I have watched the news reports following the Chernobyl accident, and conclude that there must be a deliberate "cover-up" of one area of information. Nowhere have I seen any discussion of the long term health effects of radiation on human beings. This information exists. Yet over and over I have heard news commentators remark that radiation in this area or that is "below danger levels." In fact, there is no such thing. Radiation in even low doses impacts on human health.
PEACE discussed Dr. Rosalie Bertell's book, No Immediate Danger?: Prognosis for a Radioactive Earth, a while ago. Pointing out that radiation is cumulative over time, she writes, "Most people are unaware that ionizing radiation can cause spontaneous abortions, stillbirths, infant deaths, asthmas, severe allergies, depressed immune systems (with greater risk of bacterial and viral infections), leukemia, solid tumors, birth defects, or mental and physical retardation in children."
Further on she writes, "[i]ndependent testing of urine, feces, exhalation, tissues removed in surgery, baby teeth, and hair for radioactivity, must become routine laboratory tests for medical diagnostic pollution already in the biosphere."
People are not stupid. They need to know what we're up against as a whole human race. Radiation doesn't evaporate like water. Some of it breaks down rapidly, and some of it exists for a very long time, spreading around the globe and ensuring that all of us will feel its grim effects, even if we don't immediately recognize them.
Luanne Armstrong, Sirdar, BC
Last year several Western peace organizations appealed to the two "superpowers" to stop all nuclear tests starting August 8, 1985, 40th Hiroshima Day. The USSR responded by declaring a moratorium on nuclear tests for 20 weeks, now extended to a full year.
The U.S. refused, giving two reasons. First, the USSR is ahead in testing so the U.S. must catch up. As the USSR has now given the U.S. a full year to catch up this is no longer valid. A second argument is now advanced: Testing is required not just to develop new types of arms, but to make sure the existing types will still go off. Without continued testing they may decay, thus becoming obsolete and impotent.
I did not know this, but I accept the expertise of the Pentagon. So, Mr. Reagan, your expert advisers have now told you that there is indeed a better way to make nuclear arms obsolete and impotent - stop testing!
Hans Blumenfeld, Toronto, Ont.
I am feeling increasingly that the term "peace movement" has become a ho-hum, motherhood, easily ignored term. What about beefing it up? "Peace-and-survival" movement might bring the point home better. There are many people who aren't particularly keen on peace, but they do, I assume, want to survive. Similarly, I think "nuclear war" doesn't accurately imply what may happen, and I have taken to using "nuclear destruction" instead. Lots of people like war, and the word doesn't carry the image of global suicide.
Maralyn Horsdal, Vancouver