Military interest in and control of human data relating to internalised Sr89 is evidenced by the April 6 1954 Letter to Dr. L. Dunham from Dr Joseph Hamilton re the medical use of radioisotopes:
“Dear Chuck: Please find enclosed the available data from the University of California Hospital which was compiled by members of Stone’s staff who incidentally are quite unaware of the classified nature of this material. I discussed this matter with Dr. Stone and told him that it should not be discussed with anyone in the Division of Radiology with the exception of the two of us.” …” The picture is not too clear since a number of patients received stable strontium and several others received some amounts of radio-strontium.”
“Our own experimental program is progressing very nicely using both rats and monkeys.”
“The use of radioactive strontium, (Sr89) in the treatment of patients…the rationale, based on experimental animal studies with metastatic carcinoma to bone and in osteogenic sarcoma was initiated in 1940 by Charles Pecher….Pecher’s experimental findings were confirmed by Treadwell (Mrs. Anne de G. Low-Beer) , et al, who investigated uptake of radio-strontium by bone tumours in six patients prior to biopsy or amputation.” Secret.
Source Document: pdf scan provided by US Department of Energy Opennet.
Prior to his death in August 1941, Dr Charles Pecher, the originator of the Sr89 palliative pain relief treatment had successfully cared for many terminally ill patients. Patients for whom no other means of pain control existed.
After his death, in December 1941, wartime censorship nearly prevented the publication of his final paper. The intervention of Marshall Brucer ensured that the work was published. In those days though, academe considered the general public unsuitable as visitors to university libraries and the work remained with the specialised domain.
US censorship took hold prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. The US government considered US involvement in the European war to inevitable. When strontium 89 became known to be a fission product, around, from memory, May of 1941, military interest in the substance commenced.
When the Uranium committee directed that the Manhattan Project be formed in 1942, Hamilton, a collegue of Pecher, was contracted to conduct further research into the human effects of the fission products and fuels. He was able to use the pre war data gained from the informed and consenting patients at the Lawrence Berkeley Rad Lab. The use of Iodine 131, Strontium 89 and Phosphorous 32 had all commenced pre war and before the discovery of nuclear fission.
When Seaborg, Segre and others (Sr89 – Uni Chicago) identified these substances to be fission products, it was realised that the Berkeley labs held human dose response data of immense military value. Brucer reports (“A Chronology of Nuclear Medicine”) that the Lawrence staff supplied Groves with the LD50 for P32 in 1942. (Vignette “The declassification of the MED Documents”).
It is thus logical that Hamilton was contracted by Stone in order to fulfill the requirement issued by Compton to identify “radiations effective against the enemy” (Manhattan Project Health Division, University of Chicago, Scope 3.)
By the end of the war, the substances remains part of the classified weapons data. P32 and I131 re-entered open medical use. However, Strontium 89 remained classified. It became lost to general medicine – it had never actually been used outside the Lawrence labs and associated university hospital. The Sr89 treatment was only approved for use by the FDA in 1993 ( a bit earlier in Canada). Today it is called Metastron and is produced by GE. It is produced by nuclear fission at about four times the rate as Strontium 90.
It is far more radioactive than Strontium 90. By 1943, because of its “violent” radioactivity and its short half life, it was suggested by Lawrence as a potential radiological weapon if the atomic bomb did not work.
By 1954 the AEC was engaged in nuclear weapons tests, and the strontium 89 content of nuclear fallout remained secret. Even after the Castle Bravo disaster of March 1954 caused LIbby of the AEC to admit to the presence of Strontium 90 in fallout, the precise composition of the fission list was not fully disclosed and the substance Strontium 89 remained secret.
However, even as the AEC secretly investigated global human uptake of Strontium 90, which from time to time in dribs and drabs became known to the public in a piece meal fashion, the nuclear authorities continued to monitor Sr89 and its human effects. Thus the “Dear Chuck” above. Patients in the Berkeley hospital were treated with sr89, and even the course of that treatment the medical staff were gagged. The letter is quite plain. Noone in the radiolog department was to discuss the substance except with Hamilton and Stone. The substance was classified.
Although the Sr89 pain relief treatment could have entered general medicine at war’s end, as soon production faclity allowed (Pecher made it by cyclone bombardment, later it was made in reactors and measured in fallout), it was lost.
From 1945 until 1993 (slightly earlier in Canada) the world was denied the use of metastron Sr89Cl in the pain relief treatment of end stage metastatic bone cancer.
That is its only permitted use, for it is, according to Scott, a contemporary of Pecher’s, “potently carcinogenic”.
Why was Sr89 denied to medicine for so long? If it had entered use during the period of nuclear testing, its radiochemical datasheet would have been available to all.
AS a component of nuclear fallout, its radiochemical and biochemical nature it quite horrendous. Its potency in beta emission is sufficient to shrink tumors and thus ease pain.
These same beta emissions ensure the creation of tumors at any site where calcium metabolism is present. In the treatment of cancer, Sr89 concentrates at the tumor site. In the case of the healthy, it concentrates at any site where calcium metabolism is present.
It is moot in my mind whether Sr90 or Sr89 is of most concern when reactors blow up and spew their radio chemicals. When an atomic bomb goes off, the substance produced most prodigiously is Sr89, compared to Sr90. It is far more radioactive per unit mass than Sr90.
So this is an example of human experimentation delaying rather than advancing, as claimed, nuclear medicine.
The FDA regulates the substances, and limits its use in patients who are near end of life.
The NRC permits its emission from every nuclear reactor.
Sr89 was kept secret from 1942 until the 1970s. A German doctor rediscovered its usefulness.
Sr89 was kept secret to minimize the public awareness of the dangers of fallout.
Today it is apparently of no consequence in reactor emissions, even though its emission is detectable at every refuel and at every meltdown.
If is so harmless, why deny it to medicine for so long due to “military secrecy” ?
The AEC determined that Sr90 in global fallout caused no disease. This ignores local events,
However, the GE datasheet for medical Sr89 Cl, in the injectable form, states that 33 of 40 rats injected with Sr89 developed bone cancer within a 9 month window.
This an example of the folly of taking an external dose of low LET radiation and applying it in a predictive manner to what would happen in the event of nuclear detonation or reactor containment failure.
A valid vector of concern beyond the range of concentrated external dose is the internalisation of radioactive material. Always was, always will be. Whether its a bomb or a reactor with containment less than 100% sealed. Or a dump site. Or the suburbs and fields of you know where.
Am I guilty here of applying the standards of a military lab to an industrial scale plant?
Oh dear, what a crime I commit. At least we never had to lie to the adjacent dairy farmer and tell him cesium was like a banana, or that Sr90 keeps milk fresh.
Some of the crap I have read coming from the nuclear elite since March 2011 would actually, even in his darkest moments, literally make Joe Hamilton chuck.