[ RadSafe ] "The Fukushima Effect - A Good Time to Discuss Hormesis" (a nuclear.com editorial)

Steve Schulin steve.schulin at nuclear.com
Thu Oct 18 19:42:14 CDT 2012

October 18, 2012
The Fukushima Effect - A Good Time to Discuss Hormesis

by Steve Schulin

There is much evidence that low levels of radiation have a beneficial effect on human health, rather than having a detrimental effect. I've heard many assert that there is no safe amount of radiation. Well, we don't know exactly where the dose-effect curve for radiation moves from benefit to harm, but we do know that the evidence supports the conclusion that low doses do indeed have a healthful effect.

I was prompted again to think about this subject due to the headlines around the world about a French comedian attributing Japan's recent sporting victory over France to what he called "The Fukushima EFfect" -- he showed an image of Japan's goalie using four arms to stop the French shots. I've seen reports of Japanese officials decrying the insensitivity of this joke, apparently worried that, yes, folks who were (and are) being exposed to radiation from multiple meltdowns at Fukushima could conceivably grow more arms, or perhaps have children with severe birth defects.

These officials are doing a disservice to their people, by emphasizing the dread of radiation. Let me tell you a story straight out of the scientific literature which illustrates why officials should say, yes the Fukushima effect might make it seem like our goalie has four arms, even though he has only two:

Some apartment buildings in Taiwan were built with radioactively contaminated steel. More than 10,000 people lived in those buildings for up to twenty years before it was discovered that the buildings were radioactive. Average dose: over 40 Rem per person. This is way higher dose than any residents, or even workers at the Fukushima site, have received. The residents of the buildings in Taiwan were all ages, shapes and sizes, encompassing old folks and even babies who spent their entire developmental lifetime and youngest years there after birth.

The residents of those apartment were found to have only 3% of the expected cancer deaths, and only 7% of the expected heart defects. The study is freely available at http://1.usa.gov/fauyt5

The authors of the study emphasize that "Information about this Taiwan experience should be communicated to the public worldwide to help allay its fear of radiation..." I agree.

Mr. Schulin is the founding editor of nuclear.com. He is a Registered Radiological Protection Technologist (NRRPT-Inactive). Since his first summer job at a nuclear plant courtesy of a professor at his college in 1977, he has worked as a technician, instructor, auditor and consultant for most of the nuclear plants in the US.

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