Fukushima’s Real Threat: Undue Fear

The Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Reactor 1 to 4 from right to left.

The Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Reactor 1 to 4 from right to left.

Our reaction to the crisis in Fukushima Daiichi has been and continues to be generally irrational.  Contrary to the assertions of some recent sensationalistic articles, there is no evident increase in thyroid health problems in Japanese children living in and around the Prefectures of Fukushima, and it is unlikely that there ever will be (UN Report; Nuclear News; J. of Am. Phys. and Surg.; CBCnews; Hiroshima Syndrome; National GeographicAsahi Shimbun).   This is because the only cause of thyroid risk during a nuclear disaster, iodine-131 which has a half-life of 8 days, was allowed to decay during evacuation and with restrictions on food and milk from the area.  After 80–90 days had passed, released radioactive iodine-131 decays to less than 0.1% of its initial quantity, and therefore the danger is essentially over.  (These precautions were not well followed near Chernobyl and thus resulted in many health problems in future years for the people of Ukraine.)

In fact, it has repeatedly been shown that the worst health effects from Fukushima have come not from any radioactive exposure, but from the the stress of evacuations and fear of radiation itself (Gaji 2013; Japan Daily Press; WHO Report; NYTimes).  “The psychological stress…we should never underestimate that…it’s really what the big problem is, because there’s a lot of fear which might actually cause health effects,” says Kai Vetter of UC Berkley nuclear engineering department.  In fact, not one person has yet died from exposure to Fukushima’s radiation, and it’s likely that no one ever will.

In a closely related issue, our current EPA guidelines have an absurdly low threshold for radiation exposure.  The EPA currently holds that an acceptable level of radiation is between 4 and 25 millirems per year: anything above that is considered a threat to the public.  However unless you are living in a boat out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, you’re getting a radiation dose between 200 and 1,000 mrem/year in the United States from background sources such as rock, dirt, potatoes and cosmic rays.  These guidelines stem from an era where any level of radiation was considered dangerous to human health.  Our understanding of natural and unavoidable background radiation has since been refined.  Fortunately the EPA is planning to revise its guidelines to 5,000 mrem/year as a basis for evacuation, which is still quite a conservative threshold for the danger to human health from radiation.

Kowality Jesus

Kowality Jesus

One of the coolest people within a radius of 100 yards.A recent Catholic convert, but longtime witness and believer.
Kowality Jesus

18 Comments on "Fukushima’s Real Threat: Undue Fear"

  1. chaotictitan | Jul 23, 2014 at 9:52 am |

    your a disinfo shill and this entire article is bullshit trying to support the cover up of the greatest disaster in human history

    • kowalityjesus | Jul 24, 2014 at 8:18 am |

      Where the FUCK to get off calling Fukushima the greatest disaster in human history? Do you work for Big Oil?

  2. I just noticed, the “cool people” tag links to all of Kowality’s articles.

    • kowalityjesus | Jul 24, 2014 at 8:23 am |

      hahahaha, it’s me trying to prevent myself from taking myself too seriously. But seriously people, follow the links. Fukushima is spectacularly overblown in the conspiracy community. Talk to any nuclear engineer. We get significantly more radiation from a coast to coast flight than we ever will from Fukushima. I swear it is disinfo from fossil fuel companies.

  3. Here’s a link to info regarding just how much radiation is harmful and how much is not. The comments also make some good points and include a link to a map of live radiation readings in Japan.

    http://www.blacksmithinstitute.org/blog/radiation-101-what-is-it-how-much-is-dangerous-and-how-does-fukushima-compare-to-chernobyl/

  4. And the air in NYC after 9/11 was perfectly safe. Breath deeply everyone. Nothing to see, move along now. These aren’t the droids we’re looking for.

  5. Oh?
    “Japan Nuclear Prof.: Fukushima plant now a ‘swamp of radioactive
    material’ — Can’t stop pumping in more water because they don’t know
    where melted fuel went — Build roof over entire site? — Asahi: Continued
    presence of water threatens construction of ice wall around reactors”: http://enenews.com/japan-nuclear-prof-fukushima-plant-is-now-a-swamp-of-radioactive-material-cant-stop-pumping-in-more-water-because-tepco-doesnt-know-where-melted-fuel-went-build-roof-over-entire-site-t

    “Professor: Fukushima scaring ‘bejesus’ out of everybody in world…
    still flowing in ocean, radiation levels unknown — Clearly detectable in
    tuna at California coast… We focus a lot on bio-accumulation — Japan:
    Reactor leaks “may have gathered as a lump and drifted offshore, we need
    to continue monitoring it”: http://enenews.com/professor-fukushima-scaring-bejesus-out-of-everybody-in-the-world-still-leaking-into-ocean-and-we-dont-know-radiation-levels-clearly-detectable-in-tuna-at-california-coast-we-focus

    Radioactive Bluefin Tuna: Japan Nuclear Plant Contaminated Fish Found Off California Coast 5/28/2012: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/28/radioactive-bluefin-tuna-japan-fukushima-california_n_1551431.html?view=screen

    Fukushima Fish With 2,500 Times The Radiation Limit Found Two Years After Nuclear Disaster 1/23/2013: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/23/fukushima-fish-2500-times-radiation-limit-nuclear-disaster_n_2536775.html?utm_hp_ref=green

    Unsafe at Any Exposure 3/28/2011: http://www.otherwords.org/articles/unsafe_at_any_exposure

    • kowalityjesus | Jul 24, 2014 at 9:39 am |

      Radiation is a confusing subject for a lot of people. Here’s a nice tool you can use to decode the numbers from what people are talking about!! http://www.easysurf.cc/cnver24.htm

      In response to “Unsafe at Any Exposure:”
      The man refers to 100millisieverts as increasing by 1% one’s chance of getting cancer. But he continues by saying that an “increase” of 10millisieverts increases one’s chance of getting cancer by 0.1%…but 10millisieverts is an extremely small dose you can expect to obtain from rocks, potatoes and cosmic rays. This is a dose that humanity has evolved and therefore humans have biological mechanisms to deal with. If you tell people at this dose that they are going to get sick from a 0.1% increase in their radiation exposure, placebo effect will count for literally ALL of their increase of health problems.

      Estimating risk is WAY more complicated than “it all is bad.”

      Read the EPA website about estimating risk from radiation exposure. http://www.epa.gov/rpdweb00/understand/risk.html

      “There is no firm basis for setting a “safe” level of exposure above background for stochastic effects. Many sources emit radiation that is well below natural background levels. This makes it extremely difficult to isolate its stochastic effects. In setting limits, EPA makes the conservative (cautious) assumption that any increase in radiation exposure is accompanied by an increased risk of stochastic effects. Some scientists assert that low levels of radiation are beneficial to health (this idea is known as hormesis).”

      Yes I agree there are still dangerous levels of radiation within and to a certain degree around the Fukushima Daiichi facility, but these problems are localized. NO ONE has died from radiation from Fukushima, people being scared about radiation and stressed from being evacuated creates many more health problems than the marginal radiation exposure.

  6. wfzlsster | Jul 23, 2014 at 12:34 pm |

    This article is complete nonsense.

  7. Echar Lailoken | Jul 23, 2014 at 3:00 pm |

    This feels like the nuclear version of ‘drink your Ovaltine’. Where’s the decoder ring? Does it glow?

  8. Wow! I almost soiled myself reading something so sensible here.

  9. BuzzCoastin | Jul 23, 2014 at 8:16 pm |

    write a follow-up article once you’ve lived tbere for a year
    share with us your experience with acceptable levels of radiation
    let us know if the veggies grow bigger or glow in the dark
    I’m sure you’ll find a Fuckashima resident willing to trade places

  10. Echar Lailoken | Jul 24, 2014 at 12:56 am |

    This one didn’t go over so well on facebook.

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