Archive | Radiation

Texas Commission OKs Nuclear Waste Dump Policy

A Texas commission has approved a plan that will allow 36 states to dump low-level radioactive waste along the Texas-New Mexico border.

Despite concerns raised by environmentalists regarding the possibility of groundwater pollution, the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Commission voted 5-2 to pass the measure, which will permit a number of additional states to export nuclear waste to an Andrews County dump owned by Waste Control Specialists. The site previously only accepted waste from Texas, Vermont and the federal government.

The commission also guaranteed Vermont preferred space of 20 percent capacity. Vermont has only one nuclear facility, which it plans to phase out in the next 30 or 40 years.

President Barack Obama has extolled nuclear energy as a clean alternative to oil, but opponents object to the radioactive waste associated with the process.

The proposal drew more than 5,000 public comments, The Associated Press reported.

Posted in Nuclear, Pollution & Toxins, Radiation, Toxic Substances, Waste Disposal0 Comments

Study: CO2 is 'thermostat' for Earth

NEW YORK, Oct. 14 (UPI) — Water vapor and clouds are major factors in Earth’s greenhouse effect but carbon dioxide will always be the ultimate culprit, a U.S. study found.

The study, conducted by researchers at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, examined the nature of Earth’s greenhouse effect, which traps and holds outgoing infrared radiation, a NASA release said Thursday.

The researchers say non-condensing greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone and chlorofluorocarbons are the core actors in the terrestrial greenhouse effect. Without them, scientists say, water vapor and clouds alone would not create the feedback mechanisms that amplify the greenhouse effect.

The study, lead author Andrew Lacis says, demonstrates “the direct relationship that exists between rising atmospheric carbon dioxide and rising global temperature.”

“The bottom line is that atmospheric carbon dioxide acts as a thermostat in regulating the temperature of Earth,” Lacis said. “It is not surprising then that global warming can be linked directly to the observed increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide and to human industrial activity in general.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Other, Ozone, Radiation0 Comments

New Form of Uranium Created

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., Oct. 11 (UPI) — Scientists say a newly created form of uranium could lead to nuclear power plants small enough to power the family automobile.

Researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have created a configuration of uranium nitride that one day could provide cheaper and safer nuclear fuel, ABC News reported Monday.

In the new molecule, the nitrogen atom is bonded to only one uranium atom, versus prior forms where the nitrogen atom has always been bonded to two or more uranium atoms.

Smaller, cheaper and even portable nuclear power plants could come out of the discovery, researchers say, using this form of uranium nitride as a next generation nuclear fuel.

“Actinide nitrides are candidate nuclear fuels of the future,” Jaqueline Kiplinger, a scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory who led the team of researchers, said.

While uranium’s radiation can be deadly, the new molecule contains only depleted uranium.

This makes is relatively harmless from a radiological standpoint and means it could be used in chemical and industrial applications, scientists say.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Nuclear, Other, Radiation0 Comments

New Form of Uranium Discovered

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., Oct. 11 (UPI) — Scientists say a newly discovered form of uranium could lead to nuclear power plants small enough to power the family automobile.

Researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have created uranium nitride, a long-sought molecule that could provide cheaper and safer nuclear fuel, ABC News reported Monday.

Smaller, cheaper and even portable nuclear power plants could come out of the discovery, researchers say, using uranium nitride as a next generation nuclear fuel.

“Actinide nitrides are candidate nuclear fuels of the future,” Jaqueline Kiplinger, a scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory who led the team of researchers, said.

While uranium’s radiation can be deadly, the new molecule contains only depleted uranium.

This makes is relatively harmless from a radiological standpoint and means it could be used in chemical and industrial applications, scientists say.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Nuclear, Other, Radiation0 Comments

Solar Probe to Study Sun's Atmosphere

NEWARK, Del., Oct. 6 (UPI) — A Delaware researcher says he is helping design scientific instruments to be sent on a one-way expedition — directly into our sun.

William Matthaeus, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Delaware, is taking part in NASA’s Solar Probe Plus project, slated to launch by 2018, a university release said.

The unmanned spacecraft will plunge directly into the sun’s atmosphere to help answer perplexing mysteries about our sun.

“The experiments selected for Solar Probe Plus are specifically designed to solve two key questions of solar physics — why is the sun’s outer atmosphere so much hotter than the sun’s visible surface, and what propels the solar wind that affects Earth and our solar system?” Dick Fisher, director of NASA’s Heliophysics Division, said.

An unmanned mission to the sun has been discussed for years, Matthaeus says, but had to wait for carbon-fiber and other technology that could protect a space probe from the sun’s intense heat.

“At the Solar Probe’s closest approach, the light from the sun will be more than 500 times as intense as at Earth, and the surrounding gas, although very tenuous, will likely be at hundreds of thousands of degrees,” Matthaeus said.

Matthaeus leads the effort to develop instruments for monitoring the electrons, protons and ions that continuously stream from the sun, known as solar wind. The radiation can cause magnetic storms capable of knocking out electrical power grids.

“The more we rely on satellite technology, such as GPS, the more vulnerable to magnetic storms we become. So we need to understand how they work in order to protect societal assets such as satellites in space, as well as humans who explore or work in space,” Matthaeus said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Other, Radiation, Solar, Wind0 Comments

Solar System's Shield is Showing Cracks

SAN ANTONIO, Oct. 2 (UPI) — The outer boundary of the solar system is more dynamic and complex than ever imagined, astronomers said.

The Interstellar Boundary Explorer satellite, launched two years ago, is studying the heliosphere, the invisible bubble far beyond the planetary orbits where the solar wind meets the particles and radiation that fill interstellar space, researchers told the Los Angeles Times.

The heliosphere, which protects the solar system from 90 percent of the cosmic rays outside it, is changing much faster than scientists expected, according to data published Thursday in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

The sun emits a steady stream of particles traveling outward in all directions about 1 million mph. When they have traveled about 100 times farther than the distance between Earth and the sun the particles collide with the interstellar medium. They deflect most cosmic rays back into space and produce uncharged particles that stream back into the inner solar system.

Over the last two decades, the solar wind has weakened and the heliosphere has shrunk, letting more cosmic radiation enter. Increased cosmic radiation could be very dangerous to future interstellar space travelers, said astronomer David McComas of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Other, Radiation, Solar, Wind0 Comments

Pregnant Cancer Patients Odds Called Good

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 (UPI) — Pregnant women treated for breast cancer are more likely to survive than patients of the same age not pregnant when cancer was diagnosed, a U.S. study found.

Five years after their diagnosis almost 74 of the women diagnosed with breast cancer during pregnancy were still alive, while of those who were not pregnant when they got treatment, 55.75 percent survived to the five-year mark, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

The study to be presented at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Washington is likely to help lay to rest the lingering belief that pregnancy is a uniquely dangerous time for a woman to discover breast cancer.

Pregnant women diagnosed with breast cancer were long urged to terminate a pregnancy or to wait until giving birth to begin aggressive treatment.

The report supports a widespread shift in medical practice that says a pregnant breast cancer patient can begin chemotherapy as soon as her first trimester is over and resume treatment with radiation, follow-on chemotherapy or surgery after the baby’s birth.

The study findings are important, researchers say, since more women are choosing to start or complete families later in life, thus increasing the chances that breast cancer and pregnancy could coincide.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Other, Radiation0 Comments

CTs for Other Purpose Can Catch Heart Risk

UTRECHT, Netherlands, Sept. 29 (UPI) — Incidental test findings — medical imaging detections unrelated to the purpose of the scan — can help identify heart disease risk, Dutch researchers say.

Dr. Martijn Gondrie of the Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care at the University Medical Center Utrecht, Netherlands, says computer-assisted medical imaging such as computed tomography could be used by radiologists to identify people at high risk for cardiovascular disease.

The study, published in Radiology, found radiologists could predict cardiovascular disease fairly well by combining minimal patient information — such as age, gender and the reason for the test — with incidental findings of calcifications of the aortic wall on CT.

“This is the first study to investigate whether incidental findings can predict future disease in a routine care setting,” lead author Gondrie says in a statement. “Incidental findings are obtained without additional radiation exposure or cost to the patient and may hold valuable clues as to the patient’s overall health and their risk for future disease.”

Gondrie and colleagues developed findings based on a total of 6,975 patients. The patients included those who had undergone chest CT for reasons not related to heart disease, a representative sample of 817 patients, plus 347 patients who experienced a cardiovascular event during a mean follow-up period of 17 months.

Scores were assigned for incidental aortic abnormalities found on CT — such as calcifications, plaques, elongation and other irregularities — as well as age, gender and reason for CT.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Other, Radiation0 Comments

Surgery Best for Worst Prostate Cancer

ROCHESTER, Minn., Sept. 28 (UPI) — Surgery provided high survival rates for patients with the most aggressive forms of prostate cancer, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and Philadelphia’s Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia say men undergoing radical prostatectomy procedures had a 10-year cancer-specific survival rate of 92 percent and an overall survival rate of 77 percent.

The cancer-specific survival rate for patients who had radiation therapy alone was 88 percent and the overall survival rate was 52 percent.

“It’s long been believed that patients with aggressive prostate cancer are not candidates for surgery,” Dr. Stephen Boorjian of the Mayo Clinic says in a statement.

“We found that surgery does provide excellent long-term cancer control for this type of prostate cancer. In addition, by allowing the targeted use of secondary therapies such as androgen deprivation, surgery offers the opportunity to avoid or at least delay the potentially adverse health consequences of these treatments.”

Boorjian and colleagues looked at 1,847 patients with aggressive prostate cancer — 1,238 of whom underwent surgery at Mayo Clinic and 609 of whom were treated with radiation therapy at Fox Chase. Of the 609 receiving radiation therapy, 344 also received androgen deprivation therapy — blocking the production of male sex hormones.

The findings were presented in Chicago at the annual meeting of the North Central Section of the American Urological Association.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Other, Radiation0 Comments

Sunless Tans Popular for Cosmetic Reasons

WORCESTER, Mass., Sept. 21 (UPI) — Some 10 percent of U.S. adolescents use sunless tanning products, but they use them more for cosmetic reasons, not to prevent skin cancer, researchers say.

Sherry L. Pagoto of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester and colleagues found receiving information about skin cancer — including an ultraviolet radiation-filtered photograph showing sun damage to their skin — helped people reduce sun bathing.

“Encouraging sunbathers to switch to sunless tanning could have an important health impact, but sunless tanning has been considered a cosmetic more so than a healthcare tool,” Pagoto and colleagues say in a statement.

The study, published in the journal Archives of Dermatology, recruited 250 women — 125 assigned to receive information about skin cancer and sunless tanning while the other 125, the controls, received free cosmetic samples not related to skin health.

After two months, participants who had receiving sun damage information were sunbathing less frequently, having fewer sunburns and using more protective clothing than those in the control group.

After one year, the intervention group still sunbathed less and also used sunless tanning products more frequently than the control group.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Other, Radiation0 Comments

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