January 8, 2014
When Japanese Professor Toshihide Tsuda of Okayama University sat down with leaders from the Japanese Ministry of the Environment, talk about citywide evacuation near the Fukushima nuclear breakdown site began. Deeply concerned about rising thyroid cancer rates in Japanese children, these leaders believe that it’s time to evacuate the city of Koriyama.
When the two spoke to Japanese government officials, their concerns were downplayed.
The Japanese government remains reluctant to evacuate the city, not wanting to scare citizens, but Professor Tsuda has begun urging residents to evacuate Koriyama anyway.
The epidemiology professor reports, “An incident rate of thyroid cancer on children in Fukushima are from several times to dozens times higher than usual. This is a rash of disease. There is a possibility [it will] increase more in [the] future and we need a countermeasure.”
A Japanese judiciary, the Sendai High Court, agrees and “acknowledges a danger of low-level radiation exposure,” and it concludes that the only solution is to evacuate or relocate children from the area. They report that changing schools in the area won’t prevent radiation exposure over 1 mSv/y. While they believe that there is “no immediate risk on health,” it’s clear that they understand the long-term risks of exposing children to radioactive particles in the area.
More minors coming down with thyroid cancer
When the March 2011 nuclear disaster went down, no one understood the impact that the radioactive breakdown could have on the surrounding cities and the people, especially minors. Six minors in the area of the disaster have recently been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, with another ten young ones reportedly now developing the life-threatening cancer. These rates continue to climb, up from 28 affected children last June to 44 going into 2014.
As thyroid cancer begins to show up, the damage has already been done, as the deadly radioactive substances have already pervaded the cells of the young ones, ravaging their smaller, developing bodies faster.
With approximately 360,000 children aged 18 or younger affected by the nuclear disaster in 2011, the Japanese government has begun giving annual checkups and will continue doing so throughout the children’s lives.
Japanese government downplaying the rising thyroid cancer rates in children
As radioactive substances accumulate in the tissues and glands of the young children, the government in Japan continues to remain quiet. Japanese officials are now saying that the recent cases of thyroid cancer couldn’t have come from the disaster at the Daiichi power plant in March 2011, stating that thyroid cancer from radiation takes several years to develop.
But what the government fails to understand is that these smaller, developing bodies might not be able to handle the load of radioactive isotopes in the same way as an adult body. The smaller, younger generation could be the first to show signs of cancer. Adult thyroid cancer rates may begin spiking in a few years.
After the 1986 nuclear accident at Chernobyl, thyroid cancer cases started rising as early as four years after the explosion. Maybe the release from Fukushima is twice as dangerous as Chernobyl, since rising thyroid cancer cases are already pouring in just two or three years after the meltdown.
Or possibly, the new 44 cases of childhood cancer come from children who were already predisposed. This is what the government believes.
Fukushima prefecture government officials report, “It is likely (the 44 children) developed tumors or lumps before the nuclear accident.”
Regardless of reason, a shift of rising incidence in thyroid cancer has begun.
According to Christopher Busby from the European Committee on Radiation Risks, “the 2005 Japanese national incidence rate for thyroid cancer in the age bracket 0-18 is given in a recent peer reviewed report as 0.0 per 100,000.”
He states that this scientific model could be used to predict that “some 200,000 extra cancers in roughly 10 million of the population in the 200km radius of the site” could come up in the next 10 years, with “400,000 new cases in over 50 years.”
While the International Commission of Radiological Protection of the Japanese government predicts that “no detectable cancers will be seen as a result of the ‘very low doses’ received by the population,” radiation expert Christopher Busby calls the government’s radiological assessment “nonsense.”
Many local residents are now questioning the prefecture government’s downplaying of radiation exposure risks, the accuracy of its thyroid testing and the means by which information is disclosed.
Sources for this article include