The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Study Suggests Link Between Fukushima Radiation and Japanese Monkeys' Low Blood Count
In the case of the Japanese macaques, the radioactive material spewed by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant has led to abnormally low white and red blood cell levels and low haemoglobin. The findings, published Thursday in the Scientific Reports journal, show that the low counts make the monkeys more susceptible to various diseases.
“This first data from non-human primates—the closest taxonomic relatives of humans—should make a notable contribution to future research on the health effects of radiation exposure in humans,” Professor Shin-ichi Hayama, of the Nippon Veterinary and Life Science University in Tokyo, told The Guardian.
One of the study's 11 authors, Hayama said that the monkeys were likely exposed to radiation from feeding on tree buds and bark that accumulated radioactive caesium from the power plant explosions. The researchers examined wild monkeys who were 43 miles away from the plant reactors in the forest area of Fukushima City. Their counts of white and red blood cells, as well as hemoglobin, and hematocrit, were much lower than those of monkeys about 250 miles away in the Shimokita Peninsula in the Aomori Prefecture.
Hamaya would not make a definitive claim that caesium caused the low blood counts, despite the suggestive findings and the inability to find any other cause.
“The low haematological values in the Fukushima monkeys could have therefore been due to the effect of any radioactive materials,” he said. “We did not conclude the low-blood cell counts are caused by caesium but so far we cannot find other reasons except radiation.”
Professor Geraldine Thomas of Imperial College in London didn't believe the study at all.
“Unfortunately this is yet another paper with insufficient power to distinguish real effects and relevance to human health,” she said. “We know that one of the most damaging health effects comes from fear of radiation, not radiation itself.”
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The annual Arctic thaw has kicked off with record-setting ice melt and sea ice loss that is several weeks ahead of schedule, scientists said, as the New York Times reported.
'This Should Scare the Hell Out of You': Photo of Greenland Sled Dog Teams Walking on Melted Water Goes Viral
By Jon Queally
In yet the latest shocking image depicting just how fast the world's natural systems are changing due to the global climate emergency, a photograph showing a vast expanse of melted Arctic ice in Greenland — one in which a pair of sled dog teams appear to be walking on water — has gone viral.
By Tia Schwab
It has been almost a year since Hurricane Florence slammed the Carolinas, dumping a record 30 inches of rainfall in some parts of the states. At least 52 people died, and property and economic losses reached $24 billion, with nearly $17 billion in North Carolina alone. Flood waters also killed an estimated 3.5 million chickens and 5,500 hogs.
'Huge Victory' for Grassroots Climate Campaigners as NY Lawmakers Reach Deal on Sweeping Climate Legislation
By Julia Conley
Grassroots climate campaigners in New York applauded on Monday after state lawmakers reached a deal on sweeping climate legislation, paving the way for the passage of what could be some of the country's most ambitious environmental reforms.
Tens of Thousands Flee Extreme Heatwave in India as Temperatures Topping 120°F Kill Dozens Across Country
By Julia Conley
Nearly 50 people died on Saturday in one Indian state as record-breaking heatwaves across the country have caused an increasingly desperate situation.
By Will J. Grant
In an ideal world, people would look at issues with a clear focus only on the facts. But in the real world, we know that doesn't happen often.
People often look at issues through the prism of their own particular political identity — and have probably always done so.