There seems to be little data about the amount of radiation in this country. This has not always been so. I recently received a link (h/t to Bill) about data collected in this country in 1957.
The study shows that much of the United States received a thyroid dose equivalent of 1-3 rads. To put this dose into perspective, and knowing that 1 rad equals 1 rem, there is a report by NCBI that
Concern about the carcinogenic effects of exposure to radioiodine on the thyroid gland is motivated by three major factors. First, evidence has accumulated that the thyroid gland is uniquely sensitive to the effects of radiation. There is some evidence that measurable increases in thyroid cancer can occur with external doses of radiation as low as 0.1 sievert (Sv) (10 rem). A finite risk at low doses of that magnitude is consistent with risks for other solid cancers reported for the Japanese atomic-bomb survivors (Pierce and others 1996). Second, the cow-milk-man pathway described in theNCI (1997a) report and discussed in Chapter 2 of this report provides a mechanism by which radioiodines in the environment can be greatly concentrated in the human food chain. Finally, because most of the radiation dose is from ingested or inhaled radioiodine, the radiation dose to the thyroid is 500-1,000 times greater than is the largest radiation dose to other organs in the body.
If these studies of radiation releases from the nuclear bomb tests had been continued, we might well be able to see successive layers of radiation shown by the accidents from Mayak, Chernobyl, and Fukushima. For those who missed the story of Mayak, the link reports:
On September 29, 1957 a liquid radioactive waste storage tank exploded following a failure in the cooling system and polluted an area equal to the size of New Jersey with plutonium and strontium. The explosion formed a radioactive cloud over the provinces of Chelyabinsk, Sverdlovsk and Tyumen. A total area of 23,000 sq. kilometers was contaminated and the area is now called the East Ural Radioactive Trace, the EURT. This accident was kept secret from the outside world for military safety reasons and 10,700 people were silently evacuated. This nuclear accident released twice the amount of curies that were released by the Chernobyl accident.
In follow up studies:
A report on the health of the people living on the banks of the Techa River was published in 1991, which showed that the incidence of leukemia increased by 41% since 1950. From 1980 to 1990, all cancers in this population rose by 21% and all diseases of the circulatory system rose by 31%. These figures are probably gross under-estimations, because local physicians were instructed to limit the number of death certificates they issued with diagnosis of cancer and other radiation-related illnesses. According to Gulfarida Galimova, a local doctor who has been keeping records in lieu of official statistics, the average life span for women in Muslyumovo in 1993 was 47, compared to the country average of 72. The average life span of Muslyumovo men was 45 compared to 69 for the entire country.
There is much talk that some “background radiation” is “natural,” but how much of the current “background radiation” is actually an accumulation of all the planned nuclear bomb tests and nuclear industrial accidents? At one point, the US government was actively collecting data. Now all the data is shroud in secrecy. If there is nothing worth hiding, why hide information? Is in possible that the US government has found out that the nuclear age is harmful to people, and wants to keep the information a secret? The information is out there. The nuclear age has brought us increased birth defects, heart disease, cancer, and shortened life spans.