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Japan Medicine Power Science

Fukushima's Fallout of Fear 124

gbrumfiel writes "Experts believe that the many thousands who fled from the Fukushima nuclear disaster received very low doses of radiation. But that doesn't mean there won't be health consequences. Nature magazine traveled to Fukushima prefecture and found evidence of an enormous mental strain from the accident. Levels of anxiety and PTSD-like symptoms are high among evacuees. Researchers fear that, in the long run, the mental problems could lead to depression and substance abuse among those who lost their homes. In other words, even if no one develops cancer as a direct result of radiation, the health effects could still be very real."
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Fukushima's Fallout of Fear

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  • by Robotbeat ( 461248 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @06:22PM (#42609783) Journal

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2013/01/11/like-weve-been-saying-radiation-is-not-a-big-deal/ [forbes.com]

    "A very big report came out last month with very little fanfare. It concluded what we in nuclear science have been saying for decades – radiation doses less than about 10 rem (0.1 Sv) are no big deal. The linear no-threshold dose hypothesis (LNT) does not apply to doses less than 10 rem (0.1 Sv), which is the region encompassing background levels around the world, and is the region of most importance to nuclear energy, most medical procedures and most areas affected by accidents like Fukushima."

  • by iYk6 ( 1425255 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @06:30PM (#42609911)

    Or even more reason to be afraid...IIRC part of the problem was they weren't telling people how bad it really was wasn't it?

    That was the problem. By lying, officials were indirectly telling people that the nuclear disaster was so bad that they had to lie. Plus, not knowing how bad it is adds another layer of stress.

  • by maxwell demon ( 590494 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @07:03PM (#42610417) Journal

    Quite the opposite. There's nothing causing more fear than the government found downplaying the danger. As soon as the government is found downplaying, all claims by the government that there's no or only little danger completely lose any credibility they may have had, and people assume the worst.

  • by A beautiful mind ( 821714 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @07:19PM (#42610647)

    I'm going to undo a bunch of mod points with this post, but I wanted to point out that the blog post you cite is flat out wrong.

    I'd like to say that I'm for building more nuclear plants of 4th or later generation design and that even with the LNT model, the maximum number of deaths from Fukushima might be on the level of a single bus accident. That said, the blogpost is incredibly misleading. It took me a while to track down the original source that the post claims to cite from UNSCEAR and it's this paragraph:

    In general, increases in the incidence of health effects in populations cannot be attributed reliably to chronic exposure to radiation at levels that are typical of the global average background levels of radiation. This is because of the uncertainties associated with the assessment of risks at low doses, the current absence of radiation-specific biomarkers for health effects and the insufficient statistical power of epidemiological studies. Therefore, the Scientific Committee does not recommend multiplying very low doses by large numbers of individuals to estimate numbers of radiation-induced health effects within a population exposed to incremental doses at levels equivalent to or lower than natural background levels;

    What they are saying in short is that the statistical uncertainty is strong enough at low levels of radiation doses WRT cancer risk is that it's not possible to tell whether the LNT model is true or not and THEREFOR it shouldn't be used to say "this many people will die from this much low level radiation". They aren't saying that LNT is wrong. They aren't saying that LNT is right. They are saying we don't know.

    The quote from the report is from here [unscear.org]. It's from the latest report to the general assembly, page 16.

"The way of the world is to praise dead saints and prosecute live ones." -- Nathaniel Howe