Monday, 25 November 2013

Fukushima Nuclear Fallout Has Damaged the Thyroids of California Babies

A new study of the effects of tiny quantities of radioactive fallout from Fukushima on the health of babies born in California shows a significant excess of hypothyroidism caused by the radioactive contamination travelling 5,000 miles across the Pacific. The article will be published next week in the peer-reviewed journal Open Journal of Pediatrics.

 Congenital hypothyroidism is a rare but serious condition normally affecting about one child in 2,000, and one that demands clinical intervention – the growth of children suffering from the condition is affected if they are left untreated. All babies born in California are monitored at birth for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) levels in blood, since high levels indicate hypothyroidism.

Joe Mangano and Janette Sherman of the Radiation and Public Health Project in New York, and Christopher Busby, guest researcher at Jacobs University, Bremen, examined congenital hypothyroidism (CH) rates in newborns using data obtained from the State of California over the period of the Fukushima explosions.

Their results are published in their paper Changes in confirmed plus borderline cases of congenital hypothyroidism in California as a function of environmental fallout from the Fukushima nuclear meltdown. The researchers compared data for babies exposed to radioactive Iodine-131 and born between March 17th and Dec 31st 2011 with unexposed babies born in 2011 before the exposures plus those born in 2012.

Confirmed cases of hypothyroidism, defined as those with TSH level greater than 29 units increased by 21% in the group of babies that were exposed to excess radioactive Iodine in the womb [*]. The same group of children had a 27% increase in ‘borderline cases’ [**].
Contrary to many reports, the explosion of the reactors and spent fuel pools at Fukushima produced levels of radioactive contamination which were comparable with the Chernobyl releases in 1986.

Using estimates made by the Norwegian Air Laboratory it is possible to estimate that more than 250PBq (200 x 1015) Bq of Iodine-131 (half life 8 days) were released at Fukushima.

This is also predicted by comparing the Caesium-137 estimates with I-131 releases from Chernobyl, quantities which caused the thyroid cancer epidemic in Byelarus, the Ukraine and parts of the Russian Republic.

The Fukushima catastrophe has been dismissed as a potential cause of health effects even in Japan, let alone as far away as California. And on what basis? Because the “dose” is too low.

This is the mantra chanted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the World Health Organization (WHO, largely the same outfit), and the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR). And let’s not forget all the nuclear scientists who swooped down on Fukushima with their International Conferences and placatory soothing presentations.

This chant was heard after Chernobyl, after the nuclear site child leukemias; in the nuclear atmospheric test veterans cases; and in all the other clear situations which in any unbiased scientific arena would long ago have blown away the belief that low level internal exposures are safe.

But this one-size-fits-all concept of “dose” is the nuclear industry’s sinking ship. It provides essential cover for the use of uranium weapons, whether fission bombs or depleted uranium munitions; for the development of nuclear power stations like Hinkley Point; the burying of radioactive waste in landfills in middle England; releases of plutonium to the Irish Sea from Sellafield (where it drifts ashore and causes increases in cancer on the coasts of Wales and Ireland); and most recently, for the British Governments denial of excess cancers among nuclear test veterans.

If the earth suffers some kind of calamity, such as a large meteor strike into the ocean creating tsunamis, or the eruption of a supervolcano or some sort of contagion that causes either large loss of life globally or large scale destruction THEN many of the hundreds of nuclear reactors and spent fuel rods will lose their human components leading to MANY Fukushima/Chernobyl type events.

The present set of life forms on the surface of the Earth, and in the sea, will be in mortal danger for many years- perhaps decades or more- with various highly contaminated zones unliveable for centuries.

The quicker we replace the present nuclear reactors with either thorium reactors or renewables the better for our civilisation.

[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, November 25th, 2013.]


steven andresen said...


It's my understanding that the planet existed for over a billion years, at least, before there was life on it.

I suspect one reason for this was the presence in the environment of radioactive elements, like the particles that are being discharged into the environment now by Fukashima. Life was only possible after enough time passed for the radioactive elements to be adequately sequestered withing other substances.

The discharge of radioactive elements, and the potential danger of the refined radioactive elements in all our nuclear power plants can be a problem for more than just a few hundred years.


SpookyOne said...


Yes, uranium and plutonium will be a problem for considerable amounts of time.

My hope is that these elements are only scattered in areas close to the reactors.

Fission products such as strontium and caesium have much shorter half lives that mean they will decay away until they pose little threat after a period of perhaps 600 years. These types of contamination are dispersed over a large area.

Also, in a shorter period of time, they might become buried where they can cause little harm. If dead sea life falls to the bottom of the ocean then it'll be buried in the sea floor.

We should be okay so long as we don't get too much longer lasting contaminants spread throughout areas of the world - like Depleted Uranium dust from munitions used in the Middle East.