by JENNIFER LANCE
Despite assurances by the US government, many of us living on the West Coast were very concerned after the fallout from the Fukushima nuclear disaster. We stocked up on seaweed and potassium iodine. We gavekelp to our pets.
Two years ago, I wrote
The magnitude of the Japanese earthquake is beyond comprehension. My children have watched images on the news, and my six-year-old son repeatedly asks, “Why?” I do my best to explain plate tectonics, but the truth is I have no idea how to explain to my children about the imminent nuclear catastrophe, other than we live in One World.
We live on the west coast. Prevailing winds will bring radioactive emissions to us in three to ten days, from various sources I have read. Some of it has probably already reached us.
Then, the news a year later was that the radioactive fallout that reached the United States was potentially responsible for an increase in deaths, especially for children under one year of age.
Despite assurances from the US government that the amount of radiation reaching America from the nuclear disaster at Japan’s Fukushima plant following the tragic earthquake were safe, many of us felt the need to protect our families. We were told radiation levels were no greater than taking a flight on an airplane or receiving dental x-rays, yet the fact that this was additional radiation to these “normal” sources was largely overlooked.
Did this increase in radiation from the nuclear disaster contribute to health problems that led to an increase in US death rates, especially for children under one year of age?
Now, a peer-reviewed study has examined the increase in US deaths following Japan’s nuclear disaster, and the numbers are staggering and comparable to Chernobyl.
Market Watch further explains:
Just six days after the disastrous meltdowns struck four reactors at Fukushima on March 11, scientists detected the plume of toxic fallout had arrived over American shores. Subsequent measurements by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found levels of radiation in air, water, and milk hundreds of times above normal across the U.S. The highest detected levels of Iodine-131 in precipitation in the U.S. were as follows (normal is about 2 picocuries I-131 per liter of water): Boise, ID (390); Kansas City (200); Salt Lake City (190); Jacksonville, FL (150); Olympia, WA (125); and Boston, MA (92)…
Internist and toxicologist Janette Sherman, MD, said: “Based on our continuing research, the actual death count here may be as high as 18,000, with influenza and pneumonia, which were up five-fold in the period in question as a cause of death. Deaths are seen across all ages, but we continue to find that infants are hardest hit because their tissues are rapidly multiplying, they have undeveloped immune systems, and the doses of radioisotopes are proportionally greater than for adults.”
Two years later, the grim news continues as we discover that US Babies are sick with congenital hypothyroidism from Fukushima radiation.
For babies born in the western states (Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California) shortly after the Fukushima disaster, radiation caused an increase of hypthyroidism.
MSN reports on this new study:
The study, conducted by scientists with the Radiation and Public Health Project, found that babies born shortly after the incident were 28 percent more likely to suffer from congenital hypothyroidism than were children born in those states during the same period one year earlier. In the rest of the U.S., which received less radioactive fallout, the risks actually decreased slightly compared with the year before.
The explosions produced the radioisotope iodine-131, which floated east over the Pacific Ocean and landed through precipitation on West Coast states as well as other Pacific countries. The levels of that isotope were measured in levels hundreds of times greater than supposedly safe levels. Radioactive iodine accumulates in human thyroid glands, and, in babies and fetuses, the radiation can stunt the growth and development of both the body and the brain. That condition is congenital hypothyroidism (which, luckily, is treatable when and if detected early).
Fukushima fallout appeared to affect all areas of the U.S., and was especially large in some, mostly in the western part of the nation, the study said.
Hypothyroidism refers to an underactive thyroid, i.e. it is not producing enough hormones. According to the Mayo Clinic, if left untreated it can lead to “obesity, joint pain, infertility and heart disease”. It is traditionally treated with synthetic hormones, but there are natural treatments, such as eating gluten-free.