The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Thyroid Cancer in Young People Surge in Fukushima Since Nuclear Meltdown
The impact of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown on the region's young people is starting to add up.
104 of the area's 300,000 young people who were under 18 at the time of the disaster have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shinbun reported yesterday. This form of cancer has been linked to radiation exposure.
But, government officials in Fukushima say they do not believe the cases of thyroid gland cancer diagnosed or suspected in the 104 young people are linked to the 2011 nuclear accident.
It helps their denial that experts disagree on whether these cases of thyroid cancer can be traced back to the meltdown, which released radiation over a large area. While the slow-developing cancer only appeared in young people four years after the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown in Ukraine, radiation biology professor Yoshio Hosoi told The Asahi Shinbun that better tests allow earlier diagnoses.
“Many people are being diagnosed with cancer at this time, thanks to the high-precision tests,” he said. “We must continue closely examining the people’s health in order to determine the impact of radiation exposure on causing thyroid tumors.”
Whatever the government believes at this time, scientists and public health experts are calling for ongoing studies.
The Ashai Shinbun reports:
Hokuto Hoshi, who chairs a panel that discusses matters related to the prefectural survey on the health impact from radiation on Fukushima’s residents, said the panel’s subcommittee will soon analyze the test results to determine the impact of the accident on the thyroid tumor rate. The prefecture also plans to continue medical checkups on residents in the prefecture and use the test results as a basis for comparison in the future, prefectural officials said.
"The rising number of thyroid cancer cases in Fukushima area children exposed to the meltdown is disturbing," says Joseph Mangano MPH MBA, executive director of the Radiation and Public Health Project. "The 104 cases either confirmed or very likely to be confirmed is far greater than the expected number of seven for a population of children that size over a three year period. Thyroid cancer is only one of the many diseases whose risk increases after a meltdown, and researchers must conduct studies, both in Japan and other affected nations."
The full extent of the risk from exposure to very high levels of radiation exposure is unknown. The high level of secrecy and denial over those impacts followed both the Chernobyl meltdown and the 1979 Three Mile Island meltdown in Pennsylvania made the true human cost of the disasters hard to map.
"The massive releases of Iodine 131 spewed out by Fukushima guarantee a skyrocketing thyroid cancer rate among the children in the region," says Harvey Wasserman, editor of Nukefree.org and author of SOLARTOPIA! "A parallel tragedy has been unfolding at Chernobyl for nearly 30 years, and at Three Mile Island since 1979. There is no doubt people—especially children—have been maimed and killed by these releases. But the nuclear industry has been very good at covering them up. Hopefully at Fukushima independent researchers can tell us the real story."
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
'This is a Sick Statement': Brazil’s Bolsonaro, Under Pressure for Anti-Environmental Policies, Blames NGOs for Record Amazon Fires
'Work Together' or 'Destroy it': Goldman Prize Winner Francia Márquez on World's Second Deadliest Country For Environmental Activists
In April 2018, Afro-Colombian activist Francia Márquez won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, thanks to her work to retake her community's ancestral territories from illegal gold mining. However, her international recognition comes at a very risky price.
By Stuart Braun
A year after activist Greta Thunberg first stood in the rain outside the Swedish parliament with her now iconic "Skolstrejk för klimatet" — school strike for the climate — placard, the movement she spawned has set the tone for environmental protest action around the world.
Toy maker Hasbro wants to play in the eco-packaging game. The board game giant will ditch its plastic packaging by 2022. The move means that games like Monopoly, Scrabble and Operation will no longer have shrink wrap, window sheets, plastic bags or elastic bands, as the Associated Press reported.
By Jessica Corbett
Pointing to the deaths of more than half a billion bees in Brazil over a period of just four months, beekeepers, experts and activists are raising concerns about the soaring number of new pesticides greenlighted for use by the Brazilian government since far-right President Jair Bolsonaro took office in January — and the threat that it poses to pollinators, people and the planet.
By Elliott Negin
On July 19, President Trump hosted Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins and their families, along with the family of their deceased colleague Neil Armstrong, at a White House event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first manned landing on the moon.