30 Novembre 2013
November 28, 2013
After the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, little attention was paid to how the radiation leaks can affect the health of children who live in the US. Joseph Mangano, epidemiologist and Executive Director of the Radiation and Public Health Project research group, speaks with the Voice of Russia about the study that showed that kids born after 2010 have some 26% percent higher risks to have cancer and birth defects. But the US keep silent on the problem.
After the study by the Radiation and Public Health Project research was made public there was little response or reaction in the US. Although, Joseph Mangano expects to hear from people more as there are great concerns about the safety of food in water, even in the US from Fukushima.
"We just published a study in the Open Journal of Pediatrics. We looked at official two types of data: one was the EPA statistics on how much radiation was in the air in the weeks and months after Fukushima (it was much higher in the West Coast than in the rest of the country) and number two – we looked at the state California’s official statistics on newborns who are born with a condition called hypothyroidism which is where the thyroid is underactive. It is something that is known to be affected by exposure to radioactive Iodine which is only created in atomic bombs which haven’t been exploded for years and nuclear reactor emissions," explains Joseph Mangano.
The Fukushima nuclear disaster is quite harmful for human health, although it happened in Japan, all the way across the ocean, the contaminated waters and polluted air can easily reach the continent on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.
"Studies almost three years ago found that the plume of radiation that escaped from Fukushima arrived on the West Coast of the US just five days after the initial meltdown. It doesn’t take long: once these radioactive particles in gases get in the air, it moves along with prevailing winds and keeps travelling until it returns to the environment through rain and snow," says epidemiologist Joseph Mangano in an interview with the Voice of Russia.
"It circled the entire Northern hemisphere but it got to the West Coast within five days and came into the environment in greater amounts on West Coast and elsewhere in the country," Mangano continues.
The aim of the study is to find the correlation between the increased cases of hypothyroidism disease in children and the consequences of the Fukushima catastrophe.
"We are just now starting to get our hands on recent data from 2011. It means that we start by looking at the fetus and the newborn because they are the most susceptible to radiation. And we are going to be looking at not just hypothyroidism but at further birth effects: infant deaths, babies were born underweight; babies were born prematurely- things of that nature to see before and after Fukushima if there was a difference. It’s gonna take decades to know what the full casualty list of Fukushima is because sometimes it takes decades, for example, for a cancer to show itself, to manifest itself after the exposure," Joseph Mangano explains to the Voice of Russia’s host Jay Johnson, who conducted the interview.
In the future more children would be born with diseases or other health problems caused by Fukushima disaster. According to Mangano, more people would be born not just with birth defects, but with diseases affected by the radiation, such as cancer.
Recently, Japan has surveyed 200,000 children near the Fukushima plant in 2012 and has found out that 56% of the children under 18 have a precancerous lesions which is absolutely off the charts, as it should be almost none, says Mangano.
"It’s an ongoing study by Fukushima Medical University. They also found as many as 59 kids had thyroid cancer and that’s a condition that’s very rare in kids. We would expect in three years maybe one or two. They confirmed 26 and they suspect another 33. So, this is just the beginning. As a research community we really need to look at this terrible meltdown seriously and do all the studies on the continuing basis," Joseph Mangano said.
19th November 2013
The Fukushima catastrophe has been dismissed as a potential cause of health effects even in Japan, let alone as far away as California.
A new study of the effects of tiny quantities of radioactive fallout from Fukushima on the health of babies born in California shows a significant excess of hypothyroidism caused by the radioactive contamination travelling 5,000 miles across the Pacific. The article will be published next week in the peer-reviewed journal Open Journal of Pediatrics.
Congenital hypothyroidism is a rare but serious condition normally affecting about one child in 2,000, and one that demands clinical intervention - the growth of children suffering from the condition is affected if they are left untreated. All babies born in California are monitored at birth for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) levels in blood, since high levels indicate hypothyroidism.
Joe Mangano and Janette Sherman of the Radiation and Public Health Project in New York, and Christopher Busby, guest researcher at Jacobs University, Bremen, examined congenital hypothyroidism (CH) rates in newborns using data obtained from the State of California over the period of the Fukushima explosions.
Their results are published in their paper Changes in confirmed plus borderline cases of congenital hypothyroidism in California as a function of environmental fallout from the Fukushima nuclear meltdown. The researchers compared data for babies exposed to radioactive Iodine-131 and born between March 17th and Dec 31st 2011 with unexposed babies born in 2011 before the exposures plus those born in 2012.
Confirmed cases of hypothyroidism, defined as those with TSH level greater than 29 units increased by 21% in the group of babies that were exposed to excess radioactive Iodine in the womb [*]. The same group of children had a 27% increase in 'borderline cases' [**].
Contrary to many reports, the explosion of the reactors and spent fuel pools at Fukushima produced levels of radioactive contamination which were comparable with the Chernobyl releases in 1986. Using estimates made by the Norwegian Air Laboratory it is possible to estimate that more than 250PBq (200 x 1015) Bq of Iodine-131 (half life 8 days) were released at Fukushima.
This is also predicted by comparing the Caesium-137 estimates with I-131 releases from Chernobyl, quantities which caused the thyroid cancer epidemic in Byelarus, the Ukraine and parts of the Russian Republic.
More on this later. At Fukushima, the winds generally blew the radioactive iodine and other volatile radionuclides out to sea, to the Pacific Ocean. The journey 5,000 miles to the West Coast of the USA leaves a lot of time for dispersal and dilution. Nevertheless, causing widespread concern.
The authorities downplayed any risk on the basis that the "doses" were very low; far lower than the natural background radiation. The University of Berkeley measured I-131 in rainwater from 18th to 28th March 2011 after which levels fell. If we assume that mothers drank 1 litre of rainwater a day for this period (of course they didn't) the current radiation risk model of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) calculates an absorbed dose to the adult thyroid of 23 microSieverts, less than 1/100th the annual background "dose". The foetus is more sensitive (by a factor of about 10 according to ICRP) but is exposed to less as it is perhaps 100 times smaller.
So this finding is one more instance of the fact that the current radiation risk model, employed by the governments of every nation, is massively insecure for predicting harm from internal radionuclide exposures or explaining the clear observations.
The Fukushima catastrophe has been dismissed as a potential cause of health effects even in Japan, let alone as far away as California. And on what basis? Because the "dose" is too low.
This is the mantra chanted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the World Health Organization (WHO, largely the same outfit), and the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR). And let's not forget all the nuclear scientists who swooped down on Fukushima with their International Conferences and placatory soothing presentations.
This chant was heard after Chernobyl, after the nuclear site child leukemias; in the nuclear atmospheric test veterans cases; and in all the other clear situations which in any unbiased scientific arena would long ago have blown away the belief that low level internal exposures are safe.
But this one-size-fits-all concept of "dose" is the nuclear industry's sinking ship. It provides essential cover for the use of uranium weapons, whether fission bombs or depleted uranium munitions; for the development of nuclear power stations like Hinkley Point; the burying of radioactive waste in landfills in middle England; releases of plutonium to the Irish Sea from Sellafield (where it drifts ashore and causes increases in cancer on the coasts of Wales and Ireland); and most recently, for the British Governments denial of excess cancers among nuclear test veterans.
This new study is not the first to draw attention to the sensitivity of the unborn baby to internal fission products. In 2009 I used data supplied to me when I was a member of the UK government Committee Examining Radiation Risks from Internal Emitters (CERRIE) to carry out a meta-analysis of infant leukemia rates in five countries in Europe: England and Wales, Germany, Greece, and Byelarus.
There had been an unexpected and statistically significant increase in infant leukemia (age 0-1) in those children who were in the womb during the (whole body monitored) increased levels of Caesium-137 from Chernobyl. The beauty of this study (like the TSH study) is that, unlike the Sellafield child leukemias, there is really no possible alternative explanation.
It was the low "dose" of Caesium-137 that caused the leukemias. And the dose response trend was not a straight line: The effect at the very low "dose" was greater than at the very high "dose". Presumably because at the high doses the babies perished in the womb and could not, therefore, develop leukemia. I published the results and drew attention to the failure of the ICRP model in the International Journal of Environment and Public Health in 2009.
I had published a paper on this infant leukemia proof of the failure of the risk model in Energy and Environment in 2000, and also presented it in the same year at the World Health Organisation conference in Kiev. It was there that I first really came up against the inversion of science deployed by the chiefs of the IAEA and UNSCEAR. The conference was videofilmed by Wladimir Tchertkoff and you can see his excellent documentary, which made it to Swiss TV, Atomic Lies, re-released in 2004 as Nuclear Controversies (link to youtube, 51 minutes).
For what is done by these people is to dismiss any evidence of increased rates of cancer or any other disease by shouting at it: "the doses were too low". In this way, reality is airbrushed away. What is this quantity "dose"? It is a simple physics-based quantity which represents the absorption of energy from radiation. One Sievert of gamma radiation is one Joule per kilogram of living tissue.
This might work for external radiation. But it doesn't work for internal exposures to radioactive elements which can produce huge effects on cellular DNA at low average "doses". It is like comparing warming yourself in front of the fire with eating a hot coal. Or comparing a punch to stabbing. Same dose, same energy. Very different effects.
This "dose" scam has been used to dismiss real effects since it was invented in 1952 to deal with the exposures from nuclear weapons development and testing. For those who want to dig deeper into the science there is a recent book chapter I wrote in the book New Research Directions in DNS Repair.
The most scary instances of the sensitivity of the foetus to radiation are the sex ratio studies of Hagen Scherb, a German biostatician and member of the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR). With his colleague Christina Voigt he has published a series of papers showing a sudden change in the sex ratio of newborns after various radiation exposure incidents.
Sex ratio, the number of boys born to 1,000 girls is a well accepted indicator of genetic damage and perturbations in the normal ratio of 1,050 (boys to 100 girls) are due to the deaths before birth of radiation damaged individuals of one sex or the other depending on whether the father (sperm) or mother (egg) was most exposed.
We found such an effect (more girls) in our study of Fallujah, Iraq, where there was exposure to Uranium weapons. But Scherb and Voigt have looked at the major catastrophes, Chernobyl, the weapons tests fallout, near nuclear sites in data from many countries of the world. Huge datasets.
They estimate that millions have babies have been killed by these subtle internal radiation exposures. The nuclear military project is responsible for an awful lot of deaths. In years to come I believe this will eventually be seen as the greatest public health scandal in human history.
Of course, the exposure to radio-Iodine is associated with thyroid cancer in children. There was a big rise of thyroid cancer in Byelarus, the Ukraine and the Russian Republic after Chernobyl. The situation at Fukushima seems set to echo this, despite the reassurances from the authorities that there will be no effects.
Our paper reports 44 confirmed thyroid cancer cases in 0-18 year olds in Fukushima prefecture in the last six months (a figure that has since risen to 53). In the hypothyroidism paper we discuss the 44 cases relative to the population and calculate that this represents an 80-fold excess based on national data prior to the Fukushima Iodine releases.
This presents a severe challenge to Dr Wolfgang Weiss of the UN and WHO, who stated last year that no thyroid cancers could result from the Fukushima disaster as the "doses were too low". How does he explain the 80-fold increase in this normally rare condition?
Or rather, when will he admit that the entire scientific model that underpins his views is fraudulent? And that nuclear radiation is - roughly speaking - 1,000 times more dangerous to human health than he is letting on?
Chris Busby is the Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk. For details and current CV see www.chrisbusbyexposed.org. For accounts of his work see www.greeenaudit.org, www.llrc.org and www.nuclearjustice.org
* RR 1.21, 95% CI 1.04-1.42; p = .013
** RR 1.27, 95% CI 1.2-1.35; p = .00000001.