Category Archives: Humans

Fukushima residents exposed to far less radiation than thought

by Katherine Kornei
Published in Science
23 Jan 2017

Citizen science usually isn’t this personal. In 2011, roughly 65,000 Japanese citizens living near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant started measuring their own radiation exposure in the wake of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. That’s because no one, not even experts, knew how accurate the traditional method of estimating dosage—taking readings from aircraft hundreds of meters above the ground—really was. Now, in a first-of-its-kind study, scientists analyzing the thousands of citizen readings have come to a surprising conclusion: The airborne observations in this region of Japan overestimated the true radiation level by a factor of four.

Continue reading Fukushima residents exposed to far less radiation than thought

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Radiation and food safety: A story of standards

April 26th marked the 30th anniversary of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The ~2600 sq km (~1000 sq mi) exclusion zone remains in place around the power plant and wildlife are reclaiming the habitat. Just outside the exclusion zone, the Associated Press reports that dairy farms are operating and selling milk and dairy products around Belarus and Russia. The author obtained a milk sample from one of these farms, had it tested, and found it to be contaminated with levels of strontium-90 (90Sr) that are 10 times higher than the nation’s food safety limits. At first I was alarmed that this could make it to market, however, since working for the InFORM project I’ve learned that not all limits are equal. Let’s take a gander at how this milk would fare under standards from around the world.

Continue reading Radiation and food safety: A story of standards

Screening effect? Examining thyroid cancers found in Fukushima children

In Iwaki, a town south of the Fukushima nuclear plant, a doctor conducts a thyroid examination on 4-year-old Maria Sakamoto. Scientists are puzzled over a high number of thyroid abnormalities observed so soon after the accident.

Original title:

Mystery cancers are cropping up in children in aftermath of Fukushima

By Dennis Normile
Science
4 Mar 2016

The March 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant caused extensive human suffering—evacuations, emotional trauma and premature deaths, disrupted jobs and schooling. What they have not caused, so far, is radiation-related illness among the general public, and few specialists expect dramatic increases in cancers or other ailments. The reactors spewed just a tenth of the radiation emitted by the Chernobyl disaster, winds blew much of that out to sea, and evacuations were swift. Yet one wave of illness has been linked to the disaster—the ironic result of a well-intentioned screening program. Continue reading Screening effect? Examining thyroid cancers found in Fukushima children

External ionizing radiation doses of high school students in Japan, France, Poland and Belarus

By Jay T. Cullen

Third-year science students H. Onodera and R. Suzuki, both 18, and second-year students M. Saito, Y. Fujiwara, both 17, and S. Anzai, 16 and their supervising teacher T. Hara, 57, took part in compiling the study.  They used citizen science deployed dosimeters to compare external radiation dose experience by students in different countries.
The purpose of this post to report on a peer-reviewed, open access study published in the Journal of Radiological Protection where high-school aged citizen scientists measured and compared the external ionizing radiation doses experienced by students in Japan, Belarus, France, and Poland. Adachi and colleagues equipped 216 high-school students in Japan (inside and outside Fukushima Prefecture), Belarus, France and Poland with an electronic dosimeter to estimate and compare annual external ionizing radiation doses in 2014.  The distribution of doses experienced in each region overlapped with each other indicating that personal external ionizing radiation exposure in Fukushima Prefecture and Belarus are within the range of annual doses from terrestrial background radiation in other locations.

Continue reading External ionizing radiation doses of high school students in Japan, France, Poland and Belarus

Residents Living South of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Have Minimal Internal Radiation Exposure

Areas to the south of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. WBC measurement were performed at the Jyoban Hospital in central Iwaki, which is located about 50 km south of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Study subjects were mainly hospital visitors from Iwaki and its suburbs.

By Jay T. Cullen

The purpose of this post is to relate findings published (open access) in the peer-reviewed journal PLOSOne by Akiyama and colleagues who investigated internal radiocesium contamination in residents living south of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant. This post is the most recent in a series dedicated to sharing the results of scientific research into the impact of the nuclear power plant disaster on ecosystem and public health. The Akiyama study builds on recent work by this group using a whole body counter (WBC) to look for internal contamination of residents living near (north and west) the reactors at the time of the meltdowns. Measurements were made on 9,206 affected individuals, including 6,446 school children (4-15 years) living south of the reactors or evacuated to Iwaki city following the bulk of radionuclide releases. Measurements began one year after the accident and continued for two years. The authors conclude that, despite lack of data for the first year following the disaster, internal doses experienced by residents to the south of the FNPP were minimal. This suggests that efforts to mitigate foodborne exposure have been largely successful and that nearly all the annual effective doses for this segment of the population more than one year after the disaster are likely due to external exposure. Continue reading Residents Living South of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Have Minimal Internal Radiation Exposure