Saturday, June 4, 2016

No Radiation Exposure "Dose," Translates Conveniently into "No Radiation Effects"

The Mainichi is reporting that the Japanese government censored a report investigating Chernobyl’s health effects that was launched in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, in November of 2012. 

The report was funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and the investigative committee was chaired by Nagasaki University professor emeritus Shigenobu Nagataki, who formerly served as chairman of the Radiation Effects Research Foundation. According to the article, the committee focused on two reports "Twenty-five years after the Chernobyl accident: Safety for the future" and "Chernobyl: Consequences of the catastrophe for people and the environment”:
Japanese gov't withheld report on Chernobyl disaster's health effects. The Mainichi, June 4, 2016,

The Japanese government report's assessment panel examined the two reports with regard to 124 parts concerning blood and lymphatic disorders and analyzed whether radiation dose assessments were carried out where radiation exposure was linked to health damage. The committee also conducted an on-site investigation and concluded that it couldn't find any resources with which they could determine the relationship between exposure doses and health damage, based on scientific grounds.
So, according to the Mainichi, the report concluded there was no way of linking “health damage” in the wake of Chernobyl to radiation exposure scientifically because there was no definitive measure of dose.

The Japanese have used this strategy before to argue against radiation exposure effects in Japanese children. In the absence of a precise measurement of dose, there can be no links drawn between radiation exposure and health effects.

For example, in October 2015, The Japan Times reported that efforts by a group of epidemiologists (Tsuda et al 2015) to link Fukushima children’s spiking level of thyroid cancer to radiation exposure were “premature” because exposure “doses” were missing, as illustrated in the comment quoted here by Shoichiro Tsugane of Japan’s National Cancer Center:
New report links thyroid cancer rise to Fukushima nuclear crisis Kyodo Oct 7, 2015 
“Unless radiation exposure data are checked, any specific relationship between a cancer incidence and radiation cannot be identified,” said Tsugane, director of the Research Center for Cancer Prevention and Screening. He said there is a global trend of over-diagnosis of thyroid cancer. 

Tsugane claims that without a measure of dose, no effect can be identified. No dose measurement means NO effects according to Dr. Tsugane.

This approach to measuring effects makes it almost impossible to link radiation exposure to health effects, particularly given what appears to have been a deliberate effort to ERASE children’s exposure data, as published by NHK:

In August of 2011, NHK reported that Japan’s nuclear commission had erased children’s exposure data derived from a test of 1,000 children aged 15 or younger who had been screened for radiation affecting their thyroid:
“Nuclear Commission Erases Children's Exposure Data,” NHK (2011, August 11):
No exposure data, no radiation effects!

There are other ways to link radiation exposure to health hazards by comparing diseases among like populations, differing only in their exposure. However, this strategy has been complicated by Japan’s decision to move radioactive waste around the country for incineration, resulting in ongoing contamination of areas that might have been spared by the initial assault from March 2011.

Personally I think the most persuasive account of long-term radiation impacts on a region is found in the research produced by Drs. Timothy Mousseau and Anders Moller. Here is an editorial by Dr. Mousseau published recently in The Conversation that draws upon decades of research on transgenerational effects for animals living within highly contaminated zones:

Timothy Mousseau. April 25, 2016. At Chernobyl and Fukushima, radioactivity has seriously harmed wildlife. The Conversation,

…in the past decade population biologists have made considerable progress in documenting how radioactivity affects plants, animals and microbes. My colleagues and I have analyzed these impacts at Chernobyl, Fukushima and naturally radioactive regions of the planet.

Our studies provide new fundamental insights about consequences of chronic, multigenerational exposure to low-dose ionizing radiation. Most importantly, we have found that individual organisms are injured by radiation in a variety of ways. The cumulative effects of these injuries result in lower population sizes and reduced biodiversity in high-radiation areas….

Radiation exposure has caused genetic damage and increased mutation rates in many organisms in the Chernobyl region. So far, we have found little convincing evidence that many organisms there are evolving to become more resistant to radiation.

Among the most disturbing of their findings is the “smaller brains” found in Chernobyl birds.
Anders Pape Møller, Andea Bonisoli-Alquati, Geir Rudolfsen, Timothy A. Mousseau. Chernobyl Birds Have Smaller Brains. PLOS, (
This is not a surprising finding when one considers the complexity and sensitivity of early neuronal development in the brain. Radioisotopes such as radioactive Strontium-90 and Strontium-89 can pass the blood-brain barrier and be stored in the brain as substitutes for the calcium needed for the brain’s calcium-ion channels. Imagine having radioactive isotopes stored in your brain. Now imagine the impacts of radioactive elements on early neuronal development. But remember, according to government-funded experts, there are no effects in the absence of precise measurements of dose!


Toshihide Tsuda (2015) Thyroid Cancer Detection by Ultrasound Among Residents Ages 18 Years and Younger in Fukushima, Japan 2011 to 2014. Epidemiology,

Hiyama, A., Nohara, C., Kinjo, S., Taira, W., Gima, S., Tanahara, A., and Otaki, J. (2012, August 9). The Biological impacts of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident on the Pal Grass Blue Butterfly. Scientific Report