We think that exposure to radiation should only be of concern to people working in uranium mines or workers in nuclear plants. Wrong. Radiation is everywhere and sometimes exposure to dangerous levels of radiation can happen in unusual ways.
Workers in uranium mines and nuclear power plants certainly should be concerned. The power plant industry in the United States is quite safe, however. Even after the Three Mile Island reactor meltdown in 1979, very little radiation was released into the environment. Despite hundreds of lawsuits from frightened area residents who blamed everything from insomnia to livestock deaths on the reactor failure, studies by the Nuclear regulatory Commission, EPA, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh and Columbia University showed little if no effects on the surrounding community.
Radiation is measurable and can be easily monitored in the atmosphere, ground and water.
The real risk of exposure comes from healthcare professionals who work in nuclear medicine and the workers inside nuclear plants, labs and factories.
But there are unexpected risks to the public as well. What we never expected, however, was radiation exposure from visiting the museum at the Grand Canyon National Park! According to a story which broke in 2018, numerous buckets of uranium ore were hidden in an exhibit room of the museum… and for at least 20 years!
The half-life of uranium 238 is estimated to be 4.5 billion years meaning the deadly radiation didn’t lose any lethal properties during its presence at the museum.
Just how serious of a problem was the uranium at the museum?
Children at the museum could have been exposed to roughly 1,400 times the safe radiation dosage allowed by the NRC. Yikes!
It turns out, however, that few children or museum visitors were probably close enough or exposed long enough to worry.
And how was the uranium discovered? By a teenager with a Geiger counter who happened to be visiting the museum.
After the ore was discovered, technicians removed the ore and dumped it into a nearby mine. For inexplicable reasons, however, the technicians returned the contaminated buckets to the museum.
While the government says that visitors – including the kids who are more susceptible to radiation cancer – are safe, not everyone agrees. Some experts say the level of radiation reported by the Park Service could not have been caused by uranium which is relatively harmless unless ingested. They say that either the readings were wrong or that it wasn’t uranium in the buckets.
Of course, we will never know since the uranium was dumped in a mine.
Radiation Cancer Risks
We are not posting this to alarm recent visitors to the Grand Canyon museum. Nor are we seeking to enlist clients who have cancer and once visited the Grand Canyon. Rather our message is educational.
Radiation is invisible. You can’t see it or smell it.
If you have long term exposure to excessive radiation, you may be at risk of certain cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, those cancers include:
• Most types of leukemia (although not chronic lymphocytic leukemia)
• Multiple myeloma
• Thyroid cancer
• Bladder cancer
• Breast cancer
• Lung cancer
• Ovarian cancer
• Colon cancer (but not rectal cancer)
• Esophageal cancer
• Stomach cancer
• Liver cancer
• Skin cancer (besides melanoma)
Occupational exposure to radiation is measurable. Workers in nuclear plants and facilities should be monitored as should the ambient exposure. If you have exceeded the levels deemed safe by the government and have certain cancers, you may have a claim. The same holds true for hospital and radiology office workers involved in nuclear medicine and radiology.
The healthcare, mining and nuclear power plant industries are all quite safe today but exposures and cancers still happen.
If you believe you may have cancer caused by radiation exposure, we suggest you visit our radiation cancer victims’ information page. Think you have a case? Contact us online by email or by phone 202-800-9791. No charge for case evaluations and consultations are always confidential.