Monday, November 26, 2012

Sick with Sadness and Frustration about Denial of Harm From Fukushima

That is how I feel today. I'm drowning in it. 

WHO forecasts no significant increase in cancer patients in Fukushima November 25, 2012 By YURI OIWA/

[Excerpted] Cases of cancer caused by radiation from the Fukushima nuclear accident will not increase significantly, although the risk facing infants near the plant has risen, a draft report by the World Health Organization said.

The WHO’s draft report, obtained by The Asahi Shimbun, also said the health risks for people living outside Fukushima Prefecture were negligible, regardless of age.

Majia here: I am going to say outright that this is a DELIBERATE LIE.

In 2011, former senior policy advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Energy, Robert Alvarez, argued that fully 600 square kilometers were “technically uninhabitable” because of cesium-137 contamination.

Majia here: And Japan's practice of burning radioactive waste is making the problem bigger.
The WHO assertion of "no health effects" comes on the heels of a report from a UN representative on the Right to Health who claims that not enough testing is being done outside of Fukushima:

[Excerpted] TOKYO — A United Nations rights investigator said Monday that Japan hasn't done enough to protect the health of residents and workers affected by the Fukushima nuclear accident.
Anand Grover, U.N. special rapporteur on the right to health, said the government has adopted overly optimistic views of radiation risks and has conducted only limited health checks after the partial meltdowns at several reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant caused by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

Several investigations, including one conducted by a parliament-appointed panel, have criticized the government for alleged cover-ups and delays in disclosing key radiation information, causing evacuees to be unnecessarily exposed to radiation. That has also caused deep-rooted public distrust of the government and nuclear industry.

Although he welcomed ongoing health checks of affected residents, Grover said they were too narrow in scope because they are only intended to cover Fukushima's 2 million people, and that only children are being given thyroid tests, even though the impact of radiation went far beyond Fukushima's borders. 

He said the health survey should cover "all radiation-affected zones" stretching across much of the northeastern half of the main Japanese island of Honshu. So far, only one-quarter of Fukushima's population has been covered.... [end excerpt]

Majia here: I really don't even know where to start. I've written an entire book debunking the idea that there will be no health effects from Fukushima. I cannot paste the entire book here but I wish I could because the data on the low level effects of radiation on human health are very clear. 

Here are some references on health effects from Fukushima radiation, focusing on children:

Joseph Mangano and J. Sherman, J. (2012). An Unexpected Mortality Increase in the United States Following Arrival of the Radioactive Plume from Fukushima: Is There a Correlation? International Journal of Health Services, 42(1): 47-62. 

For a critical discussion of Japanese children’s exposure to radiation see Kodama Tatsuhiko “Radiation Effects on Health: Protect the Children of Fukushima,” The Asia-Pacific Journal 9(32), no 4 (2011):  

“Radiation Detected in Fukushima Children’s Urine,” NHK (2011, June 30): 
45% of Kids in Fukushima Survey Had Thyroid Exposure to Radiation,” Mainichi (2011, July 5):
“Nuclear Commission Erases Children's Exposure Data,” NHK (2011, August 11):
Julian Ryall. Nearly 36pc of Fukushima children diagnosed with abnormal thyroid growths. The Telegraph ( 2012, July 19), 

Here is what the Bear report had to say about nuclear fallout in 1956 about the safety of radiation fallout as summarized here:
1.         Radiations cause mutations. Mutations affect those hereditary traits which a person passes on to his children and subsequent generations.
2.         Practically all radiation induced mutations which have effects large enough to be detected are harmful. A small but not negligible part of this harm would appear in the first generation of the offspring of the person who received the radiation. Most of the harm, however, would remain unnoticed, for a shorter or longer time, in the genetic constitution of the successive generations of offspring. But the harm would persist, and some of it would be expressed in each generation.…
3.         Any radiation dose, however small, can induce some mutations. There is no minimum radiation does, that is, which must be exceeded before any harmful mutations occur.
4.         Like radiation-induced mutations, nearly all spontaneous mutations with detectable effects are harmful. Hence these mutations tend to eliminate themselves from the population through the handicaps of the tragedies which occur because the persons bearing these mutations are not ideally fitted to survive.
We all carry a supply of these spontaneous mutant genes. The size of this supply represents a balance between tendency of mutant genes to eliminate themselves, and the tendency of new mutants to be constantly produced through natural causes
5.         Additional radiation (that is, radiation over and above the irreducible minimum due to natural causes) produces additional mutations (over and above the spontaneous mutations)
The probable number of additional induced mutations occurs in an individual over a period of time is by and large proportional to the total dose of extra radiation received, over that period, by the reproductive organs where the germ cells are formed and stored. To the best of our present knowledge, if we increase the radiation by X%, the gene mutations caused by radiation will also be increased by X%.
The total dose of radiation is what counts, this statement being based on the fact that the genetic damage done by radiation is cumulative….
6.         From the above five statements a very important conclusion results. It has sometimes been thought that there may be a rate (say, so much per week) at which a person can receive radiation with reasonable safety as regards certain types of direct damage to his own person. But the concept of a safe rate of radiation simply does not make sense if one is concerned with genetic damage to future generations. What counts, from the point of view of genetic damage, is not the rate; it is the total accumulated dose to the reproductive cells of the individual from the beginning of his life up to the time the child is conceived.
“What is genetically important to a child is the total radiation dose that child’s parents have received from their conception to the conception of the child…”
… “There are at least three different aspects which must be considered. The first aspect places emphasis on the risk to the direct offspring and later descendants of those persons who, from occupation hazard or otherwise, receive a radiation dose substantially greater than the average received by the population as a whole.
The second aspect refers to the effect of the average dose on the population as a whole.
The third aspect refers in still broader terms to the possibility that increased and prolonged radiation mist so raise the death rate and so lower the birth rate the population, considered as a whole, would decline and eventually perish. We are at present extremely uncertain as to the level of this fatal threshold for a human population.
  Majia here: And here is a summary on the health effects for children exposed to radiation

Children Exposed to Ionizing Radiation
Recent research on nuclear plants and childhood leukemia suggest that ongoing plant releases may cause cancer in children residing in close proximity to the plant. A study by the Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale (French Institute of Health and Medical Research, or INSERM) documented a leukemia rate twice as high among children under the age of fifteen living within a five kilometer radius of France's nineteen nuclear power plants as compared to the rate found in the child population living twenty kilometers or more away from the plant.[vi] The French study reinforced previous findings on excess risk for leukemia in young children living in close proximity to German nuclear power plants.[vii] In a commentary, “Childhood Cancer near Nuclear Power Stations,” published in Environmental Health Perspectives, Ian Fairlie observed: “Doses from environmental emissions from nuclear reactors to embryos and fetuses in pregnant women near nuclear power stations may be larger than suspected. Hematopoietic tissues appear to be considerably more radiosensitive in embryos/fetuses than in newborn babies.”[viii]
Exposure to tritium may be the primary agent culpable for cancer and leukemia. Water that cools reactor cores and spent fuel pools becomes extensively contaminated with tritium.[ix] Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen with a 12.32 half-life. Tritium emits beta particles (high speed electrons) as it decays. It is very difficult to contain and is therefore nearly continuously emitted from nuclear power plants. It binds with oxygen and ends up in precipitation and water supplies, where it can be inhaled or ingested. It can also be absorbed through the skin. Harrison and Day describe the biological effects of tritium in their article “Radiation Doses and Risks from Internal Emitters”
low energy beta emissions from tritium (3H) decay have been shown to have RBE (ratio of the absorbed dose) values of up to between 2 and 3 (compared to gammay rays), for in vitro end-points including cell killing, mutation and induction of chromosomal aberrations.[x]
Evidence of tritium contamination can be found in Clyde Stagner’s Hidden Tritium, which examines tritium emissions from spent fuel pool evaporations at the Palo Verde Nuclear power plant located near Phoenix. His calculations of evaporation rates and accumulation of tritium in precipitation, based on EPA data and analysis of evaporation rates conducted by Arizona State University, document risks posed by the beta emitter to populations throughout the Phoenix area. Stagner illustrated the risks graphically in an analysis of tritium concentrations in public swimming pools in Phoenix. Accordingly, "Swimming 2 hours a day during a six  month swimming season results in a dose of . . . 1.927 millirem. Swimming 2 hours a day annually results in a dose of 3.908 millirem."[xi] This dose exceeds the As Low as Reasonably Achievable dose of 3 millirem.[xii] In 2011 the EPA discontinued its monitoring of tritium in Phoenix despite evidence of steadily growing accumulation of the isotope in the local environment across time. Tritium has been linked to chromosomal breaks, brain tumors, ovarian tumors, decreased brain weight in offspring, and mental retardation in animal studies.[xiii] Tritium has also been found to bioaccumulate in marine species and may very well bioaccumulate in land based life as well.[xiv]
Another area of investigation of the biological effects of radiation on children concerns medical imaging. Studies on medical imaging show children are very vulnerable to the radiation used in the imaging. A study published in The Lancet in 2012 found that CT scans cause a small but significant increased risk for leukemia and brain cancer.[xv] Two to three scans of the head for children under three tripled the risk for brain cancer as compared to the general population while five to ten scans tripled the risk for leukemia. A study of adults found that “For every 10 mSv of low-dose ionizing radiation, there was a 3% increase in the risk of age- and sex-adjusted cancer over a mean follow-up period of five years (hazard ratio 1.003 per millisievert, 95% confidence interval 1.002–1.004).[xvi]
Finally, recent research has documented that even background levels of radiation can cause cancer in children. One study addressing background gamma radiation found a twelve percent increase in childhood leukemia for every millisievert of natural gamma-radiation does to bone marrow.[xvii] This study demonstrates that low dose gamma radiation can cause produce genetic changes significant enough to cause leukemia. One area of DNA particularly vulnerable to background radiation is mitochondrial DNA. An innovative study examined how naturally occurring high background radiation produced mitochondrial DNA mutations that were transmitted across generations:
The observation that radiation accelerates point mutations at all is unexpected, at first glance, because radiation was, until recently, thought to generate primarily DNA lesions (1). A potential explanation is provided by our additional observation that these radiation-associated point mutations are also evolutionary hot spots, indicating that the radiation indirectly increases the cell's normal (evolutionary) mutation mechanism (5).[xviii]
This study found that mitochondrial DNA was particularly vulnerable to mutations and suggested it therefore served as an evolutionary “hot spot.” However, most mutations are not beneficial and the rapid (from an evolutionary framework) cumulative mitochondrial damage to the people studied here may cause reproductive health problems. Mitochondrial damage transmitted across generations could eventually result in a level of inherited damage capable of compromising this vital cell function. Children are thus vulnerable not only because their DNA appears more vulnerable but also because they have inherited all the germ-line genetic damage from previous generations.
Taken together these studies demonstrate that common forms of exposure to ionizing radiation can cause cancer and leukemia and that genetic damage can be transmitted across generations. Moreover, they demonstrate that children are particularly susceptible to detrimental effects. The studies are significant because they suggest that current estimates for dose-risks may under-estimate actual risks.

[i]               Cited in Ford, The Nuclear Barons, 315.

[ii]               E.J. Sternglass. "Cancer: Relation of Prenatal Radiation to Development of the Disease in Childhood", Science, 7 June 1963: Vol. 140. no. 3571, pp. 1102 - 1104.

[iii]              Walker, p. 37

[iv]              Walker, p. 37.

[v]               Walker, p. 39.

[vi]              Claire Sermage-Faure, D. Laurier, S. Goujon-Bellec, M. Chartier, A. Guyot-Goubin, J. Rudant, D. Hemon and J. Clavel. 2012. Childhood leukemia around French nuclear power plants – the Geocap study, 2002 – 2007,” International Journal of Cancer 131, E769–E780 (2012):

[vii]         Kaatsch P, Spix C, Schulze-Rath R, Schmiedel S, Blettner M. Leukaemia in young children living in the vicinity of German nuclear power plants. Int J Cancer 2008;122:721–6.

Kaatsch P, Spix C, Jung I, Blettner M. Childhood leukemia in the vicinity of nuclear power plants in Germany. Dtsch Arztebl Int 2008; 105: 725–32.

Spix C, Schmiedel S, Kaatsch P, Schulze-Rath R, Blettner M. Case-control study on childhood cancer in the vicinity of nuclear power plants in Germany 1980–2003. Eur J Cancer 2008; 44: 275–84.

Kinlen L. A German storm affecting Britain: childhood leukaemia and nuclear power plants. J Radiol Prot 2011;31: 279–84.

[viii]         Ian Fairlie. Commentary: Childhood Cancer near Nuclear Power Stations. Environmental Health Perspectives, 8:43 (2009),

[ix]              Helen Caldicott Nuclear Power is Not the Answer. New York: The New Press, 2006. P. 13.

[x]           Harrison, J., & Day, P. Radiation Doses and Risks from Internal Emitters. Journal of Radiological Protection, 28 (2008), 37-159. p. 144.

[xi]              Clyde Stagner personal correspondence. Stagner provided me the data and analysis he sent to the EPA expressing concerns about the excess exposure to tritium in Phoenix precipitation and bodies of water, including swimming pools.

[xii]         ALARA stands for As Low as Reasonably Achievable and is a regulatory requirement. See for background.

[xiii]             Caldicott, p. 57.

[xiv]         Benedict C. Jaeschke and Clare Bradshaw. Bioaccumulation of tritiated water in phytoplankton and trophic transfer of organically bound tritium to the blue mussel, Mytilus edulis. Journal of environmental Radioactivity, 115, January 2013, Pages 28–33

[xv]          Mark S Pearce, Jane A Salotti, Mark P Little, Kieran McHugh, Choonsik Lee, Kwang Pyo Kim, Nicola L Howe, Cecile M Ronckers, Preetha Rajaraman,
Sir Alan W Craft, Louise Parker, Amy Berrington de González. Radiation exposure from CT scans in childhood and subsequent risk of eukaemia and brain tumours: a retrospective cohort study. The Lancet. June 7, 2012DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60815-0,

[xvi]         Mark J. Eisenberg, Jonathan Afilalo, Patrick R. Lawler, Michal Abrahamowicz, Hugues Richard, and Louise Pilote. Cancer risk related to low-dose ionizing radiation from cardiac imaging in patients after acute myocardial infarction. Canadian Medial Association Journal 183.4 2011, 430-436.

[xvii]        Natural gamma rays linked to childhood leukaemia. University of Oxford (2012, June 12)

[xviii]       Lucy Forster, Peter Forster, Sabine Lutz-Bonengel Horst Willkomm, Bernd Brinkmann Natural radioactivity and human mitochondrial DNA mutations PNAS



  2. Well, the Great Culling has probably already begun, so what's a few million, more or less?