Is Fukushima Causing Health Problems In the United States?
Infants are much more vulnerable to radiation than adults. And see this. However, radiation safety standards are set based on the assumption that everyone in the world is a healthy man in his 20s. Now, a medical doctor (Janette D. Sherman, M. D.) and epidemiologist (Joseph Mangano) have released a study showing a 28% increase in thyroid problems in babies born in Hawaii and America’s West Coast after the Fukushima nuclear accident.
Janette Sherman, M.D. worked for the Atomic Energy Commission (forerunner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission) at the University of California in Berkeley, and for the U.S. Navy Radiation Defense Laboratory in San Francisco. She served on the EPA’s advisory board for 6 years, and has been an advisor to the National Cancer Institute on breast cancer. Dr. Sherman specializes in internal medicine and toxicology with an emphasis on chemicals and nuclear radiation.
Joseph J. Mangano is a public health administrator and researcher who has studied the connection between low-dose radiation exposure and subsequent risk of diseases such as cancer and damage to newborns. He has published numerous articles and letters in medical and other journals in addition to books, including Low Level Radiation and Immune System Disorders: An Atomic Era Legacy.
Their new study – published in the Open Journal of Pediatrics – is entitled “Elevated airborne beta levels in Pacific/West Coast US States and trends in hypothyroidism among newborns after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown.”
Common Dreams notes:
[The study found that] children born in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington between one week and 16 weeks after the meltdown began are 28 percent more likely to suffer from congenital hypothyroidism (CH) than were kids born in those states during the same period one year earlier.
CH results from a build up of radioactive iodine in our thyroids and can result in stunted growth, lowered intelligence, deafness, and neurological abnormalities—though can be treated if detected early.
According to researchers from the Radiation and Public Health Project who performed the study, “Fukushima fallout appeared to affect all areas of the US, and was especially large in some, mostly in the western part of the nation.” They add that CH can provide an early measure to “assess any potential changes in US fetal and infant health status after Fukushima because official data was available relatively promptly.”
Health researcher Joe Mangano similarly cautioned, “Reports of rising numbers of West Coast infants with under-active thyroid glands after Fukushima suggest that Americans may have been harmed by Fukushima fallout. Studies, especially of the youngest, must proceed immediately.”Sherman and Mangano published an essay in June 2011 claiming that the 35% spike in infant mortality in Northwest cities since the Fukushima meltdown might have been caused by radiation and they published a study in December 2011 in the peer-reviewed journal International Journal of Health Services, alleging that 14,000 people had already died in the United States due to Fukushima. A Scientific American blog post and Med Page Today slammed the study as being voodoo science. However, Scientific American does admit:
Earlier this year, the Fukushima Prefecture Health Management Survey found that more than 40 percent of the Japanese children studied showed evidence of thyroid abnormalities, which Wasserman says signifies a “horrifying plague.”
Certainly radiation from Fukushima is dangerous, and could very well lead to negative health effects—even across the Pacific.
Update: ABC 10 News and MSN’s Healthy Living have picked up on the story.