Wings of Death - Nuclear Pollution & Human Health


Other publications by Chris Busby at ECRR Chernobyl: 20 years on and Wolves of Water.
Other publication by Chris Busby:

Wings of Death by Chris BusbyWings of Death - Nuclear Pollution & Human Health

Wings of Death is a powerfully written attack on the rigidity of scientific culture - the first chapter is entitled "The Emperor's New Clothes". More specifically it attacks the culture of the transnational radiation protection community and the conventional model of radiation biology. Some radioactivity occurs naturally. It comes from the naturally occurring radioactive substances in the earth and from the continual bombardment of the earth by cosmic rays. Low levels of radioactivity also come from fallout from nuclear weapons tests being spread by rainfall and from nuclear waste products discharged to the sea, the atmosphere and on land.

Doses from the man-made radioactive substances are conventionally seen as much smaller than doses from natural background radiation (NBR), and are therefore officially said to be more or less harmless (although it is admitted that there is no safe dose).

Increases in cancer in human populations near centres of nuclear activity (Seascale near Windscale/ Sellafield, and near Dounreay and others) have been intensively investigated, but man-made radiation has not been held responsible for the disease because no direct causal mechanism has been identified to explain it. Some epidemiologists and nuclear apologists claim that the clusters are statistically insignificant, or are coincidental, or are caused by other factors - the "population mixing" hypothesis advanced by Dr Leo Kinlen is a nuclear industry favourite.

In "Wings of Death" Dr Busby has brought together radiation physics, cell biology, and medical statistics to show that:

  • there is a real relationship between exposure to man-made radioactivity and the incidence of cancer;
  • man-made radioactive substances and NBR affect cells in different ways;
  • conventional radiation protection standards are based on flawed epidemiology which is silent on the effects of inhaled and ingested man-made radioactivity;
  • there is a direct causal mechanism whereby some man-made radioactive atoms can damage the genetic material of cells in a way which evades cell repair mechanism, leading to mutation and disease.

Strontium-90 is a prime suspect. It decays to Yttrium-90, which then decays further. This second decay event has a high probability of occurring while the cell is repairing damage caused by the first. The second event defeats the cell repair mechanism because the mechanism itself is irreversible and has no means of repairing damage inflicted after it begins.

"Wings of Death" is a clearly argued and fully referenced examination of a complex subject. It presents all the information needed to understand its central theses. The reader will be able to follow step by step the arguments about radiation, genetics, and statistics, even if some parts have to be taken on trust. The reader is unlikely to end up extending the same trust to those who defend nuclear pollution of the environment.

The research which is described in "Wings of Death" was funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.

It is available direct from Green Audit, Castle Cottage, Sea View Place, Aberystywth SY231DZ, or by emailing .

Price: £10.99 + £2.00 postage / €16.00 + €6.00