[ RadSafe ] Mutant butterflies a result of Fukushima nuclear disaster, researchers say (Posted on CNN News)

Karen Street Karen_Street at sbcglobal.net
Fri Aug 17 17:41:11 CDT 2012

The nuclear industry blog says this at http://neinuclearnotes.blogspot.com/2012/08/why-we-need-to-keep-level-head-about.html

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Why We Need to Keep a Level Head About the Nuclear Butterflies from Fukushima

Over the last few days, we've seen thousands of stories around the Web concerning a study that concluded that radiation released into the atmosphere from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power had caused mutations in the local population of butterflies. At the same time, another piece of research noted that there hasn't been any observable effect thus far on people.

When I read the story, I do what I always do, and shot off a note to Ralph Andersen, NEI's chief health physicist. Here's what he had to say about the study: 
Please note that there are species of plants, insects and animals that are particularly sensitive to changes in environmental conditions, including radiation. The pale grass butterfly is among the most sensitive, which is why it was selected for study following the accident at Fukushima Daiichi.

This article provides a rational perspective on what has been found, what it may mean, and what it doesn’t necessarily mean.

Similar findings in some species of biota were detected around Chernobyl in the first few years after the accident there, but impacts on the overall environment and ecology were relatively small and the area today is considered by scientists to be verdant and robust in regard to plant and animal life.

Fukushima Daiichi represents a major accident with significant radiological releases and there are and will be discernible consequences for some years to come. Our emphasis here is on taking actions to prevent such an event in the US and globally. 

In regard to understanding the consequences there, we remain open-minded and objective, gaining (and sharing) a fact-based perspective on what it is and what it isn’t.
Good advice, and just the sort of guidance we ought to be paying attention to when we read headlines in the media. In the meantime, some nuclear bloggers have taken a closer look and have shared some similar thoughts. Please visit Atomic Insights and Nuclear Diner for more. Also, be sure to check in with the conversation on Reddit.

> They haven't. 
> This is the first response I've seen, and it comes from the pro-nuclear community. http://www.nucleardiner.com/archive/item/radioactive-mutant-butterflies-really
> Some other comments from me: The article is not in Nature Aug 9, but in something called Nature Scientific Reports, http://www.nature.com/srep/index.html There is peer review, but it is lesser  http://www.nature.com/srep/about/index.html
> What comes to my mind immediately is 500 variables and they only check one? Also, much of the life sciences suffers from the fact that very few people are interested in a number of topics, and for those topics, there are few eyes. In contrast, people in physics are very interested in certain numbers (did anyone check the charge on an electron?), ditto for molecular biology (are we pretty sure about DNA?), and climate change (did anyone check that the thermometers work?)
> Also, I react to the charge that transgenic crops are an environmental change butterflies can detect—if this is true, there is some particular characteristic that the butterflies are detecting, not that the crops are transgenic.
>> Without having read the full paper, how have the researchers accounted for
>> the chemical contamination of the devastation due to the tsunamis?
>> -     -  RPB
>> Robert Bradley, Health Canada, retired
>> On Tue, Aug 14, 2012 at 6:38 PM, Perle, Sandy <sperle at mirion.com> wrote:
>>> In the first sign that the Fukushima nuclear disaster may be changing life
>>> around it, scientists say they've found mutant butterflies.
>>> Some of the butterflies had abnormalities in their legs, antennae, and
>>> abdomens, and dents in their eyes, according to the study published in
>>> Scientific Reports, an online journal from the team behind Nature.<
>>> http://www.nature.com/srep/2012/120809/srep00570/full/srep00570.html>
>>> Researchers also found that some affected butterflies had broken or
>>> wrinkled wings, changes in wing size, color pattern changes, and spots
>>> disappearing or increasing on the butterflies.
>>> The study began two months after an earthquake and tsunami devastated
>>> swaths of northeastern Japan in March 2011, triggering a nuclear disaster.
>>> The Fukushima Daiichi plant spewed radiation and displaced tens of
>>> thousands of residents from the surrounding area in the worst nuclear
>>> accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine.
>>> In May 2011, researchers collected more than 100 pale grass blue
>>> butterflies in and around the Fukushima prefecture and found that 12% of
>>> them had abnormalities or mutations. When those butterflies mated, the rate
>>> of mutations in the offspring rose to 18%, according to the study, which
>>> added that some died before reaching adulthood. When the offspring mated
>>> with healthy butterflies that weren't affected by the nuclear crisis, the
>>> abnormality rate rose to 34%, indicating that the mutations were being
>>> passed on through genes to offspring at high rates even when one of the
>>> parent butterflies was healthy.
>>> The scientists wanted to find out how things stood after a longer amount
>>> of time and again collected more than 200 butterflies last September.
>>> Twenty-eight percent of the butterflies showed abnormalities, but the rate
>>> of mutated offspring jumped to 52%, according to researchers. The study
>>> indicated that second-generation butterflies, the ones collected in
>>> September, likely saw higher numbers of mutations because they were exposed
>>> to the radiation either as larvae or earlier than adult butterflies first
>>> collected.
>>> To make sure that the nuclear disaster was in fact the cause of the
>>> mutations, researchers collected butterflies that had not been affected by
>>> radiation and gave them low-dose exposures of radiation and found similar
>>> results.
>>> "We conclude that artificial radionuclides from the Fukushima Nuclear
>>> Power Plant caused physiological and genetic damage to this species," the
>>> study said.
>>> The results of the study bring up concerns about the larger impact of the
>>> Fukushima disaster and the impact it will have on the ecosystem in Japan
>>> and nearby areas, as well as what we can learn for future nuclear disasters.
>>> "Our results are consistent with the previous field studies that showed
>>> that butterfly populations are highly sensitive to artificial radionuclide
>>> contamination in Chernobyl and Fukushima," the study said. "Together, the
>>> present study indicates that the pale grass blue butterfly is probably one
>>> of the best indicator species for radionuclide contamination in Japan."
>>> One of the researchers, Joji Otaki, an associate professor at the
>>> University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, told reporters that while butterflies
>>> may be the best indicator, the study should also lead to more research on
>>> what else may be affected by the radiation.
>>> "Sensitivity (to irradiation) varies between species, so research should
>>> be conducted on other animals," Otaki told the Japan Times.<
>>> http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120812a2.html>
>>> Otaki said while there is still plenty of research to be done on
>>> radiation, there shouldn't be large-scale concern about this kind of
>>> mutation in humans.
>>> "Humans are totally different from butterflies and they should be far more
>>> resistant" to radiation, he told the newspaper.
>>> -----------------------------------
>>> Sander C. Perle
>>> President
>>> Mirion Technologies
>>> Dosimetry Services Division
>>> 2652 McGaw Avenue
>>> Irvine, CA 92614

Best wishes, 
Karen Street
Friends Energy Project
blog http://pathsoflight.us/musing/index.php

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