Radiation and Public Health Project

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Radiation and Public Health Project is a nonprofit educational and scientific organization founded in 1985 by Jay M. Gould, a statistician and epidemiologist,[1][2] and Ernest Sternglass.[3] The New York based group was established by scientists and physicians dedicated to understanding the relationships between low-level, nuclear radiation and public health,[4] and questions the safety of nuclear power.[2] The project's main contributors are Jay M. Gould, Ph.D., the Founder, Director, and first President of RPHP; Dr. Ernest Sternglass, physicist and Professor Emeritus Radiation Physics of the University of Pittsburgh; Joseph Mangano MPH, MBA, executive director of RPHP; Bill McDonnell MPA, Janette Sherman, MD Adjunct Professor of Environmental Studies at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo; and Dr. Jerry Brown, Founding Professor Florida International University. Most of the members of the group have published both books and articles in peer-reviewed journals.[5]

As of November 2010, Radiation and Public Health Project members have published 27 medical journal articles on health risks from radioactive exposures to nuclear reactors and weapons tests. RPHP has conducted the only[citation needed] study of in body radiation near U.S. nuclear plants. It studied 5,000 baby teeth, the results of which were published in 5 medical journal articles. High and rising levels of strontium-90 in baby teeth were found near reactors. Other RPHP studies have found elevated rates of childhood, thyroid, and other cancers near reactors. The work of the Radiation and Public Health Project has been criticized by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in a statement citing only one other peer-reviewed publication besides those of the RPHP.[6]

A set of 85,000 teeth that had been collected by Dr. Louise Reiss and her colleagues as part of the Baby Tooth Survey were uncovered in 2001 and given to the Radiation and Public health Project. By tracking the individuals who had participated in the tooth-collection project, the RHPR published results in a 2010 issue of the International Journal of Health Service that showed that those children who later died of cancer before the age of 50 had levels of strontium 90 in their stored baby teeth that was twice the level of those who were still alive at 50.[7][8]

Leukemia study[edit]

This study was published in a 2009 issue of the European Journal of Cancer Care. It disputes a large scale analysis conducted by the National Cancer Institute in the late 1980s.[9] Sternglass's study found that leukemia death rates in U.S. children near nuclear reactors rose sharply (vs. the national trend) in the past two decades. The greatest mortality increases occurred near the oldest nuclear plants, while declines were observed near plants that closed permanently in the 1980s and 1990s.[9]

Several methodological problems in the study were found by the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Nuclear Regulatory Commission and nuclear industry groups.[10] Among the errors were: small sample sizes used to draw far-reaching conclusions; no control populations; no other cancer risk factors considered; no environmental sampling and analysis; cherry picking of data to fit the conclusion; and an incorrect half-life used for strontium-90. As such, the results have not changed the opinion of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that there is no excess cancer risk from living near nuclear facilities.[6]


According to a 2003 article in The New York Times, the group's work has been controversial, and had little credibility with the scientific establishment.[2]

There was significant criticism raised of the "cherry picking" of data by the Radiation and Public Health Project authors to support an anti-nuclear power perspective in a 8 April 2014 article in Popular Science, by Sarah Epstein titled, "What Can We Do About Junk Science?" .[11] This article also notes that having peer-reviewed articles is no guarantee of scientific objectivity, as numerous "peer reviewed" publications derive their financial support from the payments that authors make to have their articles disseminated.

Quoting from the article, ...When a journal publishes a paper outside its area of expertise it should raise a red flag, according to Ivan Oransky, a medical doctor and the cofounder of the Retraction Watch blog, which reports on the retractions of scientific papers. The Fukushima study deals with epidemiology. It appeared, however, in the International Journal of Health Services (IJHS), which specializes in public and social policy, including "the articulation of science and ideology in the pursuit of health."

The IJHS is peer reviewed. Peer review alone, though an important step in establishing scientific credibility, is no guarantee of accuracy. During the typical review process, a scientist submits his or her research paper to a journal. If the journal editors want to publish it, they usually ask two experts to anonymously assess whether the findings are novel, important, and supported by the data. But journal reviewers don't typically scrutinize raw data, re-run the statistical analyses, or look for evidence of fraud. "What they're reviewing are mostly advertisements of research rather than the research itself," Stanford epidemiologist John Ioannidis says....

Another significant issue is the profit motive for individuals such as Joseph Mangano. He is apparently the sole paid employee of the Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP,) which is classified as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. The most recent RPHP IRS 990EZ disclosure is the annual report filed in April, 2012 for the calendar year 2011 RPHP operations. This report shows total 2011 RPHP revenue was $122,251.00, with 2011 Employee Compensation and Benefits (100% for Joseph Mangano) at $86,583.00, or 70.8% of the total 2011 RPHP revenue. .[12] This return also discloses that RPHP has obtained during calendar Years 2007-2011 total public support of $586,502.00

Some other scientists support the work, including the controversial Samuel Epstein, professor of environmental and occupational medicine at the University of Illinois, who said in 2003 that the group was "producing solid scientific work that stands critical peer review."[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jay M. Gould Dies at 90; Warned of A-Plant Risks
  2. ^ a b c d Andy Newman (2003-11-11). "In Baby Teeth, a Test of Fallout; A Long-Shot Search for Nuclear Peril in Molars and Cuspids". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-31. 
  3. ^ "About RPHP". RPHP. Retrieved 2008-12-31. 
  4. ^ "RPHP - Radiation and Public Health Project". RPHP. Retrieved 2008-12-31. 
  5. ^ "A List of Radiation and Public Health Project Professional Publications Since 1994". RPHP. Retrieved 2008-12-31. 
  6. ^ a b "Backgrounder on Radiation Protection and the "Tooth Fairy" Issue". U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. 2010-02-17. Retrieved 2010-11-07. 
  7. ^ Hevesi, Dennis. "Dr. Louise Reiss, Who Helped Ban Atomic Testing, Dies at 90", The New York Times, January 10, 2011. Accessed January 10, 2011.
  8. ^ Wald, Matthew L. "Study of Baby Teeth Sees Radiation Effects", The New York Times, December 13, 2010. Accessed January 10, 2011.
  9. ^ a b Child Leukemia Rates Increase Near U.S. Nuclear Power Plants
  10. ^ "Peer-Reviewed Science on Radiation Health Effects Dispels ‘Tooth Fairy Project’". Nuclear Energy Institute. August 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-07. 
  11. ^ Sarah Epstein (2014-04-08). "What Can We Do About Junk Science". Popular Science. Retrieved 2014-05-21. 
  12. ^ RPHP (2012-04-15). "RPHP IRS 990EZ filed in April, 2012". Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved 2014-05-21.