[ RadSafe ] The Dangerous Myths of Fukushima
maurysis at peoplepc.com
Fri Mar 9 17:40:23 CST 2012
Is there an HP on here willing to take the trouble to draft a response
to this article -- I'd like to circulate it. I don't have the references
at hand to compose a good response -- I suspect little is correct and a
lot other not -- probably goes well with his baby tooth project ....
Thanks if anyone would undertake something along this line
Weekend Edition March 9-11, 2012
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Exposing the "No Harm" Mantra
The Dangerous Myths of Fukushima
by JOSEPH MANGANO and JANETTE SHERMAN
The myth that Fukushima radiation levels were too low to harm humans
persists, a year after the meltdown. A March 2, 2012 New York Times
article quoted Vanderbilt University professor John Boice: “there’s no
opportunity for conducting epidemiological studies that have any chance
for success – the doses are just too low.” Wolfgang Weiss of the UN
Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation also recently
said doses observed in screening of Japanese people “are very low.”
Views like these are political, not scientific, virtually identical to
what the nuclear industry cheerleaders claim. Nuclear Energy Institute
spokesperson Tony Pietrangelo issued a statement in June that “no health
effects are expected among the Japanese people as a result of the events
In their haste to choke off all consideration of harm from Fukushima
radiation, nuclear plant owners and their willing dupes in the
scientific community built a castle against invaders – those open-minded
researchers who would first conduct objective research BEFORE rushing to
judgment. The pro-nuclear chants of “no harm” and “no studies needed”
are intended to be permanent, as part of damage control created by a
dangerous technology that has produced yet another catastrophe.
But just one year after Fukushima, the “no harm” mantra is now being
crowded by evidence – evidence to the contrary.
First, estimates of releases have soared. The first reports issued by
the Japanese government stated that emissions equaled 10% of 1986
Chernobyl emissions. A few weeks later, they doubled that estimate to
20%. By October 2011, an article in the journal Nature estimated
Fukushima emissions to be more than double that of Chernobyl. How
anyone, let alone scientists, could call Fukushima doses “too low” to
cause harm in the face of this evidence is astounding.
Where did the radioactive particles and gases go? Officials from
national meteorological agencies in countries like France and Austria
followed the plume, and made colorful maps available on the internet.
Within six days of the meltdowns, the plume had reached the U.S., and
within 18 days, it had circled the Northern Hemisphere.
How much radiation entered the U.S. environment? A July 2011 journal
article by officials at Pacific Northwest National Lab in eastern
Washington State measured airborne radioactive Xenon-133 up to 40,000
times greater than normal in the weeks following the fallout. Xenon-133
is a gas that travels rapidly and does not enter the body, but signals
that other, more dangerous types of radioactive chemicals will follow.
A February 2012 journal article by the U.S. Geological Survey looked at
radioactive Iodine-131 that entered soil from rainfall, and found levels
hundreds of times above normal in places like Portland OR, Fresno CA,
and Denver CO. The same places also had the highest levels of Cesium-134
and Cesium-137 in the U.S. While elevated radiation levels were found in
all parts of the country, it appears that the West Coast and Rocky
Mountain states received the greatest amounts of Fukushima fallout.
Radiation in rainfall guarantees that humans will ingest a poisonous mix
of chemicals. The rain enters reservoirs of drinking water, pastures
where milk-giving cows graze, the soil of produce farms, and other
sources of food and water.
Finally, how many people were harmed by Fukushima in the short term?
Official studies have chipped away at the oft-repeated claim that nobody
died from Fukushima. Last month brought the news that 573 deaths in the
area near the stricken reactors were certified by coroners as related to
the nuclear crisis, with dozens more deaths to be reviewed. Another
survey showed that births near Fukushima declined 25% in the three
months following the meltdowns. One physician speculated that many women
chose to deliver away from Fukushima, but an increase in stillbirths
remains as a potential factor. In British Columbia, the number of Sudden
Infant Death Syndrome deaths was 10 in the first three months after
Fukushima, up from just one a year before.
On December 19, 2011, we announced the publication of the first
peer-reviewed scientific journal article examining potential health
risks after Fukushima. In the 14 week period March 20 – June 25, 2011,
there was an increase in deaths reported to the CDC by 122 U.S. cities.
If final statistics (not available until late 2014) confirm this trend,
about 14,000 “excess” deaths occurred among Americans in this period.
We made no statement that only Fukushima fallout caused these patterns.
But we found some red flags: infants had the greatest excess (infants
are most susceptible to radiation), and a similar increase occurred in
the U.S. in the months following Chernobyl. Our study reinforced
Fukushima health hazard concerns, and we hope to spur others to engage
in research on both short-term and long-term effects.
For years, the assumption that low-dose radiation doesn’t harm people
has been used, only to fall flat on its face every time. X-rays to
abdomens of pregnant women, exposure to atom bomb fallout, and exposures
to nuclear weapons workers were all once presumed to be harmless due to
low dose levels – until scientific studies proved otherwise. Officials
have dropped their assumptions on theses types of exposures, but
continue to claim that Fukushima was harmless.
Simply dismissing needed research on Fukushima health consequences
because doses are “too low” is irresponsible, and contradictory to many
scientific studies. There will most certainly be a fight over Fukushima
health studies, much like there was after Chernobyl and Three Mile
Island. However, we hope that the dialogue will be open minded and will
use evidence over assumptions, rather than just scoffing at what may
well turn out to be the worst nuclear disaster in history.
Joseph Mangano is an epidemiologist and Executive Director of the
Radiation and Public Health Project.
Janette Sherman is an internist and toxicologist
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