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By NCF Medical Committee — © 2016 — No posting without written permission

From Winter 2016/7 Forum

One of the questions that the NCF often receives via email is “If you guys think that we have been exposed to radiation, then how might this have occurred?” Most CFIDS/ME patients openly express their skepticism about this possibility. After all, they don’t live near nuclear plants or waste sites so they think that this idea is truly out there from both a practical as well as a scientific perspective.

There have been several resources that we have cited in the past that would be helpful here to consider for this discussion. The first one that comes to mind is the excellent book titled, Poison in the Well: Radioactive Waste in the Oceans at the Dawn of the Nuclear Age by Jacob Hamblin [1]. Hamblin is a Professor at Oregon State University.

According to the book publisher, the description of this book reads as follows: “In the early 1990s, Russian President Boris Yeltsin revealed that for the previous thirty years the Soviet Union had dumped vast amounts of dangerous radioactive waste into rivers and seas in blatant violation of international agreements. The disclosure caused outrage throughout the Western world, particularly since officials from the Soviet Union had denounced environmental pollution by the United States and Britain throughout the cold war. Poison in the Well provides a balanced look at the policy decisions, scientific conflicts, public relations strategies, and the myriad mishaps and subsequent cover-ups that were born out of the dilemma of where to house deadly nuclear materials. Why did scientists and politicians choose the sea for waste disposal? How did negotiations about the uses of the sea change the way scientists, government officials, and ultimately the lay public envisioned the oceans? Jacob Darwin Hamblin traces the development of the issue in Western countries from the end of World War II to the blossoming of the environmental movement in the early 1970s. This is an important book for students and scholars in the history of science who want to explore a striking case study of the conflicts that so often occur at the intersection of science, politics, and international diplomacy.”

The NCF can assure its readers that this is a well documented book with plenty of references. One of the things that must be remembered is that very very low levels of internalized alpha-radionuclides are capable of killing humans. An example of this is polonium. According to the published literature, one-microgram (one-millionth of a gram) of polonium is able to cause acute radiation poisoning in a human that can lead to death. Now, one-microgram is a very small amount of anything let alone a high energy radiation source. As for the effects of such an exposure, acute radiation sickness is accompanied by serious health effects which include hematopoietic effects, gastrointestinal effects, neurological effects and vascular effects. Radiation effects are always a function of what the radiation source was (alpha-radionuclides), how much material had the patient been exposed to (amount) and, of course, the duration of the exposure (chronic internal exposure due to ingestion and/or inhalation). A well known case of acute radiation sickness due to lethal polonium ingestion is that of Alexander Litvinenko[2]. Litvinenko was a former officer of the Russian Federal Security Service and KGB, who fled from court prosecution in Russia and received political asylum in the United Kingdom.

Let us also consider the following facts. For example, in the case of polonium, polonium is known to travel up the ocean food chain and as it does, it gets biomagnified. In other words, it gets concentrated. This has already been proven and has been published in the scientific literature. As such, this becomes a potential source for exposure. What else about the ocean causes concern? We know that ocean water is heated by the sun’s rays which is converted into water vapor that is carried by the air currents into the atmosphere. The water vapor can form clouds which then deposit moisture as rain and snow globally. Since the world’s crops depend on rain to survive and to flourish, our food supply may be in jeopardy. Things aren’t so cut and dried now. are they? There are some very real questions to be considered here because the implications are of critical importance. Just think about it!

To further gain a practical view of this overall experience, the NCF suggests that readers take a close look at a website provided by the Environmental Working Group known as the National Drinking Water Database [3]. Though this database provides data over a limited time frame, it is still a valuable resource to refer to.

The reader may ask at this point, “What am I looking for?” First, be aware that data can be viewed by state. Next, you are looking for “Alpha particle activity” levels and if it exceeds health guidelines and/or is over the legal limits. One such example is in New Jersey. The New Jersey American water system, in Elizabeth, serves over 600,000 people [4]. The test data, from 2004 to 2006, shows that the health limit was exceeded and the legal limit was exceeded, both for alpha particle activity. So, can our drinking water be affected? It certainly looks like it can!

So is it possible or conceivable that people are developing CFIDS/ME due to alpha radiation exposure due to ingestion and/or inhalation of various alpha radionuclides AND this type of radiation then serves as a chronic radiation source for internal high energy radiation exposure? The NCF and many other global scientists believe this is the case. The Chernobyl liquidators who subsequently developed CFIDS/ME are one such prime example for internal radiation exposure.


  1. Poison in the Well: Radioactive Waste in the Oceans at the Dawn of the Nuclear Age;Hamblin, Jacob D; ISBN-13: 978-0813546742; Rutgers University Press, 2009.
  2. Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko;
  3. National drinking water database; Environmental Working Group;
  4. New Jersey American water system data;

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