Japanese Nuclear Meltdown Means Detrimental Health Effects Worldwide


Marco Torres
Prevent Disease
March 14, 2011

After repeated denials by the Japanese Government insisting that radiation leakage from their nuclear power plants was a non-issue, recent video and reported evidence confirms the horrific truth. Japan is now preparing for the worst case scenario evacuating hundreds of thousands of people. The radioactive release may soon reach Canada and the United States and exposure may last months. Recent media reports have downplayed the seriousness of Japan’s quake-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex on Monday, stating that it “is unlikely to have led to a large escape of radioactivity,” the Japanese government said.

Prior to the an explosion on Saturday, the media reported the radiation level were 1000 times higher than the permissible level.

Some videos have now clearly shown the full scale of the explosion which is “unlikely” to have cause anything but a major release of radioactive uranium into the atmosphere. The radiation plume will eventually travel thousands of miles towards Canada and the United States and then circulating the planet.

“It is obvious the Japanese are attempting to cover up the deadly seriousness of events unfolding in their country,” reported Prisonplanet.com.

As a result of alternative video reports and journalists, the Japanese government is now changing their story, admitting over 300,000 people evacuated and possibly tens of thousands dead.

About 2,000 bodies were found on Monday on two shores of Miyagi prefecture in northeast Japan.

According to the Washington Post, Workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant did not find a way to stabilize overheated reactors and feared the possibility of partial nuclear meltdown, which could potentially cause a further release of radioactive material, Japan’s top government spokesman said Sunday. Engineers were having trouble, in particular, with two units at the nuclear facility.

The emergency flooding of two stricken reactors with seawater and the resulting steam releases were a desperate step intended to avoid a much bigger problem: a full meltdown of the nuclear cores in two reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. On Monday, an explosion blew the roof off the second reactor, not damaging the core, officials said, but presumably leaking more radiation.

So far, Japanese officials have said the melting of the nuclear cores in the two plants is assumed to be “partial,” and the amount of radioactivity measured outside the plants, though twice the level Japan considers safe, has been relatively modest.

According to most recent information, the breakdown occurred because of the complete loss of electric supplies as a result of the earthquake. The cooling system in the reactor zone went out of order, and the reactor began to heat up.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said officials were acting on the assumption that a meltdown could be underway at Fukushima Daiichi’s unit 3, and that it was “highly possible” a meltdown was underway at its unit 1 reactor, where an explosion destroyed a building a day earlier.

Health Effects

Authorities made preparations to distribute potassium iodide pills and warned people in the vicinity to stay inside and cover their mouths if they ventured outdoors.

Radiation poisoning is a form of damage to organ and other tissues caused by excessive exposure to ionizing radiation. Radiation exposure can increase the probability of developing several diseases, mainly cancer, tumours, and genetic damage. It is generally associated with acute (a single large) exposure such as that being released from a nuclear meltdown.

The amount of radiation exposure is usually expressed in a unit called millirem (mrem). Radiation doses of more than 5000 mrem/year are considered unsafe, regardless of source. In the United States, the average person is exposed to an effective dose equivalent of approximately 360 mrem (whole-body exposure) per year from all sources.

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A radiation dose calculator can approximate values and general averages for typical annual radiaiton exposure. Nuclear technology expert Brad McCarthy stated that “exposure from a nuclear meltdown could fall between 100,000 to 1,000,000 mrem which could cause severe radiation sickness to the people in Japan with increasing likelihood of fatality.”

Is Radioactive Poison Prevention Possible?

In a nutshell, not really. There is no current method available to adequately prevent exposure to radiation from being absorbed in the human body.

Supplements such as kelp and potassium iodide do have a preventative effect on the thyroid, but they don’t prevent exposure to other body organs and tissues. They cannot prevent radioactive iodine from entering the body.

Iodine in kelp is naturally in the form of potassium iodide. However, potassium iodine is not very soluble in water and may be difficult for your body to easily use. Potassium iodide has actually been shown to congest the thyroid gland when taken in high doses and is how Hashimotos thyroiditis was first discovered in Japanese citizens consuming too many sea vegetables.

How Does Potassium Iodide Work?

Potassium iodide (also called KI) is a salt of stable (not radioactive) iodine. Stable iodine is an important chemical needed by the body to make thyroid hormones. Most of the stable iodine in our bodies comes from the food we eat. KI is stable iodine in a medicine form.

Following a radiological or nuclear event, radioactive iodine may be released into the air and then be breathed into the lungs. Radioactive iodine may also contaminate the local food supply and get into the body through food or through drink. When radioactive materials get into the body through breathing, eating, or drinking, we say that “internal contamination” has occurred. In the case of internal contamination with radioactive iodine, the thyroid gland quickly absorbs this chemical. Radioactive iodine absorbed by the thyroid can then injure the gland. Because non-radioactive KI acts to block radioactive iodine from being taken into the thyroid gland, it can help protect this gland from injury.

KI cannot reverse the health effects caused by radioactive iodine once damage to the thyroid has occurred. It cannot protect the body from radioactive elements other than radioactive iodine—if radioactive iodine is not present, taking KI is not protective.

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Iodized table salt also contains iodine; iodized table salt contains enough iodine to keep most people healthy under normal conditions. However, table salt does not contain enough iodine to block radioactive iodine from getting into your thyroid gland. You should not use table salt as a substitute for KI.

Knowing that KI may not give a person 100% protection against radioactive iodine is important. How well KI blocks radioactive iodine depends on

  • how much time passes between contamination with radioactive iodine and the taking of KI (the sooner a person takes KI, the better),
  • how fast KI is absorbed into the blood, and
  • the total amount of radioactive iodine to which a person is exposed.

The thyroid glands of a fetus and of an infant are most at risk of injury from radioactive iodine. Young children and people with low stores of iodine in their thyroid are also at risk of thyroid injury.

Please review the CDC fact sheet for more information on KI.

Sources:
wikipedia.org
marketwatch.com
reuters.com
pravda.ru
washingtonpost.com
bt.cdc.gov

Marco Torres
is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.


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