Friday, March 8, 2013

How many people were harmed by the Fukushima nuclear disaster?

In an article in Counterpunch titled article Fukushima Nuclear Casualties  Joseph Mangano of the Radiation and Public Health Project writes that researchers must challenge proponents of the nuclear industry who deliberately minimize the harm to humans from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which he suggests is the worst or second worst nuclear disaster in human history. 

Mangano writes:
 The full tally won’t be known for years, after many scientific studies. But some have rushed to judgment, proclaiming exposures were so small that there will be virtually no harm from Fukushima fallout.
Exactly two years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, perhaps the most crucial issue to be addressed is how many people were harmed by radioactive emissions.

On the responsibility of researchers Mangano writes: 
It is crucial that researchers don’t wait years before analyzing and presenting data, even though the amount of available information is still modest. To remain silent while allowing the “no harm” mantra to spread would repeat the experiences after Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, and allow perpetration of the myth that meltdowns are harmless. Researchers must be vigilant in pursuing an understanding of what Fukushima did to people – so that all-too-common meltdown will be a thing of the past.
Mangano and Sherwin estimate that in the 14 weeks after  Fukishima there were a 21,851 deaths in US from fallout from the disaster.  Fukushima fallout arrived in the U.S. on March 16, 2011. They calculated the increase in deaths in 122 US cities for the period March  20 to June 25 2011 to be + 3.99 vs +  0.73 for the rest of the year. They used data from the US Centre for Disease Control data on deaths in the 122 cities.

In a recent article  titled Is the Increase in baby Deaths in the US a result of Fukushima Fallout Mangano and Janette Sherwin document the rise in infant deaths  on the West Coast of the USA immediately following the Fukushima disaster. They  document a “bump” in U.S. deaths in the 3-4 months after Fukushima, especially among infants – the same “bump” that occurred after Chernobyl. 

Mangano cites another recent study  in the Open Journal of Pediatrics which showed rising numbers of infants born with an under-active thyroid gland – which is highly sensitive to radiation – on the US West Coast, where Fukushima fallout was greatest.

A previous post on this blog here cited Mangano's earlier article on human casualties in Japan in which he concluded that  even though it will take years before the true extent of casualties are known an early estimate of 38,700 additional unexplained deaths in Japan in just one year must be taken seriously.   

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