Cancer-resistant genes in wolf population at Chernobyl?

February 13, 2024, 9:40AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Love

The thriving gray wolf population in the Chernobyl exclusion zone (CEZ) has been the subject of recent media interest. While some sensationalist reports have referred to “mutant wolves” with “superpowers,” other news outlets have offered more sober discussions of the science behind the story.

Cara N. Love, a biologist and postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University, has been following the wolf population. Her research in the Chernobyl exclusion zone (CEZ) in Ukraine and Polesie State Radioecological Reserve in Belarus is helping biologists understand how nature adapts to chronic radiation exposure.

Cloud chamber kits show radiation in action for K-12 students

January 25, 2024, 7:00AMNuclear News

American Nuclear Society conferences always showcase the latest in nuclear, but one of the biggest attractions at this past November’s Winter Conference and Expo in Washington, D.C., was tech that is not new at all: cloud chambers. The Society is launching a new K-12 outreach effort featuring the ANS Visualizing Radiation Cloud Chamber Kit, and ANS staff were on hand to show it off.

Issues on microreactors and irradiation experiments planned for ANS's Nuclear Science and Engineering

December 14, 2023, 3:03PMANS News

Two teams of guest editors from Idaho National Laboratory have announced plans for special issues of the American Nuclear Society's Nuclear Science and Engineering, the nuclear community’s longest-running technical journal. Abdalla Abou Jaoude and Abderrafi M. Ougouag are leading the NSE issue Technical Challenges and Opportunities in the Development and Deployment of Microreactors, while Joseph Nielsen and Piyush Sabharwall are organizing the NSE issue Irradiation Experiments Supporting Advanced Nuclear Technologies.

American Nuclear Society supports water release at Fukushima Daiichi

August 24, 2023, 8:41AMPress Releases

Washington, D.C. – The American Nuclear Society (ANS) supports the start of Japan’s controlled release of re-treated, diluted tritium wastewater into the sea from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), which sustained damage in the aftermath of a 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Nuclear worker data examined in new low-dose radiation health effects study

August 24, 2023, 7:01AMNuclear News

A group of researchers analyzed recent updates to the International Nuclear Workers Study (INWORKS) and published their findings—“Cancer mortality after low dose exposure to ionising radiation in workers in France, the United Kingdom, and the United States (INWORKS): cohort study”—in the journal BMJ on August 16. The multinational research team, led by David B. Richardson of the University of California–Irvine, reports “evidence of an increase in the excess relative rate of solid cancer mortality with increasing cumulative exposure to ionizing radiation at the low dose rates typically encountered by French, U.K., and U.S. nuclear workers [and] evidence in support of a linear association between protracted low dose external exposure to ionizing radiation and solid cancer mortality.”

Renewed effort on Radiation Exposure Compensation Act

July 14, 2023, 12:01PMNuclear News

Crapo

Bipartisan legislation has been reintroduced in Congress to strengthen the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), improving compensation for people who were exposed to radiation as a result of working in uranium mines or living near sites of nuclear weapons testing during the Cold War. The legislation was introduced recently in the Senate by Sens. Mike Crapo (R., Idaho) and Ben Ray Luján (D., N.M.) and in the House by Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández (D., N.M.) and Del. James Moylan (R., Guam).

Follow-up bill: Originally introduced by Crapo in 2021, S. 2798 was put forward again to follow up on the success that Crapo, Luján, and Fernández had last year in extending the RECA program into 2024. The reintroduced bill, which added Moylan as a sponsor, would extend the program further to cover more communities with former uranium workers and “downwinders” (people who were exposed to radiation because they lived downwind from weapons testing sites). While the original legislation covered people in parts of Utah, Nevada, and Arizona, the bill will now also cover those who lived in Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico, and Guam.

Public support for nuclear stays at record highs, but misconceptions remain a problem

June 7, 2023, 8:15AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The latest National Nuclear Energy Public Opinion Survey conducted by Bisconti Research has found for the third year in a row that more than 75 percent of the U.S. public supports nuclear energy. In addition, approximately 70 percent of the public supports the building of additional nuclear power plants in the United States.

ORNL-developed AR tool will help workers “see” radiation

May 8, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
A still image from an ORNL video demonstrating the VIPER technology. (Credit: ORNL)

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory developed a method of using augmented reality (AR) to create accurate visual representations of ionizing radiation, and that technology has just been licensed by Teletrix, a Pittsburgh, Pa.-based firm that develops simulators to train radiological workers and radiological control technicians. ORNL announced the news on May 4.

Source Security Working Group continues advocating for access to radiological sources

February 28, 2023, 7:07AMANS News

One of the biggest challenges in the nuclear community identified by ANS in 2017 is the continuous availability of radioisotopes. Working to meet that challenge is the ANS-led Source Security Working Group (SSWG), an alliance of industry sectors—including energy, health care, and industrial radiography—that seeks to ensure continued access to radiological sources. The SSWG serves as a strong voice to protect the continued availability of radiological sources, ensuring that laws and policies are risk informed, science based, and support the highest levels of public health and safety.

Artemis I mannequin crew outfitted with dosimeters for trip around the moon

November 18, 2022, 6:53AMNuclear News
A rendering of Helga and Zohar side by side aboard the Orion spacecraft. (Image: NASA/Lockheed Martin/DLR)

NASA’s Artemis I mission, successfully launched at 1:47 a.m. EST on November 16 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, will travel 40,000 miles beyond the moon—farther from Earth than any human-crewed space mission has flown before. The historic trip was launched by the world’s largest rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), nearly 50 years after NASA last sent humans to the moon. And while no humans are on board the Orion spacecraft, two fabricated crew members—“Luna Twins” Helga and Zohar—were assembled with thousands of sensors to obtain the best estimates yet of cosmic radiation exposure to human tissues during space travel.

Interactive Isotopes App launches on ANS website

October 27, 2022, 3:01PMANS News
A screenshot of the Interactive Isotopes App from the ANS website depicting U-235 and its decay chain. (Graphic: ANS)

In the summer of 2019, three students from the University of South Carolina–Aiken (USCA) had an idea to digitize the isotope. Wei Zheng, Drake Jones, and Joseph Taylor set out to design an app that would be an interactive one-stop shop for information about any isotope—number of protons and neutrons, whether it is stable or radioactive, its natural abundance on earth, and even its uses. From these ideas, the Interactive Isotopes App began to take shape.

The app’s launch was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic; although it was complete after three years of work and development, the creators sat on it. On October 12, the app at long last went live on the ANS website.

Why Japan’s response to Fukushima radiation failed while Utah’s response succeeded

August 18, 2022, 7:02AMNuclear NewsJames Conca

Aboveground atomic bomb test at the Nevada Test Site while troops look on. These clouds of material often wafted over to Utah during the 1950s. (Photo: NNSA)

In 1953, the United States detonated above­ground nuclear weapons during tests at the Nevada Test Site. In 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown occurred in Japan. Both events spread radioactive material over many miles and over population centers. Neither event resulted in any adverse health effects from that radiation.

But the response to the Fukushima event was disastrous because of the irrational and misinformed fear of radiation. That fear—not radiation—killed at least 1,600 people and destroyed the lives of at least another 200,000. That fear seriously harmed the entire economy of Japan, stopped cold the fishing industry and other agriculture in that area, and, overnight, reversed the country’s progress in addressing climate change.

The U.S. tests spread two to three times more radiation than did the events of Fukushima over the people of Utah, particularly the town of St. George. Like with Fukushima, no one was hurt, there was never any increase in cancer rates, and no one died as a result. But in Utah, the economy and people’s lives were unaffected. Why was there such a different result?

ANS Grand Challenge: Low-dose radiation

July 25, 2022, 3:18PMNuclear NewsAmir A. Bahadori

The June 2017 special report on the ANS Nuclear Grand Challenges (available online at ans.org/challenges/) identified low-dose radiation as a crucial focus area for ANS. Specifically, the challenge is to “Establish the scientific basis for modern low-dose radiation regulation.” This is particularly difficult given the long review cycles associated with International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) and National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) recommendations. Additionally, while the Environmental Protection Agency is tasked with issuing guidance on radiation exposure standards in the United States, responsibility for implementing and enforcing radiation protection regulations is distributed throughout the federal government. Finally, while it is accepted that tissue reactions (previously called deterministic or nonstochastic effects) exhibit a dose threshold, there is still substantial scientific debate over the shape of the dose response at low doses for stochastic effects, such as cancer. Despite these hurdles, substantial progress has been made over the past five years on the low-dose radiation grand challenge.

ANS virtual event: Experts share their expectations for low-dose radiation research

July 20, 2022, 3:00PMANS News

The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics released a report in June recommending that the United States invest a total of $1.5 billion in low-dose radiation research over the next 15 years. Congress is working through the Fiscal Year 2023 appropriations process at this writing, and many in the nuclear community are hopeful that research programs that have been starved of funding and leadership will be reinvigorated and bring long-overdue clarity to questions of low-dose radiation science, policy, and regulation.

Register now for ANS virtual event on the future of low-dose radiation research

July 11, 2022, 7:00AMANS News

The United States could invest a total of $1.5 billion in low-dose radiation research over the next 15 years if Congress, the Department of Energy, the National Institutes of Health, and other stakeholders carry out the recommendations set forth in a National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics report released in June.

Join ANS Executive Director/CEO Craig Piercy on July 15 at 12 p.m. (EDT) for a free public webinar—“High Expectations for the Future of Low-Dose Radiation Research"—on the impact of the National Academies report as the U.S. embarks on a new era of low-dose radiation research.

NASEM report: U.S. low-dose radiation research needs DOE/NIH leadership

June 3, 2022, 9:29AMNuclear News

A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) estimates that $100 million annually will be required for the next 15 years to develop a coordinated research program led by the Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health to study how low doses of radiation affect disease risk. The recommended research would investigate causal links to specific health conditions and better define the impacts of radiation doses, dose rates, types of radiation, and exposure duration.

A critical shift in low-dose radiation research and communication

July 2, 2021, 2:15PMUpdated December 30, 2021, 7:15AMNuclear NewsSusan Gallier
A hot cell at Argonne National Laboratory was used to demonstrate a process for purifying molybdenum-99, an important diagnostic medical isotope. (Photo: Wes Agresta/ANL)

The biggest impact of radiation in our lives may come not from radiation itself, but from regulations and guidelines intended to control exposures to man-made sources that represent a small fraction of the natural radiation around us.

Decades of research have been unable to discern clear health impacts from low levels of ionizing radiation, leading to calls for a new research program—one with a strategic research agenda focused on how the scientific understanding of the health effects of low doses (below 100 millisievert) and low dose rates (less than 5 mSv per hour) can best be augmented, applied, and communicated.

RaFTS: The Radiation Field Training Simulator

July 9, 2021, 2:43PMNuclear NewsGreg White, Steve Kreek, William Dunlop, Joshua Oakgrove, Dan Bower, Dave Trombino, Erik Swanberg, and Steven Pike

One of the biggest challenges in training for incidents and emergencies that involve high-radiation-dose hazards is balancing between realism and safety. To be truly prepared for the realities of real-world nuclear and radiological emergencies, responder personnel need experience against those hazards but without introducing additional and very personal risks associated with unnecessary radiation exposure. The difficulty is in figuring out how we can achieve a level of realism that encompasses the entire process, from the initial detection of a hazard or threat, through its characterization, to recommending actions and leadership decision-making.