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Japan Medicine

First Cancer Case Confirmed From Fukushima Cleanup (nhk.or.jp) 138

AmiMoJo writes: Japan's labor ministry has confirmed the first cancer case related to work at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Following on from reports of elevated levels of child cancer and 1,600 civilians deaths from the evacuation, this is the first time that one of the 44,000 people involved in the clean up operation has been diagnosed with cancer resulting directly from the accident. The worker was involved in recovery and cleanup efforts at the plant after it suffered a meltdown in March, 2011. He was in his late 30s at the time, and has been diagnosed with leukemia. The ministry has approved workers' compensation. Radiation exposure has been linked to the onset of leukemia.
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First Cancer Case Confirmed From Fukushima Cleanup

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  • Criteria from TFA (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It is important to know their criteria for the decision, not just the decision itself.
    From TFA:
    "Ministry experts determined that he was likely to have contracted leukemia following cleanup work at Fukushima Daiichi. They found he had been exposed to a total of 19.8 millisieverts of radiation from his work at various plants. He was exposed to 15.7 millisieverts at the Fukushima plant.

    Compensation is granted if a nuclear power plant worker has been exposed to annual radiation of 5 milliseverts and has develop

    • if a nuclear power plant worker has been exposed to annual radiation of 5 milliseverts and has developed cancer more than a year afterward."

      A pretty good deal for the worker considering natural background exposure can be over 10 times that, and airline crews get twice that per year.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo&world3,net> on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @04:13AM (#50771473) Homepage

        Background exposure is rather different to the type of exposure the workers got at the plant. Most background exposure can't even penetrate the outer layer of the skin. It's also worth pointing out that where background levels are high, much of it is often due to radiation from the sun, and that is actually quite dangerous if you get too much exposure, especially if you have white skin.

        The exposure that the workers got involved material like caesium, which got inside the bodies and can't easily be removed. When treated for cancer it was possible to examine blood or tumours that were removed and see these particles in them, indicating the source of the DNA damage that lead to cancer.

        • You are just coming up with bullshit you must have picked up from some anti-nuke blog. No, workers have not ingested cesium.
        • Background exposure is rather different to the type of exposure the workers got at the plant. Most background exposure can't even penetrate the outer layer of the skin.

          In which case it's not exposure, and not counted. Background exposure can come from inhaled alpha emitters (e.g. radon), beta emitters in food, external gamma from rocks etc. It's not qualitatively different from what the workers were exposed to in terms of effects.

          It's also worth pointing out that where background levels are high, much of it is often due to radiation from the sun, and that is actually quite dangerous if you get too much exposure, especially if you have white skin.

          It's dangerous because of UV, which doesn't count as ionizing radiation in this context and isn't included in the "background radiation" measurements.

          The exposure that the workers got involved material like caesium, which got inside the bodies and can't easily be removed. When treated for cancer it was possible to examine blood or tumours that were removed and see these particles in them, indicating the source of the DNA damage that lead to cancer.

          No, all it shows is that these substances were present, not that it was the cause of the cancer.

  • Meaningless (Score:2, Insightful)

    by quenda ( 644621 )
    Over 1% of the population will be diagnosed with leukaemia at some point in their lives. So of 44,000 people, that is many hundreds. One case is statistical noise. If his exposure was really only 19.8 millisieverts, its probably not the cause.
    • So far, Fukushima workers as a group are experiencing much lower than normal Leukemia rates. Where is that headline?
      • by Cyberax ( 705495 )
        In another news, Whole Foods now offers a "Piece Of Fukushima" line of face creams. They're aimed at organic-gluten-free-vegan crowd and reduce the risk of leukemia. They also glow in the dark.
  • Albeit for the U.S. since I can't read Japanese. The death rate from leukemia in the U.S. [cdc.gov] (p. 401) is about 3.8 per 100,000 for males aged 45-54 (figure a few years between diagnosis and death, since he was diagnosed in his late 30s). It's tough to say for certain without a demographic breakdown of the 44,000 clean-up workers. But 1 case per 44,000 (2.3 per 100,000) is pretty close to what you would expect from the general population.
  • Condolences (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 20, 2015 @11:08PM (#50770651)

    I know there's a lot of speculation and argument as to why but I think we're losing focus.
    The fact is that a person who is sick because of this disaster and helped lessen it's influence is ill.
    God speed to them and my best wishes.

    You did great for your country and your people, and you have my respect from thousands of miles away.

  • "Clean, safe, and too cheap to meter"

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      Well it is, as long as you can be allowed to upgrade/replace aging reactors and not blocked by environmentalists and anti-nuke protesters from building a safer replacement.

      • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

        Well it is, as long as you can be allowed to upgrade/replace aging reactors and not blocked by environmentalists and anti-nuke protesters from building a safer replacement.

        In the US then 2005 energy act prevents those people and local councils from interfering with the placement of nuclear facilities.

        • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

          Luckily that's the US and not Japan huh? The Abe government in Japan pass something similar with the restart of nuclear plants there due to that problem.

  • by ConstantineM ( 965345 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @12:54AM (#50771005)

    In the US, they've entertained the idea to stop testing donor's blood for HTLV-1/2 because it's so rare in North America, but in Japan, the virus is epidemic.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H... [wikipedia.org]

    Based on the criteria for compensation described in the article, it looks like the HTLV status of this worker has never been taken into any consideration, so just because his claim was valid and was accepted, doesn't at all mean that there's a correlation between the events.

  • It is the radio-isotopes ejected from the exploding reactors that are the threat to people, as opposed to the radiation. Radioactive *isotopes* analogue other elements when presented to a metabolism in the food chain. Take plutonium for example, it analogues iron when presented to a human metabolism, is a high energy alpha emitter and is extremely toxic.

    Oppenheimer's work found that 1 millionth of a gram of plutonium is a carcinogenic dose in the human body and Leukemia is a consequence of absorbing plut

    • That these cases are happening in 2015 suggests that the people working at the reactor suffered much more exposure than we were led to believe by TEPCO.

      Literally every public statement by TEPCO during the early stages of the disaster (To quote Holly from Red Dwarf, "It's an emergency, and it's still going on") was a lie. They lied about every milestone and they lied about the amount of material released every single time, over a half a dozen times in a row in fact. TEPCO has proven that you cannot trust any of their claims.

      • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

        TEPCO has proven that you cannot trust any of their claims.

        Indeed, it would seem to be the one reliable thing that have done.

  • Ministry experts determined that he was likely to have contracted leukemia following cleanup work at Fukushima Daiichi.

    The Ministry confirmed nothing.

    Compensation is granted if a nuclear power plant worker has been exposed to annual radiation of 5 milliseverts and has developed cancer more than a year afterward.

    The claimant does not have to even show that the cancer is related to the work. It may or may not be but based on the chance they get compensated.

    I know it is strange for some countries but some governments compensate based on likely causes and not absolute proof.

  • Elevated by increased screening, not by radiation. http://thebreakthrough.org/ind... [thebreakthrough.org]

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