because of the electromagnetic field from the power lines. So we’re exposed to an awful lot of types of radiation that are not ionizing from nuclear power plants, but are still dangerous. It’s important to minimize your risk and at the same time, obviously, receive the benefits of electricity and things in the electromagnetic spectrum. Over the last 20 or 30 years, the use of x-rays medically has gone up, but the impact of dental x-rays has actually gone down. The x-ray is focused at a very narrow area of your body, your body is shielded elsewhere from that radiation, and dentists across the world now have used more and more shorter bursts of energy, especially with digital x-rays now. And the net effect is that per shot, x-rays from dentists have gone down, whereas the rest of the medical establishment is using a lot more x-rays and increasing exposure to a much greater degree. My hats are off to the dental industry for understanding the risk/benefit equation and minimizing the risk and maximizing the benefit. You know, 100 years ago when we began to use electricity, there was really no alternative but to have large central station power. So the argument isn’t about how we got to where we are. We had to. The 20th Century needed large centralization power because we couldn’t distribute the energy; we couldn’t switch it on and off very easily. This is the 21st Century now and we have a different paradigm. The old 20th Century approach is almost like a tree with a couple really huge leaves on it to generate the power the tree needs. The 21st Century paradigm is more like a natural tree with thousands of the smaller, individual leaves that do the same thing. This paradigm about how to generate electricity can be either the 20th Century way with a tree with a couple of large leaves; or the 21st Century way, with a tree with thousands of small leaves. I think we should vote for a tree with a thousand small leaves just like Mother Nature has done.