Toxicologist Steven G. Gilbert, PhD, DABT, a regular guest who is helping us understand the toxicity of common chemicals we may be frequently exposed to. Dr. Gilbert is Director and Founder of the Institute of Neurotoxicology and author of A Small Dose of Toxicology- The Health Effects of Common Chemicals.He received his Ph.D. in Toxicology in 1986 from the University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, is a Diplomat of American Board of Toxicology, and an Affiliate Professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington. His research has focused on neurobehavioral effects of low-level exposure to lead and mercury on the developing nervous system. Dr. Gilbert has an extensive website about toxicology called Toxipedia, which includes a suite of sites that put scientific information in the context of history, society, and culture. www.toxipedia.org
LISTEN TO OTHER SHOWS WITH STEVEN G. GILBERT, PhD, DABT
- Toxics in the Air We Breathe—Indoors and Outdoors—and How it Affects Our Health
- Toxic Solvents and Vapors
- How Pesticides Can Harm Your Health
- Why Do People Doubt the Science Behind Toxics?
- There is No Safe Level for Lead Exposure
- Fewer Chemicals Make Healthier Babies
- Why We Shouldn’t Have Nuclear Power Plants
- How Mercury Affects Your Health
- Persistant Bioaccumulative Toxicants
- How Endocrine Disruptors Disrupt Our Endocrine Systems
- Toxics Throughout History—Exposure to Toxic Substances is Not New
- The Ethics of Toxics
- How to Determine Your Risk of Harm From an Exposure to a Toxic Chemical
- The Basic Principles of Toxicology
- Meet a Toxicologist
TOXIC FREE TALK RADIO
The Dangers of Exposure to Radiation and How to Protect Yourself
Host: Debra Lynn Dadd
Guest: Steven G. Gilbert
Date of Broadcast: April 14, 2014
DEBRA: Hi, I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and this is Toxic Free Talk Radio—where we talk about how to thrive in a toxic world and how we can live toxic-free because there are so many toxic chemicals around, so many toxic things that we’re exposed to that we need to be able to identify them, we need to know where they are, and we need to know what to do in order to protect our health—physical, mental, spiritual and our happiness, and raise our children well, and have a future, and just do everything that we want to do in life that often toxic chemicals prevent us from doing because they’re making our bodies sick.
Today, we’re going to be talking about radiation, and the reason that we’re talking about radiation today is because I saw an article we’ve all been watching for the past few years about Fukushima—the radiation coming from the nuclear plant when there was the earthquake.
And this spring, it’s being expected that radiation from Japan, from that earthquake, will be arriving, in small amounts, on the West Coast of the United States.
There was an article about how a group of people have gotten together to do, what they’re calling, a citizen scientist program. And they’re crowd-sourcing funding to have water tested along the West Coast, to find out how much were actually being exposed to this radiation.
And so if the federal government does not consider this to be a priority because the levels are so low, still, people, citizens, are considering this as to be something that we want to find out about. And I’m glad they are doing that.
There’s a website called OurRadioactiveOcean.org, and there’s lots of information there that shows what’s going on as to how much radiation is happening. So that’s something that you can check on.
Another thing that prompted me to do this was last summer, I think it was, I interviewed a woman named Cory Trusty. She has a business where she makes soap. It’s called Aquarian Bath. And I interviewed her because she does not use plastic in her business. She’s a plastic-free business, and she wraps everything in paper, and all of that.
But one of the things that she makes is what she calls a detox soap with zeolite and activated charcoal and bentonite clay.
And she actually lives on the West Coast, and she has her own meter, so that she can check the radioactivity where she lives.
This was last summer. She found that there was sufficient radiation that she needed to develop this soap, so that when people are exposed to radiation, they can wash with this particular soap, and it will take the radiation off of their bodies.
So people are concerned about this. It’s invisible, it’s not something that you’re going to walk outside and say, “Oh, there’s radioactivity,” but it’s something that we need to understand and we need to learn how to protect ourselves.
So I have here today toxicologist, Dr. Stephen Gilbert. He’s been with us before. He’s the director and founder of the Institute of Neurotoxicology. He’s the author of A Small Dose of Toxicology—The Health Effects of Common Chemicals. And he has a wonderful site called Toxipedia.org.
And before we start talking, I just want to tell you that you can go to Toxipedia.org, and everything that we’re going to talk about today is on the website for free, and you can read it. It’s in the chapter about radiation in his book, A Small Dose of Toxicology, and you can get that for free right on his website.
This is something that you’re probably going to want to read about. This is not enough just to have it go by and listen to it.
This is an important subject that we all need to be concerned about.
Hi, Dr. Gilbert. Hello?
STEPHEN G. GILBERT: Yes, I can hear you.
DEBRA: Okay, good. I can hear you. Hi.
STEPHEN G. GILBERT: Hi there.
DEBRA: So you’re over there on the West Coast of the United States where the radiation is coming.
STEPHEN G. GILBERT: I am. So we’re watching for it. It’s supposed to arrive next month or so, on the water, an ocean plumed of radioactivity at very low levels, but it’s not something we want to see on the West Coast.
DEBRA: No, it’s not. So if there’s a plume coming in on the ocean, would people be exposed to that if they’re not in the ocean?
STEPHEN G. GILBERT: No, it’s in the ocean. The thing to be concerned about is potential for fish to concentrate the radioactive particles. And there’s some concern about tuna [inaudible 00:05:19] along with fish [inaudible 00:05:22] particularly the [inaudible 00:05:24] part of the contaminants that were released by the Fukushima reactors—they’re melting down.
But these fish have been tested too, and they’re at very low levels, at least up until now.
DEBRA: Well, let’s see what happens. It’s something to watch out for. But tell us, I know you’ve been on before. I always like to start with people’s history, so why don’t you give us just a little bit of background about you, just for the people who haven’t heard you before.
STEPHEN G. GILBERT: My background is, I did a lot of work on lead and mercury. I was very interested in protecting children’s central nervous systems and making sure they could reach and maintain their full potential.
And from there, I wrote a book—A Small Dose of Toxicology. My view is that we have tremendous amounts of knowledge.
The challenge is using this knowledge to take [inaudible 00:06:15] and understanding the consequences of chemical exposures. You have to remember that children are not little adults. They eat more, breathe more, and drink more than adults do [inaudible 00:06:25] get a bigger exposure because children are more sensitive to radiation exposure, for example.
[inaudible 00:06:32] can get to the thyroids and cause thyroid cancer.
But my interest [inaudible 00:06:38] how do we make better decisions given the information we have, protecting children from lead, mercury exposure and other contaminants in our environment, and other chemicals we use.
DEBRA: And he’s doing a very good job at this. I find, out of all the information that I’ve read in the past 30 years, the easiest information to understand is Dr. Gilbert’s.
STEPHEN G. GILBERT: Thank you, Debra. That’s so kind of you.
DEBRA: You’re welcome. Well, it’s true. And I just think everybody should go to Toxipedia.org, and it’s the easiest place for a person who’s not a scientist to understand what the chemical exposures are, and some things that you can do about it.
And he’s also got some very fascinating information about the history, and ethics, and everything that has to do with toxicology.
STEPHEN G. GILBERT: For example, we highlighted Rachel Carson. It says in 1964, Rachel Carson died today in 1964.
DEBRA: I saw that and I was going to mention it, so I’m glad you mentioned it. Rachel Carson is one of my heroes. I think that most people don’t realize—I didn’t read, let’s see. How old was I in 1964? I was nine years old. Obviously, I wasn’t reading Silent Spring. But Silent Spring is such a perennial classic that I could have read it at any point in time, but I didn’t, even though I was interested in toxics.
I didn’t read it until about three years ago, I think. I read it one summer. And all of a sudden, I realized that I had always thought that it was an environmental book because she was talking about the birds. That’s why it’s called Silent Spring because the birds weren’t singing anymore because the pesticides had killed them.
And so I always thought of it as being environment. But then I hit this chapter where she talked about pesticides in human exposure. And I realized that that was probably the very first book on human, for the general public, about human exposures to toxic chemicals—that that was a warning way back in 1964.
And yet, nobody was doing anything about it.
STEPHEN G. GILBERT: Yes, there’s a great quote from Rachel Carson. It’s on the front page of Toxipedia right now. It says, “We are rightly appalled by the genetic effects of radiation. How then can we be indifferent to the same effects in chemicals we disseminate widely in our environment?”
She’s a remarkable, amazing woman.
DEBRA: She is. And I highly recommend that you also, everybody also, read Silent Spring. It’s such a context for where we are today, and that all these things were known back in 1964. And it’s [inaudible 00:09:22] so long to do what we need to do to make things right.
But that’s part of why we’re here on Toxic Free Talk Radio in order to push this forward.
We’re going to take a break.
STEPHEN G. GILBERT: [inaudible 00:09:34] using the information we have to make the decisions. And we’ve known a lot of this stuff back when—Rachel Carson’s time. And we’re still overexposing ourselves to pesticides, just using chemicals, not understanding the toxic properties, and exposing our children to them.
We’re not thinking about the future generation.
DEBRA: Well, you and I are making a difference about this, I know. We’re going to take a break, and then we’ll come back, and we’ll find out about radiation.
This is Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and my guest today is toxicologist, Stephen Gilbert, and his website is Toxipedia.org.
= COMMERCIAL BREAK =
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and my guest today is toxicologist, Dr. Stephen Gilbert. We’re talking about radiation.
Dr. Gilbert, would you explain what radiation is?
STEPHEN G. GILBERT: That’s a big question.
DEBRA: It is a big question, and I always get confused about it.
STEPHEN G. GILBERT: We need to [inaudible 00:10:30] from photosynthesis onwards, and when we look at the sun, I’m sure everybody enjoys a little sunshine. And that sunshine is important for the warmth it provides, as well as the photosynthesis of the plants. So really, it sustains life.
But as with all things, and we know the sun can also be dangerous. [inaudible 00:10:50] too much, [inaudible 00:10:51] sunburn, and that could be very hazardous to our health.
So it’s always a balance, and that’s called non-ionizing radiation. We’ve [inaudible 00:11:00] radiation for our cell phones, for our telephone communication that uses enormous amounts of energy and a lot of that is radiation.
And the ionizing radiation is what’s given off [inaudible 00:11:13] particles that are decaying, and that can damage our health. And they come in the form of alpha and beta particles, and gamma rays. So there’s a wide spectral radiation. A lot of it [inaudible 00:11:26] radiation came at the turn of the century.
Marie Curie, for example, was one of the leaders in this, about [inaudible 00:11:31]. But it was really not until World War II, during the 40’s, that we learned how to build nuclear reactors, and the first reactor to go critical [inaudible 00:11:41].
The B Reactor was in Richland, Washington at the Hanford [inaudible 00:11:46] area. [inaudible 00:11:48] called Hanford Nuclear Testing Grounds. And the B Reactor produced plutonium. So that’s what these reactors did. It really manufactured plutonium, and learning how to do that was really incredibly scientifically challenging, as well as really interesting.
But the tragic part was the plutonium can be used to create nuclear weapons.
And they did that. The first nuclear bomb was [inaudible 00:12:11] Trinity, and another bomb was the [inaudible 00:12:13] constructed bomb to strike Nagasaki.
But the basic design of the reactors went on to create nuclear power reactors. And you have to remember that nuclear power reactor is basically boiled water to drive big turbines. So this produces radioactive waste, and that’s very hazardous.
And we’ve struggled to deal with this radioactive waste problem for a long time.
And that’s when the reactors melt down, like in Fukushima. There had been other nuclear reactor accidents too from [inaudible 00:12:43] in Chernobyl. It contaminated enormous amounts of the earth, and displaced millions and millions of people.
And we have millions and millions of people now in the United States [inaudible 00:12:54] that live within 50-miles of a nuclear reactor [inaudible 00:12:58]. [inaudible 00:12:59] and be aware that there are potential hazards in nuclear reactors and meltdown in Fukushima, is just an example of that.
So radiation is a broad subject. I really encourage you to read the chapter of radiation of my book, A Small Dose of Toxicology, gives an overview of that. [inaudible 00:13:18] go to a lot more details about it, but it’s a complicated subject, but it really deserves some study.
DEBRA: Now, could you explain—because this is where I think it becomes confusing for a lot of people. And I had to separate this out for myself. So when we are using a cell phone, we’re being exposed to radiation, but there are also radioactive particles. There are particles coming in the ocean, and they get into a fish, and then we eat them. And that particle gets into our bodies.
So can you explain the difference between these two things?
STEPHEN G. GILBERT: Yes. That’s a fairly important distinction. So the radiation that’s come from our microwave power and our cell phones, and many other gadgets that we use—Wi-Fi signals for example. And some people do seem to have some sensitivity with this radiation is the non-ionizing radiation. So it’s low energy, and generally does no harm.
The ionizing radiation [inaudible 00:14:22] the particles [inaudible 00:14:25] plutonium, uranium, and other radioactive elements. [inaudible 00:14:32] more energetic particles, and they can create ions that can damage the DNA.
So the radioactive particles, if we absorb those radioactive materials, they can damage the DNA, and the DNA could then mutate and start dividing, and become cancerous.
So for example, plutonium—you can hold plutonium in your hands because it’s by large an [inaudible 00:14:55] particles have very low energetic in larger particles, so they cannot penetrate the skin. But the problem is if you inhale plutonium, and get that particle in your lungs, it [inaudible 00:15:06] your DNA, it can cause lung cancer.
So it really depends on what kind of exposures you have, whether it’s an internal dose exposure, or an external dose.
And then there are beta particles that are more energetic. It can travel through paper, but a block of wood can stop them, so they don’t travel as far. And gamma radiation is highly damaging, very energetic. The gamma rays require lead or concrete to stop them. That’s the best way to sum it up—what are low energy or high energy particles.
And the most dangerous ones are the ionized radiation, the high energy particles—the alpha, beta and gamma rays.
DEBRA: So how prevalent is it if I’m just walking around in the world at large, and I’m not getting x-rays or something like that? How are we being exposed, and are we being exposed to a degree that we should be concerned about?
STEPHEN G. GILBERT: We are always being exposed, and our bodies try to repair some of the damaged caused, for example, by the sun. But if you walk outside in the sun, and you’re being exposed to radiation, toxic radiation, if you go into an airplane, and you fly, you increase your exposure to cosmic rays.
And we can tolerate some of that and there are standards about that. So we’re all exposed [inaudible 00:16:34] radiation.
People who live in higher elevations are exposed to more radiation.
Then we can also have radiation from sun contributes to global warming and greenhouse gasses that stop the radiation and trap the heat from the energy of the sun.
So there are many aspects to radiation. The concern is if you’re [inaudible 00:16:56] radioactive particles or [inaudible 00:16:56] material exposed to that, you can damage your DNA. And that’s why people who work around nuclear reactors, they have [inaudible 00:17:06] exposure to radioactive materials, trying to limit that damage.
But we also use radiation a lot. For example, dental x-rays, x-rays in hospitals, CT scans—all these use ionizing radiation x-rays that have the potential of higher dose to damage your DNA. And you use those materials, for example, radiation, in chemotherapy that’s used to kill the dividing cells of cancer. But on the other hand, it can also cause cancer.
So we have very tenuous relationships with radiation.
DEBRA: Good. We need to take a break, but we’ll find out more about radiation, and what we can do to protect ourselves, and how much of a danger it is when we come back. My guest today is Dr. Stephen Gilbert. He’s a toxicologist. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and you’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. We’ll be right back.
= COMMERCIAL BREAK =
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and my guest today is toxicologist, Stephen Gilbert. Ph.D. He’s the author of A Small Dose of Toxicology—The Health Effects of Common Chemicals. And you can get a free copy of this book at his website, Toxipedia.org.
It’s a book that I think everyone should have if you only become aware of this shortlist of chemicals in Dr. Gilbert’s book, and do something about those, we’ll all go a long way towards eliminating a lot of toxics in the world. It’s just an excellent guide.
And I just think everyone on the planet should have one.
And since it’s free, everybody can have one. It’s just a matter of distributing it around.
So before we go on, Dr. Gilbert, I just want to point out some consumer product sources of radioactive materials. I have made an article on my website called Are You Protected from Radiation Exposure?
Actually, you can just go to ToxicFreeTalkRadio.com. Go up to the menu at the top, and there’s a little icon that looks like a magnifying glass. Click on that and type in the word “radiation.” And anything I’ve ever written about radiation will come up.
And in this article, it’s got some wonderful links to various websites that will explain to you in easy terms about what radiation is. But there are also two links that I’ve included about where you find radiation, radioactive materials in consumer products.
And some of the surprising places you might find it is in dinnerware, especially they pointed out [inaudible 00:19:49] in some bathroom tile, in porcelain dentures, let’s see what else—there’s actually some old glass that’s green and yellow called uranium glass that actually has radioactive uranium in it. There’s also a camera lens, low sodium salt—in fact, in particular, anything that has potassium in it is more radioactive than things that have sodium in it.
Glossy magazines, let’s see what else—anti-diarrhea medication, smoke detectors, cat litter. There are a lot of things here that you just wouldn’t think of—water softener, salt, a tape dispenser.
I don’t know how much is in any of these things. But one of the things that we should just be aware of is that these things are all over the place, and the more we’re exposed to them—cigarette smoke.
Actually, in this article, it says, that I was just showing you—let me quote it to you from the EPA. The EPA says by far the largest radiation dose received by the public comes from smoking cigarettes. And they while cigarette smoke is not an obvious source of radiation exposure, it contains small amounts of radioactive materials which smokers bring into their lungs as they inhale. They lodge in the lung tissue, and over time, contribute a huge radioactive dose.
So even if you’re not smoking, if you’re living with somebody who smokes, or you’re breathing cigarette smoke, that’s radioactive exposure.
So obviously, this is something that is out there. There are two things I just want to recommend, and then we’ll go back to Dr. Gilbert. There are two things I want to recommend that you can do to lessen your radioactive exposure.
One is that if you think you have any radiation in your water, there’s a water filter that I have the link on it on this page that removes radiation. And this is the only water filter I’ve ever found that removes radiation. So if that’s a concern for you, if you think it’s raining radiation and getting into your water system, or anything, any reason that you have to believe, then you can actually remove radiation from your water.
Another thing that you hear our commercials for every day on my radio show is liquid zeolite, pure body liquid zeolite. And that will remove radiation from your body, if you have radiation in your body. Zeolite is the thing that they use when there was a meltdown in a nuclear reactor. They bring in the zeolite to absorb the radiation. And so this zeolite product will remove radiation from parts of your body.
So again, just go to ToxicFreeTalkRadio.com, and click on the little magnifying glass icon, type in “radiation,” and you’ll get several different articles that I have written with more information about where it is in consumer products, and what you can do.
Okay, back to you, Dr. Gilbert.
STEPHEN G. GILBERT: Yes, I wanted to mention too another [supporting] source is radon gasses. So radon can [inaudible 00:23:15], so I encourage your listeners to have their homes [inaudible 00:23:18] for radon, to clean certain parts of their [inaudible 00:23:21]. It tends to be more [inaudible 00:23:24] hard rock foundations—Pennsylvania for example.
And you can accumulate radon gasses which are radioactive. And if you’re a smoker, you’ll increase probability of lung cancer from inhalation of radon gas.
DEBRA: And of course, if you’re smoking around children, you’ll increase their chances of cancer as well.
Tell us about the health effects of radiation.
STEPHEN G. GILBERT: So there are different health effects. The primary one is [inaudible 00:23:54] about cancer. For example, and you have to [inaudible 00:23:56] elements are positive. Strontium, for example, goes to bone, so it can damage the bone marrow and cause leukemia and other blood types of cancers.
If you get plutonium or other particles in your lungs, you can get lung cancer. And the particles also go to your kidneys. [inaudible 00:24:14] substitutes for potassium, so it distributes [inaudible 00:24:20] phosphorous, it distributes throughout the body. So that can cause radioactivity in a variety of organs.
So my primary concern is cancer, although exposure to radioactive gamma rays, for example, can increase likelihood of glaucoma, and having it in the lungs or the lenses in the eye, and other things like that.
So there’s a range of health effects, but the primary one is concern about cancer—the damage to [inaudible 00:24:48] resulting from damage to your DNA.
DEBRA: Yes, that just seems like such a fundamental thing—to damage your DNA.
STEPHEN G. GILBERT: Yes. Like I mentioned, we have some kind of repair mechanisms, but that can easily be overwhelmed. And everybody’s familiar with skin cancers that are caused by too much exposure to the sun. And we actually use sun blocks and other chemicals to block—sunscreens, but they also have their own side effects, and many of them now use nanoparticles to block the sun’s rays.
And the greenhouse gasses in the ozone reduce the amount of ozone, and [inaudible 00:25:24] increases ultraviolet light, and ultraviolet light is more energetic, and that causes increase of likelihood of skin cancers.
So we have to be very careful to guard our natural environment. The earth is a very precious thing that is being damaged by our release of materials. I think that [inaudible 00:25:42] materials, and you gave a great list of the, Debra, is [inaudible 00:25:45] increase in the background radiation [inaudible 00:25:49] Fukushima is really increasing the background radiation [inaudible 00:25:54] in our environment.
We don’t really want to go there.
DEBRA: No, we don’t need that. We need to take another break. You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and my guest is Dr. Stephen Gilbert. His website is Toxipedia.org where you can get a whole lot of information about radiation, and all kinds of other toxic chemicals. It’s the best, most complete, most easy to understand information that I think is on the internet. And so I hope you all will go there and get a free copy of A Small Dose of Toxicology.
And we’ll be right back to talk more about radiation.
= COMMERCIAL BREAK =
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and my guest today is Dr. Stephen Gilbert, toxicologist, author of A Small Dose of Toxicology, and his website, where you can get a free copy of his book, is Toxipedia.org.
Dr. Gilbert, one of the things I love about your work is that it’s very interesting to read all the historical associations that you have. You just don’t tell us, for example, that radiation causes cancer. You tell us a story of how they discovered that.
Would you tell us that story?
STEPHEN G. GILBERT: Yes, that’s a very interesting story, how that came about, and starting at the turn of the century, what [inaudible 00:27:11] and other that discovered the x-ray, about Curie discovering uranium. It’s really the fundamentals of science that were discovered from Einstein, [inaudible 00:27:21] and developing of, as I’ve mentioned before, the B
Reactor, and the Manhattan Project in Chicago [inaudible 00:27:28].
The B Reactor at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation was the first large scale reactor to go critical, and they built a number of other reactors to create plutonium.
So the first use of nuclear was with x-rays, and [inaudible 00:27:44] evolved into creating nuclear weapons. [inaudible 00:27:48] talk about that—the nuclear power because right now, the nuclear power plants that were [inaudible 00:27:53] peace program were—Fukushima’s [inaudible 00:28:00] Mark II, Mark I and Mark II reactors were not very safe. That’s what melted down in Fukushima.
But these reactors were basically designed to boil water, and create steam to their electricity. The nuclear reaction at Hanford was designed with a different purpose—to create plutonium, to extract plutonium for nuclear weapons.
[inaudible 00:28:19] northwest, and Bangor Submarine Base is one of the largest concentration of nuclear weapons in the world. We spend enormous quantities of money [inaudible 00:28:29] radiation. And this is the legacy of the Cold War, but somehow that war is ongoing with nuclear weapons. And then we create all this nuclear waste from the nuclear power reactors.
So [inaudible 00:28:42] be thoughtful about radiation, and the creation of more radioactive materials that we’re doing for the war efforts, as well as for nuclear power. So I think that it has a long complicated history. We tried to document some of the history, particularly around Hanford, in a website called The Washington Nuclear Museum and Education Center, which [inaudible 00:29:04] look at the worldwide implication of Hanford.
[inaudible 00:29:07] some more insights and history of this [inaudible 00:29:10] nuclear weapons that [inaudible 00:29:12] in Las Vegas, when you get tired of gambling and things like that, the Nuclear Testing Museum, that’s within walking distance from the Center Las Vegas, go over there and look at the number of weapons that were detonated. Over a thousand nuclear weapons were detonated outside of Las Vegas to [inaudible 00:29:28] radiation.
There are a lot of studies done on health effects. And we [inaudible 00:29:34] Marshall islands’ story, a really important culture there.
So have done a lot of damage with nuclear material, and we continue to do that with our exposure of radiation material, and increasing the background levels of radiation in our environment.
It’s why I urge people to [inaudible 00:29:51] legacy of [inaudible 00:29:57] material. We’re really creating a lot of waste for future generations to deal with.
DEBRA: I agree. And I think that something like using nuclear weapons and the nuclear waste that comes from nuclear power plants, it seems like such a big issue. It’s not like going into a grocery store and buying organic [inaudible 00:30:18].
What are some of the things that we can do to help that bigger problem?
STEPHEN G. GILBERT: This is a huge issue. A lot of our nuclear plants are aging. I would urge everybody to look around, and look at the nuclear power plants that they have in their state and ask [inaudible 00:30:37] questions.
When we have that campaign right now in Washington, we have one nuclear reactor. It’s the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
And ask the questions about how that plant is doing, and are we really generating energy that is useful. It’s useful energy, but what are the byproducts generation? What are the waste products that are being produced? Where is the waste going?
Right now, we don’t have any plans for the nuclear waste [inaudible 00:31:06]. These plants generate enormous quantities of nuclear waste from the [inaudible 00:31:11] fuel rods that are using these reactors.
And also, the nuclear weapons industry, it’s enormous. We spend a lot of money on that. We’re now looking at redesigning nuclear bombs when what we really need to be doing is retiring these weapons and urge our congressional leaders to move toward a nuclear-free United States.
DEBRA: Yay. Yes. And I would just say that in my own life, I’ve noticed that there are ways to be with people that result in conflict, and ways to be with people that result in harmony and friendship. And I, for one, don’t think that we need to have nuclear bombs. I think what we need to do is improve our relations with other countries. And I think that that’s possible that we can live in a [inaudible 00:31:55].
STEPHEN G. GILBERT: I really agree with that. If you look worldwide, the issues with North Korea and South Korea, North Korea nuclear weapons, India and Pakistan is a very serious area. The positions for self-responsibility just [inaudible 00:32:09] report on [inaudible 00:32:11] that is the Pakistan and India [inaudible 00:32:13] even a minor exchange of nuclear weapons, it could kill 2-billion people from creating a nuclear famine from the dust and the changes in the environment that were let loose by just the detonation of very few nuclear weapons.
So we don’t need nuclear weapons to solve world problems. There’s no problem it’s going to solve.
DEBRA: I think that everybody should just lay down their nuclear weapons and if we have to have pistols at dawn or whatever, do something else, but don’t use nuclear weapons because that would just be a tragic [inaudible 00:32:46]
STEPHEN G. GILBERT: [inaudible 00:32:46] submarines roaming the ocean with nuclear weapons in them.
DEBRA: No, I totally agree with that. I totally agree. Well, the story I wanted you to tell us was about the Radium Girls.
STEPHEN G. GILBERT: The Radium Girls, that’s a fascinating story. So the Radium Girls, after World War I, you can’t even [inaudible 00:33:08] also used this during World War II to [inaudible 00:33:13].
But the Radium Girls worked for a corporation that was painting [inaudible 00:33:17] painted the watch dials and other instrument. And they used the tips of these brushes to paint the radium onto the watches, and they would sharpen these tips by putting it in their mouth.
But the radium is a bone-seeking radioactive material. And the radium would get into the bones and cause cancers of various sorts, mouth sores and things like that.
There were some jokes about, “Radium just make your teeth glow a little bit better.”
But t turned out, the owner of these plants and the scientists involved [inaudible 00:33:48] material but just didn’t take [inaudible 00:33:53]. The workers were not given any guides in taking any precautions.
So five of the women that were exposed to radiation were dying from radium exposure sued, and this is one of the first suits that resulted in monetary compensation. It really set the stage to some changes in workplace injuries and considerations of workplace exposure to materials—not just radium. But radium is a classic example of workers being exploited and exposed to very toxic material while where knowledgeable people are very cautious about it.
So it’s a great story. I urge you to take a look at that story, and look into the Radium Girls. There’s a play about it, and I think a movie.
DEBRA: A movie? Wow. You have in the radium chapter of A Small Dose of Toxicology, there’s a little quote from an article where it tells about how the women painted their teeth and faces, and then turned off the lights for a laugh.
And I can just see these women being completely innocent, and not knowing that they’re putting radioactive stuff on their faces. And yet they’re doing it because it would make them light up, just like the dials.
STEPHEN G. GILBERT: Yes, [inaudible 00:35:05]. It’s really tragic. It’s a really horrible situation, and it is completely avoidable.
DEBRA: And another example of this workplace exposure that’s even earlier was the mercury that was used to make hats.
The phrase “the Mad Hatter” came from hat makers being exposed to mercury, which affected [inaudible 00:35:28].
STEPHEN G. GILBERT: The Mad Hatter [inaudible 00:35:29], Alice in Wonderland, the Mat Hatter from exposure to mercury from hat building. And that was another really important story in trying to understand how [inaudible 00:35:40].
Both of these we knew are potential hazards, and we just disregarded workplace safety.
DEBRA: And that’s still going on. That’s still going on.
STEPHEN G. GILBERT: We need to be always vigil about that.
DEBRA: Yes, that needs to be fixed. There’s so much work to do. Anyway, we only have about a minute left. Are there any final words you’d like to give?
STEPHEN G. GILBERT: I think that we really need to be thinking about future generations, and creation of more nuclear waste is not consistent with our concern about future generations and child health because somebody has to deal with this waste. We have no good [inaudible 00:36:15] right now, and we definitely need to curtail our use of nuclear weapons, and reducing our nuclear weapons.
There’s no reason for the world to have 17,000 nuclear weapons in the world and spend billions and billions of dollars on management and developing new delivery systems for nuclear weapons.
So radiation is all over the place. We need to be very cautious about it. I urge everybody to learn a little bit more about it.
DEBRA: Thank you so much. And a good way to learn about it, as I said before, is to go to Toxipedia.org. There’s free information just right there that you can find about radiation. You can also read the radiation chapter in A Small Dose of Toxicology, Dr. Gilbert’s free book about toxic chemical exposures and what you can do, so you can understand the chemicals.
You can also go to my website, ToxicFreeTalkRadio.com. Go up to the menu at the top. There’s a little icon that looks like a magnifying glass. Just click on that and type “radiation” in the search box, and several articles will come up, and you can find out more about what you can do to protect yourself more about where those toxic chemicals in consumer products. You can find out about Cory Trusty’s soap that you can wash radiation off your skin if you’re exposed to it.
And there are just lots of information about all kinds of toxic chemicals, and what you can do about it on my website Again, that’s ToxicFreeTalkRadio.com. And thank you very much, Dr. Gilbert, for being with us today.
STEPHEN G. GILBERT: You’re very welcome. I really appreciate your show, Debra. Thank you so much.
DEBRA: Thank you.