ognizant Communication Corporation

A Journal of Science Serving Legislative, Regulatory, and Judicial Systems
Human Advancement · Environmental Protection  · Industrial Development

Volume 7, Number 5, 2000

Technology, Vol. 7, pp. 539-552, 2000
1072-9240/00 $20.00 + .00
Copyright © 2000 Cognizant Comm. Corp.
Printed in the USA. All rights reserved.

Expert Reviews of Health Reports on CBS Television's 60 Minutes, 1978-1995

William M. London, Elizabeth M. Whelan, and Ruth Kava

American Council on Science and Health, New York, NY

We conducted an evaluation study in which we subjected obtainable transcripts of health stories aired on 60 Minutes to scrutiny by scientific and medical experts in a manner similar to peer review of scholarly papers. A total of 97 transcripts of 60 Minutes stories from 1978 to 1995 were identified as addressing medical treatments or alleged health threats. Each transcript was reviewed by one or more panels, each consisting of three experts. Each expert completed for each assigned transcript an evaluation form addressing issues of scientific accuracy. The form included eight items with five response options ranging from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree," one question asking for an overall "report card grade" ranging from "F" (failure) to "A" (excellent) that was recoded as integers from 0 to 4, and four questions eliciting comments. The adjusted (by number of reviewing panels) overall mean transcript grade was 2.0 (corresponding to "C," meaning fair). Less than 25% of the transcripts received mean grades greater than 3.0; over 40% received mean grades less than 2.0. Errors of inattention to evidence and of imprudence were common. The most frequently cited problem was that transcripts relied too much on anecdotal evidence (adjusted percentage of agreement responses = 55). Reporting accuracy of 60 Minutes was judged only fair, on average. Data suggest that stories ranged from egregiously misleading to excellent and accurate reports.

Key words: 60 Minutes; Health reports; Expert evaluation

Address correspondence to William M. London, c/o Jeff Stier, American Council on Science and Health, 1995 Broadway, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10023. E-mail: wlondon@worldnet.att.net.

Technology, Vol. 7, pp. 553-575, 2000
1072-9240/00 $20.00 + .00
Copyright © 2000 Cognizant Comm. Corp.
Printed in the USA. All rights reserved.

Radioactive Contamination of the Techa River and its Effects

Dmitriy Burmistrov,1* Mira Kossenko,1 and Richard Wilson2

1Urals Research Center for Radiation Medicine
2Harvard University

Soon after 1945 the Soviet Union decided to build an atomic bomb with a high priority. The first plutonium production reactors operated in 1948. In their haste, 2 million Curies of radioactive material, including 500,000 Curies of strontium 90, were dumped into the Techa River from 1949 to 1956. Since the project was top secret, the villagers downstream were not at first informed and some 50,000 drank the contaminated water. This article outlines the measurements of the pollution, the estimates of the radiation doses to the people, and a summary of the effect on the health of the population.

Key words: Techa River; Radioactive contamination; Leukemia; Radiation sickness

Address correspondence to Richard Wilson, Department of Physics, Harvard University, 17 Oxford St., Cambridge, MA 02138. Tel: (617) 495-3387; Fax: (617) 495-0416; E-mail: wilson@hwhepl.harvard.edu

*Now at Menzie Cura Associates.

Technology, Vol. 7, pp. 577-590, 2000
1072-9240/00 $20.00 + .00
Copyright © 2000 Cognizant Comm. Corp.
Printed in the USA. All rights reserved.

Decommissioning the World's Premier Facility for Radiological Research: The Janus Reactor

Anibal L. Taboas,1 Yvette T. Collazo,1 and Charles Fellhauer2

1Chicago Operations Office, U.S. Department of Energy, Argonne, IL
2Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL 60439

This article describes the management approach used in the successful decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) of JANUS, a small and historic research reactor. The 200-kW light water-cooled reactor operated as the world's premier facility for research in radiobiology from August 1963 to March 1992. The facility was designed to study biological effects of high and low doses of radiation. The D&D project was completed in October 1997 at a cost of $2.1 million. The fieldwork was completed in 38 weeks, without lost-time accidents, personnel contamination, or unplanned exposures. The total dose equivalent to the personnel during the entire project was 4.82 mSv. The lessons learned in the process are also presented.

Key words: JANUS Reactor; Decontamination and decommissioning; Radiological research

Address correspondence to Anibal L. Taboas, U.S. Department of Energy, Chicago Operations Office, 9800 S. Cass Avenue, Argonne, IL 60439-8321. Tel: (630) 252-2236; Fax: (630) 252-2654; E-mail: Anibal.Taboas@CH.DOE.GOV

Technology, Vol. 7, pp. 591-593, 2000
1072-9240/00 $20.00 + .00
Copyright © 2000 Cognizant Comm. Corp.
Printed in the USA. All rights reserved.

Relationship Between Blood Fibrinogen Levels and Exposure to Elevated Levels of Airborne Pollution or Changes in Ambient Temperature

C. Hazell,1 P. Collins,3 G. Karani,1 and M. Burr2

1Pollution and Health Research Group, School of Applied Sciences, University of Wales Institute Cardiff, Cardiff, UK
2University Hospital of Wales, College of Medicine, Temple of Peace and Health, Cathays Park, Cardiff, UK
3Haematology Unit, University Hospital of Wales, Heath Park, Cardiff, UK

This study was designed to establish whether blood fibrinogen levels in human subjects are affected by exposure to airborne pollution, as a risk factor in myocardial infarct and heart failure. Daily fibrinogen levels were compared to daily levels of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone, particulate matter, and sulphur dioxide, lagged zero, 1, and 2 days. Control was made for daily air temperature and pressure, but not seasonality. Daily fibrinogen levels were derived from records of patients at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, measured as course of coronary preventative medicine. No significant changes were observed in fibrinogen levels when exposure to elevated airborne pollution occurred. Exposure to elevated levels of airborne pollution and changes in outdoor temperature does not affect blood fibrinogen levels, and cannot explain the increase in risk of myocardial infarction and heart failure seen in association with air pollution.

Key words: Fibrinogen level; Airborne pollution; Ambient temperature; Myocardial infarct

Address correspondence to C. Hazell, Pollution and Health Research Group, School of Applied Sciences, University of Wales Institute Cardiff, Llandaf Campus, Western Avenue, Cardiff CF5 2YB, UK. Fax: 44 (0) 1222 506985; E-mail: chazell@uwic.ac.uk