Fukushima Japan earthquake - contamination & consequences outside Fukushima NPP

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I've mentioned that example twice, both times in response to the same comment that only nuclear accidents create long term environmental damage. There are plenty more examples of other industrial accidents causing severe ecological consequences, I point to this one because its effects are particularly long lasting.
Aren't you getting tired of doing this? It's bad, it's still getting worse, it can't be fixed (the exclusion zone, I mean). Yes other industrial accidents killed more people, faster. Yes, other industrial accidents also create no-go zones. So what? If you get beat up, you say "it's OK because the other gang down the street just murdered someone"?

Get over it. I know you're personally invested in this but... really. The Nile ain't just a river in Egypt, you know?
 
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A new post by EX-SKF. This time dealing with kids having nosebleed, diarrhea and lack of energy since the accident
This was one of the most meaningless non-stories I have read. A kid's nose starts bleeding and the family takes her to the doctor who diagnosis her nose bleeds as hay fever. Somehow Tokyo Shinbun is allowed to report this as widespread radiation sickness, and of course the conspiracy bloggists lap it up, all the while complaining about spin from the mainstream media. The kid wasn't even in Fukushima after the earthquake until the end of March (when presumably the most radiation was getting spread around).

If a kid who wasn't in Fukushima started developing nosebleeds as a result of radiation, wouldn't every child in Fukushima now be bleeding profusely?
 
I would say that without doubt, there are going to be many places where contamination will be much higher, being that the area is so low and that so much material and contaminated water were pushed inland. As to what they are telling their people is safe; I'd like to remind that many of those people moved to the region after the A-bombs. Many of those people are much more susceptible to cancers and other defects-mutations because of the markers they carry/pass on, and that makes this 'all-safe' BS something I wouldn't subject my kids to.
 
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This was one of the most meaningless non-stories I have read. A kid's nose starts bleeding and the family takes her to the doctor who diagnosis her nose bleeds as hay fever. Somehow Tokyo Shinbun is allowed to report this as widespread radiation sickness, and of course the conspiracy bloggists lap it up, all the while complaining about spin from the mainstream media. The kid wasn't even in Fukushima after the earthquake until the end of March (when presumably the most radiation was getting spread around).

If a kid who wasn't in Fukushima started developing nosebleeds as a result of radiation, wouldn't every child in Fukushima now be bleeding profusely?
If you can't read anything else about this matter due to your bias, then at least read the Foreword in this book-report http://www.strahlentelex.de/Yablokov%20Chernobyl%20book.pdf" [Broken]

In part:
... Declassified documents of that time issued by Soviet Union/Ukraine governmental commissions in regard to the first decade after 1986 contain data on a number of people who were hospitalized with acute radiation sickness. The number is greater by two orders of magnitude than was recently quoted in official documents. How can we understand this difference in calculating the numbers of individuals who are ill as a result of irradiation? It is groundless to think that the doctors’ diagnoses were universally wrong. Many knew in the first 10-day period after the meltdown that diseases of the nasopharynx were widespread. We do not know the quantity or dose of hot particles that settled in the nasopharyngeal epithelium to cause this syndrome. They were probably
higher than the accepted figures.
To estimate doses of the Chernobyl catastrophe over the course of a year, it is critical to
consider the irradiation contributed by ground and foliage fallout, which contaminated
various forms of food with short-half-life radionuclides. Even in 1987 activity of some of
the radionuclides exceeded the contamination by Cs-137 and Sr-90. Thus decisions to
calculate dose only on the scale of Cs-137 radiation led to obvious underestimation of
the actual accumulated effective doses. Internal radiation doses were defined on the basis
of the activity in milk and potatoes for different areas...
Many other links to more current reports are listed by the commenters under the http://ex-skf.blogspot.com/2011/06/radiation-in-japan-nosebleed-diarrhea.html#comments"
 
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Kindly note that I do not believe the region is entirely safe. What I believe is that the physician on duty, who is, I trust, far better qualified than I, has found the girl to be suffering from seasonal allergies. SKF has chosen to claim that "many children...are suffering from inexplicable nosebleed" and has made this claim under the headline "Radiation in Japan".

Fair enough.

My contention is that
a) the article mentions two children with nosebleeds, one who was diagnosed with seasonal allergies.
b) the child in question was not in the area when the highest releases were recorded, thus the claim regarding Chernobyl, i.e. "Many knew in the first 10-day period after the meltdown that diseases of the nasopharynx were widespread" would seem to be irrelevant to this particular person, since she was not in the region in the 10 days after the accident. I would also challenge the thinking that says two children with nosebleeds constitute widespread diseases of the nasopharynx.

To repeat; I do not believe the region, particularly the corridor stretching from Fukushima Daichi to Fukushima City, is at all safe. I would not wish my kids to be there, and I sympathize with the families who are struggling to decide what to do. I note with interest that the doctor also ordered blood tests on the child, which I think was a prudent thing to do, and should hopefully give some peace of mind. If the blood tests come back and they show something related to radiation, I would be extremely surprised.

What I believe most explicitly is that two cases of nosebleeds (a girl and her brother, the girl who was found to be suffering allergies) mentioned in the article do not constitute evidence of a widespread health concern. I also think the nosebleeds could easily be related to the stress of moving to and from their home. I think this story is similar to the claim that many people in Tokyo were tasting a metallic taste after the accident, which was simply untrue. If there were radiation levels that would cause immediate widespread health issues, the evidence of this would be much more apparent than what is currently being reported.
 

Borek

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If you can't read anything else about this matter due to your bias, then at least read the Foreword in this book-report http://www.strahlentelex.de/Yablokov%20Chernobyl%20book.pdf" [Broken]
Yablokov's book is being criticized as biased. You accuse others of being biased, but you offer biased opinions to show you are right - it never works.

Besides, Yablokov book is not considered a peer reviewed work, and as such doesn't meet PF criteria of a valid source.
 
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The problem with leopards spots illustrated by this recent TV video: contamination 1000 times higher than limit measured at 80kms distance fron the reactors, so way outside of the no entry zone:


As i see things evolving around these reactors, the picture that is drawn day after day shows that the no stay zone will have, soon or late, be expanded to new areas in the future. The japanese government won't be able to resist long to the pressure of populations with increasing fears based on alarming data and measurements (dangerous strontium for example has been found more than 60 kms away from the nuke plant). The problem with well known leopards spots phenomenon is that it doesn't draw a nicely shaped go/no go frontier, it is far more complex than that, especially in a country densely populated with geographical elements (like mountains and valleys + typhoons spreading stuff) which concentrates contaminations in some areas.

Japan is not Ukraine. Land is scarce for all the people, so as long as further abnormal contamination shows up in areas further than the no go zone, government will have to expand the no entry procedure to new areas in the next months and maybe years, no doubt in my mind about this.

But evacuations decisions will have to be balanced with several other factors: how is the evacuation really possible for so many people on the long term (remember that increasing the diameter of the zone will imply more and more people to be evacuated, and this is not a linear relation!), how can all people accept this without many ones staying even if decisions say to leave?

One way or another, it means that a fair part of japanese population will have to live in an environment more or less radioactive for a good amount of time. Proponents of the hormesis theory can be very happy: they will have a full scale experiment there. I even advice them to move closer to their subject study by going to live in these areas for the next 30 years with their families...

It has been considered that Chernobyl played a significant role in the fall of USSR a few years later (even if there has been of course other reasons), considering the specificities of Japan geography and density of population, i have a hard time considering that Japan can keep its position in the world economy having to deal with such a mess in the long long run. Land is scarce and lost lands will exacerbate this, IMHO. This decline will be a long term process (also in the perception of the severity of consequences of this accident which will reveal weeks after weeks and months after months) but I don't see how this can be different than this scenario, based on what we already know and what we are going to learn in the the next months...
 
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If you can't read anything else about this matter due to your bias, then at least read the Foreword in this book-report http://www.strahlentelex.de/Yablokov%20Chernobyl%20book.pdf" [Broken]

In part:


Many other links to more current reports are listed by the commenters under the http://ex-skf.blogspot.com/2011/06/radiation-in-japan-nosebleed-diarrhea.html#comments"
I'll tread gently.

--Yes, it's important to investigate whether or not there's anything unusual behind the symptoms being described in Koriyama. In fact everyone in the area, and everyone who has evacuated, should visit the doctor regularly and see mental health counselors as well. Their lives have been horribly disrupted, not to mention their diets, probably their sleeping habits, their exercise habits, and there is tons of anxiety in the air. Domestic disputes are on the rise. Everyone is affected both mentally and physically by all this. It would be amazing if we didn't see widespread symptoms like the ones reported. But whether or not radiation exposure has anything to do with it is another matter. But it's important to find out. I think there are serious issues to be investigated and articles like that one trivialize them.

--I believe that regions around Chernobyl have suffered a collapse in health terms as well as other social breakdowns, and that these effects are long-lasting. Some of it is due to radiation itself, but how much? I've been reading interesting research by Moller and Mousseau on birds after Chernobyl, and they turn up a lot of effects. Some species proliferate, some don't, some that eat insects that nest in the ground don't fare well if those insects are affected by ground radiation that doesn't affect the birds directly, etc.. The cascade of environmental effects is unpredictable in many respects, and so we need to be vigilant. We have a duty to continue to investigate possible health risks from low doses of radiation on humans, but so far the fact is that none have been found.

--As for Yablokov's book, I've read it and annotated it. My reaction may have been the opposite of yours. I thought,"How can anyone find this convincing?" I found chapters 1, 3 and 4, on the spread of contamination, environmental consequences, and radiation protection, respectively, to be the most objective and useful (though not unquestionably so). But chapter 2, on human health, is riddled with so many flawed arguments, faulty data, contradictions, and unsupported conclusions that I can't make much use of any of it.

He frequently says things like, "The appreciable increase in newborns with both major and minor developmental anomalies is one of the undeniable consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe." (p133) But the data he presents doesn't demonstrate that. It often suggests associations, or correlations, but correlation is not causality. And unfortunately, he often fails to even demonstrate correlation convincingly.

Other criticisms:
--He states that he rejects the use of Western norms of scientific proof, especially the need to demonstrate statistical significance. That's like saying,"No, I can't promise that any of this data is valid." This is one reason the Union of Concerned Scientists, a watchdog group I consider fairly reliable, and whom many consider "too careful," concluded that the findings of the book should be discounted when evaluating radiation risk.

--Other reviewers have pointed out that the authors ascribe every post-Chernobyl increase in illness to radiation effects, and rarely discuss other possible causes.

--Still others, upon reviewing original papers cited in the book, have pointed out that the epidemiology is often fatally flawed. There are many cases where confounding factors have not been evaluated or otherwise taken fully into account. For instance, increases in cancer rates are shown, but no attempt is made to ascertain whether the subjects were smoking more or drinking more since the disaster.

--The New York Academy of Sciences distanced themselves from the book after it was published, stressing that it had not been peer-reviewed; in other words, they could make no assertions as to the truth of Yablokov's claims.

There are quite a few more criticisms to be leveled at this book. It's strident, accusatory, and alarming enough to influence a lot of peoples' opinions, but there's not enough solid scientific evidence in it to make it convincing to people who dig a little deeper, and who, like me, are looking for useful sources of information on radiation risk.

And don't get me started on Dr. Chris Busby. His work is frequently cited in Yablokov's book, and they co-edited the ECRR's 2006 study. Busby is all over the media, but he's one of the sloppiest, most intellectually dishonest scientists I've ever encountered. For example, in the late 1990's Busby self-published research claiming to find clusters of higher incidence of leukemia near the Sellafield plant in the UK; a media frenzy ensued. The CERRIE committee, of which he was a prominent member, was convened expressly to investigate that and the possibility of other previously under recognized risks from low-level radiation. Another committee member calmly pointed out that not only were there leukemia clusters near Sellafield and other power plants, but also in locations where plants were proposed but not built yet, and in many other locations as well. Busby ether did not look for such examples, or if he did, ignored them. It's unforgivably bad science, and his science is almost always like this. That Yablokov finds him to be acceptable scientific partner makes me question his standards.

My personal opinion is that Yablokov would have done the world a much greater service if he had found funding to translate the most relevant 1000 or so Russian and Eastern European papers in full into English, and just published those without hype and commentary so scientists all over the world could pick them over to find the useful data. Maybe there's still time to do that.
 
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Great stuff Azby, very thoughtful and helpful analysis of that document for someone like me who does not know much about it.
 

Borek

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5,77 microSv/h at ground level in Tokyo suburb (220 kms from Daichi)
I think it was already reported in one of the threads.
 
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There was a bit of discussion about this on the Tokyo radiation Levels Facebook group last week.
http://www.facebook.com/Tokyo.Radiation.Levels

People there and at Safecast

http://safecast.jp/

http://safecast.jp/2011/06/discover-validate/

http://groups.google.com/group/safecast-japan/

have been measuring levels very diligently for the past couple of months. The consensus about the claims in the video:

1) This reading is higher than those on the ground in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, while the location of the video is in Chiba, 200km away, which makes the readings extremely suspect. Hotspots have been found in Chiba, but are in the in the 0.5uSv/hr range.

2) The device used appears to be a DP802i, a cheap Chinese model. It seems to be very poorly calibrated at least.

A lot of people I know are using this site and consider it well-run and reliable:

http://www.nnistar.com/gmap/fukushima.html
 
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Hotspots at Chiba in the range of 0,5micro Sv/h... Humm on the facebook page one guy wrote this yesterday (Kashiwa is in between Tokyo and Chiba, around 50 kms west of Tokyo), and measured 13 microSv/h close to Kashiwa JR Station, again close to a gutter (this guy has used various Geiger counters).

Jon Anderson
I'm in Kashiwa and there are hot spots everywhere. Just today I took a reading of 13.0µSv/h right near Kashiwa JR station right on the ground near the gutter. I have used several different geiger counters all over the Kashiwa / Matsudo area with several different people, including Yomiuri newspaper, Asahi Television, and the Wall Street Journal. My spouse is the one responsible for the online petition to Kashiwa City to measure and remove contaminated waste, soil/debris. We also helped bring about change at Mikuni yochin, they were the first school to measure radiation and actually remove all the soil from their school in Kashiwa. I am available to go out and take readings anytime.
Are you surprised that higher levels of contamination concentrate in the dust/mud from rainwater? This has been confirmed by very high readings in sludge from waste water plants at good distance from the NPP, to me this is not surprising that we can find such high concentrated areas of contamination. Personally i wouldn't like to live close such spots, and i think anybody can understand concerns of people around...
 
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Hotspots at Chiba in the range of 0,5micro Sv/h... Humm on the facebook page one guy wrote this yesterday (Kashiwa is in between Tokyo and Chiba, around 50 kms west of Tokyo), and measured 13 microSv/h close to Kashiwa JR Station, again close to a gutter (this guy has used various Geiger counters).



Are you surprised that higher levels of contamination concentrate in the dust/mud from rainwater? This has been confirmed by very high readings in sludge from waste water plants at good distance from the NPP, to me this is not surprising that we can find such high concentrated areas of contamination. Personally i wouldn't like to live close such spots, and i think anybody can understand concerns of people around...
That is a high reading, and it looks legit. It makes me revise my previous opinion concerning the 5.77uSv/hr in the video. I know there are high readings in gutters, etc. I guess we'll need to come to grips with the difference between hotspots that are measured in hundreds of meters or more, and those measured in meters or less, and what the implications are for remediation. I admit I've generally been focussed on the larger ones.
 
I'll tread gently.

--Yes, it's important to investigate whether or not there's anything unusual behind the symptoms being described in Koriyama. In fact everyone in the area, and everyone who has evacuated, should visit the doctor regularly and see mental health counselors as well. Their lives have been horribly disrupted, not to mention their diets, probably their sleeping habits, their exercise habits, and there is tons of anxiety in the air. Domestic disputes are on the rise. Everyone is affected both mentally and physically by all this. It would be amazing if we didn't see widespread symptoms like the ones reported. But whether or not radiation exposure has anything to do with it is another matter. But it's important to find out. I think there are serious issues to be investigated and articles like that one trivialize them.

--I believe that regions around Chernobyl have suffered a collapse in health terms as well as other social breakdowns, and that these effects are long-lasting. Some of it is due to radiation itself, but how much? I've been reading interesting research by Moller and Mousseau on birds after Chernobyl, and they turn up a lot of effects. Some species proliferate, some don't, some that eat insects that nest in the ground don't fare well if those insects are affected by ground radiation that doesn't affect the birds directly, etc.. The cascade of environmental effects is unpredictable in many respects, and so we need to be vigilant. We have a duty to continue to investigate possible health risks from low doses of radiation on humans, but so far the fact is that none have been found.

--As for Yablokov's book, I've read it and annotated it. My reaction may have been the opposite of yours. I thought,"How can anyone find this convincing?" I found chapters 1, 3 and 4, on the spread of contamination, environmental consequences, and radiation protection, respectively, to be the most objective and useful (though not unquestionably so). But chapter 2, on human health, is riddled with so many flawed arguments, faulty data, contradictions, and unsupported conclusions that I can't make much use of any of it.

He frequently says things like, "The appreciable increase in newborns with both major and minor developmental anomalies is one of the undeniable consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe." (p133) But the data he presents doesn't demonstrate that. It often suggests associations, or correlations, but correlation is not causality. And unfortunately, he often fails to even demonstrate correlation convincingly.

Other criticisms:
--He states that he rejects the use of Western norms of scientific proof, especially the need to demonstrate statistical significance. That's like saying,"No, I can't promise that any of this data is valid." This is one reason the Union of Concerned Scientists, a watchdog group I consider fairly reliable, and whom many consider "too careful," concluded that the findings of the book should be discounted when evaluating radiation risk.

--Other reviewers have pointed out that the authors ascribe every post-Chernobyl increase in illness to radiation effects, and rarely discuss other possible causes.

--Still others, upon reviewing original papers cited in the book, have pointed out that the epidemiology is often fatally flawed. There are many cases where confounding factors have not been evaluated or otherwise taken fully into account. For instance, increases in cancer rates are shown, but no attempt is made to ascertain whether the subjects were smoking more or drinking more since the disaster.

--The New York Academy of Sciences distanced themselves from the book after it was published, stressing that it had not been peer-reviewed; in other words, they could make no assertions as to the truth of Yablokov's claims.

There are quite a few more criticisms to be leveled at this book. It's strident, accusatory, and alarming enough to influence a lot of peoples' opinions, but there's not enough solid scientific evidence in it to make it convincing to people who dig a little deeper, and who, like me, are looking for useful sources of information on radiation risk.

And don't get me started on Dr. Chris Busby. His work is frequently cited in Yablokov's book, and they co-edited the ECRR's 2006 study. Busby is all over the media, but he's one of the sloppiest, most intellectually dishonest scientists I've ever encountered. For example, in the late 1990's Busby self-published research claiming to find clusters of higher incidence of leukemia near the Sellafield plant in the UK; a media frenzy ensued. The CERRIE committee, of which he was a prominent member, was convened expressly to investigate that and the possibility of other previously under recognized risks from low-level radiation. Another committee member calmly pointed out that not only were there leukemia clusters near Sellafield and other power plants, but also in locations where plants were proposed but not built yet, and in many other locations as well. Busby ether did not look for such examples, or if he did, ignored them. It's unforgivably bad science, and his science is almost always like this. That Yablokov finds him to be acceptable scientific partner makes me question his standards.

My personal opinion is that Yablokov would have done the world a much greater service if he had found funding to translate the most relevant 1000 or so Russian and Eastern European papers in full into English, and just published those without hype and commentary so scientists all over the world could pick them over to find the useful data. Maybe there's still time to do that.

In your gentle words "I believe that regions around Chernobyl have suffered a collapse in health terms as well as other social breakdowns, and that these effects are long-lasting. Some of it is due to radiation itself, but how much? I've been reading interesting research by Moller and Mousseau on birds after Chernobyl, and they turn up a lot of effects. Some species proliferate, some don't, some that eat insects that nest in the ground don't fare well if those insects are affected by ground radiation that doesn't affect the birds directly, etc.. The cascade of environmental effects is unpredictable in many respects, and so we need to be vigilant. We have a duty to continue to investigate possible health risks from low doses of radiation on humans, but so far the fact is that none have been found."

I share your evaluation that the cascade of environmental effects is unpredictable.

Given that I hardly can understand your claim "so far the fact is that none have been found".
Not even the highly debatable (to say the least) Chernobyl forum report has reached that conclusion. Instead they reache the 4.000 additional tyroid cancers conclusion.

I do believe that regions around Chernobyl have suffered a collapse in health terms.
And quite obviously associate that with the massive release of radioactive material that happened there. Any additional psychological stress there (in excess to the not excellent average condition in the former Soviet Union) is in any case casually related to the accident.

Some volunteer work there may give to readers a more precise sensation about that ... much more precisely than evaluating the effects that there might or might not have been observed in birds, or trees.

As an observation sample I'd rather rely on the children that many italian (and not only italian) families have welcomed as guests in these yeras to let them clear at least a bit their bodies from Cs137.

We have a long way to go to fight this monster.
To put it gently.
 
Hm... I'm not so sure about those hotspots.

Wasn't it said that the official radiation readings in the evacuation zone were performed 1-1,5m above the ground?
So we probably can't compare that radiation to the measures from Tokyo.
 
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In your gentle words "I believe that regions around Chernobyl have suffered a collapse in health terms as well as other social breakdowns, and that these effects are long-lasting. Some of it is due to radiation itself, but how much? I've been reading interesting research by Moller and Mousseau on birds after Chernobyl, and they turn up a lot of effects. Some species proliferate, some don't, some that eat insects that nest in the ground don't fare well if those insects are affected by ground radiation that doesn't affect the birds directly, etc.. The cascade of environmental effects is unpredictable in many respects, and so we need to be vigilant. We have a duty to continue to investigate possible health risks from low doses of radiation on humans, but so far the fact is that none have been found."

I share your evaluation that the cascade of environmental effects is unpredictable.

Given that I hardly can understand your claim "so far the fact is that none have been found".
Not even the highly debatable (to say the least) Chernobyl forum report has reached that conclusion. Instead they reache the 4.000 additional tyroid cancers conclusion.

I do believe that regions around Chernobyl have suffered a collapse in health terms.
And quite obviously associate that with the massive release of radioactive material that happened there. Any additional psychological stress there (in excess to the not excellent average condition in the former Soviet Union) is in any case casually related to the accident.

Some volunteer work there may give to readers a more precise sensation about that ... much more precisely than evaluating the effects that there might or might not have been observed in birds, or trees.

As an observation sample I'd rather rely on the children that many italian (and not only italian) families have welcomed as guests in these yeras to let them clear at least a bit their bodies from Cs137.

We have a long way to go to fight this monster.
To put it gently.
I appreciate the way you put that, Luca, and I also feel you misunderstood me.

I wasn't suggesting that no negative health effects have been seen from Chernobyl radiation, such as the well-documented cases of thyroid cancer. Those were from fairly high internal doses, such as from drinking the famous contaminated milk. I was talking about low doses, specifically below the 5mSv exposure level. Please understand I'm not being evasive. The LNT model is widely accepted on theoretical grounds, but the onset of cancer caused by exposure to lower levels of radiation has never been solidly demonstrated.

A very useful paper on the subject is "Cancer risks attributable to low doses of ionizing radiation: Assessing what we really know", by Brenner et al, from PNAS Nov 25, 2003:

http://www.pnas.org/content/100/24/13761

"For x- or y-rays, good evidence of an increase in risk for cancer is shown at acute doses 50 mSv, and reasonable evidence for an increase in some cancer risks at doses above 5 mSv. As expected from basic radiobiology (10), the doses above which statistically significant risks are seen are somewhat higher for protracted exposures than for acute exposures; specifically, good evidence of an increase in some cancer risks is shown for protracted doses 100 mSv, and reasonable evidence for an increase in cancer risk at protracted doses above 50 mSv."

These kinds of results have been confirmed time and again in a variety of ways, on thousands of subjects in thousands of studies. Lower doses may or may not cause cancer, but let's assume they do, even if the risk is minuscule, because that seems to be the safer way, hence LNT. The Chernobyl data remains equivocal.

I know this issue has been debated endlessly for years, and will continue to be. In the case of Chernobyl I'm led to believe that:
-- When a person has gotten sick despite having been exposed to only low-level radiation, it's probably not the radiation itself that made them sick.
-- That many people undoubtedly got sick from having received greater exposures than predicted based on the mapping of contamination that was done, and we need to understand these contamination pathways and the migration of nuclides through the environment much better.

So yes, an accident like Chernobyl or Fukushima starts its own chain reaction of negative consequences. We have a situation here in Japan where parents of children who have received a few microsieverts of radiation are terrified that this will cause cancer, because they'e heard that from people like Busby. I do volunteer work resettling evacuee families -- interviewing them about physical and mental health needs, jobs, legal issues, collecting furniture, helping them find new homes, etc -- and have met many whose previous homes are by any objective measure quite safe, but who have been so frightened by rumors they've heard that they've abandoned everything and have become jobless, homeless, and destitute. And their kids often run fevers.

In the interest of solving problems I prefer to distinguish between "things that have been caused by the release of radiation" and " diseases that are directly caused by radiation." To give an example that is almost funny, a friend who lives in Europe was so distressed by the events in Japan that he developed a stress-related eye infection. But no one could plausibly claim that his infection was caused by Fukushima radiation.

All of it needs to be dealt with of course, and right now mapping the contamination thoroughly is the most important task, followed by learning how to predict how the contamination patterns may change over time. This in addition to implementing a thorough system for monitoring food. And of course, stopping the release of the radiation itself.
 
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Yablokov's book is being criticized as biased. You accuse others of being biased, but you offer biased opinions to show you are right - it never works.

Besides, Yablokov book is not considered a peer reviewed work, and as such doesn't meet PF criteria of a valid source.
Care to provide a link where the book is not founded in science or do you feel safe hiding in grey areas?
 
I appreciate the way you put that, Luca, and I also feel you misunderstood me.

I wasn't suggesting that no negative health effects have been seen from Chernobyl radiation, such as the well-documented cases of thyroid cancer. Those were from fairly high internal doses, such as from drinking the famous contaminated milk. I was talking about low doses, specifically below the 5mSv exposure level. Please understand I'm not being evasive. The LNT model is widely accepted on theoretical grounds, but the onset of cancer caused by exposure to lower levels of radiation has never been solidly demonstrated.

A very useful paper on the subject is "Cancer risks attributable to low doses of ionizing radiation: Assessing what we really know", by Brenner et al, from PNAS Nov 25, 2003:

http://www.pnas.org/content/100/24/13761

"For x- or y-rays, good evidence of an increase in risk for cancer is shown at acute doses 50 mSv, and reasonable evidence for an increase in some cancer risks at doses above 5 mSv. As expected from basic radiobiology (10), the doses above which statistically significant risks are seen are somewhat higher for protracted exposures than for acute exposures; specifically, good evidence of an increase in some cancer risks is shown for protracted doses 100 mSv, and reasonable evidence for an increase in cancer risk at protracted doses above 50 mSv."

These kinds of results have been confirmed time and again in a variety of ways, on thousands of subjects in thousands of studies. Lower doses may or may not cause cancer, but let's assume they do, even if the risk is minuscule, because that seems to be the safer way, hence LNT. The Chernobyl data remains equivocal.

I know this issue has been debated endlessly for years, and will continue to be. In the case of Chernobyl I'm led to believe that:
-- When a person has gotten sick despite having been exposed to only low-level radiation, it's probably not the radiation itself that made them sick.
-- That many people undoubtedly got sick from having received greater exposures than predicted based on the mapping of contamination that was done, and we need to understand these contamination pathways and the migration of nuclides through the environment much better.

So yes, an accident like Chernobyl or Fukushima starts its own chain reaction of negative consequences. We have a situation here in Japan where parents of children who have received a few microsieverts of radiation are terrified that this will cause cancer, because they'e heard that from people like Busby. I do volunteer work resettling evacuee families -- interviewing them about physical and mental health needs, jobs, legal issues, collecting furniture, helping them find new homes, etc -- and have met many whose previous homes are by any objective measure quite safe, but who have been so frightened by rumors they've heard that they've abandoned everything and have become jobless, homeless, and destitute. And their kids often run fevers.

In the interest of solving problems I prefer to distinguish between "things that have been caused by the release of radiation" and " diseases that are directly caused by radiation." To give an example that is almost funny, a friend who lives in Europe was so distressed by the events in Japan that he developed a stress-related eye infection. But no one could plausibly claim that his infection was caused by Fukushima radiation.

All of it needs to be dealt with of course, and right now mapping the contamination thoroughly is the most important task, followed by learning how to predict how the contamination patterns may change over time. This in addition to implementing a thorough system for monitoring food. And of course, stopping the release of the radiation itself.
Thanks for the article and the more expanded explanation of your point of view.
There is an excellent post by Dmitry in this forum that puts in statistical terms an evaluation of the matter that I share completely.
I'll search for it.
 
Care to provide a link where the book is not founded in science or do you feel safe hiding in grey areas?
I had read that the New York Academy of Sciences was distancing itself from Yablokov's book because it was not peer reviewed. I think there's no better evidence of this than the fact that the book is out of stock and will not be reprinted by the Academy. It's a very unusual decision for a publisher not to reprint what appears to be something that sells.

http://www.nyas.org/publications/annals/Detail.aspx?cid=f3f3bd16-51ba-4d7b-a086-753f44b3bfc1
 

Borek

Mentor
27,995
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Care to provide a link where the book is not founded in science or do you feel safe hiding in grey areas?
I was mainly referring to the statement by NYAS, one that mikefj40 already linked to. That was also mentioned in Azby's post (and I don't refer to his personal opinion, he cited the same NYAS opinion on the subject).

Note that I never stated book is not founded in science, that's your interpretation of my words.
 
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I was mainly referring to the statement by NYAS, one that mikefj40 already linked to. That was also mentioned in Azby's post (and I don't refer to his personal opinion, he cited the same NYAS opinion on the subject).

Note that I never stated book is not founded in science, that's your interpretation of my words.
Careful when backtracking, you might trip up.

From the NYAS link,
"The Academy is committed to publishing content deemed scientifically valid by the general scientific community, from whom the Academy carefully monitors feedback."
Let me explain medical science, it draws no conclusions only opinions and in science you can't ignore either one as you must draw a theory based on facts.
 

Borek

Mentor
27,995
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Careful when backtracking, you might trip up.
I am not backtracking, I am clarifying. Yablokov's book is not considered peer reviewed and as such is not a valid source. Please read forum rules. Whether it is founded in science or not is at this stage irrelevant.
 
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I am not backtracking, I am clarifying. Yablokov's book is not considered peer reviewed and as such is not a valid source. Please read forum rules. Whether it is founded in science or not is at this stage irrelevant.
Non sequitur.

Posted 4/28/2010

NEW YORK—“Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment,” Volume 1181 of Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, published online in November 2009, was authored by Alexey V. Yablokov, of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Alexey V. Nesterenko, of the Institute of Radiation Safety (Belarus), and the late Prof. Vassily B. Nesterenko, former director of the Belarussian Nuclear Center
http://www.nyas.org/publications/annals/Detail.aspx?cid=f3f3bd16-51ba-4d7b-a086-753f44b3bfc1"

It is important that you are capable of comprehending what you are reading.
 
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Non sequitur.



http://www.nyas.org/publications/annals/Detail.aspx?cid=f3f3bd16-51ba-4d7b-a086-753f44b3bfc1"

It is important that you are capable of comprehending what you are reading.
Ok, I'll provide some links and critical analysis:

==========
Yes, the disclaimer on the NYAS site:

http://www.nyas.org/publications/annals/Detail.aspx?cid=f3f3bd16-51ba-4d7b-a086-753f44b3bfc1

is couched in very subtle terms. The main point is that they yanked it from publication, and have never said that they support the findings or vouch for the quality of the science. There was a lot of behind the scenes criticism from NYAS members about the publication, on scientific grounds, and I believe some people lost their jobs over it. And I believe this statement to be accurately reported:

“In no sense did Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences or the New York Academy of Sciences commission this work; nor by its publication do we intend to independently validate the claims made in the translation or in the original publications cited in the work. The translated volume has not been peer-reviewed by the New York Academy of Sciences, or by anyone else.”

Douglas Braaten, Director and Executive Editor, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, communication to George Monbiot, 2nd April 2011, as cited in
http://www.monbiot.com/2011/04/04/evidence-meltdown/


Also,

http://atomicinsights.blogspot.com/2010/09/chernobyl-consequences-myths-and-fables.html
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2010
Chernobyl Consequences - Myths and Fables Versus Science
by Rod Adams

"After reviewing the book, a number of nuclear professionals, including some credentialed and experienced radiation effects specialists began exchanging emails wondering how the New York Academy of Sciences could have possibly accepted this book for publication based on a number of specific errors, omissions and outright denials of the scientific method. At least one member of the email discussion group is a member of the New York Academy of Sciences; he volunteered to contact the people in charge of publications to find out what could be done.

After some discussion, the people at the NYAS agreed that the document did not reflect the views of the academy, but that the decision to publish the document was made before the person who is currently in charge of publication arrived in his job. That person has stated that he has no authority to withdraw the publication, but he did issue a statement that provides some, but not much, distance between the document and the NYAS. "


============
Charles, Monty (2010) "Chernobyl: Consequences of the catastrophe for people and the environment" in Radiation Protection Dosimetry (2010) Vol. 141 No. 1. Oxford Journals. pp. 101–4.

Downloadable at:
http://wonkythinking.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Charles-review.pdf

In his review, Monty Charles (School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Birmingham) found the conclusions in the book statistically flawed, unclear, and contradictory. I.e., bad science. i encourage you to read the entire review (as well as Ian Fairlie's more positive one in the same journal). But an excerpt:

"Numerous facts and figures are given with a range of references but with little explanation and little critical evaluation. Apparently related tables, figures and statements, which refer to particular publications often disagree with one another. The section on oncological diseases (cancer) was of most interest to me. A section abstract indicated that on the basis of doses from 131I and137Cs; a comparison of cancer mortality in the heavily and less contaminated territories; and pre- and post-Chernobyl cancer levels, the predicted radiation-related cancer deaths in Europe would be 212 000–245 000 and 19 000 in the remainder of the world. I could not however find any specific discussion within the section to support these numbers. The section ends with an endorsement of the work of Malko who has estimated 10 000–40 000 additional deaths from thyroid cancer, 40 000–120 000 deaths from the other malignant tumours and 5000–14 000 deaths from leukaemia—a total of 55 000–174 000 deaths from 1986 to 2056 in the whole of Europe, including Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. These numbers confusingly, do not agree with a table (6.21) from the same author. The final section on overall mortality contains a table (7.11), which includes an estimate of 212 000 additional deaths in highly contaminated regions of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. This figure is for the period of 1990–2004, and is based on an assumption that 3.8–4.0% of all deaths in the contaminated territories being due to the Chernobyl accident. One is left unsure about the meaning of many of these numbers and which is preferred."

==============
Mona Dreicer,
2010. Book Review: Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment. Environ Health Perspect 118:a500-a500. doi:10.1289/ehp.118-a500
Online: 01 November 2010

http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/fetchArticle.action?articleURI=info%3Adoi%2F10.1289%2Fehp.118-a500 [Broken]

Monica Dreicer made similar criticisms in Environmental Health Perspectives, pointing out flawed methodology, biases, and unsupported assertions. She concludes by saying that we need good studies of the health effects of Chernobyl, but that they must be objective and scientifically rigorous (which Yablokov's book is not):

"To document the negative impacts of the accident—the authors’ objective—many of the articles present lists of excerpted facts, tables, and figures taken from the large number of referenced studies to support the stated conclusions. The inconsistent use of scientific units, the grouping of data collected with variable time and geographic scales, the lack of essential background information, and the consistent exclusion of scientific research that reported lesser or no negative impacts leave objective readers with very limited means for forming their own judgments without doing their own additional extensive research. In fact, many major technical studies and reports on the impacts of the Chernobyl accident have been excluded."

[snip]

"Two significant methodological biases underpin the conclusions that are drawn by the authors from the large amount of data presented: the application of a downward extrapolation of the linear radiation dose–effect relationship with no lower threshold, and the distrust of the ability of epidemiologic methodologies to determine the existence of a statistical correlation between measured or calculated radiological dose and measured impacts.

The first issue has been around for decades and continues to be debated by the scientific community. However, by discounting the widely accepted scientific method for associating cause and effect (while taking into account the uncertainties of dose assessment and measurement of impacts), the authors leave us with only with their assertion that the data in this volume “document the true scale of the consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe.”

Indeed, the world should not forget Chernobyl. We should continue to aid the affected populations and pursue the best possible understanding of the true impacts, taking care to be as objective and scientifically rigorous as possible."

=======
Lisbeth Gronlund, writing in the Union of Concerned Scientists "All THings Nuclear" blog:
http://allthingsnuclear.org/post/4704112149/how-many-cancers-did-chernobyl-really-cause-updated

After providing estimates of mortality due to Chernobyl fallout, she points to Yablokov's book which gives much higher figures, and observes:

"The book is based on a wide variety of material, which has been compiled in a manner that is difficult to discern. …..Moreover, the book notes that at least some of this source material would be rejected by “Western” scientists (p.37):

'It is correct and justified for the whole of society to analyze the consequences of the largest-scale catastrophe in history and to use the enormous database collected by thousands of experts in the radioactively contaminated territories, despite some data not being in the form of Western scientific protocols. This database must be used because it is impossible to collect other data after the fact.'

Given this disclaimer, we have to discount the conclusions of this book, at least unless and until further information becomes available."

==============

I would note that many have criticized Gronlund's figures themseves as having been based on flawed assumptions, particularly weaknesses inherent in collective dose estimates, which lead them to be unreasonably high -- even though they're much lower than what Yablokov et al suggest. You may have seen this post by Brian Mays in NEI Nuclear Notes, in which he points out that the same methodology leads to even higher cancer rate estimates for air travel over a 10-year period. It's intentional provocation of course, but also a reality check:

http://neinuclearnotes.blogspot.com/2011/04/ucs-science-how-many-cancers-did.html

Sunday, April 17, 2011
UCS Science: How Many Cancers Did Airlines Really Cause?

"Using Dr. Gronlund's methodology (which was taken from the BEIR VII report), we should assume that "the expected incidence and mortality of solid cancers and leukemia are 0.1135 cancer cases and 0.057 cancer deaths per Sv." Thus, because of radiation exposure due to the airline industry, the expected number of cancer cases is 79,000, of which some 40,000 should result in death.

[snip]

It is somewhat illustrative to compare these numbers to the numbers presented by Dr. Gronlund for the Chernobyl accident: 68,000 cancer cases with 34,000 deaths. Given these numbers, one can scientifically conclude that the airline industry is far more dangerous -- in terms of deaths due to low-dose exposure to radiation -- than old, Soviet-era nuclear reactors."

============
Finally, if anyone has time it's worthwhile to read the CERRIE report of 2003, which gave a very full hearing to Busby, Yablokov, the data they presented from FSU nations. The data were almost uniformly judged to be unsupportable.

http://www.cerrie.org/report/ [Broken]

Sample quote:

p47: "10 The Committee was divided on the robustness of the human data. Some members
judged that the FSU data were sufficient to show that radiation can cause a detectable
increase in minisatellite mutations in the human germline.[reading further its clear that these members are Busby and his close colleague Richard Bramhall] Other members were not persuaded and cited evidence of inconsistent results from FSU studies; insufficiencies in
some study designs; substantial problems in the estimates of doses received; and, for one
study, the failure to adequately validate the mutation assay system used. In addition, the
results of genetic studies with the offspring of externally irradiated Japanese A-bomb
survivors and of cancer therapy patients were inconsistent with many of the FSU data, in
that no excess of mutations was detected."

It's like this in almost every case. Busby's findings and Yablokov's FSU studies contradict a vast amount of solid and verified research, and their own methodologies are extremely flawed often in elementary and obvious ways (as in the Sellafield leukemia clusters).

Busby claimed bias and whitewash later, of course, but he got a very fair hearing, and was allowed to chair sessions and workshops. Ian Fairlie was a co-chair, and in addition to Busby and Bramhall, Greenpeace was also represented. Busby and Yablokov constantly claim suppression, censorship, and conspiracy, but in fact they couldn't have gotten a more positive hearing.

===========
My conclusions: Busby and Yablokov have both been solidly refuted and discredited. They present what "looks" like a ton of evidence but isn't. Groups or individuals who use their data to support agendas cannot legitimately claim to be justified on scientific grounds. But scientists know never to say "never," and that we can only we proven wrong. There is undoubtedly some useful and important data in the FSU studies, and we need to find it. I think the best way is to translate as many of them as possible in full and make them available to all researchers to evaluate objectively.

Many people obviously got sick after Chernobyl, often in mysterious ways, but even though Busby, Yablokov and others have had years to make their case they've been unable to demonstrate that the radiation itself is responsible -- except in instances like high leukemia rates which were already predicted by the science and generally accepted by specialists. We need to understand what went on after Chernobyl not least because it has great bearing on what we will see after Fukushima, but bad science, particularly when it circulates in the media and is accepted in some circles as supported fact, which Yablokov's does, is worse than useless. It's actually irresponsible and damaging. In the case of Japan, this kind of misinformation has doubled the mistrust and tripled the anxiety, while the justifiable levels of both are high enough already.

Now back to trying to find out what the real hazards we face are.
 
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