Friday, November 30, 2018

Life Expectancy Declines Again for Certain Populations but Its All Their Fault Anyway

You've probably already seen the headlines - US life expectancy continues to decline for white Americans:
McKay, Betsy (2018, November 29). US Life Expectancy Declines Further. The Wall Street Journal, A1, A6.
The explanatory frame is suicides and accidental overdoses. In other words, the explanatory frame is self-inflicted "lifestyle."

Its interesting to note that the WSJ article states that cancer deaths have reportedly reportedly stabilized. But perhaps better treatment, as opposed to fewer diagnoses, explains that result given the high incidence of cancer diagnoses in the US:
(US)NIH: Statistics at a Glance: The Burden of Cancer in the United States.

The number of new cases of cancer (cancer incidence) is 439.2 per 100,000 men and women per year (based on 2011–2015 cases).
The number of cancer deaths (cancer mortality) is 163.5 per 100,000 men and women per year (based on 2011–2015 deaths)....
Cancer is among the leading causes of death worldwide. In 2012, there were 14.1 million new cases and 8.2 million cancer-related deaths worldwide.

I have extensively posted on this subject of declining longevity for certain US populations. Please see the articles linked below.


Majia's Blog: "Life Expectancy Declines for White Americans": But its ...

Majia's Blog: FRAMING Bad News About Declining Longevity in ...

Majia's Blog: Who Decides Level of Risk?

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Homo Sacer at the US-Mexico Border

Giorgo Agamben, an Italian political philosopher, warns against the condition of "homo sacer" when human life is denied basic rights afforded citizens.

We can see how people are stripped of basic human rights in many social contexts, but the most recent chemical assault against impoverished immigrants seeking refuge at the US-Mexico border is a particularly poignant example.

I'm ashamed that President Trump encouraged the border patrol to act aggressively and violently against poor and impoverished people, including and especially small children.

The US has a direct role in de-stabilizing central American, whose trajectories the US has secretly and not-so secretly engineered for over a hundred years.

Those officials who approved firing tear gas against children were inspired by a president who calls himself Christian but misses the most obvious lesson of that religion, which requires succor of the poorest and most vulnerable among us, a lesson taught in multiple tales ranging from the birth of Jesus to the Good Samaritan.

I am ashamed as an American that my country is stripping extremely vulnerable people of the most basic protections of human life:

Abby Haglage (2018, November 27). Doctor says tear gas used at the border can cause permanent skin burns and breathing trouble in kids: 'It is absolutely horrific' Yahoo

Monday, November 26, 2018

Fukushima: Safe for Children and Athletes, but Not for Monkeys

Fukushima Daiichi has been declared safe for children at a new 20 milliseiverts a year annual exposure level and safe for athletes attending the 2020 Olympics:

UN envoy: Halt children's return to Fukushima. (2018, October 26) NHK,

...The government set the exposure limit at 20 millisieverts per year as a condition for lifting evacuation orders issued for parts of the prefecture after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident.

Tuncak criticized the government for not taking into account the council's recommendation that the limit be one milisievert.

IOC chief 'impressed' at Fukushima recovery progress (Nov 24, 2018). Channel Asia News,

Olympics chief Thomas Bach said Saturday he was impressed at the "great progress" made in the reconstruction of Fukushima, in a visit to the region devastated by the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster... The Fukushima region is the suitable place to show the power of the Olympics, the power of sports," Abe said, reiterating his hopes of showing the world the recovery of Fukushima and other disaster-hit areas during the sporting event, for which Tokyo is the designated host city.
But for monkeys, Fukushima exposure hasn't been so (allegedly) benign:

Momoko Suda (2018, November 25). Effects of suspected radiation exposure seen in Fukushima wild monkeys: researchers. The Mainichi,
TOKYO -- Researchers found fewer cells that become blood in the bone marrow of wild Japanese macaques living in northeastern Japan's Fukushima Prefecture along with the delayed growth of fetuses after the 2011 nuclear crisis, possibly due to radiation exposure.
Findings of abnormalities in these monkeys have been continuously reported in British scientific journals. Researchers assume that the monkeys ingested items like tree bark contaminated with radioactive cesium emanating from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. 

Of course, the exposures of children, monkeys, and athletes are not equivalent.

However, the question is not whether risk exists or not. Radiation contaminated zones present increased health risks. The question is how much risk.

I'm not sure why this question is being tested on children and athletes.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Protecting Children from Radiation

I am guilty of sentimentalizing children. They are literally our future. We must not foresake them.

Yet we do, over and over again. And in so many ways.

In particular, their environmental health should be our priority and by environmental I mean social, biological, and physical environments.

But let's focus here on physical environment.

Children are, of course, much more susceptible to injury from environmental hazards than most adults.

This is an established fact.

Yet, environmental protections for children are being loosened in the US and Japan.

The New York Times reports that the Trump administration is loosening mercury restrictions (here). Mercury is a potent environmental toxin with well established adverse impacts on children (here).

In Japan, the government has decided not to uphold expert recommendations that children's exposure to radiation be limited to 1 millisievert.


Both cases, the US and Japanese, demonstrate back-tracking when it comes to protecting our children.

The Japanese case has caused international consternation, as expressed by UN Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur Baskut Tuncak, who contested the decision by the Japanese government to set the exposure level at 20 millisieverts a year: 

UN envoy: Halt children's return to Fukushima. (2018, October 26) NHK,

...The government set the exposure limit at 20 milisieverts per year as a condition for lifting evacuation orders issued for parts of the prefecture after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident.

Tuncak criticized the government for not taking into account the council's recommendation that the limit be one milisievert.
The article notes that a Japanese delegate responded to the criticism by saying that the limit of 20 millisieverts was derived from a "2007 recommendation by the International Commission on Radiological Protection."

The delegate also accused Tuncak of slandering Fukushima's reputation.

Japan's efforts to redress international criticism against raising its permissible exposure level for children include making children a "priority" for iodine tablets:
Children to be given priority for iodine tablets against radiation (2018, November 21). The Mainichi,

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's nuclear regulation body decided Wednesday to review the nation's prior distribution system of iodine tablets against radiation exposure, with an eye on giving priority to children. Current rules say iodine tablets should be in principle distributed in advance to all residents living within a 5-kilometer radius of 16 nuclear plants in 13 prefectures, where doing so is deemed difficult under emergency situations. But some municipal governments have yet to hand out the tablets to all residents, including children who are more vulnerable to radiation exposure.
Iodine tablets help prevent absorption of radioiodine but do nothing to prevent absorption of other radionuclides, such as radioactive strontium.

Fukushima reportedly produced 1,000 different radioactive isotopes. There are 36 radioactive isotopes that undergo radioactive decay according to Wikipedia (here ). There are 31 known radioactive isotopes of strontium (here). Strontium bioaccumulates in bones (like calcium) and in the brain (strontium confused again with calcium). There are hundreds of other radioactive isotopes in the environment now because of the 3 reactor meltdowns at Daiichi.

Children in Japan will now be exposed to radiation levels 20X times what was previously acceptable. This is a major step backwards in Japan.

In the US little attention is afforded to the impacts on children from mercury and other contaminants.

Indeed, while the radiation monitoring of NETC (which includes EPA radnet data sources) indicates elevated radiation levels in the US -- probably coming from California's fires (especially from Woolsey Fire ) -- NO warnings or provisions are being made to my knowledge regarding protection against contamination:

Are children homo sacer (i.e., without rights? Agamben here)?


Majia's Blog: Fukushima Children