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K-40 is the radioactive isotope of potassium. Its the largest source of internal background radiation.  K-40 radiation in the ocean is thousands of times higher than that from fallout except in places next to nuclear disasters.  It is usually compared to fallout with the express or implied conclusion that we are needlessly, even foolishly worried about nuclear accidents and bomb fallout.

However to accurately conclude this, one must know two things; how toxic the fallout is and how toxic the background radiation is.  If for example it turns out cesium is 12000 times more toxic per becquerel than potassium, then there is an equal radiation load from each on the ocean ecosystem. If the radiation from potassium is for some reason not toxic at all at biologically relevant doses, then (mathematically) any pollution from fallout is infinitely more damaging. 

This subject is closely related to the threads on bystander effect and pacific genocide

There is very little actual testing done on the radiological toxicity of potassium.  Its not an easy test to make because it entails separating the isotope from its two sister isotopes.  But I have accumulated some interesting papers and theories surrounding this subject and will post them below.  Evidence points to the conclusion that radiation from potassium is, for whatever reason, not toxic in normal or even highly elevated levels.  On the other hand, exhaustive work from Chernobyl and elsewhere shows nuclear fallout is 5x to many thousands of times higher than given by official dosimetry.  

Busting the constant comparison made of fallout and background radiation would expose the nuke industry for adding an unnatural poison to the global ecosystem which is negatively affecting the health of nearly all life to some degree.

Thus K-40 deserves its own thread
This study used  the natural mixture of potassium isotopes containing 0.012% 40K ; potassium from which the 4OK had been depleted by factor of 4000 by isotopic separation; and potassium enriched to 80% 40K.   That is a huge range of radioactivity, from 1/4000 to 6600x.    " We conclude that, in the bacterial systems we have studied, 40K does not make significant contribution to spontaneous mutation.."


what radiation dose would that be for a human, if the K-40 was increased by a thousand times? 70,000 bq/kg. 


With the assumption that all ionizing radioactivity is damaging, would you elect to remove your background radiation if you could? (without disturbing any electrolyte balance or anything)

There has been a number of experiments done on the effects of decreased levels of background radiation.  It appears that any change from natural results in stress...even a reduction in radioactivity.

"biological experiments conducted in underground laboratories have shown that cells cultured across both long and short periods in a low background (LB) environment compared with a standard background (SB) have shown that reducing the radiation background can have detrimental, rather than positive, effects. In long‐duration experiments, a general reduction in the oxidative resistance of cells shielded from environmental background radiation is noticed, whilst over short durations, a stress response has been observed in cells  which appears with a rapidity that is inconsistent with simple predictions based upon population dynamics and the stochastic nature of radiation damage



So I conclude that standard radiation health physics does NOT accurately give the toxicity of either nuclear fallout or background radiation to which they compare it.   This is important because our "best and brightest" institutes, like Woods Hole and NOAA are spreading false information by continually making this comparison through press releases to the public!   Some microbeam studies show that even a single ionizing track through a cell cytoplasm...not hitting the DNA, causes 50 nearby cells to alter their metabolism through complex  information signals.   If normal background radiation is not harmful, and in fact a positive contribution to health, then the nuclear radiation sources that cause this bystander effect is literally incomparably more damaging to life on earth

more studies and interesting cutting edge biology in support of this to follow....

Why ionizing radiation may be a positive contribution to health is not completely known. K-40 may not be the only radiation source that confers some benefit. There is a tendency to conceptually lump all ionizing radiation into one biological effect, mainly damage to DNA. But many factors may differentiate radiation sources and result in different biological effects. Commonly distinguished by alpha, beta, gamma but also including wavelengths, dose rates and concentration variables, the subsequent decay elements, biological sensing of isotopes and more.

I found that the trail often gets into quantum biology which is just an emerging science. The papers can be very difficult to understand!

So heres just another study in support of the beneficial effect of natural levels of k-40
The significance of the radioactive isotope potassium-40 for the normal development of the animal organism

And we could start here for theories on the primordial requirement of radiation for the genesis of life with this little ditty...a theory that perhaps the asymmetric influence of the weak nuclear force is responsible for the abundance of left polarized bio molecules


All life is made of L-amino acids (and chiral sugars in the backbone of the DNA). http://theastronomist.fieldofscience.com...etric.html

only one of the 4 fundemental forces is asymmetric, that is the weak nuclear force

The weakforce influences chemical reactions because during beta decay, spin polarized electrons produce a an abundance of left-circularly polarized gamma-rays which, if present during the synthesis of biomolecules would tend to create an enantiomeric excess of left handed molecules -

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