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Medical journal article: 14,000 U.S. deaths tied to Fukushima reactor disaster fallout

December 22, 2011

Impact seen as roughly comparable to radiation-related deaths after Chernobyl; infants are hardest hit, with continuing research showing even higher possible death count

Dec. 19 press conference on the release of the study

The Fukushima plume begins its journey to the U.S. and around the world. Another plume, this one created by tons of radioactively contaminated water, is making its way across the Pacific Ocean. – Photo: Getty Images
Washington, PRNewswire-USNewswire – An estimated 14,000 excess deaths in the United States are linked to the radioactive fallout from the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear reactors in Japan, according to a major new article in the December 2011 edition of the International Journal of Health Services. This is the first peer-reviewed study published in a medical journal documenting the health hazards of Fukushima.

Authors Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman note that their estimate of 14,000 excess U.S. deaths in the 14 weeks after the Fukushima meltdowns is comparable to the 16,500 excess deaths in the 17 weeks after the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986. The rise in reported deaths after Fukushima was largest among U.S. infants under age one. The 2010-2011 increase for infant deaths in the spring was 1.8 percent, compared to a decrease of 8.37 percent in the preceding 14 weeks.

The IJHS article is available online at http://www.radiation.org.

Just six days after the disastrous meltdowns struck four reactors at Fukushima on March 11, scientists detected the plume of toxic fallout had arrived over American shores. Subsequent measurements by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found levels of radiation in air, water and milk hundreds of times above normal across the U.S. The highest detected levels of Iodine-131 in precipitation in the U.S. were as follows (normal is about 2 picocuries I-131 per liter of water): Boise, Idaho, 390; Kansas City 200; Salt Lake City 190; Jacksonville, Fla., 150; Olympia, Wash., 125; and Boston, Mass., 92.

Just six days after the disastrous meltdowns struck four reactors at Fukushima on March 11, scientists detected the plume of toxic fallout had arrived over American shores.

Epidemiologist Joseph Mangano, MPH MBA, said: “This study of Fukushima health hazards is the first to be published in a scientific journal. It raises concerns and strongly suggests that health studies continue, to understand the true impact of Fukushima in Japan and around the world. Findings are important to the current debate on whether to build new reactors and how long to keep aging ones in operation.”

Mangano is executive director of the Radiation and Public Health Project and the author of 27 peer-reviewed medical journal articles and letters.

Findings are important to the current debate on whether to build new reactors and how long to keep aging ones in operation.

Internist and toxicologist Janette Sherman, MD, said: “Based on our continuing research, the actual death count here may be as high as 18,000, with influenza and pneumonia, which were up five-fold in the period in question as a cause of death. Deaths are seen across all ages, but we continue to find that infants are hardest hit because their tissues are rapidly multiplying, they have undeveloped immune systems, and the doses of radioisotopes are proportionally greater than for adults.”

Dr. Sherman is an adjunct professor, Western Michigan University, and contributing editor of “Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment” published by the New York Academy of Sciences in 2009, and author of “Chemical Exposure and Disease and Life’s Delicate Balance: Causes and Prevention of Breast Cancer.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issues weekly reports on numbers of deaths for 122 U.S. cities with a population over 100,000, or about 25-30 percent of the U.S. In the 14 weeks after Fukushima fallout arrived in the U.S. – March 20 to June 25 – deaths reported to the CDC rose 4.46 percent from the same period in 2010, compared to just 2.34 percent in the 14 weeks prior. Estimated excess deaths during this period for the entire U.S. are about 14,000.

Joseph Mangano, Janette Sherman and the International Journal of Health Services were the sources for this article. Dr. Sherman can be reached at toxdoc.js@verizon.net. For more information, visit http://www.radiation.org.

Fukushima plume sickens and kills in U.S. and beyond

by Janette Sherman, MD

A plume can be seen rising from the burning Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in this satellite image taken on March 14. – Photo: Digital Globe/Reuters
This report, “An Unexpected Mortality Increase in the United States Follows Arrival of the Radioactive Plume from Fukushima: Is There a Correlation?” published in the International Journal of Health Sciences Dec. 19, is not new science, but confirms research done over the decades as to adverse effects caused by radioisotopes to the unborn and the very young because of their rapidly developing cells, immature immunological systems and relatively small weight.

As background, in the 1950s, I worked for the Atomic Energy Commission – the forerunner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission – at the Radiation Laboratory, University of California in Berkeley, and the U.S. Navy Radiation Laboratory at Hunters Point in San Francisco. Nearly 60 years ago, we learned that radiation could damage animals and plants and cause cancer, genetic damage and other problems.

The issue of the danger from nuclear power plants is not just the engineering, but biology and chemistry. We have understood for decades where and how radioisotopes interact with life systems.

Nearly 60 years ago, we learned that radiation could damage animals and plants and cause cancer, genetic damage and other problems. The issue of the danger from nuclear power plants is not just the engineering, but biology and chemistry.

Cesium-137 and Strontium-90 have half-lives of approximately 30 years. It takes 10 half-lives for an isotope to fully decay; thus it will take 300 years – or three centuries – before radioactive cesium and strontium will be gone.

Cs-134, Cs-137 and Sr-90 continue to be released from Fukushima in tons of contaminated water that is making its way across the Pacific Ocean. Cesium concentrates in soft tissue, strontium in bones and teeth of the unborn and young.

Immediately after Chernobyl the level of thyroid disease increased. Given the large amounts of radioactive iodine (I-131) released from Fukushima, thyroid disease will develop in those exposed in Japan, as well as in those exposed to lesser amounts throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Public health officials need to anticipate and prepare for these findings.

The highest levels of I-131 measured by EPA in precipitation varied from a high of 390 picoCuries (pCi) in Boise to 92 in Boston, with intermediate levels in Kansas City, Salt Lake City, Jacksonville and Olympia, Wash. Normal is at 2 pCi.

Not every system was evaluated after Chernobyl, but of those that were – wild and domestic animals, birds, fish, plants, fungi, bacteria, viruses, even humans – were altered by the radiation, often for generations.

Birds in the 30-kilometer “exclusion zone” of Chernobyl display small brain size, alterations of normal coloration, poor survival of offspring and poor adaptability to stress.

Recent independent studies conducted in Scandinavia show a decline on academic performance in children exposed during the Chernobyl fallout. Eighty percent of children in Belarus are considered unwell by government standards.

Birds in the 30-kilometer “exclusion zone” of Chernobyl display small brain size, alterations of normal coloration, poor survival of offspring and poor adaptability to stress. Eighty percent of children in Belarus are considered unwell.

Unless the earth stops turning and the laws of biology, chemistry and physics are rescinded, we will continue to see sickness and harm spread to the children of Fukushima, the same that occurred after Chernobyl. We ignore history at our peril.

More information is available at www.radiation.org and www.janettesherman.com.

Janette D. Sherman, M.D., is a physician and toxicologist, specializing in chemicals and nuclear radiation that cause cancer and birth defects. The author of “Chemical Exposure” and “Life’s Delicate Balance: Causes and Prevention of Breast Cancer,” she has worked in radiation and biologic research at the University of California nuclear facility and at the U.S. Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory at the Hunters Point Shipyard in San Francisco. From 1976-1982, she served on the advisory board for the EPA Toxic Substances Control Act. Throughout her career, she has served as a medical-legal expert witness for thousands of individuals harmed by exposure to toxic agents. Dr. Sherman’s primary interest is the prevention of illness through public education and patient awareness. She can be reached at www.janettesherman.com. Dr. Sherman is contributing editor of “Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment,” published by the New York Academy of Sciences and originally priced at $150. She has expanded and republished that landmark study to make it widely accessible for only $10 from Greko Printing; email orders@grekoprinting.com.

 

3 thoughts on “Medical journal article: 14,000 U.S. deaths tied to Fukushima reactor disaster fallout

  1. Lantzelot

    Why the picture to the article? A newspaper that does not scrutinize its sources better than this is of course also falling for the nonsense by Sherman and Mangano.

    Reply
  2. Jay

    The typical reader of this article will come away thinking, well what the heck is the big deal, the atmosphere is so vast, and the sea is so huge, etc. The problem of radiation is not only the direct exposure to radioactive fallout particles, but also something that seems to be entirely unmentioned in this article–the very basic concept of bioaccumulation of toxins in the food chain. There is no mention of the food chain in this article, as if the entire concept of the food chain has been censored from Newspeak.. Okay: We are apex predators. Human beings are at the top of the food chain worldwide. We eat other things that are apex predators in their own environment, such as salmon and other ocean fish. This is a very primary concern when looking at Fukushima and Chernobyl and other major radioactive disasters. People reading the article would not get this concept at all. "Food Chain" and "bioaccumulation" and "apex predator" are concepts that must be clarified to the general reader on this subject before we all end up too mutated to form a rational thought.

    Reply

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