Archive for the ‘health’ Category

How ultraviolet radiation damages DNA

June 2, 2018

News Medical Life Sciences, 

Solar ultraviolet radiation (UV) exposure triggers DNA damage, a preliminary step in the process of carcinogenesis. 

The stability of DNA is extremely important for the proper functioning of all cellular processes. Exposure to UV radiation alters the structure of DNA, affecting the physiological processes of all living systems ranging from bacteria to humans.

Ultraviolet Radiation

Natural sunlight stimulates the production of vitamin D, an important nutrient for the formation of healthy bones. However, sunlight is also a major source of UV radiation. Individuals who get excessive UV exposure are at a great risk of developing skin cancers. There are three types of UV rays: UVA, UVB and UVC.

  • UVC rays (100-280 nm) are the most energetic and damaging of the three rays. Fortunately, UVC is absorbed by the ozone layer before reaching the earth’s surface.
  • UVA rays (315-400 nm) possess the lowest energy and is able to penetrate deep into the skin. Prolonged exposure has been linked to ageing and wrinkling of the skin. UVA is also the main cause of melanomas.
  • UVB rays (280-315 nm) possess higher energy than UVA rays and affect the outer layer of the skin leading to sunburns and tans. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are caused by UVB radiation.

DNA Damage by UV Radiation

DNA is composed of two complementary strands that are wound into a double helix. The hereditary message is chemically coded and made up of the four nucleotides adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G) and cytosine (C).  UVB light interferes directly with the bonding between the nucleotides in the DNA. ……….


Let’s not forget the facts on ionising radiation: there is no “safe level”

April 2, 2018

Another Voice: Nuclear Power, part 1, Radiation Crispin B. Hollinshead   

Gender and Radiation: Women and Children Require More Protection

April 2, 2018

Today is International Women’s Day  “a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.” 
 There are many such women in the anti-nuclear movement.  For example..
Mary Olson is the Founder of the Gender and Radiation Impact Project and is clear her life’s mission is to bring to light the disproportionate impact of radiation on girls and women. Over her long career, Olson has studied radiation health consequences with some of the leading radiation researchers of the 20 th Century including Rosalie BertellAlice StewartHelen Caldicott and Wing, and was featured in the educational film “ The Ultimate Wish: Ending the Nuclear Age” Through her work as a staff biologist and policy analyst at Nuclear Information and Resource Service , she has worked for decades to improve public policy on highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel and plutonium
Below is an excellent fact sheet from the Nuclear Information and Resource Service

Women & Children Require More Protection from

Ionizing Radiation than Men

NAS Findings: Adult Males are Group Most
Resistant to getting Cancer from Radiation
There is no safe dose of ionizing radiation: any
exposure of living cells to sub-atomic particles
(alpha, beta, neutron) or waves of energy (gamma,
X-ray) ejected from unstable radioactive atoms
has the potential to trigger cancer in people.i
Men get cancer from exposure to radiation, and
men die from that cancer, however, for reasons
not yet fully understood , fewer males get cancer
and fewer of them die from it compared to
females of the same age at the same level of
radiation exposure. The difference is not small:
for every two men who get cancer, three women
suffer this disease. These findings of physical
difference (not based on behavior) of 40% — 60%
more cancer in women compared to men come
from the (US) National Academy of Sciences
(NAS), Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation
(BEIR) Report number VII, published in 2006 ii
It has been common knowledge that children’s
bodies are the most vulnerable to radiation
impacts, but from BEIR VII we also learn that
little girls (age 0 — 5 years) are twice as likely to
suffer harm from radiation (defined in BEIR VII
as cancer) as little boys in the same age group. iii
In October 2011, NIRS published a briefing paper
Atomic Radiation is More Harmful to Women iv
containing more details about these findings. The
numbers in the BEIR VII tables are the source of
this new information. Gender difference is not
discussed in the report text.
Not every dose of radiation results in detectable
harm–cells have repair
mechanisms. However,
every exposure carries the potential for harm; and
that potential is tied to age of exposure and
Radiation Exposure Standards Based on Adult
Male Body
While we cannot see or
otherwise detect radiation with
our senses, we can see its
When the  first regulations were made, it was because
soldiers and scientists in the U.S. (virtually all
male to begin with) were working on building
nuclear weapons. The first standards were
“allowable” limits for exposing these men to a
known hazard.
Radiation Levels v Dose
Geiger counters and other devices can detect
levels of radiation and concentrations of
radioactivity.  It is much more difficult to say how much of that energy has impacted a living body (dose). Dose is calculated based on body size, weight, distance from the source and assumptions about biological impact. Gender is not factored in a typical determination of a dose. Historically the “dose receptors” were male, and were of a small age range. It is somewhat understandable that the “Reference Man”v was based on a “Standard Man”–a guy of a certain height, weight and age. Clearly such assumptions are no longer valid when there is such a striking gender difference– 40% to 100% greater likelihood of cancer or cancer death (depending on the age) for females, compared to

Not Only Cancer

Radiation harm includes not only cancer and leukemia, but reduced immunity, reduced fertility, increases in other diseases including heart disease, birth defects including heart defects, other mutations (both heritable and not). When damage is catastrophic to a developing embryo, spontaneous abortion or miscarriage of a pregnancy may result.vii

Gender Mechanism Not Yet Described

Perhaps the reason that the National Academy of Sciences does not discuss the fact that gender has such a large impact on outcome of exposure to radiation is that the causal  mechanism is not yet described.

Dr. Rosalie Bertell, one of the icons of research and education on radiation health effects, suggests that one basis may be that the female body has a higher percentage of reproductive tissue than the male body. Dr. Bertell points to

studies showing reproductive organs and tissues are more sensitive to radiation. Nonetheless, Dr. Bertell is clear: “While research is clearly needed, we should PROTECT FIRST.”

Ignoring Gender Results in More Harm

The NAS BEIR VII findings show that males of all ages are more resistant to radiation exposure than females, and also that all children are more vulnerable than adults. The only radiation standard certain to protect everyone is zero. Given the fact that there is no safe dose of radiation, it is an appropriate goal. Any additional exposure above unavoidable naturally occurring radiation should include full disclosure and concurrence of the individual. It is time to adopt non-radioactive practices for making energy, peace, security and healing.

03/10/2012 Mary Olson, NIRS Southeast / 828-252-8409

i See
ii BEIR VII, Table 12D‐3 page 312, National Academy Press (Washington, DC) 2006.
iii BEIR VII page 311, Table 12‐D 1.
iv NIRS: Atomic Radiation is More Harmful to Women df
vICRP Publication 23: Reference Man: Anatomical, Physiological and Metabolic Characteristics, 1st Edition

vi IEER: The use of Reference Man in Radiation Protection Standards and Guidance with Recommendations for Change
vii Non‐cancer health effects are documented in classic works of John Gofman, for instance Radiation and Human Health (Random House 1982) and digital documents available: and Dr. Rosalie Bertell’s classic work No Immediate Danger, Summer Town Books, 1986.

Research into low dose radiation – a very complex issue

April 2, 2018

A better direction for low-dose radiation research, BAS, Jan Beyea 12 Feb 18, 

With bipartisan support, the US House Science, Space, and Technology Committee recently passed a bill to revitalize low-dose radiation research. The bill, which would authorize an estimated $96 million in funding, has also garnered support from researchers and groups with opposing views on the seriousness of effects of ionizing radiation in the low-dose region, defined as being below 100 millisieverts—roughly the amount of radiation from 10 CT scans.

Studies of excess cancers among survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings have estimated a 1 percent increase in long-term cancer risk for adults receiving a dose of 100 millisieverts (the risk is higher for children), with the risk below that level declining in proportion to the dose. However, stakeholders and researchers with different hypotheses continue to debate whether or not downward extrapolation by dose magnitude—the “linear no-threshold” model deemed most reasonable by a National Research Council committee of experts—is the best way to estimate risk. ……

The hope of many supporters of the proposed legislation, voiced by Rep. Roger Marshall, a Kansas Republican, is that it may assist “the development of nuclear energy opportunities,” in part by reducing the size of nuclear plant evacuation zones. The bill’s supporters presume that the finding of a threshold or hormesis region would demonstrate that the existing linear no-threshold model is an over-protection that, as Northwestern University radiation biologist Gayle E. Woloschak wrote in a letter of support for the bill, “may be wastefully expensive and deplete funds that could be used for other strategic goals for the nation.”

Past research by the Energy Department to upend the linear model has failed to fulfill that dream, finding health effects below 100 millisieverts from even protracted exposures.  There is so much existing epidemiological data from exposed workers, patients receiving medical diagnostics, and residents living around the Soviet nuclear complex—as well as the Japanese atomic bombing survivors—that new research, whatever it shows, will need to be interpreted in the light of all the evidence.

That will likely leave stakeholders and experts debating for a long time, and the public confused.

Inherent uncertainty. New radiation research is likely to carry uncertainties, which means government policy must be conservative in its choice of the best dose-response model to use. Why is it difficult to tease out risks at low doses? Individual risks from medical diagnostics and from the (fortunately) limited releases of radioactivity at Fukushima are generally low under the linear extrapolation model. They are small compared with background disease rates, challenging epidemiological methods. The difficulty of finding effects among background cancers is actually good news for exposed individuals. However, the social risk is sufficiently large to justify keeping doses as low as reasonably achievable and balancing risks against benefits.

My colleagues and I call radiological events “reverse lotteries”: The individual risk of drawing a cancer-causing “ticket” from an event such as the Fukushima meltdowns is small, but because so many people are part of the lottery, real people do get impacted when they draw losing tickets.

Prospective risks and retrospective risks are perceived differently. If I learned that my family and I had already been exposed to a 1-in-1,000 cancer risk, I would be angry, but I would realize that the odds were highly in our favor; none of us would likely be injured. However, if you asked me to relocate to contaminated land where my children would be exposed to a 1-in-1,000 chance of cancer, I would want to stay away unless there were major benefits associated with the move, or if I thought I couldn’t afford to do otherwise. Risk tradeoffs are personal, and families can be painfully split on the best decision, as happened at Fukushima………

Stable Iodine Must Be Distributed Before Nuclear Accidents Not After Them

April 2, 2018 29, 2018

Because of the risk of possible terrorist attacks at the 15 UK nuclear reactors and >20 nuclear reactors in nearby countries, and because of the advanced ages of UK nuclear reactors, there is a need for greater preparedness to deal with nuclear accidents and incidents.

For these reasons, in June 2016, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee set up an Inquiry on Science in Emergencies: chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incidents.  However neither the Committee’s subsequent poor Report nor the Government’s anodyne response dealt with the real issues in a forthright and open matter. In particular, they discussed neither the problems of evacuations (which I have discussed) nor the scientific evidence which amply supports the pre-distribution of stable iodine as occurs in most other EU countries.

In the event of a nuclear accident or incident, the three main responses are shelter, evacuation, and stable iodine prophylaxis. This article deals solely with iodine prophylaxis.

It is important to note that stable iodine ingestion only protects against thyroid cancer, and not any other cancers which could arise after exposure to the many nuclides which would be released if a serious nuclear accident or incident were to occur.  However it is the only cancer that we can prevent or mitigate if advance preparations are made.

The prior ingestion of stable iodine (often potassium iodide, ie KI) is an effective means of protecting the thyroid gland from thyroid cancer and other thyroid effects, especially among children. But it is necessary to consume stable iodine immediatelyafter a nuclear incident: the best way to provide for this is the advance distribution of stable iodine prior to any accident or incident.

In the UK, the Government has decided not to pre-distribute stable iodine tablets to the public. This is a poor decision. It was probably influenced by the Government’s  strong support, bordering on obsession, for nuclear power. In other words,  political considerations are held to be more important than public safety. Information on the locations of stale iodine supplies, stocks held, and arrangements for their distribution in the event of a nuclear incident or accident is unavailable in the UK.

After the warning of a nuclear accident or incident, it appears that the Government intends to distribute stable iodine to “…schools, hospitals and evacuation reception centres…” and “collection centres” for collection by the public. It is likely that such  distribution would take at least two days or longer, depending on the sizes of the affected areas. During this time, plumes would continue to cross such areas depending on the nature of the accident, wind direction and wind velocity.

At present, the Government assumes that most thyroid doses (from the radioative iodine in the plumes) will occur via the food pathway, mainly from the ingestion of milk and leafy green vegetables. This pathway could take a few days and could give time for stable iodine distribution to take place. However recent scientific evidence indicates that inhalation is much more important than ingestion for radio-iodine doses. This means advance stable iodine distribution is vitally necessary. The Government is ignoring this information, thereby putting the UK public at risk.

Several EU countries have already pre-distributed KI to all families. In addition, KI supplies and dose information are available on line from non-UK sources. It is therefore recommended that

  • Stable iodine tablets, with clear dose instructions and the reasons for their advance distribution, should be distributed to all families within at least 30 km of nuclear facilities in the UK without waiting for an incident or accident to occur.
  • Since radioactive plumes could reach cities with large populations (e.g. >500,000 people) located beyond 30 km, stable iodine pre-distribution should carried out here as well. This is because rapid evacuations from such large cities would be impractical, but their inhabitants should be afforded some protection.
  • For this reason, and to deal with the possibility of radioactive plumes from nuclear reactors on the continent, the Government should pre-distribute stable iodine to all families throughout the UK, as occurs in most other European countries.

A more detailed (9 pages) report can be found here main report on KI.

USA nuclear tests – a hidden weapon against its own people – radioactive milk

April 2, 2018

Five men at atomic ground zero

RADIOACTIVE MILK US nuclear tests killed far more civilians than we knew, Quartz, Dec 17 

Tim Fernholz When the US entered the nuclear age, it did so recklessly. New research suggests that the hidden cost of developing nuclear weapons were far larger than previous estimates, with radioactive fallout responsible for 340,000 to 690,000 American deaths from 1951 to 1973.

The study, performed by University of Arizona economist Keith Meyersuses a novel method (pdf) to trace the deadly effects of this radiation, which was often consumed by Americans drinking milk far from the site of atomic tests.

From 1951 to 1963, the US tested nuclear weapons above ground in Nevada. Weapons researchers, not understanding the risks—or simply ignoring them—exposed thousands of workers to radioactive fallout. The emissions from nuclear reactions are deadly to humans in high doses, and can cause cancer even in low doses. At one point, researchers had volunteers stand underneath an airburst nuclear weapon to prove how safe it was:

The emissions, however, did not just stay at the test site, and drifted in the atmosphere. Cancer rates spiked in nearby communities, and the US government could no longer pretend that fallout was anything but a silent killer.

The cost in dollars and lives

Congress eventually paid more than $2 billion to residents of nearby areas that were particularly exposed to radiation, as well as uranium miners. But attempts to measure the full extent of the test fallout were very uncertain, since they relied on extrapolating effects from the hardest-hit communities to the national level. One national estimate found the testing caused 49,000 cancer deaths.

Those measurements, however, did not capture the full range of effects over time and geography. Meyers created a broader picture by way of a macabre insight: When cows consumed radioactive fallout spread by atmospheric winds, their milk became a key channel to transmit radiation sickness to humans. Most milk production during this time was local, with cows eating at pasture and their milk being delivered to nearby communities, giving Meyers a way to trace radioactivity across the country.

The National Cancer Institute has records of the amount of Iodine 131—a dangerous isotope released in the Nevada tests—in milk, as well as broader data about radiation exposure. By comparing this data with county-level mortality records, Meyers came across a significant finding: “Exposure to fallout through milk leads to immediate and sustained increases in the crude death rate.” What’s more, these results were sustained over time. US nuclear testing likely killed seven to 14 times more people than we had thought, mostly in the midwest and northeast.

A weapon against its own people

When the US used nuclear weapons during World War II, bombing the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, conservative estimates suggest 250,000 people died in immediate aftermath. Even those horrified by the bombing didn’t realize that the US would deploy similar weapons against its own people, accidentally, and on a comparable scale.

And the cessation of nuclear testing helped save US lives—”the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty might have saved between 11.7 and 24.0 million American lives,” Meyers estimates. There was also some blind luck involved in reducing the number of poisoned people: The Nevada Test Site, compared to other potential testing facilities the US government considered at the time, produced the lowest atmospheric dispersal.

The lingering affects of these tests remain, as silent and as troublesome as the isotopes themselves. Millions of Americans who were exposed to fallout likely suffer illnesses related to these tests even today, as they retire and rely on the US government to fund their health care.

“This paper reveals that there are more casualties of the Cold War than previously thought, but the extent to which society still bears the costs of the Cold War remains an open question,” Meyers concludes.

Deaths of newborns increased in areas irradiated by Fukushima nuclear disaster

April 2, 2018

Academic paper: “Increases in perinatal mortality in prefectures contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident in Japan”  Source Institute: 医療問題研究会


Institute link :

Link to full text pdf:

Authors and copyright:  Hagen Heinrich Scherb, Dr rer nat Dipl-Matha,∗, Kuniyoshi Mori, MDb, Keiji Hayashi, MDcEditor: Roman Leischik.


Descriptive observational studies showed upward jumps in secular European perinatal mortality trends after Chernobyl.

The question arises whether the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident entailed similar phenomena in Japan. For 47 prefectures representing 15.2 million births from 2001 to 2014, the Japanese government provides monthly statistics on 69,171 cases of perinatal death of the fetus or the newborn after 22 weeks of pregnancy to 7 days after birth.

Employing change-point methodology for detecting alterations in longitudinal data, we analyzed time trends in perinatal mortality in the Japanese prefectures stratified by exposure to estimate and test potential increases in perinatal death proportions after Fukushima possibly associated with the earthquake, the tsunami, or the estimated radiation exposure.

Areas with moderate to high levels of radiation were compared with less exposed and unaffected areas, as were highly contaminated areas hit versus untroubled by the earthquake and the tsunami. Ten months after the earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent nuclear accident, perinatal mortality in 6 severely contaminated prefectures jumped up from January 2012 onward: jump odds ratio 1.156; 95% confidence interval (1.061, 1.259), P-value 0.0009.

There were slight increases in areas with moderate levels of contamination and no increases in the rest of Japan.

In severely contaminated areas, the increases of perinatal mortality 10 months after Fukushima were essentially independent of the numbers of dead and missing due to the earthquake and the tsunami. Perinatal mortality in areas contaminated with radioactive substances started to increase 10 months after the nuclear accident relative to the prevailing and stable secular downward trend. These results are consistent with findings in Europe after Chernobyl. 

Since observational studies as the one presented here may suggest but cannot prove causality because of unknown and uncontrolled factors or confounders, intensified research in various scientific disciplines is urgently needed to better qualify and quantify the association of natural and artificial environmental radiation with detrimental genetic health effects at the population level….. more


Official Medicine: The (Il)logic of Radiation Dosimetry – disguising the true health effects of Fukushima radiation

April 2, 2018

it is not surprising that the overwhelming emphasis in scientific studies and public reports has been placed on psychological impacts rather than disease and deaths

Informal Labour, Local Citizens and the Tokyo Electric Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Crisis: Responses to Neoliberal Disaster Management, Adam Broinowski , ANU 7 Nov 17 

“….Official Medicine: The (Il)logic of Radiation Dosimetry

On what basis have these policies on radiation from Fukushima Daiichi been made? Instead of containing contamination, the authorities have mounted a concerted campaign to convince the public that it is safe to live with radiation in areas that should be considered uninhabitable and unusable according to internationally accepted standards. To do so, they have concealed from public knowledge the material conditions of radiation contamination so as to facilitate the return of the evacuee population to ‘normalcy’, or life as it was before 3.11. This position has been further supported by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which stated annual doses of up to 20 mSv/y are safe for the total population including women and children.43 The World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Scientific Commission on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) also asserted that there were no ‘immediate’ radiation related illnesses or deaths (genpatsu kanren shi 原発関連死) and declared the major health impact to be psychological.

While the central and prefectural governments have repeatedly reassured the public since the beginning of the disaster that there is no immediate health risk, in May 2011 access to official statistics for cancer-related illnesses (including leukaemia) in Fukushima and southern Miyagi prefectures was shut down. On 6 December 2013, the Special Secrets Protection Law (Tokutei Himitsu Hogo Hō 特定秘密保護法) aimed at restricting government employees and experts from giving journalists access to information deemed sensitive to national security was passed (effective December 2014). Passed at the same time was the Cancer Registration Law (Gan Tōroku Hō 癌登録法), which made it illegal to share medical data or information on radiation-related issues including evaluation of medical data obtained through screenings, and denied public access to certain medical records, with violations punishable with a 2 million yen fine or 5–10 years’ imprisonment. In January 2014, the IAEA, UNSCEAR and Fukushima Prefecture and Fukushima Medical University (FMU) signed a confidentiality agreement to control medical data on radiation. All medical personnel (hospitals) must submit data (mortality, morbidity, general illnesses from radiation exposures) to a central repository run by the FMU and IAEA.44 It is likely this data has been collected in the large Fukushima Centre for Environmental Creation, which opened in Minami-Sōma in late 2015 to communicate ‘accurate information on radiation to the public and dispel anxiety’.

This official position contrasts with the results of the first round of the Fukushima Health Management Survey (October 2011 – April 2015) of 370,000 young people (under 18 at the time of the disaster) in Fukushima prefecture since 3.11, as mandated in the Children and Disaster Victims Support Act (June 2012).45 The survey report admitted that paediatric thyroid cancers were ‘several tens of times larger’ (suitei sareru yūbyōsū ni kurabete sūjūbai no ōdā de ōi 推定される有病数に比べて数十倍のオーダーで多い) than the amount estimated.46 By 30 September 2015, as part of the second-round screening (April 2014–March 2016) to be conducted once every two years until the age of 20 and once every five years after 20, there were 15 additional confirmed thyroid cancers coming to a total of 152 malignant or suspected paediatric thyroid cancer cases with 115 surgically confirmed and 37 awaiting surgical confirmation. Almost all have been papillary thyroid cancer with only three as poorly differentiated thyroid cancer (these are no less dangerous). By June 2016, this had increased to 173 confirmed (131) or suspected (42) paediatric thyroid cancer cases.47

The National Cancer Research Center also estimated an increase of childhood thyroid cancer by 61 times, from the 2010 national average of 1–3 per million to 1 in 3,000 children. Other estimates of exposure to radiation, obtained from direct thyroid measurements in Namie town in April 2011, although discontinued under government pressure, also returned much higher results than official estimates (i.e. 80 per cent positive, 1 at 89 mSv, 5 over 50 mSv, 10 at 10mSv or under).48 In April 2014, Dr Tsuda Toshihide, an epidemiologist at Okayama University, declared this a ‘thyroid cancer epidemic’ (kōjōsen densenbyō 甲状腺伝染病), and predicted multiple illnesses from long-term internal radiation below 100 mSv/y and advocated for a program of outbreak (emergency or rapid) epidemiology in and outside Fukushima.49Similarly, a Tokyo-based physician, Dr Mita Shigeru, circulated a public statement notifying his colleagues of his intention to relocate his practice to Okayama due to overwhelming evidence of unusual symptoms in his patients (roughly 2,000). Given that soil in Tokyo post-Fukushima returned between 1,000 and 4,000 Bq/kg, as compared to an average of 500 Bq/kg (Cs 137 only) in Kiev soil, Mita pointed to a correlation between these symptoms and the significant radiation contamination in Tōhoku and metropolitan Tokyo.50

While results from the Fukushima Health Survey demonstrate flaws in the official dosimetry model and public safety campaign, the survey itself also has clear limitations. It is limited to subjects in a specific age bracket in one prefecture and one non-fatal illness (thyroid cancer, which can be treated with surgery but has lifelong side effects) from the ingestion of one radionuclide (Iodine 131) with a relatively short half-life (eight days) that comprised only 9.1 per cent of the total releases. Its dosimetry is based on the National Institute of Radiological Sciences (NIRS) model,51 which is for external exposure only, does not account for exposures in the initial days of the disaster and uses Japanese Government data that has been criticised for underestimating releases and exposures.52 Further, the survey ignores the damage from the bulk of the total inventory including longer-lived radionuclides (such as Plutonium 239, Caesium 137, Strontium 90, Americium 241, among others), some of which are more difficult to measure on ordinary and less sensitive Geiger counters and which have been distributed and continue to circulate across a wide area. It also ignores other organ diseases, unusual chronic illnesses and premature births and stillbirths, voluntary terminations and birth deformities occurring in and beyond Fukushima prefecture.

In addition to the control of relevant data, the government has used other methods to encourage residents to stay in radiation-contaminated areas. In May 2011, Dr Yamashita Shunichi, then co-director of Fukushima Medical University and the Fukushima Health Management Survey and a specialist from Nagasaki on radiation illness in Chernobyl, declared there was a 1 in 1 million chance of children getting any kind of cancer from radiation and there would be negligible health damage from radiation below 100 microSv/h, and prescribed smiling as an aid to living with radiation to a public audience in Fukushima.53

Dr Yamashita is only one among a host of politicians, bureaucrats, experts and advertising and media consultants who support the post-3.11 safety mantra of anshin (secure 安心), anzen (safe 安全), fukkō (recovery 復興). Through public meetings, media channels, education manuals and workshops,54 local citizens in Fukushima Prefecture were inundated with optimistic and reassuring messages, also known as ‘risk communication discourse’, and central and prefectural government-sponsored ‘health seminars’ encouraging a ‘practical radiation protection culture’ in which they have been urged to take responsibility (jiko sekinin 自己責任) for their own health (e.g. wearing glass badges, self-monitoring, avoiding hotspots), form bonds of solidarity (kizuna 絆) with their community and participate in the great reconstruction (fukkatsu 復活) for the revitalisation of a resilient nation (kyōjinka kokka 強靭化国家) as a whole. To counteract baseless rumours (ryūgen higo 流言蜚語) and the negative impact of gossip (fūhyō higai 風評被害) of radiation in contaminated Fukushima produce, citizens in and beyond Fukushima Prefecture, and even non-citizens, have been encouraged to buy and consume Fukushima produce as an expression of moral and economic support (through slogans such as ‘Ganbare Fukushima!’ がんばれ福島!). At the same time, to reduce ‘radiophobia’ and anxiety, while focusing on the psychological impact from stress, health risks from radiation exposures have been trivialised and/or normalised for the general public.55

This approach is backed up by international nuclear-related agencies. As stipulated on 28 May 1959 in the ‘WHA12-40’ agreement, the WHO is mandated to report all data on health effects from radiation exposures to the IAEA, which controls publication. On no other medical health issue is the WHO required to defer publication responsibilities to another institution. Scientific expertise at the IAEA primarily lies in nuclear physics (radiology and dosimetry) as opposed to epidemiology and medical expertise on radiation effects to living tissue. The IAEA and its related UN bodies are informed by the International Commission of Radiation Protection (ICRP) recommendations on radiation dose assessments derived from the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission/Radiation Exposure Research Foundation (ABCC/RERF) lifetime studies of hibakusha (被爆者) in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This dosimetry is primarily based on an average exposure of a 20–30-year-old ‘reference man’ (originally modelled on a US Army soldier) mainly to short-term one-off acute gamma radiation exposure. While it recommends caution, the ICRP continues to maintain that anything below 100 mSv/y is a ‘low dose’ and that the risk of ‘stochastic effects’ are yet to be scientifically proven beyond doubt. Within this framework, it would seem reasonable to raise the level from 1 to 20 mSv/y.

The ABCC/RERF studies ignored, however, biological contingencies of sex, age, constitution, other health conditions and the variegated effects (including complicating chemical and metabolic dynamics) from both internal and external exposures to different radionuclides of all types (‘low level’ internal radiation is at least 20 times greater). After Chernobyl, the WHO and IAEA used the ICRP dose model to conclude that there were up to 56 deaths of ‘liquidators’ (clean-up workers) from acute radiation sickness and 4,000 additional cancers;56 and that environmental effects such as lifestyle (i.e. parental alcoholism, smoking) and ‘radiophobia’ (stress and depression) contributed to excess illnesses in 80 per cent of adult cases. It also concluded that no harm would be received by the 2 million farmers and more than 500,000 children who continued living in radioactive areas in Belarus.

Nevertheless, it is no longer possible to ignore a significant body of research, including 20 years of scientific studies compiled in Belarus and Ukraine that show serious depopulation, ongoing illnesses and state decline.57 These studies have found genetic effects within a radius of 250–300 km from Chernobyl, while children’s health in Belarus has declined from a situation where 80 per cent of the child population was healthy prior to the Chernobyl disaster to a situation post-Chernobyl where only 20 per cent are healthy.58 In 1995, Professor Nechaev from the Ministry of Health and Medical Industry (Moscow) stated that 2.5 million people were irradiated from Chernobyl in the Russian Federation, the Ukrainian Prime Minister Marchuk stated that 3.1 million had been exposed to Chernobyl radiation and Professor Okeanov from Belarus observed a spike in leukaemia and cancers among liquidators in Gomel relative to duration of exposure.59 By 2001, of 800,000 healthy Russian and Ukrainian liquidators (with an average age of 33 years) sent to decontaminate, isolate and stabilise the reactor, 10 per cent had died and 30 per cent were disabled. By 2009, 120,000 liquidators had died, and an epidemic of chronic illness and genetic and perigenetic damage in nuclear workers’ descendants appeared (this is predicted to increase over subsequent generations).60 The full extent of the damage will not be understood until the fifth generation of descendants. By the mid-2000s, 985,000 additional deaths between 1986 and 2004 across Europe were estimated as a direct result from radiation exposure from Chernobyl.61

Given this background of regulatory capture and radical discrepancies in methods and estimates prior to the Fukushima disaster, it is less surprising that there may be a process of regulatory capture and cover up underway in response to Fukushima Daiichi. In December 2011, a Cabinet Office Working Group chaired by RERF chairman Nagataki Shigenobu consisted of 18 Japanese ICRP members (including Niwa Otsura and Yamashita Shunichi). The experts invited Mr Jacques Lochard to provide external expertise. Lochard is an economist, ICRP member, Director of the Center of Studies on the Evaluation of Protection in the Nuclear Field (CEPN) (funded by Electricité de France EDF), and co-director of the CORE-ETHOS Programme in Chernobyl (1996–1998).

The CORE (Cooperation and Rehabilitation in the Belarusian territories contaminated by Chernobyl) Programme organised a takeover of radioprotection health centres in Ukraine and Belarus, and delayed a health audit beyond five years while it produced the ETHOS report outlining a ‘sustainable system of post-radiological accident management for France and the European Union’.62 While local scientists (led by Yuri Bandazhevsky and Vassili Nesterenko) recommended whole body counts (WBC) for each child (in which 50,000 children would be tested with spectrometers), food measurement, dietary radioprotection (prophylaxis through adsorbents) and resettlement of those exposed to radiation over 1 mSv/y,63 the ETHOS manual concluded that in a similar radiological event in western Europe, resettlement would be restricted to those exposed to more than 100 mSv/y. By factoring in ‘social, economic and political’ costs, ETHOS proposed ways for populations to live with radiation, and identified psychosomatic illnesses derived from ‘stress’ based on unfounded fears (i.e. ‘radiophobia’) of radiation as the greatest health risk. After a prolonged delay, in 1996 the IAEA and WHO finally settled on 5 mSv/y as the mandatory evacuation limit in a compromise between the Soviet (1 mSv/y) and western European (100 mSv/y) recommendations after Chernobyl.64These agencies targeted ‘alarmist’ reports (including social protests) as encouraging ‘radiophobia’, stressing the psychological impacts of radiological events.

In post-3.11 Japan, the Japanese Cabinet Office Working Group65 reinforced the IAEA dosimetry regime by reiterating that cancers only emerge four to five years after exposure, that increases in cancers within this period could not be attributable to the accident,66 and that illnesses in people exposed to radiation below 100 mSv/y could be concealed by other carcinogenic effects and other factors (rendering them statistically negligible), and thus could not be proven to be radiation related. In fact, in July 2014, Nagataki Shigenobu declared that it would be ‘disastrous to conclude [from the survey findings] an increase in thyroid cancer’ was due to radiation exposure.67 Consequently, privileging a government study of the thyroid glands of 1,080 children in late March 2011 (a very small sample), Nagataki claimed that almost none had exceeded 50 mSv for internal exposure and that 99.8 per cent of the population in Fukushima Prefecture could be estimated to have received an external dose below 5 mSv. Nagataki dismissed the need for further medical screenings, regular check-ups or internal radiation tests (whole body counter, urine and blood tests) at hospitals and clinics in Fukushima Prefecture or elsewhere.

Instead, the government appears to have adopted the ETHOS model: ‘improving’ community life in radiation-contaminated areas through local education and support groups; encouraging proactive self-responsibility (i.e. self-monitoring with government monitors) for children and parents (including pregnant women); stamping out ‘stigma’ attached to ‘Fukushima’ residents, the area and its produce while stigmatising ‘radiophobia’; and encouraging evacuees’ return after and even prior to ‘decontamination’.68

By September 2015, an officially estimated 3,407 people (up from 3,194 the previous year) had died from ‘effects related to the great east Japan earthquake’ (Daishinsai kanren shi 大震災関連死).69 In March 2015, about 1,870 deaths of those who had evacuated due to the overall disaster were deemed to have been from ill-health and suicide. By March 2016, this had increased to 2,208 deaths, while 1,386 deaths were estimated to have been caused by effects related specifically to the nuclear disaster (genpatsu kanren shi).70 Further, a statistically significant 15 per cent drop in live births in Fukushima Prefecture in December 2011, and a 20 per cent spike in infant mortality were found to have been caused mainly by internal radiation from the consumption of contaminated food.71 Nor do statistics on abortions seem to have been factored into official accounts. As the statistics are so temporally specific, anxiety (disruption, evacuation) is unlikely to have been the major factor as the spikes would be more prolonged. It has also been extrapolated from the conservative UNSCEAR 2013 estimate of a 48,000 person Sv collective dose, that another 5,000 are expected to die from future cancers in Japan (and larger numbers to become ill).72 Using the Tondel model, however, the European Commission on Radiation Risk (ECRR), in contrast to the ICRP dose model, which estimates 2,838 excess cancers within 100 km radius over 50 years excluding internal radiation, estimated that 103,000 excess cancers within 100 km would be diagnosed within 10 years and 200,000 in the next 50 years.73

As with informal and formal nuclear workers, if these deaths were officially recognised as being tied to radiation from Fukushima Daiichi, then the family of the deceased as main income earner would be eligible for a 5 million yen ‘consolation’ payment (half for others). Further, it would also imply the need for stricter radiological protection standards and a greater number of permanent evacuations and official health treatment program that would effectively limit the so-called ‘benefits’ associated with nuclear power generation.74 In short, it is not surprising that the overwhelming emphasis in scientific studies and public reports has been placed on psychological impacts rather than disease and deaths (particularly but not limited to nuclear workers and children) and the argumentation over the significance of thyroid cancers. The same pattern occurred after Chernobyl and Three Mile Island……

Conditions for Residents of Post-3.11 Radiation-Affected Areas Japan

April 2, 2018

Informal Labour, Local Citizens and the Tokyo Electric Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Crisis: Responses to Neoliberal Disaster Management. ANU, Adam Broinowski, 7 Nov 17, “…..Conditions for Residents of Post-3.11 Radiation-Affected Areas

For roughly 30 years, the exclusion zone around Chernobyl has been set at 30 kilometres. Between 1 and 5 mSv/y is the assisted evacuation level and mandatory evacuation is 5 mSv/y and above. Unlike the approach adopted for Chernobyl, which was to achieve containment (a sarcophagus was built in eight months) and permanent resettlement of 350,000 people, the government and TEPCO have adopted a ‘dilution’ approach—to widely disperse and redistribute (‘share’) radioactive materials and waste and decontaminate residential areas. To date, this has permitted the permanent release through venting, dumping and incinerating of radioactive materials into the air, land, water and sea, and circulation in the food chain and recycled materials on a daily basis since March 2011.

Over the first few days at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, severity (International Nuclear Event Scale) levels were steadily raised from level 3 to level 5 to level 7, and the mandatory evacuation zone was gradually expanded from 10 to 30 kilometres. On 16 March 2011, readings in Aizu-Wakamatsu Middle School (100 kilometres from FDNPS) in Fukushima Prefecture returned 2.57 microSv/h (microsieverts per hour),27 and Kōriyama (60 kilometres) recordings returned 3.6–3.9 microSv/h. Inside people’s homes in Kōriyama, levels were between 1.5 and 2.0 microSv/h and 8.2 microSv/h in the downpipes.28 This data was made public only three months later. On 6 April, schools in Fukushima Prefecture were reopened. As the boundaries, legal limits and information were gradually altered, populations were urged to return to work. At the same time the legal safety level for mandatory evacuation for the public (radiation safety level 1972) was raised from 1 to 20 mSv/y,29 based on a cumulative 100 mSv dose averaged over five years, suddenly shifting the parameters for ‘low-level’ radiation and designating the general public with the level previously designated to nuclear workers.

The US Government advised a mandatory evacuation zone of 50 miles (80 kilometres). Several nations’ embassies in Tokyo evacuated their staff. Of roughly 2 million in Fukushima Prefecture, about 80,000 people from 11 municipalities were ordered to evacuate while another 80,000 evacuated voluntarily. By late 2015, about 118,862 remained evacuated.30 Sixty thousand of these people live in temporary housing and many lacked basic needs. There were many evacuees who sought public housing who have been turned away.31 There are additional evacuees affected by the earthquakes and tsunami who come from other prefectures (including parts of Miyagi and Ibaraki), some of whom were also affected by radiation exposure.

The situation in many villages within contaminated areas signifies how government policies have further exposed a wide range of people—farmers, shopkeepers, taxi drivers, factory workers, mothers (as reproductive workers), school students, local public servants—to conditions informal workers have long had to endure. In several cases (i.e. Iitate, Minami Soma, Namie), the notification of residents of radiation danger was delayed and potassium iodide pills were not distributed. Similarly, data on weather patterns and distribution gathered by the SPEEDI monitoring system32 was suppressed. These populations were not adequately informed of what the dose readings meant in terms of health risk. When people did seek measurement and treatment for their likely exposures, hospitals and other institutions with the requisite measuring technologies refused to measure them, as it was deemed ‘there was no reason for internal contamination and so there was no reason to measure’.33 These people unwittingly became hibakusha (被曝者), broadly defined as victims of radiation exposure.

Even though the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster has caused near-permanent pollution, the conflation of the radiation problem with tsunami and earthquake destruction to be managed as a single large-scale ‘clean-up’, reconstruction and revitalisation operation as instituted by the National Resilience Council 2013 has occluded the materiality of radiation.

Informal workers on ‘decontamination projects’ washed down public buildings and homes and scraped up and replaced soil and sludge contaminated at levels found for example at between 84,000–446,000 Becquerels per kilogram (Bq/kg) in Kōriyama (60 km from Fukushima Daiichi).34 They also collected waste that included radioactive debris, uniforms and tools. The organic waste is stored on government-purchased land in black industrial bags piled in large walls and mounds to create a sort of buffer zone on town margins and in areas determined as long-term irradiated zones.35 Other contaminated waste is burned in newly constructed incinerators in towns nearest the plant (such as Futaba, Okuma, Naraha, Tamura, Tomioka, with more planned) in addition to the incineration already underway in major cities since 3.11, even while evacuees are being compelled to return to some of them (Tamura, Kawauchi, Naraha) where evacuation orders have been lifted. In addition, in June 2016 the Ministry of the Environment approved radioactive soil of up to 8,000 Bq/kg to be reused in national public works. Although stipulated to be used for roads and barriers (such as sea walls) under a layer of non-contaminated materials, there is concern that these will corrode over time leading to recirculation in the environment.

As compensation schemes are contingent upon where evacuees come from (whether these are areas where there are plans to lift evacuation orders, areas pending decontamination in the shorter term, or those deemed difficult to return to), those mandatory evacuees without property have received on average 100,000 yen per month while voluntary evacuees have received 60,000 yen per month, even if radiation levels in their residential areas were high.

The return to towns that received over 50 mSv/y (Futaba, Namie, Okuma) remains unlikely for decades, but if evacuees do return to other villages, they risk lifetime re-exposures of up to 20 mSv/y. In late 2015, Iitate village, for example, was divided into Areas 1 and 2, which are being prepared for repopulation (54,000 people), and Area 3, which so far remains out of bounds. Although the topsoil contaminated with Caesium was stripped and replaced (i.e. returning 0.6 microSv/h) and its houses and roads were washed down, 96 per cent of Iitate remained at 1 microSv/h. As Iitate is 75 per cent forest, which trapped a large stock of contamination, the land re-concentrates through radiation circulation (hence, quickly returned to 2.6 microSv/h).36 If the majority in Iitate, who are primarily agricultural workers, can no longer harvest vegetables, rice, wild mushrooms and vegetables (sansai 山菜) or burn wood for heat, and their houses are re-irradiated, then only the semi-autonomous elderly are likely to return. By August 2015, less than 10 per cent of roughly 14,000 eligible had applied for temporary return.37

So-called ‘decontamination’ and ‘remediation’ has been deployed to justify redefining evacuation boundaries and lifting evacuation orders so as to cut compensation payments. Following the 37th National Emergency Response Headquarters meeting held at the Prime Minister’s Office in June 2015 in which the Prime Minister decreed that ‘evacuees must return to their hometowns as quickly as possible and start new lives’,38 in late August 2015 evacuees were told if they chose to return home they would receive a one-off payment of 100,000 yen per household. If they did not, once evacuation orders had been lifted, ‘free rent’ (yachin hojo 家賃補助) for voluntary evacuees would be cut by March 2017 at the very latest.39 Further, the government announced its intention to partially lift the restriction on the ‘difficult-to-return zone’ by 2022 so as to counteract the negative image of the area and its produce.40 Without alternative income, and with a significant housing shortage due to the restriction of new public housing, many have been and will be forced to return to contaminated areas, to endure radiation exposure without compensation. If only the elderly return, there will be few prospects for young families in such towns where there is little local business and infrastructure, and public facilities and housing are in disrepair.

In Naraha, between May and August 2015, ambient readings in populated areas officially determined as ‘low or moderate’ returned 0.3–0.7 microSv/h and soil samples returned 26,480–52,500 Bq/kg of Caesium 137 and 134 combined (and 18,700 Bq/kg in the town’s water reservoir).41 While the majority of former residents are more likely to either pull down their houses and sell the land or maintain their homes as vacationers, there is additional private and state pressure to industrialise these former idylls as ‘reconstruction hubs’. As part of the ‘Innovation Coast’ plan, for example, 1,000 irregular workers have resided on the town’s outskirts as they built a giant research facility (estimated cost: 85 billion yen) to train hundreds of workers in reactor simulations and use of specialised robots. As industry colonises and transforms such towns, the pressing concern of unmitigated radiation levels in soil, forests and water, whether from distribution or recirculation, remains due to the long-lived decay and harmful effects of these radionuclides.

Similarly, in the effort to stimulate business, highways (Route 6) and train lines (Jōban line) passing directly through the (former) evacuation zone were reopened in 2015, although traffic must still travel with closed windows at the time of writing. Regular users of these corridors such as railway and transport workers and irregular nuclear workers accumulate higher doses from regular exposure while radioactive particles attached to vehicles are dispersed beyond contaminated areas. Clearly, a containment and permanent resettlement approach has been deemed untenable in the belief it would disrupt economic productivity levels. As one high school student insightfully observed, ‘Sensei … If they [really wanted to turn] Fukushima into an evacuation zone they’d have to block the Route 4 highway, Tōhoku expressway and Shinkansen’.42 Nevertheless, in lieu of overall reconstruction costs less conservatively estimated at half a trillion dollars, it may have been cheaper in the longer term to adopt permanent resettlement, education, health treatment and work creation strategies……

Secret tragedy of Britain’s nuclear bomb tests – UK’s soldiers in the Pacific

March 31, 2018

ground crews who washed down planes that flew through the cloud soon began falling sick and low levels of radiation were detected all over Australia.

In 2007 it was found nuclear veterans had the same DNA damage as Chernobyl survivors.

Wives had three times the normal numbers of miscarriage and children 10 times more birth de­­­fects. 

The secrets behind Britain’s first atomic bomb – and the heartbreaking aftermath The detonation of the plutonium bomb in 1952 was hailed a national success, but many of the servicemen involved were left permanently damaged by the fallout BY SUSIE  BONIFACE, MIRROR UK, 6 OCT 2017 

A blinding flash, an eerie silence, and then the sky cracked.

The sound reached those wat­ching at the same time as the blast – a scorching 600mph wind carrying with it the long, grumbling roar of the worst weapon known to humankind.

It was 65 years ago this week – 9.30am local time on October 3, 1952 – that Britain detonated its first nuclear bomb .

Winston Churchill was jubilant, the scientists bursting with pride. But on a tiny island off Australia the cost of the radioactive fallout from Operation Hurricane had yet to be counted.

Many of the servicemen present that day went on to suffer heartbreaking consequences.

Royal Engineer Derek Hickman, now 84, was there. He says: “We had no pro­­tective clothing. You wore shorts and sandals and if you remembered your bush hat, that was all you had.” The blast took place on HMS Plym, an old frigate anchored 300 yards off Trimouille, one of the Monte Bello islands. Troops and scientists lived and worked for months on a small fleet that accompanied her on her final mission.

Derek remembers: “They ordered us to muster on deck – I was on HMS Zeebrugge – and turn our backs to the Plym. We put our hands over our eyes and they counted down over the Tannoy.

“There was a sharp flash and I could see the bones in my hands like an X-ray. Then the sound and the wind and they told us to turn and face it. We watched the mushroom cloud just melt away. They gave us five photos as a memento.

“All that was left of the Plym were a few pieces of metal that fell like rain and her outline scorched on the sea bed.”………

In 1951 Aus­­tralia agreed the blast could take place at Monte Bello.   ….

Thousands of UK and Aussie servicemen saw the mushroom cloud dis­­perse before dozens of planes flew through it to collect dust samples.

The press had been given a viewing tower 55 miles away. The Mirror announced: “This bang has changed the world”.

No official statement was made until October 23 when PM Churchill told the Commons: “All concerned are to be warmly congratulated on the successful outcome of an historic episode.”

But ground crews who washed down planes that flew through the cloud soon began falling sick and low levels of radiation were detected all over Australia.

James Stephenson, 85,remembers being given an unexplained posting to Aber­­­gavenny. The former Royal Engineers soldier says: “We went for train­­ing and they started weeding us out, re­­­moving lads they thought were Communist sympathisers or not up to it.

“Nobody told us what it was about. When we embarked in Portsmouth we had to load machinery ourselves, they wouldn’t let the dockers do it.”James left with the first wave of vessels in January 1952. They were fol­­lowed six months later by HMS Plym carrying the bomb.

Derek explains: “It was a plutonium bomb – the dirtiest. A few years later I went to the doctor and mention­­­ed Monte Bello.

“He asked if I was mar­­ried. I said ‘Yes’ and he replied ‘My advice is ne­­­­v­­­er have children’. He wouldn’t say why.”

It was a warning Derek, now living alone in Crediton, Devon, couldn’t ignore. He says: “My wife wanted children and in the end I walked away from the marriage.

“She never blamed me but it’s the worst thing I’ve ever done. Since then I’ve discovered my friends’ wives suffered many miscarriages and their children had deformities.

“It’s given me a small comfort that at least we avoided that.”

In 2007 it was found nuclear veterans had the same DNA damage as Chernobyl survivors.

Wives had three times the normal numbers of miscarriage and children 10 times more birth de­­­fects. James, from Taunton, Devon, had two healthy children. But he was lucky.

He says: “I know people whose children were born with organs outside their bodies. It made me worry about my grandchildren. Thank God they’re fine.”

Hurricane had an explosive yield of 25 kilotons – 15 kilotons had flattened Hiroshima and killed 126,000. But less than four weeks later the US detonated a hydrogen bomb 400 times more powerful than Hurricane.

The UK was back out in the cold and would not be accepted at the nuclear top table until 1958 when it finally developed its own H-bomb.

In all 22,000 servicemen took part in Britain’s nuclear tests which ended only in 1991. Derek and James are among the 2,000 or so who survive and are still coming to terms with the chain reaction unleashed at Monte Bello.

James says: “Nobody really knew what they were doing, not us or the scientists. It was just a job we had to do.”

The Monte Bello islands are now a wildlife park but visitors are warned not to stay for more than an hour or take home the fragments of metal that can still be found – radioactive pieces of a long-forgotten Royal Navy warship that unleashed a hurricane.

Thousands of UK and Aussie servicemen saw the mushroom cloud dis­­perse before dozens of planes flew through it to collect dust samples.

The press had been given a viewing tower 55 miles away. The Mirror announced: “This bang has changed the world”.

No official statement was made until October 23 when PM Churchill told the Commons: “All concerned are to be warmly congratulated on the successful outcome of an historic episode.”

But ground crews who washed down planes that flew through the cloud soon began falling sick and low levels of radiation were detected all over Australia.