Thousands More Radiation-Related Deaths Expected From Fukushima, Study
By Rebecca Lim | Health & Medicine
July 20, 2012
Thousands of deaths could still be expected from the Fukushima nuclear fallout in the years to come, according to the first estimate of the disaster’s worldwide impact.
AsianScientist (Jul. 20, 2012) – Thousands of deaths could still be expected from the Fukushima nuclear fallout in the years to come, according to the first estimate of the disaster’s worldwide impact.
The research, published in the latest edition of the journal Energy & Environmental Science, found that inhalation exposure, external exposure, and ingestion exposure of the public to radioactivity may result in up to 1,300 cancer mortalities and up to 2,500 cancer morbidities worldwide, mostly in Japan.
Stanford University researchers John Ten Hoeve and Mark Jacobson feel that the risk of a meltdown is not small, given that “modest to major radionuclide releases (occurred) in almost 1.5 percent of all reactors ever built.”
However, according to them, deaths relating to Fukushima “may be less than Chernobyl, due to a lower total emission of radioactivity, lower radioactivity deposition rates over land and more precautionary measures taken immediately following the Fukushima accident.”
“The number of projected mortalities, however, is still considerably smaller than the nearly 20,000 mortalities from the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami and is also smaller than the estimated number of projected mortalities from the Chernobyl nuclear accident.”
Estimates in the paper do not account for the increased radiation risk to the roughly 20,000 workers at the plant in the months following the accident.
Psychological effects such as depression, anxiety, fear, and unexplained physical symptoms which were seen post-Chernobyl, are likely to be repeated in evacuees after Fukushima, they say.
In his response to the paper, also published in Energy & Environmental Science, Nobel Prize winning American physicist Burton Richter said that health effects in Japan would have been “much worse with fossil fuel used to generate the same amount of electricity as was nuclear generated”.
“It seems that clear that considering only the electricity generated by the Fukushima plant, nuclear is much less damaging to health than coal and somewhat better than gas even after including (Fukushima),” Richter added.
The article can be found at: Ten Hoeve et al. (2012) Worldwide health effects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.
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