Fukushima Health Concerns
Fukushima Power Plant
EMF Protection Devices
Magnetic Field Detector
Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011
As efforts to end the nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric
Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant drag on, it
is important for the central and local governments to step
up their efforts to closely examine the health conditions of
people concerned and to decontaminate areas contaminated by
The people who have been most affected by radiation from the
Fukushima plant are workers, both from Tepco and from
subcontractors, who have been trying to bring the
radiation-leaking plant under control. In the nation's
history, these workers rank second only to the victims of
the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in terms of
their exposure to radiation, therefore the possibility
cannot be ruled out that they will develop cancer. Tepco and
the central government must do their best to prevent
workers' overexposure to radiation and take necessary
measures should workers become overexposed to radiation.
It is of great concern that little has been disclosed
regarding the conditions of the workers at the Fukushima No.
1 nuclear power plant. Tepco and the central government
should disseminate information on the actual working
conditions of these people, even if such information seems
repetitious and includes what they regard as minor
incidents. People are forgetful. They need to be informed.
Such information will help raise people's awareness about
the issue of radiation and its impact on health.
It must not be forgotten that exposure to radiation has
long-term effects on human health. In the Hiroshima and
Nagasaki atomic bombings, the number of leukemia cases
started to increase among bombing survivors two years after
the bombs were dropped. In the case of the 1986 Chernobyl
accident, thyroid cancer began to appear among children
several years after the disaster happened. Particular
attention should be paid to the health of children.
In view of these facts, it is logical that the Fukushima
prefectural government has developed a program to monitor
the health of all residents in the prefecture, who number
about 2 million, throughout their lifetime. It has also
started examining the thyroids of some 360,000 children who
are age 18 or younger. Detailed and long-term area-by-area
studies should be carried out to record cancer incidences.
In August, the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan estimated
that the Fukushima accidents released a total of 570,000
terabecquerels of radioactive substances, including some
11,000 terabecquerels of radioactive cesium 137.
But a preliminary report issued in late October, whose chief
writer is Mr. Andreas Stohl of the Norwegian Institute for
Air Research, estimates that the accidents released about
36,000 terabecquerels of radioactive cesium 137 from their
start through April 20. It is more than three times the
estimate by Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission and 42 percent
of the estimated release from Chernobyl.
On the basis of measurements by a worldwide network of
sensors, the report says that 19 percent of the released
cesium 137 fell on land in Japan while most of the rest fell
into the Pacific Ocean. It holds the view that a large
amount of radioactive substances was released from the spent
nuclear fuel pool of the No. 4 reactor, pointing out that
the amount of radioactive emissions dropped suddenly when
workers started spraying water on the pool.
The report reinforces the advice that local residents in
Fukushima Prefecture should try to remember and document in
detail their actions for the first two weeks of the nuclear
disaster. This will be helpful in estimating the level of
their exposure to radiation. But it must be remembered that
sensitivity to radiation differs from person to person. It
may be helpful for individuals to carry radiation dosimeters
to measure their exposure to radioactive substances.
As for internal radiation exposure from food and drink, the
Food Safety Commission on Oct. 27 said that a cumulative
dose of 100 millisieverts or more in one's lifetime can
cause health risks. But when it had mentioned the limit of
100 millisieverts in July, it explained that the limit
covered both external and internal radiation exposure. Its
new announcement means that the government has not set the
limit for external radiation exposure. It also failed to
clarify whether the new dose limit is safe enough for
children and pregnant women.
The day after the commission's announcement, health minister
Yoko Komiyama said the government will lower the allowable
amount of radiation in food from the current 5 millisieverts
per year to 1 millisieverts per year. The new standard will
be applied to food products shipped in and after April 2012.
The government will set the amount of allowable radioactive
substances for each food item. The health ministry estimates
that at present, internal radiation exposure among various
age groups from food in the wake of the Fukushima No. 1
accidents is about 0.1 millisieverts per year on the average
and that if the new standard is enforced, the lifetime
radiation dose will not exceed 100 millisieverts.
It is important for the central and local governments to
establish a system to closely measure both outdoor radiation
levels and radiation levels in food products and to take
necessary measures. In areas near Fukushima No. 1 power
plant, many hospitals' functions have weakened because
doctors and nurses have left. Urgent efforts must be made to
beef up medical staffing at these hospitals.