Children of Fukushima the victims of “low levels” of ionising radiation
Although thyroid cancer is highly treatable and is operable, this level of exposure for Fukushima’s children is nothing short of catastrophic. There is a scientific consensus that at least 4,000 excess cancer deaths occurred in the wake of Chernobyl’ (a consensus, by the way, not shared by the nuclear industry–surprise!), but careful epidemiologicalstudies sponsored by the Union of Concerned Scientists estimate as many as 25,000 excess cancer deaths.
the health threat of Fukushima, even with these shocking thyroid results known, is being systematically underplayed in the business press.
FUKUSHIMA–WORSE THAN CHERNOBYL’ FOR KIDS The Paltry Sapien, by Matthew Payne July 21, 2012 The shocking results of the latest epidemiological studies are in from Fukushima and they are not good. As summarized by Michael Kelly at Business Insider, the report indicates:
Of more than 38,000 children tested from the Fukushima Prefecture in Japan, 36 percent have abnormal growths – cysts or nodules – on their thyroids a year after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, as reported by ENENews.
This is startling. The Chernobyl meltdown threw much more atmospheric contamination out but has had a much slower progression in poisoning its local children–only about 1.74 percent of tested children in the test area around Chernobyl’ had thyroid nodules five to ten years after the nuclear catastrophe! How to explain this much higher virulence of radiation contamination in Japan? Well, first, they received a very high dose of radiation–mostly radioactive iodine isotopes. This was to be expected given prevailing wind patterns and the reason why the US NRC advised American nationals to evacuate to a distance of 50 miles, not the 20 to 30kilometers implemented by the Japanese government. That zone was not based on the clear computing modeling available to the Japanese government and it is hard to come to any other conclusion than that the government balked at evacuating the major city of Fukushima in the wake of the tsunami’s chaos. Frankly, even an evacuation zone of fifty miles was inadequate–ENENews has uncovered three children (4, 7, and 10) from one family with pre-cancerous cysts on their thyroids sixty miles from Fukushima Daiichi.
Moreover, the government–in an effort not to panic the population–failed to distribute iodine pills to block the uptake of iodine-131, which has a low half-life of only eight days. Ample stocks of the pills were available in the fallout zone and would have made a major dent in radiation contamination. Indeed, TEPCo did not even measure contamination by iodine-132, because of its short half-life of 2 hours, which meant its threat would dissipate within three days. However, scientists now estimate that 70 percent of the radiation initially released by Fukushima Daiichi was iodine-132. In other words, the failure to distribute iodine pills was governmental malpractice at the highest level.
The government certainly knew that the children of Fukushima were vulnerable–thus the ridiculous expedient of reclassifying the yearly maximum allowable exposure of radiation for children to that of nuclear power plant workers! To put it mildly, this bureaucratic reclassification of health standards was based on no scientific evidence (children, as their bones and other major organs are still growing are much more vulnerable to radiation exposure than adults) and provoked a major mothers’ protest against the government.
Although thyroid cancer is highly treatable and is operable, this level of exposure for Fukushima’s children is nothing short of catastrophic. There is a scientific consensus that at least 4,000 excess cancer deaths occurred in the wake of Chernobyl’ (a consensus, by the way, not shared by the nuclear industry–surprise!), but careful epidemiologicalstudies sponsored by the Union of Concerned Scientists estimate as many as 25,000 excess cancer deaths. Using more conservative methodology than the Union of Concerned Scientists, the World Health Organization found 5,000 cases of thyroid cancer among the children of Chernobyl’ in Belarus’, Ukraine and Russia (a suspiciously rounded number, by the way). Careful studies have also shown that the risk does not mitigate over time–in other words, for their three days of exposure to iodine-132 hundreds of thousands of Fukushima children have to look forward to three or four (if not more) decades of careful cancer monitoring and higher cancer mortality. And again, the levels of exposure for Fukushima children are at least an order of magnitude higher than at Chernobyl’. The health impact of Fukushima seems likely to be far more severe than Chernobyl’–an impact that might have been substantially mitigated by quick government action. So, for those keeping notes, the Soviet communist system, allegedly indifferent to human suffering, responded far more responsibly to the threat of radioactive exposure towards its children than capitalist and democratic (well, “managed” democratic) Japan.
In the weeks and months following the Fukushima fiasco (which is still not stabilized, despite PR reports to the contrary), many of the apologists for the nuclear energy and so-called advocates for “green energy” assured the public that Chernobyl’ had not been so bad (even disputing the highly conservative WHO reporting on increased mortality) and dismissing the long-term health threat of the accident. Indeed, the health threat of Fukushima, even with these shocking thyroid results known, is being systematically underplayed in the business press.
For a good sample, let’s look at what Business Week has to say about a new study that puts the range of excess cancer deaths from twenty-four to 2,500 (now that’s precise!) with an average of 180:
“They have demonstrated there are no significant public health effects” from radiation exposure, said Evan Douple, associate chief of research at the Hiroshima Radiation Effects Research Foundation. “Their best estimate of 130 cancer deaths in Japan would be lost in the background wash of the hundreds of thousands of cancer deaths that would be occurring in the million or so people in the population exposed.”
I would note, though I am certainly no medical expert, that the assumptions of this study consider the majority of radiation to have fallen on the ocean thus cutting exposure by as much as ten times (a somewhat dubious proposition given what we now know from the computer modeling of wind patterns at the time–Fukushima city got a big dose) and they are only considering the 900,000 terabecquerels of the iodine equivalent of radioactive iodine-131 and cesium-137, without accounting for the massive release of iodine-132. So, color me skeptical. Even so, if the deaths were only twenty-four it seems a bit cavalier to term those poor victims as “lost in the background wash”–I don’t recall that we consider dead miners or oil rig workers as “lost in the background wash” of the industrial accident rate.
The thing is, there has been a consistent downplaying the likely health effects of the Fukushima accident and an over-hyping of nuclear power’s “green” energy profile. … http://www.thepaltrysapien.com/2012/07/fukushima-worse-than-chernobyl-for-kids/
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