The release of radioactivity from Fukushima is at least as
great as from Chernobyl, and a humanitarian disaster on the scale of Chernobyl
needs to be averted by acknowledging the truth and taking responsibility for
mitigating measures Dr. Mae-Wan Ho
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
Special report to be included in Science in Society #55 (available August 2012). Pre-order now or Subscribe. All proceeds from SiS 55 will be donated to children of Fukushima and Chernobyl
Regulators seriously economical with the truth
“Few people will develop cancer as a consequence of being
exposed to the radioactive material that spewed from Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi
nuclear power plant…and those who do will never know for sure what caused their
disease.” These conclusions, published in the journal Nature  are
based on two “comprehensive, independent assessments” from UNSCEAR (United
Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation) and WHO (World
Health Organisation), both notorious for downplaying and denying the
devastating health impacts of the Chernobyl accident  (see Chernobyl
Deaths Top a Million Based on Real Evidence, SiS 55). They are now
using the same tactics to rule out, a priori, potential health impacts
from Fukushima radioactive releases.
According to the draft UNSCEAR
report seen by Nature , 167 workers at the plant received radiation
doses that “slightly raise their risk of developing cancer.” Actually, six
former reactor workers have died since the catastrophe, but UNSCEAR ruled they
were unrelated to the accident .
“There may be some increase in
cancer risk that may not be detectable statistically,” Kiuohiko Mabuchi, head
of Chernobyl studies at the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Maryland,
told Nature. He said that in Chernobyl, where clean-up workers were
exposed to much higher dose, 0.1 % of the 110 000 workers surveyed have so far
developed leukaemia, although not all of those cases resulted from the
accident. In fact, the death rate of the “clean-up workers” at Chernobyl remained
high even four years after the accident, and 20 years later, 115 000 (out of
830 000) are dead .
WHO, for its part, estimates that most
residents of Fukushima and neighbouring Japanese prefectures received absorbed
doses below 10 mSv . Residents of Namie town and Iitate village, not
evacuated until months after the accident, received 10-50 mSv, though infants in
Namie may have been exposed to enough I-131 to have received 100-200 mSv. The
government aims to keep public exposure from the accident below 20 mSv, but in
the longer term, it wants to decontaminate the region so residents will receive
no more than 1 mSv per year from the accident. Thus, people have been
exposed within a matter of weeks, 10 to 200 times the legal limit dose for a
Yet, WHO’s conclusion for Fukushima is the
same as for Chernobyl : “A greater health risk may come from the psychological
A day later..
A day later, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) announced that
the amount of radioactive material released during the first days of the
Fukushima nuclear disaster was almost two and a half times the initial estimate
by Japanese safety regulators . The operator said the meltdowns at the three
reactors released about 900 000 Terabecquerels (1012 Bq) of
radioactive substances into the air during March 2011.
The later estimate was based on measurements
suggesting the amount of radioactive iodine I-131 released was much larger than
previous estimates. TEPCO said it had initially been unable to accurately judge
the amount of radioactive materials released because radiation sensors closest
to the plant were disabled in the disaster.
Several days later, ex-Prime Minister Naoto
Ken apologized for his role in the Fukushima nuclear crisis . His
government’s push for nuclear energy was largely to blame. Ken had stepped down
in September 2011 when the government faced fierce criticism over its handling
of the crisis and for providing too little information to the public. It was
Ken, however, who ordered TEPCO to keep the men on site; otherwise Fukushima
would have spiralled out of control, according to a private panel probing the
But the threat remains. Experts
are now worried about the state of the spent fuel pool in unit 4, which is
unlikely to withstand another earthquake . The severely damaged unit 4
building houses a spent nuclear fuel pool that contains 10 times the amount of
Cs-137 released at Chernobyl. Nearly all of the 10 893 spent fuel assemblies at
the Fukushima Daiichi plant sit in pools vulnerable to future earthquakes, with
altogether 85 times the long-lived radioactivity released at Chernobyl. A
letter was sent by 72 Japanese NGOs to the United Nations with an urgent
request for immediate action to stabilize unit 4’s spent nuclear fuel. The
letter was endorsed by nuclear experts from both Japan and abroad.
Andrew DeWit, professor of political economy
at Rikkyo University told Al Jazeera that transparency on the issues of nuclear
energy was paramount. And that is precisely what’s lacking, in Japan, and in
the world at large.
“We heard it first from the internet”
Miwa Chiwaki from Kodomo Fukushima (Fukushima network to
protect children from radiation) said  it was in a BBC programme via the
internet that people first saw pictures of the explosions at the power station.
The Japanese government had information from SPEEDI (System for Prediction of
Environment Emergency Dose Information) and they passed the information first
to the US government on 14 March and to the Japanese people only on 23 March.
day after the tsunami struck the Fukushima nuclear plant, thousands of
residents at the nearby town of Namie gathered to evacuate. In the absence of
guidance from Tokyo, the town officials led the residents north, in the belief
that the winter winds would blow south and carry away the radioactive plume.
They stayed in the Tsushima district for three nights where the children played
outside and some parents used the water from a mountain stream to cook rice .
But the ill winds from Fukushima had been blowing directly towards them in
Tsushima, as it would transpire two months later. SPEEDI had predicted that. But bureaucrats in Tokyo had not
seen it their responsibility to make that information public. Japan’s political
leaders did not know about the system, and later downplayed the data, fearful
of having to enlarge the evacuation zone and acknowledge the severity of the
Tamotsu Baba, the
mayor of Namie, now living with thousands in temporary housing in another town,
condemned the withholding of information as being akin to “murder”.
The true level of contamination
is also hidden from people, Chiwaki said . Many mothers queued up with their
children in the rain for several hours to receive water rations (while
radioactivity was being washed down over them with the rain), in Iitate,
villagers were left in very high levels of contamination for a whole month.
“Advisers on radiation control from Fukushima
prefecture flocked to the villages,” Chiwaki said, “and, with broad smiles on
their faces, told the people that “there is nothing to worry about, you can let
your children play outside.”” Three days later, the village was classified
“planned evacuation zone”.
The circumstances of the accident and the
real levels of contamination were only revealed piecemeal. A “safety campaign”
was initiated on 20 March. Professor Shunichi Yamashita of Nagasaki University
was sent around the country, smiling and say things like: “100 mSv? No
problem!” “Radiation is only a threat to people who worry about it.” “Smile and
you won’t be affected by the radiation.”
Radioactivity, dose and general exposure limits
A great deal of confusion and anxiety is created by the
different units used in announcements to the popular media. The unit of
radioactivity is a Becquerel, Bq, equal to 1 radioactive disintegration per
second, coming directly from a source, a radionuclide in contaminated food or
drink, soil or air. Larger units are the kBq (1 000), MBq (106),
(GBq (109), TBq (1012), PBq (1015), and EBq
The unit of absorbed dose (amount
of energy absorbed by a unit of material) is the Gray, Gy, equal to 1 Joule/kg.
The equivalent or effective dose is the Sievert, Sv (also in
units of Joule/kg) is the absorbed dose modified to represent the presumed
biological effect. Note that 1 Joule is a very small amount of energy. But
unlike ordinary chemical energy, where typically kJ quantities are needed before
anything can happen, the energy in ionizing radiation exists in extremely
concentrated quanta or packets; hence 1 J of energy would already contain many
of these energetic missiles (typically a billion) that target atoms and
molecules. This is the major difference between ionizing radiation and ordinary
The Becquerel and the Sievert are not
directly convertible, because it depends on the radionuclide involved, which
particles or photons it produces per disintegration, and how much energy each
of the photons or particles carries. There is a website that tells you how the
calculation is done and actually does it for you  (http://www.radprocalculator.com/Gamma.aspx).
Some useful approximate correspondences are:
1 mSv of I-131 = 2.06525 x 106 Bq
1 mSv of Cs-137 = 1.30878 x 106 Bq
exposure considers how long a period over which the dose is absorbed, usually
limit in Europe is 1 mSv/year for the public, and the occupational exposure, 20 mSv/year .
For USA, the occupational exposure limit is 50 mSv, reduced to 10 % for
pregnant women. Dose limit for the public is 1 mSv/year, in addition to a background
of o.3 mSv and 0.05 mSv from sources such as medical X-ray .
To put these
exposure limits in perspective, it is generally recognized that a dose of 1 000
mSi will kill an adult. A whole body dose of 400 mSi will kill about 50 % of
people within 60 days of the exposure, mostly from infection, as their immune
systems are destroyed . At very low doses, such as what most of us
receive every day from background radiation, the cells are able to repair the
damage, though the recent discovery of bystander effects indicate that doses as
low as tens of mSi are harmful . At higher doses (up to 100 mSi), the cells may
not be able to repair the damage, and may either be changed permanently, or
die. Most cells that die are replaced with few consequences. Cells changed
permanently may give rise to diseases, they may go on to produce abnormal cells
when they divide, and may become cancerous.
A comment submitted to the ICRP
(International Commission on Radiological Protection) by the Sierra Club in
2006 stated : “Numerous academic researchers,
independent scholars, and governmental bodies, such as the U.S. National
Academies of Science and National Research Council, have now concluded that the
linear no-threshold hypothesis is valid and that there is no “safe” level of
Exposure limits and exposure
levels in Japan post-Fukushima
The pre-Fukushima legal exposure
limit for the public in Japan was 10 mSi/y and 50 mSi/y for occupational
exposure . The occupational legal limits were soon scrapped after the
accident. At the end of April 2011, the Japanese government released a map
based on air surveys done by MEXT (Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture,
Sports, Science and Technology), which revealed that people living in areas not
being evacuated will receive radiation doses up to 23.5 times their annual
legal limit over the course of the next year .
It is important to
note that all the exposure limits and projected exposure mentioned so far are
for external sources.As the French expert body,Institut
de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire (IRSN) pointed out, they take no account
of [15, p. 4] “exposure from other pathways such as immersion within the plume
and inhalation of particles in the plume during the accident nor the doses
already received or to be received from ingestion of contaminated foodstuffs.
The total effective doses to be received (external + internal) could be much
higher according to the type of deposit (dry or wet), diet and source of
In addition, as
Director of the Medical Institute of Environment at Gifu in
Japan Matsui Eisuke pointed out , the government and its professional advisors in measuring exposure
have relied mainly on g-rays that are easy to detect. But, in terms of internal radiation
exposure, b and a- particles have a far more serious effect. “The government and
TEPCO hardly measure such isotopes as b-emitting strontium-90 or a-emitting
due to ingested or inhaled radionuclide is a major problem in radioactive fallout,
particularly when prompt evacuation, radioactive monitoring, and remediation have
all failed to be carried out, as was the case for both Chernobyl and Fukushima.
assessment of projected doses based on the Japanese map released (see Figure 1),
estimated that some 70 000 people including 9 500 children are living in the
most contaminated areas outside the initial 20 km evacuation zone projected to
receive further doses up to 200 mSv or more. This clearly calls for further
evacuation beyond the initial 20 km zone. Under Japanese
Food Sanitation Law, 5 000 Bq/kg of radioactive Cs is considered the safe limit
in soil . Consequently, large areas of
Japan may no longer be suitable for agriculture.
Figure 1 Map of
caesium 137 + 134 deposits (Figure 7) superimposed on the map of projected
doses for the 1st year (Figure 4) for 3 dose levels only (5, 10 and 20 mSv)
The Japanese government at first raised the legal exposure
limit to 20 mSi a year for the public, including children, thereby leaving them
in areas from which they would have been barred under the old standard . The
limit for children was later scaled back to 1 mSi/y but only applies while they
are inside school buildings.
In March 2012, the Japanese government announced a new standard
limit for radionuclides in foods to 1 mSv/y, reducing from a previous
provisional limit of 5 mSv/y. This translates into a maximum of 100
Bq/kg for regular food items such as meat, vegetables and fish (revised down
from 500 Bq just after the Fukushima meltdown), 50 Bq/l for milk and infant
food and 10 Bq for drinking water (revised down from 200) . As shown above,
this still means an accumulation of internal exposure up to 1 million Bq a
year, depending on how fast the radionuclides are cleared from the body. We
already know that much lower levels have proven deadly for the children of
Belarus (see  Apple Pectin for Radioprotection,
According to the German Society for Radiation Protection, a person
is normally exposed to about 0.3 mSv per year through ingestion of food and
drink; and this should be considered the permissible level of ingested
radioactivity. In order not to go beyond this level, the amount of radioactive
caesium-137 should not exceed 8 Bq/kg in milk and baby formula and 16 Bq/kg in
all other foodstuff. Radioactive iodine with its short half-life should not be
permitted in food at all .
How much radioactivity was released by the stricken
Fukushima nuclear plant?
Although a picture of the radioactivity deposited on land is
emerging, the actual levels of radioactivity to which people have been exposed
are impossible to tell because there is a lot of uncertainty as to how much
radioactivity has been released in the series of explosions in the Fukushima
nuclear plant thus far.
TEPCO’s latest press release  gave the
amounts of radionuclides released between 12 and 31 March 2011 as follows.
These add up to a total of 1 038.1 x 1015Bq or 1
038.1 PBq released.
TEPCO admits that the
radioactivity measuring equipment were “unavailable due to the accident,” so
“further data still need to be collected to review the validity of the
evaluation result.” These reported radioactive releases from Fukushima are less
than one-tenth those from the Chernobyl accident, a total of some 14 EBq (14 x
1018 Bq), over half of it in noble gases .
How reliable are the latest TEPCO
from radioactivity measuring posts set up under the Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty (CTBT), the Austrian Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics
(ZAMG) gave estimates of between 360-390 PBq iodine-131 and about 50 PBq of
caesium-137 for the period of 12-14 March . According to their
calculations, the iodine-131 emissions from Fukushima in those three days
amounted to 20 % of the total iodine-131 emissions from Chernobyl (1 760 PBq),
while the emissions of caesium-137 in those three days amounted to about 60 %
of the total caesium-137 emissions from Chernobyl (85 PBq).
A study led by
the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU) found about 16 700 PBq of
xenon-133 (250% of the amount released at Chernobyl) emitted by the Fukushima
power plant between 12 and 19 March 2011, the largest release of radioactive
Xenon in history . In addition, 35.8 PBq of caesium-137 (42% of the amount
released at Chernobyl) was emitted in the same period. The study found that radioactive
emissions were first measured right after the earthquake and before the tsunami
struck the plant, indicating that the quake itself had already caused substantial
damage to the reactors. The NILU report also suggests that the fire in the
spent fuel pond of reactor 4 may have been the major contributor to airborne
emissions, as emissions decreased significantly after the fire had been brought
The same team of researchers updated
their estimates in a paper published online giving estimates of 15 300 PBq of
Xenon-133 and 36.6 PBq Cs-137 released into the atmosphere , not counting
iodine-131 or Cs-134 (which was as much as Cs-137), nor releases into the ocean.
But already, this is nearly 15 times the latest TEPCO estimate for total
releases. I shall report separately in detail on this latest independent
estimate, which gives a global picture of contamination from the fallout (see 
Fukushima Fallout Rivals Chernobyl, SiS
Contamination of soil 
MEXT conducted soil surveys in
100 locations within 80 km of the Fukushima power plant in June and July of
2011. They found contamination with various radionuclides; the main ones were strontium-90,
iodine-131, and caesium-137. Strontium-90, with a half-life of 28 years, is
similar to calcium, and is therefore incorporated into bone where it can remain
for decades, emitting b-particles and
irradiating the bone-marrow, causing leukaemia and other cancers. Strontium-90
was found at concentrations of 1.8-32 Bq/kg at sites outside the 30 kM
evacuation zone in Nishigou, Motomiya, Ootama and Ono.
Iodine-131 has a half-life of 8 days. When
ingested, it is incorporated like ordinary iodine in the thyroid gland, where
it emits b- and g-radiation, causing thyroid cancer especially in children.
I-131 was found in milk, drinking water, vegetables and water around Northern
Japan. According to the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), iodine-131
deposition in Tokyo reached 36 000 Bq/m2 between 22 and 23 March
2011. Soil samples in the municipalities of Nishigou, Izumizaki, Ootama,
Shirakawa, Nihonmatsu, Date, Iwaki, Iitate, Ono, Minamisoma and Tamura showed
concentrations of I-131 between 2 000 and 1 170 000 Bq/kg. In the municipality
of Ono, 40 km southwest of the Fukushima plant, MEXT scientists found up to 7
440 Bq/kg of I-131 in rainwater samples. In August 2011, MEXT scientists still
found I-131 concentrations of more than 200 Bq/kg in most of the
municipalities, with maximum in Namie and Iitate of 1 300 and 1 100 Bq/kg
respectively. Given its short half-life, this high level detected 145 days
after the initial fallout on 15 March suggests extremely high initial
contamination of the soil > 288 MBq/kg, or additional contamination of the
area after the initial fallout. To convert from Bq/kg to Bq/m2, the
convention is to multiply by 20 or 65, depending on the depth to which the soil
is sampled. A conservative multiplier of 20 would give a value of > 5760
MBq/kg, going way off the top of the scale shown in the map of Fig. 1, which
only gives radioactivity due to Cs-137 and Cs-134.
Cs-137 has a half-life of 30 years. It is
similar to potassium, so its distribution is fairly even throughout the body if
ingested. It is mainly a b-emitter, but
its decay product barium-137 also produces g-radiation.
It can cause solid tumours in virtually all organs. Cs-137 has a biological
half-life of 70 days and is excreted through urine like potassium. It therefore
accumulates in the bladder and irradiates the adjacent uterus and foetus in
pregnant women. IRSN states that around 874 km2 of the area outside
the 20 km evacuation zone must be considered highly contaminated with Cs-137, to
an estimated concentration >6MBq/m2, similar to the evacuation
zone around the Chernobyl power plant  (see Figure 1). In fact, Cs-137 in
the Fukushima prefecture even reached up to 30 MBq/m2 north-west of
the plant, and up to 10 MBq/m2 in neighbouring prefectures. Soil
sample with Cs-137 between 20 000 and 220 000 Bq/kg were found by MEXT
scientists in the municipalities of Iitate, Kawamata, Name, Katsurao and
Nihonmatsu in April 2011. Even higher values up to 420 000 Bq/kg were recorded
later in August 2011. According to IAEA, Cs-137 deposition in Tokyo reached 340
Bq/m2 22-23 March 2011. Radioactive caesium was also found in large
quantities in beef, rice, milk, fish, drinking water and other foodstuff.
Contamination of the marine environment
Massive amounts of radioactive waste water used in cooling
the reactors and spent fuel ponds were discharged into the sea, seeped into the
soil or ground water or evaporated into the atmosphere . Between 4 and 10
April 2011, TEPCO deliberately released 10 393 tonnes of radioactive water. It
constituted the single largest radioactive discharge into the oceans in
history. A 1-2 week pulse of radioactivity peaked in the water around the
Fukushima plant on 6 April 2011, with ocean concentrations of 68 MBq/m3,
and an estimated total release of up to 22 PBq [28, 29]; TEPCO admits 18.1 PBq
. After considerable dilution 2-3 months following the peak, surface
concentrations were still higher than previously existing by as much as 10
000-fold in coastal waters and as much as 1 000-fold over a 150 000 km2
area of the Pacific up to 600 k east of Japan. Radioactive Cs was detected in
all species of marine organisms ranging from phytoplankton to fish.
The waters northeast of the Fukushima plant
are among the major fishing zones in the world, responsible for half of Japan’s
seafood. But catch from the Ibaraki prefecture showed such high levels of
radioactive isotopes that it had to be discarded as radioactive waste . Radioactive
contamination in the ocean does not get diluted away, like other pollutants it
gets accumulated in the marine food chain, up to fish consumed by humans.
Radioactive caesium in sea bass caught in the North Pacific continually rose
from March till September, with a maximum found on 15 September of 670Bq/kg. Radioactivity
not only disperses passively in the ocean by currents and mixing, but is also
spread by fish and mammals. The Pacific Bluefin tuna was found to transport
Fukushima-derived radionuclides from Japan to California. Fifteen Pacific Bluefin
tuna sampled in August 2011 had elevated levels of Cs- 134 (4.0 + 1.4
Bq/kg) and Cs-137 (6.3 + 1.5 Bq/kg).
Contamination of food and drinking water
Extensive contamination of food
and drinking water was documented in the months after the disaster .
evacuation zone in Fukushima prefecture, MEXT survey one week after the
earthquake found contaminated vegetables in the municipalities of Iitate,
Kawamata, Tamua, Ono, Minamisoma, Iwaki, Tshukidate, Nihonmatsu, Sirakawa,
Sukagawa, Ootama, Izumizaki and Saigou. I-131 concentrations were as high as
2.54 MBq/kg and Cs-137 up to 2.65 MBq/kg. One month after meltdown,
radioactivity was still above 100 000 Bq/kg for I-131, and 900 000 Bq/kg for
Cs-137 in some regions. In Ibaraki prefecture ~100 km south of the Fukushima
plant, spinach was found with I-131 up to 54 100 Bq/kg and Cs-137 up to 1 931
Bq/kg. Other highly contaminated vegetables included mustard, parsley, and Shitake
mushrooms, and lesser amounts of radiation were detected in lettuce, onions,
tomatoes, strawberries, wheat and barley.
Milk, beef, rice
and drinking water were also contaminated. The IAEA warned that levels of I-131
exceeded permissible limits between 17 and 23 March. Even in the northern
district of Tokyo, tap water contained 210 Bq/l of I-131.
Seafood and fish
caught close to the nuclear plant reached 500 – 1 000 Bq/kg. In April 2011, the
Japanese Fishing Ministry found radioactive iodine and caesium in sand lance
from Fukushima prefecture each with an activity up to 12 000 Bq/kg. The
independent French radioactivity laboratory ACRO found readings of more than 10
000 Bq/kg in algae harvested outside the 20 km evacuation zone. One sample
showed levels of 127 000 Bq/kg of I-131, 800 Bq/kg of Cs-134 and 840 Bq/kg of
In the prefecture
of Shizuoka ~400 km from Fukushima, local tea leaves were found contaminated
with 670 Bq/kg Cs-137, and radioactive Japanese green tea was discovered in
France in June 2011.
Emerging health impacts 
Employees of the stricken
Fukushima nuclear plant, rescue- and clean-up workers are the most acutely
exposed group. According to the Japanese Atomic Information Forum, radiation
levels inside the plant peaked at around 1 000 mSi/h, a dose fatal to humans
exposed for more than an hour. While airborne emissions decreased gradually,
massive amounts of radiation still remained on site through wash-out in water
continually pumped into the plant to cool the reactors. By 1 August 2011,
radiation of 10 Sv/h was still detected around the premises. A total of 8 300
workers have been deployed in rescue and clean-up since March. In July, TEPCO
announced that 111 workers had been exposed to radiation of more than 100 mSv,
some as high as 678 mSv. That did not take into account effects of internal
radiation through ingested or inhaled radioisotopes.
An under-cover report broadcast on 4 October 2011
on German TV ZDF revealed radiation levels as high as 10 Sv/h, and new
hotspots were still being discovered . The exposure badges given to the
workers routinely registered an error message as the radioactivity went way
off-scale. The workers, paid €80-100 a day, were forbidden by contract to talk
to reporters and given little information on the radiation levels in the plant.
They only discovered that on TV. Some 18 000 workers had gone through the plant
nuclear meltdowns, the Japanese government ordered the evacuation of 200 000
people in an area of about 600 km2. As mentioned above, 70 000
people including 9 500 children were still living in highly contaminated areas
outside this evacuation zone 2 months after the accident . IAEA measured
radiation levels 16-115 mSv/h (i.e., up to 140-1 007 mSv/y) outside the 20 km
evacuation zone. MEXT scientists confirmed these levels in their soil surveys
of April 2011. Dose rates recorded in several cities outside the evacuation
zone were 2 mSv/h in Nihonmatsu, Tamura, Souma, Minamisoma and Date;
more than 5 mSv/h in Namie, and more than 100 mSv/h
in Iitate. Four months later in August 2011, MEXT scientists still detected radiation
doses up to 34 mSv/h in Namie, up to 16 mSv/h in Iitate, and up to
17.5 mSv/h in Katsurao.
IRSN projected the
external exposure of the 70 000 living in the highly contaminated areas outside
the 20 km evacuation zone to reach 200 mSv/y or more in the first year .
The external collective dose over 4 years of this population was calculated to
be 4 400 person-Sv, amounting to 60 % of the collective dose received by the
population in the highly contaminated regions around Chernobyl.
calculations confirm those exposure levels. The
estimated doses over the
course of a
year are up to 235.4 mSv in the town of Namie, 61.7 mSv in Iitate, 24.2 mSv in
mSv in Date, 18 mSv in Katsurao, 15.6 mSv in Minamisoma and more than 10 mSv in
Fukushima city and Koriyama – both more than 55 km away from the plant. The
natural (pre-existing) background radiation level in Japan is 1.48 mSv/y.
These high external
sources of exposure have been and will continue to be internalized in food and
drink. The devastating impacts of chronic exposure have been documented
especially in the multiple diseases and deaths of hundreds of thousands of
children as the result of the Chernobyl catastrophe, exacerbated by official
denial, suppression, and disinformation .
is one of the most acute causes of cancer in children after a nuclear meltdown.
Uptake of radioactive iodine can be prevented by a timely supply of iodine
tablets. While such iodine tablets were supplied to the municipalities and
evacuation centres during the first few days of the disaster, the order to
distribute them was never issued, and hence, with very few exceptions, no
iodine tablets were taken by people exposed to radioactive iodine .
The may lead to a large number of cases of thyroid cancer, as in the case of
Chernobyl . And the signs are ominous.
end of March 2011, a group of researchers around Hiroshima professor Satoshi
Tashiro tested 1 149 children aged 0 to 15 from Iwaki city Kawamata town and
Iitate village. Some 44.5 % showed radioactive contamination of up to 35 mSv in
their thyroid gland. In October 2011, the University of Fukushima began with
thyroid-examinations on 360 000 children living in the regions affected by
radioactive contamination. Matsui Eisuke reported some of the results so far .
Between October 2011 and 31 March 2012, 38 114 children 1-18 y in Fukushima
prefecture were examined by ultrasonography of the thyroid gland. Cysts were
found in more than 35 % of the children. In comparison, in Nagaski where 250
children 7-14 y had been examined since 2000, only 2 (0.8 %) had cysts in their
that today, centres for measuring levels of radioactivity in food are opening
one after another all over Japan, and not just in Fukushima . Parents have
banded together to set up organic cafes to stock non-contaminated organic
vegetables, and also to demand that school canteens use only uncontaminated
ingredients. “It is mainly thanks to independent networks that people have been
able to go somewhere else temporarily to take care of their health.”
Evacuation from highly
contaminated areas still refused
still refuses to evacuate people from the highly contaminated regions . The
city of Fukushima organized a planning meeting in the Ônami district that had been recommended for evacuation,
and the opening words were:“Evacuation reduces economic activity, so we
would opt for decontamination,” in other words, “We won’t let you leave.” The
city has designated zones measuring >2 mSv/h for decontamination, and wanted volunteers; but when asked
about their decontamination plans, said they have none. In
February 2012, an estimated 62 000 people left Fukushima prefecture to seek
2011, pupils from 14 primary and secondary schools from the town of Kôriyama formally demanded that the local authority
respect their right to be evacuated and to continue their education in a less
contaminated area. But six months later, the demand
has been refused.
“We have launched an appeal.” Chiwaki said. Refugees from the
evacuation zones leave however they can, sometimes the whole family and
sometimes the mother leaves with the children, and the husband stays behind to
work and look after the house. Sharp divisions of opinion end in divorce and
break up families.
“We have learnt lessons from the experience of Chernobyl and will
never give up in our efforts to protect the lives of our children and everyone
else. We ask the whole world to give us their support.”
For more information and especially if you can offer help, please
Radiation and Risk, Idaho State
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John Barilla Comment left 6th June 2012 07:07:27 What preventive measures would Dr. Ho recommend for Americans and Europeans who may unknowingly be exposed to the Fukushima fallout. Any practical suggestions? It seems to me that would be a good subject for another article.
Mae-Wan Ho Comment left 6th June 2012 07:07:14 John Barilla, we are not medical doctors so this is not medical advice. If you have been following ISIS, you would have found this about green tea compound: http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Green_Tea_Compound_for_Radioprotection.php. Another on appled pectin and other supplements will follow. Obviously you should ask US EPA to carry out regularly monitoring especially of food and water.
Comment left 15th July 2013 17:05:40 --> Naoto KAN
Sara Shannon Comment left 22nd January 2014 19:07:56 In response to your question re prqctical suggestions for protection from fallout, I would suggest my book:
Radiation Protective Foods. by Sara Shannon. It tells how to utilize
foods as a shield from absorbing radiation. It was first published in
l987 as Diet for the Atomic Age. It is comprehensive and based on
medical and scientific research. Have a look at:
Or, go to www.amazon.com Sara Shannon
John C. Lamb Comment left 20th December 2015 21:09:39 Has any research on nuclear fallout/impacts been done in the area of Hanayama, Miyagi? Sendai would be another large population center of interest to me concerning radiation exposure. Thank you