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The Scientists Who Alerted Us to the Dangers of Radiation


Title: The Scientists Who Alerted Us to the Dangers of Radiation
Subject Classification: Science, Healthcare, Research
BIC Classification: RNQ, PNRL, BGT
BISAC Classification: SCI058000, TEC028000, BIO015000
Binding: Hardback, ebook, pp.332
Publication date: 28th March 2024
ISBN (printed book): 978-1-80441-193-3
ISBN (web pdf): 978-1-80441-194-0


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This book remembers and commemorates many brave radiation scientists, most of whom are no longer with us. These scientists published findings that radiation risks were more dangerous than officially accepted at the time. However they often suffered as a result from official displeasure, defamatory articles, and public obloquy.

Scientific findings, especially recently, have revealed that these defamed and/or disadvantaged scientists were actually correct in their assessments that official risk factors for radiation were too low and needed to be increased.

The lives of these scientists are discussed, from early radiation pioneers including Ernest Rutherford, Hermann Mueller and Linus Pauling, to contemporary scientists such as Steve Wing.


Author: Dr Ian Fairlie is a consultant on Environmental Radioactivity, based in London, UK. Cindy Folkers is a Radiation and Health Hazard Specialist at Beyond Nuclear, Maryland, USA


“In short, this book is a page-turner … congratulations on hitting the nail on the head page after page in what promises to be one of the best books on radiation to come down the pike.”

- Robert Del Tredici, photographer, artist and activist, and co-founder of the Atomic Photographers Guild


"This is a fascinating study of scientists who found evidence that radiation risks were greater than official estimates and were demoted, defunded, maligned for their research—but were subsequently proved right. Western governments do not jail dissident scientists, but they make it difficult, often impossible, for them to carry on. Fairlie and Folkers give a fine-grained account of strategies deployed to discredit and silence inconvenient truths.

The authors had no idea this story would be so big. They thought they’d be telling the stories of a half a dozen or so whistleblowing scientists, but that number ballooned to two dozen and more, both east and west and on both sides of the Atlantic. They were surprised by how highly esteemed these scientists were, the recipients of the highest honors and awards, yet how  consistently their findings were downplayed, misrepresented, or ignored.  It’s difficult to be an independent scientist in this field, since the salaries of most radiation scientists are paid by the nuclear establishment— the nuclear industry, nuclear weapons facilities and research labs, government protection bodies— which accounts for a strong tendency to minimize risk.

This is an important book that shows how vulnerable scientific truth is to political interests. It provides a welcome commemoration of scientists who carried on at great cost.  Some had their data seized; some were hounded by HUAC or the FBI;  those who questioned the safety of testing atomic weapons were accused of disloyalty to the United States.  Several U.S. scientists, like Oppenheimer,  chose exile in other countries.  Nevertheless, they persisted, and many of their discoveries are accepted in radiation science today. These biographies, taken together—and I’ve never seen them brought together like this in a single book— tell a powerful story of a nuclear establishment that has shown greater concern for the reputation and prospects of nuclear power and weapons than the damage inflicted on humans and the environment.

It’s a spirited story of the struggle of courageous scientists to bring  denials and dangers to light against interests so powerfully entrenched. The struggle continues today, as the field  remains highly politicized and regulatory agencies are slow to respond to new radiation risks that keep being discovered."

- Dr Gayle Greene, Professor Emerita, Scripps College, Claremont, California, USA

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