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How Radiation Affects You

National Geographic, vol. 175, no. 4, April 1989 - Living with Radiation

Pilgrim releases the different types of radiation that affect our bodies, as illustrated above. They can be either inhaled or ingested. They enter the soil and water, then plants, animals and fish, traveling up the food chain to humans. These elements concentrate in various parts of our body.

The NRC and industry considers "inert gases" (such as Xenon and Krypton) that Pilgrim releases to be harmless because they do not combine with any other elements when they are inhaled. This ignores the fact that during normal radioactive decay, inert gases become deadly. Krypton 90 decays into Strontium 90 and attacks bone marrow. Xenon 137 becomes Cesium 137, which attacks muscles and genitals. Inert gases, when inhaled, tend to be taken up by the adrenal glands. Filters cannot stop inert gases.




THE NUCLEAR POWER EXPERIMENT - Prepared by Kate Parker Adams

You are invited to take part in an experiment. Or you would be invited, if this experiment were covered by international standards for human experiments. Radioactive materials will be released from a nuclear power plant into the air you may breathe, the water you may drink, and the food you and your family may eat.  This experiment will last as long as the nuclear power station is in operation.  It will continue while the plant is chopped up or “decommissioned”- as long as fifty years or more.  Nuclear waste transport will extend the experiment to areas distant from nuclear facilities.

You have no choice but to participate in this experiment.


While the nuclear power station is operating normally, it will discharge radioactive materials such as: strontium; tritium; argon;
krypton; cesium; barium; iodine.

These radioactive materials will be released from the power plant into the air as steam, or in wastewater. They may travel some distance from the plant in the air depending on the weather and release conditions. Radioactive materials in water will move with water in the ground, travel down stream in rivers, or move with ocean currents.

You may breathe these radioactive materials in the air, drink them from water sources, or eat them in food grown with contaminated water or soil.  We do not know how much, if any, radioactive material you will breathe or swallow.  The Nuclear Power Experiment has no plans to track these radioactive materials.

Risks, Discomforts, and Inconveniences

The health effects of breathing or swallowing radioactive substances from nuclear plants are not well studied.  The amount of radiation you will get from the Nuclear Power Experiment is much less than the amounts of whole-body radiation people had in Hiroshima. So we will tell you that the Nuclear Power Experiment will not cause you health problems even though swallowing or breathing radiation for many years is different from being bombed.


When nuclear power was new, experimental subjects were told that they would receive electricity for little or no money, otherwise known as “too cheap to meter”.  You will get about twenty-percent of your electricity from the Nuclear Power Experiment and pay market rates for this electricity.

Alternatives (Other Options)

Nuclear power is not the only way to generate electricity.  Alternatives include: development of our nation's vast potential for wind and solar power; using less electricity by reducing waste; encouraging energy efficient technology and design.

In Case of Injury

If physical injury resulting from participation in the Nuclear Power Experiment should occur, your medical treatment will be entirely up to you.  Persons conducting the Nuclear Power Experiment do not have to take any responsibility for the health of exposed subjects, and are exempted from liability in case of catastrophic accident.

No Signature Needed

I have been informed about the Nuclear Power Experiment, its possible benefits, risks, and discomforts.  I recognize that I have no choice but to take part in this experiment and that my continued exposure is involuntary.  I understand that if the Nuclear Power Experiment was conducted according to human experiment standards started after the Nuremburg Trials, I could refuse to be exposed to potentially harmful radioactive materials for which the health effects are not established.


More about radiation health effects