Fukushima’s radiation – greater risk for girls

it is very important that we recognize the danger posed to children by the routine ingestion of contaminated food with Cesium-137 where ever they might live. It is also important to prevent further nuclear disasters which release these fiendishly toxic poisons into the global ecosystems. Given the immense amounts of long-lived radionuclides which exist at every nuclear power plant this is an urgent task. 

The Implications of The Massive Contamination of Japan With Radioactive Cesium [excellent slides and graphs] 
Steven Starr 
Senior Scientist, Physicians for Social Responsibility 
Director, University of Missouri, Clinical Laboratory Science Program 
Helen Caldicott Foundation Fukushima Symposium New York Academy of Medicine, 11 March 2013 “……..So now that we have some idea of the extreme toxicity of Cesium-137, let’s look at the extent of the contamination of the Japanese mainland.

It is now known that the reactors 1, 2, and 3 at Fukushima Daiichi all melted down and melted through the steel reactor vessels within a few days following the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011. This was not made public by either TEPCO or the Japanese government for two months.

The greatest amounts of highly radioactive gases were released shortly after the meltdowns and 80% of this gas released by the reactors is believed to have traveled away from Japan over the Pacific. However the remaining 20% was dispersed over the Japanese mainland.

On March 11th, the US National Nuclear Security Administration offered the use of its NA-42 Aerial Measuring System to the Japanese and US governments. The National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center of the Lawrence Livermore Lab stood up to provide atmospheric modeling projections. The next two slides were produced by Lawrence Livermore and presumably given to the Japanese government.

On March 14th, the easterly winds which had been blowing the highly-radioactive gases and aerosols coming from Fukushima out to sea, shifted and pushed the radioactive plume back over the Japanese mainland. You can see the progression. The red indicates the radioactive plume.

Note that the images indicate that the plume first went south over Tokyo and then reversed and went north as the wind changed. All the areas where the radioactive gases passed over were contaminated. However the heaviest contamination occurred where rainfall was occurring and the radiation rained out. This accounts for the patchy deposition of the radioactive fallout.

Eight months after the disaster, the Japanese Science Ministry released this map, which shows that 11,580 square miles, which is 30,000 square kilometers, which represents 13% of the Japanese mainland, had been contaminated with long-lived radioactive cesium. Note that the official map does not note any Cesium-137 contamination in the Tokyo metropolitan area, unlike an unofficial survey done at about the same time by Professor Yukio Hayakawa of Gunma University. Given the fact that the Japanese government and TEPCO denied for two months that any meltdowns had occurred at Fukushima, one must look at all official data with a healthy degree of skepticism.

4500 square miles (or earlier today we heard 7700 square miles)—which is an area larger than the size of Connecticut—was found to have radiation levels that exceeded Japan’s previously allowable exposure rate of 1 millisievert per year.

Rather than evacuate this area, Japan chose to raise its acceptable radiation-exposure rate by 20 times, from 1 millisievert to 20 millisieverts per year.

However, approximately 300 square miles adjacent to the destroyed Fukushima reactors were so contaminated that they were declared uninhabitable. 159,000 Japanese were evicted from this radioactive “exclusion zone.” They lost their homes, property, and businesses, and most have received only a small compensation to cover the costs of their living as evacuees.

Note here that the criteria used for evacuation is the millisievert. It is not a measured quantity of radiation per unit area that I have described such as the Curie or Becquerel. Rather the Sievert is a calculated quantity. It’s calculated to represent the biological effects of ionizing radiation. In other words, the millisievert is a derived number, based on the mathematical models which are used to convert the absorbed dose to “effective dose.”

So what is the increased health risk to Japanese based upon their exposure to 20 millisieverts per year? Let us examine figures constructed on the basis of data published by the National Academy of Sciences, courtesy of Ian Goddard.

[Source: National Academy of Sciences, Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation BEIR VII Phase 2 Report: Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation, National Academies Press, 2006, (pg. 311), adjusted 100 millisieverts to 20 millisieverts by Ian Goddard according to BEIR instructions. See chart on page 29 of “Radioactive Emissions and Health Hazards Surrounding Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant,” by Joseph Mangano, MPH, Director Radiation and Public Health Project, and BEST/MATRR Gretel Johnston, June 4, 2013.]
graph-cancer-BEIR-VII

The vertical Y-axis is calibrated to the number of cancer cases per 100,000 age-peers, and the horizontal X-axis depicts the age of the population, beginning at zero years and moving towards old age. Now examine the allegedly safe dose of 20 millisieverts per year.

As a result of this exposure, there will be about 1000 additional cases of cancer in female infants and 500 cases of cancer in infant boys per 100,000 in their age groups. There will be an additional 100 cases of cancer in 30 year old males per 100,000 in this age peer group.

Notice that children, especially girls, are at the most risk from radiation-induced cancer. In fact a female infant has 7 times greater risk and a 5 year old girl has 5 times greater risk of getting a radiation-induced cancer than does a 30 year old man.

I want to note here that there is a great deal of controversy in regards to the accuracy of the methods used to arrive at the millisievert measurement, especially in regard to an accurate determination of the biological effects of an external versus internal exposure to ionizing radiation.

That is, the effects of an exposure to a source of ionizing radiation that is external to the body, versus an exposure that comes from the ingestion of radionuclides that provide a chronic, long-term internal exposure to living cells, which are adjacent to the radioactive atoms or particles.

In the lands surrounding Chernobyl and Fukushima, the primary route of internal exposure is through the ingestion of foodstuffs contaminated with Cesium-137, which tends to bioaccumulate in plants and animals. What this means is that Cesium-137 cannot be excreted faster than it is being ingested. Thus it accumulates and increases in its concentration in the plant or animal that is routinely ingesting it.

Cesium-137 also tends to biomagnify as it moves up the food chain. This means it becomes progressively more concentrated in predator species. We have seen this before with other industrial toxins, such as DDT, which can magnify its concentration millions of times from the bottom to the top of a food chain.

Consequently, all of the foodstuffs in a contaminated region tend to contain Cesium-137. Those naturally rich in potassium, such as mushrooms and berries, tend to have very high concentrations. Dairy products and meats also tend to have higher concentrations.

The International Commission on Radiological Protection, the ICRP, which sets radiation safety standards recognizes that Cesium-137 bioaccumulates in humans. This ICRP figure compares a single ingestion of 1000 Becquerels of Cesium-137, a one-time exposure, with the daily ingestion of 10 Becquerels. On the single exposure notice that half the Cesium-137 is gone from the body in 110 days. That’s considered the biological half-life.

Note also that with the routine daily ingestion of 10 Becquerels of Cesium-137 the total radioactivity within the body continues to rise, until after about 500 days there are more than 1400 Becquerels of radioactivity measured in the body. Becquerels can be counted in living persons because the decay of Cesium-137 leads to the emission of gamma radiation which passes through the body and can be measured by a Whole Body Counter. They have a chair that kids, or anyone, can sit and they can calculate the amount of Becquerels per kilogram of body weight.

n a 70 kilogram adult (based on this), a total body activity of 1400 Becquerels would correspond to 20 Becquerels per kilogram of body weight. In a 20 kilogram child it would be 70 Becquerels per kilogram of body weight. The ICRP document does not specify the average age or weight of those examined in the study. However, the safety standards that have been set by the nuclear industry do not consider this level of chronic exposure to so-called “low-dose” radiation to be a significant danger to human health.

The ICRP states in this document that a whole body activity of 1400 Becquerels is equivalent to an exposure of one-tenth a millisievert per year. In other words, the radiation models used by radiation biologists that convert this level of internal absorbed dose to “effective dose,” do not predict serious health risks from such exposures. In fact they state that it is safe to have 10 times this exposure level.

[Source: ICRP, 2009. Application of the Commission’s Recommendations to the Protection of People Living in Long-term Contaminated Areas After a Nuclear Accident or a Radiation Emergency. ICRP Publication 111. Ann. ICRP 39 (3).]

There is however strong evidence that the ingestion of these levels of so-called “low-dose” radiation are, in fact, particularly injurious to children. Research done by Dr. Yuri Bandazhevsky, and his colleagues and students, in Belarus during the period 1991 through 1999, correlated whole body radiation levels of 10 to 30 Becquerels per kilogram of whole body weight with abnormal heart rhythms and levels of 50 Becquerels per kilogram of body weight with irreversible damage to the tissues of the heart and other vital organs.

One of the key discoveries made by Bandazhevsky was that Cesium-137 bioconcentrates in the endocrine and heart tissues, as well as the pancreas, kidneys and intestines. This goes completely against one of the primary assumptions used by the ICRP to calculate “effective dose” as measured by milliseiverts: that Cesium-137 is uniformly distributed in human tissues.

Let me restate that. The current ICRP methodology is to assume that the absorbed dose is uniformly distributed in human tissues. This is, in fact, not the case.

This table, taken from Bandazhevsky’s “Chronic Cs-137 incorporation in children’s organs,” compares the radioactivity measured in 13 organs of 6 infants. Very high specific activity, that is, levels of radioactivity, often 10 times higher than in other organs and tissues were found in the pancreas, thyroid, adrenal glands, heart, and intestinal walls………

I want to point out again that the currently accepted medical and legal understanding of Cesium-137 is that it is “distributed fairly uniformly” in human tissues. I copied the web page from the US EPA websitefrom which this quote is taken. Clearly, the autopsied human tissue samples analyzed by Bandazhevsky show that this is not the case. This new understanding needs to be incorporated into the way we understand how internally ingested radionuclides act upon the human body.

Two million people in Belarus live on lands severely contaminated by Cesium-137. Most of the children that live there are not considered to be healthy although they were before the nuclear power plant at Chernobyl exploded in 1986. Fourteen years after the explosion, 45 to 47 percent of high school graduates had physical disorders, including gastro-intestinal anomalies, weakened hearts, and cataracts. And 40% were diagnosed with chronic “blood disorders” and malfunctioning thyroids.

I am afraid that there are many Japanese people now living on lands equally contaminated with radioactive cesium. If Japanese children are allowed to routinely ingest foodstuffs contaminated with Cesium-137, they will likely develop the same health problems that we see now in the children and teenagers of Belarus and Ukraine.

Thus it is very important that we recognize the danger posed to children by the routine ingestion of contaminated food with Cesium-137 where ever they might live. It is also important to prevent further nuclear disasters which release these fiendishly toxic poisons into the global ecosystems. Given the immense amounts of long-lived radionuclides which exist at every nuclear power plant this is an urgent task. http://www.ratical.org/radiation/Fukushima/StevenStarr.html

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One Response to “Fukushima’s radiation – greater risk for girls”

  1. damchodronma Says:

    BEIR VII women 37.5% greater risk of cancer
    Children 5-7X worse than adults
    Overall 50% mortality
    BEIR committee restricts to cancer cases only and not all the myriad damage that can be caused to all other biological systems.

    W.H.O. internal exposure is 1,000X worse than external

    details and measurements notwithstanding… Daiichi nuclear plant fallout reached all of Japan — I think we forget that… 1700 km range, even though only one sample per prefecture, found everywhere…
    NRC FOIA documents, wind changed direction — instead of blowing toward west, Pacific, it changed direction toward Tokyo and then a circular motion — thus all of Japan (and Korea, far west Siberia…
    still, majority westerly toward the rest of the Northern Hemisphere
    http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201111260001

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