Fukushima Disaster: New Radiation Spikes and Long Term Health Effects

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Fukushima1 Nuclear Power Plant continues to leak toxic chemicals into the water. Image by PM3

Fukushima1 Nuclear Power Plant continues to leak toxic chemicals into the water. Image by PM3

Radiation spikes from the ongoing leaks at the Fukushima nuclear plant ravaged by the 2011 earthquake – how big of a health risk is the increase in radiation?

The Japanese nuclear watchdog, Nuclear Regulation Authority, has raised the rating to describe the incident from a level one “an anomaly” to a  level three “serious incident,” on the international scale of one to seven for radiation release.

On March 11, 2011 an earthquake caused a tsunami and struck the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, causing damages to the plant and the release of radioactive materials. This event has been the largest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl of 1986 – and it maybe bigger than officials have led the public to believe.

Toxic Chemicals Leaking From Fukushima: Tokyo Electric Power Company

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has been dealing with a series of leaks at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and detected radiation levels at 2,200 millisieverts near the tanks on Tuesday, September 3, 2013, according to CNN News. This level has increased since Saturday, August 31, 2013 when it tested at  1,800 millisieverts.

According to CNN these levels are enough to kill an unprotected person within hours; however, TEPCO is saying that it is easy to shield against this type of radiation.

According to Nuclear Scientist Judy Haar, the water leaking from Fukushima contains multiple toxins, but the two main elements of concern are strontium-90 and cesium-137. Strontium-90 gets into our bodies through dust, eating, and inhaling and about 20 to 30 percent of it is absorbed in our bones, which has the potential to cause bone cancer. Judy Haar explains that cesium-137, which is hard to clean up,  is dangerous because it is absorbed in our muscles.

According to the Delaware Health and Social Services, cesium-137 in large doses can cause hair loss, skin burns, nausea, gastrointestional distress, an increase in cancer, and even death.

WHO Report on Fukushima

International experts at the World Health Organization (WHO) have conducted a comprehensive assessment to assess the health effects related to the disaster. The report, “Health Risk Assessment from the nuclear accident after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami based on preliminary dose estimation” examined the health effects of those closest to the plant, the power plant workers, the people in Japan, and those around the world.

The report states,

“The primary concern identified in this report is related to specific cancer risks linked to particular locations and demographic factors,” says Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director for Public Health and Environment. “A breakdown of data, based on age, gender and proximity to the nuclear plant, does show a higher cancer risk for those located in the most contaminated parts. Outside these parts – even in locations inside Fukushima Prefecture – no observable increases in cancer incidence are expected.”

Click to Read Page Two: What’s the Risk? 

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