Potential health consequences of the explosion at the Fukushima reactor in Japan
Below we offer basic advice for people living downwind of the releases of radioactivity.
On BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend, 13th March, Dr. Chris Busby spoke about the potential health effects of the Fukushima explosion. Listen here (the site may prompt you to download software to enable you to listen. Dr. Busby's interview is 9 minutes into the broadcast).
Dr. Busby said the reassurances being issued now by official sources and by apologists for the nuclear industry are exactly the same as those issued 25 years ago, at the time of Chernobyl. Risks were understated, as show by subsequent epidemiological studies.
Statements about allegedly low health risks are based on rates of gamma radiation measured at the site perimeter. These take no account of radiation from alpha-emitting radionuclides such as Uranium and Plutonium. It is of particular concern that the number 3 reactor at Fukushima which is now in a problematic condition is fuelled with Mixed-Oxide fuel containing Plutonium.
The health consequences of exposure to radioactive releases from nuclear plant cannot be accurately assessed by making radiation measurements based on absorbed dose. The authorities already downplay risks on the basis of the false radiation risk model advised by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). This is an exact replication of the responses to the similar Chernobyl explosion. The effects of the Chernobyl accident have been devastating and continue to affect the health of the exposed populations as far away from Chernobyl as Europe and the USA. 1A major volume published in 2010 by the New York Academy of Sciences reveals a death toll of approaching 1 million persons by 2005.
Absorbed dose readings (milliSieverts) cannot be employed as measures of risk because some radioactive substances act from within the body, with especially high risk imparted by those that bind to DNA (e.g Strontium-90 and Uranium). Dose to the local tissue or DNA can be enormous while the average dose recorded by a Geiger counter may be barely detectable. (More information)
If significant amounts of radioactivity from the Fukushima plume approach populated centres in any country (e.g. the western USA) the European Committee on Radiation Risk advises:
Do not believe assurances from radiation protection advisors working for any government. They are based on an obsolete model. This is a potential Chernobyl level event and must be seen as extremely serious.
If possible obtain a Geiger Counter or a similar radiation detector or readings from someone who owns one. If the readings increase to more that twice the normal background in your area or to a level of more than 300nSv/h (300nGy/h) then:
Get away as soon as possible to a clean area. If it is not possible to evacuate, stay indoors and keep all the doors and windows closed for as long as the radiation levels are higher than normal. Try to keep the house sealed as far as possible.
Drink bottled water, use only tinned milk. Avoid fresh garden produce. (We acknowledge that this is difficult advice for the people of Japan, where local produce is economically important.) Await further bulletins on this site and ECRR