Radiation

The impact of the nuclear crisis on global health

Helen Caldicott l Australian Medical Student Journal Volume 4, Issue 2 2014

 

Due to my personal concerns regarding the ignorance of the world’s media and politicians about radiation biology after the dreadful accident at Fukushima in Japan, I organized a 2 day symposium at the NY Academy of Medicine on March 11 and 12, 2013, titled ‘The Medical and Ecological Consequences of Fukushima,’ which was addressed by some of the world’s leading scientists, epidemiologists, physicists and physicians who presented their latest data and findings on Fukushima. [1]

Background

The Great Eastern earthquake, measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale, and the ensuing massive tsunami on the east coast of Japan induced the meltdown of three nuclear reactors within several days. During the quake the external power supply was lost to the reactor complex and the pumps, which circulate up to one million gallons of water per minute to cool each reactor core, ceased to function. Emergency diesel generators situated below the plants kicked in but these were soon swamped by the tsunami. Without cooling, the radioactive cores in units 1, 2 and 3 began to melt within hours. Over the next few days, all three cores (each weighing more than 100 tonnes) melted their way through six inches of steel at the bottom of their reactor vessels and oozed their way onto the concrete floor of the containment buildings. At the same time the zirconium cladding covering thousands of uranium fuel rods reacted with water, creating hydrogen, which initiated hydrogen explosions in units 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Massive quantities of radiation escaped into the air and water – three times more noble gases (argon, xenon and krypton) than were released at Chernobyl, together with huge amounts of other volatile and non-volatile radioactive elements, including cesium, tritium, iodine, strontium, silver, plutonium, americium and rubinium. Eventually sea water was – and is still – utilized to cool the molten reactors.

Fukushima is now described as the greatest industrial accident in history.

The Japanese government was so concerned that they were considering plans to evacuate 35 million people from Tokyo, as other reactors including Fukushima Daiini on the east coast were also at risk. Thousands of people fleeing from the smoldering reactors were not notified where the radioactive plumes were travelling, despite the fact that there was a system in place to track the plumes. As a result, people fled directly into regions with the highest radiation concentrations, where they were exposed to high levels of whole-body external gamma radiation being emitted by the radioactive elements, inhaling radioactive air and swallowing radioactive elements. [2] Unfortunately, inert potassium iodide was not supplied, which would have blocked the uptake of radioactive iodine by their thyroid glands, except in the town of Miharu. Prophylactic iodine was eventually distributed to the staff of Fukushima Medical University in the days after the accident, after extremely high levels of radioactive iodine – 1.9 million becquerels/kg were found in leafy vegetables near the University. [3] Iodine contamination was widespread in leafy vegetables and milk, whilst other isotopic contamination from substances such as caesium is widespread in vegetables, fruit, meat, milk, rice and tea in many areas of Japan. [4]

The Fukushima meltdown disaster is not over and will never end. The radioactive fallout which remains toxic for hundreds to thousands of years covers large swathes of Japan and will never be “cleaned up.” It will contaminate food, humans and animals virtually forever. I predict that the three reactors which experienced total meltdowns will never be dissembled or decommissioned. TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) – says it will take at least 30 to 40 years and the International Atomic Energy Agency predicts at least 40 years before they can make any progress because of the extremely high levels of radiation at these damaged reactors.

This accident is enormous in its medical implications. It will induce an epidemic of cancer as people inhale the radioactive elements, eat radioactive food and drink radioactive beverages. In 1986, a single meltdown and explosion at Chernobyl covered 40% of the European land mass with radioactive elements. Already, according to a 2009 report published by the New York Academy of Sciences, over one million people have already perished as a direct result of this catastrophe. This is just the tip of the iceberg, because large parts of Europe and the food grown there will remain radioactive for hundreds of years. [5]

Medical Implications of Radiation

Fact number one

No dose of radiation is safe. Each dose received by the body is cumulative and adds to the risk of developing malignancy or genetic disease.

Fact number two

Children are ten to twenty times more vulnerable to the carcinogenic effects of radiation than adults. Females tend to be more sensitive compared to males, whilst foetuses and immuno-compromised patients are also extremely sensitive.

Fact number three

High doses of radiation received from a nuclear meltdown or from a nuclear weapon explosion can cause acute radiation sickness, with alopecia, severe nausea, diarrhea and thrombocytopenia. Reports of such illnesses, particularly in children, appeared within the first few months after the Fukushima accident.

Fact number four

Ionizing radiation from radioactive elements and radiation emitted from X-ray machines and CT scanners can be carcinogenic. The latent period of carcinogenesis for leukemia is 5-10 years and solid cancers 15-80 years. It has been shown that all modes of cancer can be induced by radiation, as well as over 6000 genetic diseases now described in the medical literature.

But, as we increase the level of background radiation in our environment from medical procedures, X-ray scanning machines at airports, or radioactive materials continually escaping from nuclear reactors and nuclear waste dumps, we will inevitably increase the incidence of cancer as well as the incidence of genetic disease in future generations.

Types of ionizing radiation

  1. X-rays are electromagnetic, and cause mutations the instant they pass through the body.
  2. Similarly, gamma radiation is also electromagnetic, being emitted by radioactive materials generated in nuclear reactors and from some naturally occurring radioactive elements in the soil.
  3. Alpha radiation is particulate and is composed of two protons and two neutrons emitted from uranium atoms and other dangerous elements generated in reactors (such as plutonium, americium, curium, einsteinium, etc – all which are known as alpha emitters and have an atomic weight greater than uranium). Alpha particles travel a very short distance in the human body. They cannot penetrate the layers of dead skin in the epidermis to damage living skin cells. But when these radioactive elements enter the lung, liver, bone or other organs, they transfer a large dose of radiation over a long period of time to a very small volume of cells. Most of these cells are killed; however, some on the edge of the radiation field remain viable to be mutated, and cancer may later develop. Alpha emitters are among the most carcinogenic materials known.
  4. Beta radiation, like alpha radiation, is also particulate. It is a charged electron emitted from radioactive elements such as strontium 90, cesium 137 and iodine 131. The beta particle is light in mass, travels further than an alpha particle and is also mutagenic.
  5. Neutron radiation is released during the fission process in a reactor or a bomb. Reactor 1 at Fukushima has been periodically emitting neutron radiation as sections of the molten core become intermittently critical. Neutrons are large radioactive particles that travel many kilometers, and they pass through everything including concrete and steel. There is no way to hide from them and they are extremely mutagenic.

So, let’s describe just five of the radioactive elements that are continually being released into the air and water at Fukushima. Remember, though, there are over 200 such elements each with its own half-life, biological characteristic and pathway in the food chain and the human body. Most have never had their biological pathways examined. They are invisible, tasteless and odourless. When the cancer manifests it is impossible to determine its aetiology, but there is a large body of literature proving that radiation causes cancer, including the data from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  1. Tritium is radioactive hydrogen H3 and there is no way to separate tritium from contaminated water as it combines with oxygen to form H3O. There is no material that can prevent the escape of tritium except gold, so all reactors continuously emit tritium into the air and cooling water as they operate. It concentrates in aquatic organisms, including algae, seaweed, crustaceans and fish, and also in terrestrial food.  Like all radioactive elements, it is tasteless, odorless and invisible, and will therefore inevitably be ingested in food, including seafood, for many decades. It passes unhindered through the skin if a person is immersed in fog containing tritiated water near a reactor, and also enters the body via inhalation and ingestion. It causes brain tumors, birth deformities and cancers of many organs.
  2. Cesium 137 is a beta and gamma emitter with a half-life of 30 years. That means in 30 years only half of its radioactive energy has decayed, so it is detectable as a radioactive hazard for over 300 years. Cesium, like all radioactive elements, bio-concentrates at each level of the food chain. The human body stands atop the food chain. As an analogue of potassium, cesium becomes ubiquitous in all cells. It concentrates in the myocardium where it induces cardiac irregularities, and in the endocrine organs where it can cause diabetes, hypothyroidism and thyroid cancer. It can also induce brain cancer, rhabdomyosarcomas, ovarian or testicular cancer and genetic disease.
  3. Strontium 90 is a high-energy beta emitter with a half-life of 28 years. As a calcium analogue, it is a bone-seeker. It concentrates in the food chain, specifically milk (including breast milk), and is laid down in bones and teeth in the human body. It can lead to carcinomas of the bone and leukaemia.
  4. Radioactive iodine 131 is a beta and gamma emitter. It has a half-life of eight days and is hazardous for ten weeks. It bio-concentrates in the food chain, in vegetables and milk, then in the the human thyroid gland where it is a potent carcinogen, inducing thyroid disease and/or thyroid cancer. It is important to note that of 174,376 children under the age of 18 that have been examined by thyroid ultrasound in the Fukushima Prefecture, 12 have been definitively diagnosed with thyroid cancer and 15 more are suspected to have the disease. Almost 200,000 more children are yet to be examined. Of these 174,367 children, 43.2% have either thyroid cysts and/or nodules.
    In Chernobyl, thyroid cancers were not diagnosed until four years post-accident. This early presentation indicates that these Japanese children almost certainly received a high dose of radioactive iodine. High doses of other radioactive elements released during the meltdowns were received by the exposed population so the rate of cancer is almost certain to rise.
  5. Plutonium, one of the most deadly radioactive substances, is an alpha emitter. It is highly toxic, and one millionth of a gram will induce cancer if inhaled into the lung. As an iron analogue, it combines with transferrin. It causes liver cancer, bone cancer, leukemia, or multiple myeloma. It concentrates in the testicles and ovaries where it can induce testicular or ovarian cancer, or genetic diseases in future generations. It also crosses the placenta where it is teratogenic, like thalidomide. There are medical homes near Chernobyl full of grossly deformed children, the deformities of which have never before been seen in the history of medicine.
    The half-life of plutonium is 24,400 years, and thus it is radioactive for 250,000 years. It will induce cancers, congenital deformities, and genetic diseases for virtually the rest of time.
    Plutonium is also fuel for atomic bombs. Five kilos is fuel for a weapon which would vaporize a city. Each reactor makes 250 kg of plutonium a year. It is postulated that less than one kilo of plutonium, if adequately distributed, could induce lung cancer in every person on earth.

Conclusion

In summary, the radioactive contamination and fallout from nuclear power plant accidents will have medical ramifications that will never cease, because the food will continue to concentrate the radioactive elements for hundreds to thousands of years. This will induce epidemics of cancer, leukemia and genetic disease. Already we are seeing such pathology and abnormalities in birds and insects, and because they reproduce very fast it is possible to observe disease caused by radiation over many generations within a relatively short space of time.

Pioneering research conducted by Dr Tim Mousseau, an evolutionary biologist, has demonstrated high rates of tumors, cataracts, genetic mutations, sterility and reduced brain size amongst birds in the exclusion zones of both Chernobyl and Fukushima. What happens to animals will happen to human beings. [7]

The Japanese government is desperately trying to “clean up” radioactive contamination. But in reality all that can be done is collect it, place it in containers and transfer it to another location. It cannot be made neutral and it cannot be prevented from spreading in the future. Some contractors have allowed their workers to empty radioactive debris, soil and leaves into streams and other illegal places. The main question becomes: Where can they place the contaminated material to be stored safely away from the environment for thousands of years? There is no safe place in Japan for this to happen, let alone to store thousands of tons of high level radioactive waste which rests precariously at the 54 Japanese nuclear reactors.

Last but not least, Australian uranium fuelled the Fukushima reactors. Australia exports uranium for use in nuclear power plants to 12 countries, including the US, Japan, France, Britain, Finland, Sweden, South Korea, China, Belgium, Spain, Canada and Taiwan. 270,000 metric tons of deadly radioactive waste exists in the world today, with 12,000 metric tons being added yearly. (Each reactor manufactures 30 tons per year and there are over 400 reactors globally.)

This high-level waste must be isolated from the environment for one million years – but no container lasts longer than 100 years. The isotopes will inevitably leak, contaminating the food chain, inducing epidemics of cancer, leukemia, congenital deformities and genetic diseases for the rest of time.

This, then, is the legacy we leave to future generations so that we can turn on our lights and computers or make nuclear weapons. It was Einstein who said “the splitting of the atom changed everything save mans’ mode of thinking, thus we drift towards unparalleled catastrophe.”

The question now is: Have we, the human species, the ability to mature psychologically in time to avert these catastrophes, or, is it in fact, too late?

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and perspectives presented in this article are those of the author alone and does not reflect the views of the Australian Medical Student Journal. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors or omissions.

References

[1] Caldicott H. Helen Caldicott Foundation’s Fukushima Symposium. 2013; Available from: http://www.helencaldicott.com/2012/12/helen-caldicott-foundations-fukushima-symposium/.

[2] Japan sat on U.S. radiation maps showing immediate fallout from nuke crisis. The Japan Times. 2012.

[3] Bagge E, Bjelle A, Eden S, Svanborg A. Osteoarthritis in the elderly: clinical and radiological findings in 79 and 85 year olds. Ann Rheum Dis. 1991;50(8):535-9. Epub 1991/08/01.

[4] Tests find cesium 172 times the limit in Miyagi Yacon tea. The Asahi Shimbun. 2012.

[5] Yablokov AV, Nesterenko VB, Nesterenko AV, Sherman-Nevinger JD. Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment: Wiley. com; 2010.

[6] Fukushima Health Management. Proceedings of the 11th Prefectural Oversight Committee Meeting for Fukushima Health Management Survey. Fukushima, Japan2013.

[7] Møller AP, Mousseau TA. The effects of low-dose radiation: Soviet science, the nuclear industry – and independence? Significance. 2013;10(1):14-9.

http://www.amsj.org/archives/3487


From Trinity to Fukushima: Measuring Naturally-Occurring Background Radiation in 2012

Jackie Cabasso l disarmamentactivist.org  Sep 5th, 2012 On August 27, the Oakland Police Department issued a community notice to make the public and media aware of an aerial survey that would be taking place over portions of San Francisco, Pacific...

Chernobyl Deaths Top a Million Based on Real Evidence

ISIS Report 24/05/12

Medical records from contaminated areas speak for themselves; doctors, scientists and citizens bear witness to the devastating health impacts of radioactive fallout from nuclear accidents Dr. Mae-Wan Ho

fully referenced and illustrated version of this paper is posted on ISIS members website and is otherwise available for download here

Please circulate widely and repost, but you must give the URL of the original and preserve all the links back to articles on our website

Official denial by nuclear lobby

The Chernobyl disaster occurred on 26 April 1986at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant near the city of Prypiat in Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union, and close to the administrative border with Belarus.  A sudden power output surge prompted an attempt at emergency shutdown; but a more extreme spike in power output led to the rupture of a reactor vessel and a series of explosions. The graphite moderator was exposed, causing it to ignite, and the resulting fire sent a plume of highly radioactive fallout over large parts of the western Soviet Union and Europe. From 1986 to 2000, 350 400 people were evacuated and resettled from the most contaminated areas of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. According to official post-Soviet data, about 57 % of the fallout landed in Belarus [1]. Chernobyl is widely considered to have been the worst nuclear accident in history and one of only two classified as a level 7 event on the International Nuclear Event Scale, the other being the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown in 2011 (see [2] Fukushima Nuclear CrisisSiS 50).

From the beginning, the official nuclear safety experts were at pains to minimise the projected health impacts, as they are doing now for the Fukushima accident.

The UNSCEAR (United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation) estimated a “global collective dose” of radiation exposure from the accident “equivalent on average to 21 additional days of world exposure to natural background radiation”. Successive studies reported by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) continued to underestimate the level of exposure and to understate health impacts other than [3] “psychosocial effects, believed to be unrelated to radiation exposure” resulting from the lack of information immediately after the accident, “the stress and trauma of compulsory relocation to less contaminated areas, the breaking of social ties and the fear that radiation exposure could cause  health damage in the future.”

The number of deaths attributed to Chernobyl varies widely [1]. Thirty-one deaths are directly attributed to the accident, all among the reactor staff and emergency workers. An UNSCEAR report places the total confirmed deaths from radiation at 64 as of 2008. The Chernobyl Forum [4] founded in February 2003 at the IAEA Headquarters in Vienna with representatives from IAEA and UN agencies including UNSCEAR, WHO,  the World Bank, and Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, estimates that the eventual death toll could reach 4 000 among those exposed to the highest levels of radiation (200 000 emergency workers, 115 000 evacuees and 270 000 residents of the most contaminated areas); the figure includes some 50 emergency workers who died of acute radiation syndrome, 9 children who died of thyroid cancer and an estimated total of 3950 deaths from radiation-induced cancer and leukemia. The Union of Concerned Scientists based in Washington in the United States estimates another 50 000 excess cancer cases among people living in areas outside the most contaminated, and 25 000 excess deaths. A Greenpeace report puts the figure at 200 000 or more. The Russian publication, Chernobyl, by scientists Alexey V. Yablokov, Vassily B Nesterenko, and Alexey V. Nesterenko, translated and published by the New York Academy of Sciences in 2009, concludes that among the billions of people worldwide who were exposed to radioactive contamination from the disaster, nearly a million deaths had already occurred between 1986 and 2004. Most of the deaths were in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine [5] (see Truth about ChernobylSiS 47). The report drew on thousands of published papers and internet and printed publications. Those publications and papers, written by leading Eastern authorities, were downplayed or ignored by the IAEA and UNSCEAR. These agencies minimised their estimates by several ploys including [6]:

  • Underestimating the level of radiation by averaging exposure over a large regions, such as an entire country; so high exposure doses and health statistics of the most contaminated areas are lumped together with the less and least exposed
  • Ignoring internal sources of radiation due to inhalation and ingestion of radioactive material from fallout
  • Using an obsolete and erroneous model of linear energy transfer due to external sources of ionising radiation
  • Not counting diseases and conditions other than cancers
  • Overestimating the natural background radiation; today’s ‘background’ has been greatly increased by discharges from nuclear activities including tests of nuclear weapons, use of depleted uranium, and uranium mining
  • Suppressing and withholding information from the public.

Nevertheless, the devastating health impacts did not escape the notice of the hundreds of doctors, scientists and other citizens who had to bear witness to the deformities, sicknesses and deaths of exposed babies, children and adults in their care.

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Children Radiation Maps from Belarus and Ukraine, children are not safe even in clean areas

This is what we should be examining now, trying to understand and verify what is happening. A good translation of studies of what has happened in Belarus and surrounding areas since Chernobyl would help bolster the case that the danger to children has gone beyond politics and has become a human rights issue. This is critical to understanding Japan's future, and how best to protect its people, just as it affects the rest of the world as we move foward into a time of nuclear accidents. We cannot privilege money and power over public health and the environment or we will lose everything.

Children Radiation Maps l Jan Hemmer Blog  14 April, 2012

On April 5th I went to BELRAD Institute (http://belrad-institute.org/) in Belarus (got 72% of the Chernobyl fallout), with a friend and translator, to get important data about their work. Here I present with the permission of vice director Mr. Babenko of BELRAD, the Children radiation maps of Belarus (below). First, some background on the data: We see here 17 regions of Belarus:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/15770206/NesterenkoBelrad

Irradiated areas and relatively “CLEAN” areas. Children have Cesium in their bodies, no matter if they live in “clean” or irradiated areas.  This is one important fact these maps show. Why is that? The average irradiated soil in Belarus is: 1 – 40 Curie per square kilometer (= 37,000 – 1,480,000 becquerel per m²) of radionuclides,  such as Cesium 137, Strontium 90, Americium 241 and other radionuclides. It reaches also 160 Curie per km², although it is 40 on official maps, but reaches 18,500,000 becquerel per m² in some places. Here is more info: http://tekknorg.wordpress.com/2012/03/04/japanese-children-cancer-outlook-children-need-absolutely-clean-food/ Here is a list of the radionuclides:http://life-upgrade.com/DATA/Primary%20Radionuclides.gif

Caesium 137, food, children, apple pectin:http://radionucleide.free.fr/Stresseurs/smw-Galina_Bandazhevskaya.pdf

Nesterenko, founder of BELRAD: “Children receive the highest doses, because the dose coefficients, in a 3 year old child, are 5 times higher than in adults.

But the Children Radiation Maps are based uponWhole Body Counter measurments of Children, measuring Cesium 137. They are the latest maps available by Belrad. More Info:http://tekknorg.wordpress.com/2012/03/02/mother-how-much-radiation-%E3%81%8A%E6%AF%8D%E3%81%95%E3%82%93%EF%BC%81%E3%81%A9%E3%81%AE%E3%81%8F%E3%82%89%E3%81%84%E3%81%AE%E6%94%BE%E5%B0%84%E7%B7%9A%EF%BC%9F-2/

Not even world’s biggest nuclear-reactor-children-cancer study (KIKK) counts in INTERNAL radiation:http://tekknorg.wordpress.com/2007/12/17/german-kikk-study-higher-cancer-risc-next-to-atomic-power-plants-unofficial-belarussian-children-cancer-data/They only measure EXTERNAL radiation. No known children cancer study is interested in INTERNAL emitters, although 70 – 90% of radiation comes from food today. THE WORLD HAS TO LEARN FROM BELARUS. If the focus is set only to external radiation, is seen only radiation in water and air, only milli sievert is discussed.  Clean city, irradiated food. No children cancer study I know is interested in internal emitters. We can not afford this failure a 2nd time. This is not mere methodology. This is survival.

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Low dose ionising radiation IS harmful to health

That we still have to say this after so many years is proof that the industry still has more weight with world governments than people do. So, once again- there is no safe dose of radiation, period. It is not complicated, it is not in question, it is not up for interpretation. 

IndependentAustralia.net l 20 May, 2012

A landmark study on Hiroshima survivors comprehensively disproves nuclear lobby spin about ionising radiation being safe at low doses. Noel Wauchope reports.

This week, a new report about low dose ionising radiation was published — one that should put a spanner in the works of the nuclear lobby. It is called ‘Studies of the Mortality of Atomic Bomb Survivors,Report 14, 1950–2003: An Overview of Cancer and Noncancer Diseases’.

First of all, let me explain why this report is so important and so timely.

It’s now just over a year since the tragic Fukushima disaster. So the nuclear lobby thinks that it’s time to restart the nuclear renaissance, and to get people to stop worrying about ionising radiation.

To this end, the industry, and particularly the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have projects under way.

In particular, there are two important projects going on seemingly unrelated ones. But they are, as a matter of fact, closely related.  Both aim to dampen the public concern about ionising radiation — indeed, topromote acceptance of “low level radiation”:

One sets out to downgrade nuclear emergency procedures. The other aims at discrediting the scientifically accepted model on the cancer risk of low level radiation — known as the Linear No Threshold model (LNT), which states that there is no level below which ionising radiation is not harmful, with risk increasing with each added unit of radiation.

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Experts write on the risks of low-level radiation

Public release date: 1-May-2012 Experts write on the risks of low-level radiation

Los Angeles, CA (May 01, 2012) – Each time a release of radioactivity occurs, questions arise and debates unfold on the health risks at low doses—and still, just over a year after the disaster at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Station, unanswered questions and unsettled debates remain. Now a special issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, published by SAGE, examines what is new about the debate over low-dose radiation risk, specifically focusing on areas of agreement and disagreement, including quantitative estimates of cancer risk as radiation dose increases, or what is known as the linear non-threshold theory (LNT). The issue, which includes essays written by the top experts in their fields, does not claim to put the argument to rest—however, it does provide an indispensible update of the existing literature.

As Jan Beyea, guest editor and nuclear physics and epidemiology expert, says: "The reader will be ready to join the debate armed with a broad-based view of the epidemiologic evidence and its differing interpretations, along with an awareness of the stakeholder and researcher landscape." Beyea personally contributes to the issue and deconstructs the low-level radiation debate, unpacking all its parts and illuminating what deserves more attention and scrutiny...

From 1st of May, the articles are free of charge for one month and can be accessed at http://bos.sagepub.com/. Members of the media can sign up for complimentary subscriptions by contactingpr@sagepub.co.uk for details.


Disproportionate Harm: Women and Children are more Vulnerable.

The Helen Caldicott Foundation: Disproportionate Harm, Initial Talking Points

There has been a lot of discussion about the spent fuel at Fukushima, especially now - about the reactor #4 spent fuel pool. The harm this could cause should it collapse is incalculable. But, the truth is we are getting sick and dying from radiation exposure already, and it is happening in disproportionate numbers. We need to keep referencing that this is happening now in Japan, and everywhere around the world. We are asking for your help in making this widely known. Please join us!

Disproportionate Harm: Women and Children are more Vulnerable.

This year the Helen Caldicott Foundation in partnership with NIRS, and all other groups who want to join us (national and international), will embark on the start of a major education to action campaign on the effects of radiation exposure on the health of all people. But, its particular focus will be the disproportionate risk radiation exposure poses to women and children. Buried in the literature to date is the fact that men are more resistant to radiation. The safety standards, which time has shown protect no one, were designed at the time of the Manhattan Project to protect young, healthy, western, men. Presumably, military men expected to accept a certain degree of risk in exchange for protecting their country.

Insufficient as it is, even the National Academy of Sciences BEIR V11 Report, widely accepted as the industry standard, clearly states:

  1. There is no safe dose of ionizing radiation. Any exposure can trigger cancer.
  2. Although the reasons are not yet clearly understood, women and children are 
significantly more vulnerable.
  3. Women are 40-60% more likely to get cancer than men, given the same exposure. 
They are about 50% (half again) more likely to acquire a fatal cancer from this exposure. This means that for every two men who die of radiation related cancer, three women will die given a similar exposure.

Children between the ages of 0-5 are more vulnerable than all adults, both men and women. But what is almost never discussed, also from the BEIR V11 Report, is that in this age group little girls are twice as vulnerable as boys. This means that for every boy, there will be two girls who will acquire a fatal or non-fatal cancer...


After Fukushima, fish tales

In November of 2011 the Japan Fisheries Agency found that 65% of the Japanese fish catch tested positive for cesium. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency found that 60% of fish had detectable levels of radionuclides but stated they were not concerned about levels. However, cod (18%), sole (22%), seaweed (33%), and eel (21%) caught in November exceeded the radiation ceiling of 100 becquerels/kilogram that Japan will implement this April (after this fall and winter fish catch?) and 1 in 5 of the fish catches tested exceeded this level.

While Canada's level for radiation in food is much higher (and why is that?), 1000 becquerels/kilogram, experts still worry:

"I would probably be hesitant to eat a lot of those fish," said Nicholas Fisher, a marine sciences professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

The pacific ocean provides food for a billion+ people just in Asia, and considerably more, internationally, as fish migrate and fish and fish products are shipped around the world. The Fukushima accident has released 10-100 times more radioactive contamination into the ocean than Chernobyl according to a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution study.

"It's completely untrue to say this level of radiation is safe or harmless," said Gordon Edwards, president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.

Edwards pointed a finger at the powerful Canadian nuclear lobby as the source of this seeming unconcern about contaminated food. "The reassurances have been completely irresponsible. To say there are no health concerns flies in the face of all scientific evidence." 

But the US and Canadian governments persist in denying the danger, as the Canadian government claimed ignorance about debris from Japan (which may also be contaminated by radiation from Fukushima) washing up on the coastline. Despite the fact that people are finding it, the government claims it won't arrive until next year. This seems a tack of desperation rather than logic. It is always better (and less expensive) to protect and prevent, than to scramble around after trying to clean up and cure. Once again it is left to us, the people of the world, to rise up and point out that there is danger, and we must do something about it.


ALEX ROSLIN / Montreal GAZETTEJANUARY 13, 2012

After the world’s worst nuclear accident in 25 years, authorities in Canada said people living here were safe and faced no health risks from the fallout from Fukushima.

They said most of the radiation from the crippled Japanese nuclear power plant would fall into the ocean, where it would be diluted and not pose any danger.

Dr. Dale Dewar wasn’t convinced. Dewar, a family physician in Wynyard, Sask., doesn’t eat a lot of seafood herself, but when her grandchildren come to visit, she carefully checks seafood labels.

She wants to make sure she isn’t serving them anything that might come from the western Pacific Ocean.

Dewar, the executive director of Physicians for Global Survival, a Canadian anti-nuclear group, says the Canadian government has downplayed the radiation risks from Fukushima and is doing little to monitor them.

“We suspect we’re going to see more cancers, decreased fetal viability, decreased fertility, increased metabolic defects – and we expect them to be generational,” she said.

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NIRS Briefing Paper: ATOMIC RADIATION IS MORE HARMFUL TO WOMEN

NUCLEAR INFORMATION AND RESOURCE SERVICE 6930 Carroll Avenue, Suite 340, Takoma Park, MD 20912 301-270-NIRS (301-270-6477); Fax: 301-270-4291 nirsnet@nirs.org; www.nirs.org   Correction, bottom of page 5, 25 October, 2011: FEMALES – all cancers...

Foodwatch: Calculated Fatalities from Radiation Officially Permissible Limits for Radioactively Contaminated Food in the European Union and Japan

Calculated Fatalities from Radiation Officially Permissible Limits for Radioactively Contaminated Food in the European Union and Japan A foodwatch Report, based on a study by Thomas Dersee and Sebastian Pflugbeil Gesellschaft für Strahlenschutz e...

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Nuclear Power is not the Answer