Infant Mortality on Pacific Coast Jumped after Fukushima

Ever since radioactive leaks were reported at the Fukushima nuclear power facility on the northeast Japanese coast following the earthquake and tsunami, American officialdom has stolidy insisted that no matter what, radioactive fallout from Japan would have no effect on the US.  Pacific currents flowing past Fukushima and winds circulating overhead go across the  Pacific and onto the Pacific coast. As the Japanese balloon bomb attacks during World War II demonstrated, the prevailing winds carried the balloons far into the middle of the continent.But the US apparently  considers the winds and ocean currents to be  of scant significance. The government doesn’t test fish along the northern Pacific coast.It insists increases in radioactive fallout across the continental US are slight and of no threat to health. Charts plotting the course of tsunami debris across the Pacific towards the US are seen as of little consequence..

   Nonetheless, questions remain,especially in light of the fact that Japanese officials now say  three Fukushima reactors suffered meltdown, accompanied by leaks into the air ,ground water and closeby Pacific ocean

  This from a recent Washington Post piece:

 N uclear fuel at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi power plant began melting just five hours after Japan’s March 11 earthquake, a Japanese nuclear engineer told a panel of U.S. scientists Thursday.About 11 hours later, all of the uranium fuel in the facility’s unit 1 reactor had slumped to the bottom of its inner containment vessel, boring a hole through a thick steel lining, the University of Tokyo’s Naoto Sekimura told a committee of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sekimura’s assessment further damages the credibility of the plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco). This week, the company admitted for the first time that nuclear fuel in three of the plant’s reactors had melted — a conclusion that independent scientists had reached long ago

   Last week Washington blog picked up and printed the following report,which raises more questions. “Now, writes the blog, “ a physician (Janette D. Sherman, M. D.) and epidemiologist (Joseph Mangano) have penned a short but horrifying essay asking whether a spike in infant deaths in the Northwest are due to Fukushima”:

The recent CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report indicates that eight cities in the northwest U.S. (Boise ID, Seattle WA, Portland OR, plus the northern California cities of Santa Cruz, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, and Berkeley) reported the following data on deaths among those younger than one year of age:

4 weeks ending March 19, 2011 – 37 deaths (avg. 9.25 per week)
10 weeks ending May 28, 2011 – 125 deaths (avg.12.50 per week)

This amounts to an increase of 35% (the total for the entire U.S. rose about 2.3%), and is statistically significant. Of further significance is that those dates include the four weeks before and the ten weeks after the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster. In 2001 the infant mortality was 6.834 per 1000 live births, increasing to 6.845 in 2007. All years from 2002 to 2007 were higher than the 2001 rate.

***

Data from Chernobyl, which exploded 25 years ago, clearly shows increased numbers of sick and weak newborns and increased numbers of deaths in the unborn and newborns, especially soon after the meltdown. These occurred in Europe as well as the former Soviet Union. Similar findings are also seen in wildlife living in areas with increased radioactive fallout levels.
(Chernobyl – Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment, Alexeiy V. Yablokov, Vasily B. Nesterenko, and Alexey V. Nesterenko. Consulting Editor: Janette D. Sherman-Nevinger. New York Academy of Sciences, 2009.)

Levels of radioisotopes were measured in children who had died in the Minsk area that had received Chernobyl fallout. The cardiac findings were the same as those seen in test animals that had been administered Cs-137. Bandashevsky, Y. I, Pathology of Incorporated Ionizing Radiation, Belarus Technical University, Minsk. 136 pp., 1999. For his pioneering work, Prof. Bandashevsky was arrested in 2001 and imprisoned for five years of an eight year sentence.

***

Why should we care if there may be is a link between Fukushima and the death of children? Because we need to measure the actual levels of isotopes in the environment and in the bodies of people exposed to determine if the fallout is killing our most vulnerable. The research is not technically difficult – the political and economic barriers may be greater. Bandshevsky and others did it and confirmed the connection. The information is available in the Chernobyl book. (Previously cited.)The biological findings of Chernobyl cannot be ignored: isotope incorporation will determine the future of all life on earth – animal, fish, bird, plant and human. It is crucial to know this information if we are to avoid further catastrophic damage.

41 responses to “Infant Mortality on Pacific Coast Jumped after Fukushima

  1. Thanks for a very sound — and sobering — report. We owe it to generations to follow and to ourselves to do a reality check on our government’s official reports. And to take all necessary action to stop the nuclear power madness.

  2. Sensationalism

    This is such BS.

    They cherry-picked the cities and weeks to include in their tally to make it look like an increase in deaths when there isn’t any trend. Why include Boise and not include Tacoma or Spokane? Why not include Hawaii, which is a hell of a lot closer? All of these are in the data, but they omitted them.

    http://batchgeo.com/map/47afa51f11d75282284a2c6c34893dc5

    Why include only 4 weeks before the event but 10 weeks after? If you go to the original dataset (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/) and include all the cities on the West coast, the number of deaths goes slightly down, not up.

    There’s no “dramatic increase” here, it’s just small random variations. Even if there were an increase, it’s absurd to jump to the conclusion that it’s caused by Fukushima just because they happened around the same time.

    Don’t believe everything some dope writes on the Internet.

  3. There is just one problem with the essay by Sherman and Mangano: It is nonsense because they cherry-pick the data. There is no peak in child mortality. Instead they compare with a few weeks where there happens to be a dip in child mortality. Very dishonest way of handling data, especially if you are a Medical Doctor who proclaims that you care about people’s health and want to educate them.

    You can check it for yourself, I put the plots on our blog:
    http://nuclearpoweryesplease.org/blog/2011/06/17/shame-on-you-janette-sherman-and-joseph-mangano/

  4. I wonder if the above two writers really believe that there not been and will not be serious negative effects from the massive amounts of radioactive materials released at Fukushima. Or do they believe that that anti-nuclear scientists and MDs are spending their spare time plotting to defame the nuclear power industry.by skewing statistics? Of course the exact opposite is true. The exceedingly powerful nuclear power industry,,with the beloved Tepco corporation in the lead in this instance, is doing everything possible to deny the horrific effects and the dire future ramifications of radioactive fallout, including dismissing verifiable scientific evidence of hot debris and particles which have been found in abundance on US shores and inland, and, the coast of Mexico, as well as all over Europe.in plants and crops. .

  5. Sensationalism

    “I wonder if the above two writers really believe that there not been and will not be serious negative effects from the massive amounts of radioactive materials released at Fukushima.”

    I believe there will be negative effects from the radioactive materials released at Fukushima. To deny this would be absurd. It’s a matter of the amount of danger, not whether the danger exists or not. Is it as bad as the earthquake and tsunami? Is it as bad as the effects of radiation and toxic waste released every day by coal power plants?

    “Or do they believe that that anti-nuclear scientists and MDs are spending their spare time plotting to defame the nuclear power industry.by skewing statistics?”

    Clearly, they are. This report about infant mortality is a LIE. Plain and simple. They cherry-picked data to create the illusion of an effect that doesn’t exist in reality. Then they jumped to the conclusion that it was caused by Fukushima, with absolutely zero evidence, and no plausible mechanism of action. They didn’t even consider possible local causes, seasonal changes in birth rates, etc. There may be detectable radiation levels in the US from Fukushima, but that says more about the sensitivity of the detectors than it does about any danger. Barely detectable levels of radiation do not cause plagues of supercancer that kill babies within days.

    “to deny the horrific effects and the dire future ramifications of radioactive fallout, including dismissing verifiable scientific evidence of hot debris and particles which have been found in abundance on US shores and inland, and, the coast of Mexico, as well as all over Europe.in plants and crops.”

    What horrific effects? This one is a lie. Do you have evidence of others? Certainly there will be in Japan, I believe people there have received radiation poisoning, but that doesn’t mean there will be problems elsewhere in the world.

  6. In response to the folks at “Nuclear Power Yes Please” (that is their website) certain questions arise. First of all they apparently work for the nuclear power industry and thus have a vested economic and personal interest in advocating for expansion of this industry. I don’t think they have read the Ridgeway piece carefully, much less the citations to sources, and I very much doubt they will be persuaded by any data or account of the dangers to the human race, and to most forms of life on earth, presented by exposure to atomic radiation. I wonder if they are old enough to have memories of Chernobyl, Three Mile Island to say nothing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I wonder if they have even a basic level of understanding of nuclear energy and radiation. Their suggestion that future problems will be specific only to tiny Japan indicates poor comprehension of basic earth science.
    I only hope that younger generations don’t have their heads this far in the sand since it is they and their children who will live with most the consequences.

  7. @BJ Sachs:
    I wonder if you really took a look at our plots and tried to understand them? If yes, would you be so kind to drop the finger pointing and instead point out what is wrong with showing more of the data than what Sherman and Mangano do? If not, please go back and try to understand them.

    Sensationalism uses a different approach than mine, but both conclusions are the same, Sherman and Mangano, supposedly honorable M.D.s with people’s good health as the first priority, are intentionally trying to deceive and scare millions of people into thinking like them. And yes, they spend time on this, and some of them even make money from it.
    You can complain as much as you like over Tepco and other “evil industries”, we all know that their first priority is to make money. And we can all agree that Tepco has a very bad track record. But please do not make excuses for people who use their academic titles as an excuse for handling public data in not so honest ways just because it happens to fit their agendas.

    Besides this, I agree with every word of Sensationalism in his/her reply to you. One paradox with radioactivity is that we can measure tiny amounts of it so easily. You probably remember that there was an oil refinery in Chiba (east of Tokyo) that was on fire for ten days, pictures of very dramatic explosions from there were often used in media articles with contents about Fukushima (yet another way to scare people about nuclear power, it was not enough with the hydrogen explosions, we need fire balls as well to sell the story!). Where do you think all that soot and other nasty (cancerogenous?) particles ended up? They have been spread around the planet in the same way as the Iodine and Caesium from Fukushima, and probably we are all breathing it, with potential health effects (though most likely negligible, just like the Iodine and Caesium that reached us). Why is nobody talking about it? Because it does not contain the words “nuclear” or “radiation”. And because it is so much more difficult to detect. But make no mistake, it is there.

  8. Sensationalism

    “Anyone who disagrees with me must be a corporate shill. They’re only saying what they say because they’re paid to. They are evil. Deep down they know it’s all a lie. I won’t even try to consider their viewpoints or look into their data, because it’s all lies. I’m closing my eyes and plugging my ears and shutting off my brain.”

  9. @BJ Sachs, June 17, 2011 at 12:20 pm,

    “First of all they apparently work for the nuclear power industry and thus have a vested economic and personal interest in advocating for expansion of this industry. ”

    I guess that it will not convince you, but you are welcome to take a look at the “About”-page on our web site:
    http://nuclearpoweryesplease.org/about.html

    ” I don’t think they have read the Ridgeway piece carefully, much less the citations to sources, and I very much doubt they will be persuaded by any data or account of the dangers to the human race, and to most forms of life on earth, presented by exposure to atomic radiation.”

    Which citations do you mean? There is a link to the Washington Post article, one to the Washington blog entry (with basically the same quote of the Sherman-Mangano article) and then one link to the Yablokov book (which Sherman edited and somehow managed to get through the NYAS). I have not read the latter one yet, will do so as soon as I find the time. It has received harsh criticism from most experts in the field (not that you would listen to them, they must obviously all be bought by the nuclear industry). Well, let’s say that every word in it is true and that I will accept it as the truth. Then the question still remains why Sherman has made such a low quality investigation in infant mortality and tries to sell her message by referring to data in in this way. If she knows what she is doing, she should do things right instead of undermining whatever credibility she has by making such an embarrasingly lousy study.

    I am old enough to remember Harrisburg and Chernobyl, thank you for asking! Living in Sweden, a country that got plenty of the fallout from Chernobyl, it has affected my adolescence significantly. Plainly speaking, it scared the shit out of me, and it didn’t help much to listen to Greenpeace and other so called environmental organisations who have a vested interest in keeping me scared instead of understanding the risks with ionising radiation and nuclear power.

    And yes, we are pro-nuclear, but it does not mean that we are closing our eyes to the problems that nuclear power have. We just don’t buy into the story that it is the greatest evil of all and that all problems with other energy sources are negligible. Personally I think that the anti-nuclear movement is very important in order to point out various problems with nuclear power and the fuel cycle (environmental, ethical, safety, etc). But to be taken seriously, they need to stop promoting and defending this kind of nonsense that Sherman and Mangano just showed themselves able to create. I learn a lot from reading anti-nuclear literature, but most of the times I learn that nuclear power is not so bad after all, after checking the statements made in this literature.

    You raise a lot of questions regarding us as persons and our competence. Why don’t you start with giving a full description of yourself, your background, your competence and experience related to these matters? If not, then please drop the finger pointing and address what is said instead of worrying so much about who is saying it. I could be the C.E.O. of Tepco, it does not make my scrutiny of Sherman and Mangano’s statements any less valid than if I was the president of Greenpeace.

  10. My credentials, the ones that count at least, are that I am a fairly intelligent human, with good survival instincts, and an interest in learning about everything that affects our world and present and future generations. I sympathize with the terror you experienced after Chernobyl, quite, no doubt quite similar to my childhood anxiety about nuclear warfare during the cold war period. The dimensions of the Fukushima disaster are barely known at this point, with the Japanese government just this week admitting that the amount of radioactive debris released is now twice their original calculation. Many experts believe that the magnitude of the fallout danger is still seriously under-reported. As a result, simple precautions that can ameliorate the effects of ionizing radiation are not be taken. As was the case after Chernobyl, the test of exposure over time will likely result in a massive increase in human suffering in the short, medium and long term. Would you agree?

  11. @ BJ Sachs, June 17, 2011 at 10:14 pm,

    “My credentials, the ones that count at least, are that I am a fairly intelligent human, with good survival instincts, and an interest in learning about everything that affects our world and present and future generations.”

    Good! Then I hope that you will use your intelligence, survival instincts and interest in learning to try to sort out what is relevant and what is not. And when somebody like me and Sensationalism questions scaremongering statements from self-appointed experts, and can show that they are cheating with data, then I hope that you will use your intelligence to scrutinize the message instead of the messenger.

    “Many experts believe that the magnitude of the fallout danger is still seriously under-reported.”

    Examples, please.

    “As a result, simple precautions that can ameliorate the effects of ionizing radiation are not be taken.”

    I guess that you mean taking Iodine pills, or?. I do not know about levels in North America, but when the Iodine-131 from Fukushima reached Europe the levels peaked at about 2 milli-Becquerels per square meter of air. That means that there would be one decay every 8 minutes in this square meter of air. For a normal healthy person with fairly good lung capacity this means that there will be about one decay from Iodine-131 within the lungs every 24 hours. Meanwhile, during those 24 hours, there have been about 500 million decays in the body from natural sources (Potassium-40 and Carbon-14). So, the activity in your body increases from 500 000 000 to 500 000 001 per day, hardly a reason to run to the pharmacy and buy Iodine pills. But this is what happened all over the world. A lot of scared people because some media are only too happy to not put the data into perspective (if the reporters understand it themselves, that is of course the first challenge), and then we have this bunch of “experts” that go out with all kinds of statements about how dangerous it is.

    “As was the case after Chernobyl, the test of exposure over time will likely result in a massive increase in human suffering in the short, medium and long term. Would you agree?”

    I believe that there will be a bunch of nasty surprises showing up due to Fukushima, though mainly on a local scale. Being pro-nuclear I must say that many things around the nuclear events of this total disaster (please remember that the main disaster is about 25000 people dead from the tsunami, all aspects of society failed during this catastrophy) are a complete scandal, and I am shocked and surprised about many of the things regarding missing safety precautions at Fukushima. There will be many things to learn from this over the years, and me and other people who are pro-nuclear may have to reconsider our stance (unlike many anti-nukes, our opinions are not cast in stone…). But all these projections, and false data like the ones from Sherman and Mangano, from self-appointed experts about “horrific effects and dire future ramifications of radioactive fallout” do not help in any way. It just makes a lot of people very scared, just like I was after Chernobyl, without giving these scared people any possibility to put the actual risks into a proper perspective.
    We need facts, and people who are able to explain them to non-experts. Sherman and Mangano have just disqualified themselves from this category.

  12. Sorry, “square meter” should of course be “cubic meter” in my previous comment.

  13. I think people are missing the point here…

    http://enenews.com/comparisons-with-x-rays-and-ct-scans-meaningless-inhaling-particles-increases-radiation-exposure-by-a-factor-of-a-trillion-says-expert

    Sorry for the long URL, but this interview says it all. Radiation coming from external sources is one thing, but as soon as you inhale active particles, i.e. small pieces of radioactive material, the scenareo changes. You know have an radioactive emitter inside your body (most likely in the lungs or throat). If you are 1 meter away from a radioactive emitter and you get x amount or radiation from that source per hour, then move 1 meter further from the source, you are now getting x/4 radiation from that source. However as soon as that radiation source moves into your body, you now lessen the distance from you to the source to something like a micron (1/1000000 meters). THis means your exposure would be something like 1000000000000x. Also remember that this source is now inside your body, so it never stops; you get this amount of radiation continuously, till you die or the particle is removed from your body.

    Just because detectors measure higher than normal amounts of radiation doesn’t necessarily mean anything in itself. However, it does mean that there is an increased probability that someone in those areas where higher than normal amounts of radiation are detected will ingest some amount of radioactive source material (i.e. a piece of plutonium dust for instance).

  14. Thanks for this article.
    In the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. did above ground testing of atomic and hydrogen bombs in Nevada. The Atomic Energy Commission (now called the Dept. of Energy) told the people who lived “downwind” from the testing (in Utah) that it was safe and there was nothing to worry about. People were even encouraged to go outside and watch the bombs exploding. These communities, such as St. George, Utah, suffered disastrous effects from the radiation–miscarriages, birth defects, cancer, children with Down’s Syndrome. Farmers who owned sheep had sheep who dropped dead, and lambs born with birth defects.
    Since the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, there is apparently a media blackout–we are hearing very little. When I’m in my car and I turn on the radio, I hear nothing about Fukushima. It is obvious that there is some kind of coverup or downplaying that is going on. Nuclear radiation is almost the only thing I know of that affects future generations. Other conditions are temporary, but the effects of radiation go on and on. If we don’t care about ourselves, we should at least care about our children and future generations.

  15. In the interest of science I made my own chart, using the same source data as the authors of the study. I included all data for 2011 (not just the most recent 14 weeks) and more cities. Here’s the result: http://imgur.com/PvPRL

    Please note I am NOT supporting nuclear power – just honest science. I am a physics student in Victoria and am not worried at all about radiation fallout affecting my health.

    I agree that this is the worst nuclear disaster ever, yet disagree that it is responsible for an increase in deaths in the US. I feel for the people of Japan, who ARE suffering hugely due to the radiation, and likely will continue to for many, many years to come

  16. Sensationalism

    @Rich: The measurements are in sieverts, which is a unit of *biological dosage*. That means it’s *already* normalized for how the dosage affects the body. 400 millisieverts is 400 millisieverts. It doesn’t matter whether it’s going into your skin from the sky or going into your lungs from particles that you inhaled. I’m guessing this article is just more ignorant fear-mongering.

  17. Sensationalism

    @vmv: miscarriages, birth defects, cancer, children with Down’s Syndrome happen all the time, whether atomic bombs have been tested nearby or not. The important question is whether there was an *increase* in those things, that was be caused by the testing. Is there? This needs evidence, not argument from emotion.

  18. @Sensationalism: Argument from emotion? The information that I wrote was based on the book, “American Ground Zero: The Secret Nuclear War,” by Carole Gallagher, which I read many years ago. The author was a photographer, who spent several years interviewing and photographing people who lived “downwind” from the nuclear testing. The book is very disturbing and made a deep impression on me, and is partly why I distrust the government.

  19. Sensationalism

    @vmv: Yes, exactly. Books written by photographers with disturbing imagery and anecdotes. That’s an appeal to emotion, not a rational argument. This is better:

    “Marked increases in cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, thyroid cancer, breast cancer, melanoma, bone cancer, brain tumors, and gastrointestinal tract cancers were reported from the mid-1950s through 1980.[12]

    A 1962 United States Atomic Energy Commission report found that “children living in St. George, Utah may have received doses to the thyroid of radioiodine as high as 120 to 440 rads” (1.2 to 4.4 Gy).[13]”

    “The cancer incidence in a 1951 cohort (4,125) of Mormon families in southwestern Utah near the NTS was compared with that of all Utah Mormons (1967 through 1975). There were 109 more cases of cancer than expected”

    “That these cases can be associated with radiation exposures is supported by a comparison between groups of the ratio of cancers of more radiosensitive organs with all other types of cancer. ”

    Agreed that nuclear weapons are terrible. Nuclear power seems to be good, though.

  20. @Sensationalism – i just wanted to take some time out of my day just to tell you to go fuck yourself. I wish that the makers of this Universe would let me find myself in a locked cage – with you hog tied to the ground – and then allowed me to mercilessly pound and slash you into pieces with a broken glass shard encrusted baseball bat. Then I’d throw those pitiful little pieces of your body into the molten mass of Reactor 3 as it slowly melts into the Earth below…

    You fucking piece of shit.

  21. Today, the government of British Columbia announced that infant mortality for the first six months of 2011 exceeded all of the mortality for 2010 by 38%.

    In the CBC story covering the announcement, no mention was made of Fukushima. Officials attribute the spike in infant deaths to “poor parent training.” Yea, right.

  22. Sensationalism

    @Kenzo: lol. See a shrink, buddy. Hope they can help you have a happy and healthy life.

    @Jan: So your first impulse is to ignore the findings of officials who have actually studied the causes of death and instead blame it on something that happened 4500 miles away and hasn’t had any noticeable effect on other cities on the west coast? o_O

  23. “Is [radioactive fallout] as bad as the earthquake and tsunami? Is it as bad as the effects of radiation and toxic waste released every day by coal power plants?” asked one commentator above.
    Hey people! Who could possible give a rat’s ass which is worse — they are ALL horrible threats to life on earth. Period. Don’t pick your poison. Instead oppose these forms of energy with all of your might, for the sake of ours and future generations. Recognize that there is an international black-out of news about the aftermath and effects of Fukushima and at this point, we don’t see even the tip of the iceberg with respect to what is happening in Japan or elsewhere. Assuming we all understand very BASIC biology and the effects of radiation on human and other life, we do not need to parse the various reports of increase in infant deaths in the US and Canada during the past few months because we know that such effects are expected after approximately five major nuclear meltdowns..If anyone thinks 4500 miles is protection from the Japanese problem, you are seriously mistaken, or you have your head in the sand. This is one planet kids, our to protect or to accede to its destruction.

  24. Sensationalism

    @BJ: “Instead oppose these forms of energy with all of your might, for the sake of ours and future generations.”

    Which forms of energy? All of them? Coal is far worse than nuclear. If you can replace a coal plant with a nuclear plant and save lives and reduce environmental contamination, isn’t it worth it?

    Do you propose we go back to the stone age and not use any power? If not, which power source do you want to use? Wind, hydro, coal, oil, and gas are all deadlier than nuclear. Solar might be safer (I don’t have statistics) but it’s far more expensive.

    “we do not need to parse the various reports of increase in infant deaths in the US and Canada during the past few months because we know that such effects are expected after approximately five major nuclear meltdowns”

    Oh yes we do. You’re advocating we stick our heads in the sand and make up effects that don’t really exist. There are NO increases in infant mortality on the west coast. This is a LIE. You’re ok with lying and deception to support your cause?

  25. Sensationalism

    In other words, you may think that “such effects are to be expected”, but that doesn’t make it true.

  26. Rich, thanks for that excellent post which jibes with my understanding of the situation. For those who think that a radioactive particle from the sky is the same as one in your lungs, good luck is all I can say. And for those who believe the government of British Columbia that bad parental training is the cause of of huge surge in infant mortality over the past six months, I don’t think we have anything more to talk about.

  27. Sensationalism

    @BJ: Please explain *how* a nuclear power plant disaster in Japan is causing infant deaths in British Columbia. By what mechanism are the babies dying? Cancer? Why isn’t there a trend in infant mortality for the West coast of the US if there is for BC?

  28. @BJ Sachs,
    Which forms of energy do you consider to be harmless and without environmental problems?

  29. A few numbers to add to Sensationalism’s question for BJ Sachs:

    Remember the assassination with Polonium-210 of Alexander Litvinenko? He fell ill on 1 November 2006, and died on 23 November 2006. Thus it took more than 3 weeks after the poisoning before he died, and the signs of radiation damage were quite easy to detect, besides being reported daily in the news with alarming headlines. We have no stories about babies dying from obvious radiation effects. Is this also a cover up?

    Furthermore, a lethal dose of Polonium-210 is about 1 microgram, which corresponds to an activity of 166 million decays per second. From my comment above (June 18) you can see that the activity levels in the air reaching North America are of the order of a few decays every 10 minutes, per cubic meter (thus much lower than that for the much smaller lung volume of an infant). Roughly, it is of the order of 100 billion or more in difference.

    Finally, in the Litvinenko case the Polonium-210 was an alpha-emitter. You really do want to avoid to get too much of it inside your body (the radon you inhale is enough to be concerned about), the internal effects are much worse than from beta- and gamma-radiation. But the main releases from Fukushima are beta-emitters, not alpha-emitters. What do your radioactive particles consist of?

    Infants are surely much more sensitive than grownups. But there are just too many numbers here that do not add up to make radiation effects a likely cause of infant deaths. We would have reports of very alarming levels of radioactivity from all over the world if this would be the case.

  30. Anna Churchill

    As to ‘Sensationalism’s’ rationales…

    …”Science as it is practiced today, has no way of
    dealing with consciousness, or with experience, values
    ethics or anything referring to quality. This
    situation derives from something that happened in
    European consciousness at the time of Galileo and
    Giordano Bruno. These two men epitomise two
    paradigms–Bruno who was tortured and burned for
    saying there were infinite worlds (and theoretical
    physics has now come to the same conclusion); and
    Galileo who said that the scientific method was to
    study this world as if there were no consciousness and
    no living creatures it it. Galileo made the statement
    that only quantifiable phenomena were admitted to the
    domain of science–he said whatever cannot be measured
    and quantified is not scientific and in post Galilean
    science this came to mean whatever cannot be
    quantified is not real.This has been the most profound
    corruption from the Greek view of nature as physics;
    which is alive, always in transformation and not
    divorced from us. Galileo’s program offers us a dead
    world: out go sight, sound, taste, touch and smell,
    along with them have since gone aesthetic and ethical
    sensibility, values, quality, soul, consciousness,
    spirit. Experience as such is cast out of the realm of
    scientific discourse.

    Hardly anything has changed our world more during the
    past 400 years than Galileo’s audacious program. We
    had to destroy the world in theory before we could
    destroy it in practice”

    RD Laing

  31. Sensationalism

    @Anna: If you don’t have anything relevant to say, why say anything at all?

    Not only are you apparently so uninformed you can’t make a counter-argument, not only do you jump immediately to some irrelevant bullshit about science itself being invalid, but you aren’t even able to formulate your own anti-science rant — you just copy-paste a quote from someone else. Are you incapable of forming your own thoughts?

    Without science, we wouldn’t know that radiation is harmful to us. Without science, we wouldn’t know how to capture energy from the wind or the sun. Without science, we wouldn’t have computers that allow us to parrot psycho-babble on the Internet in defense of our irrational fears when we can’t otherwise form coherent arguments.

    I used to be anti-nuclear, but the more I interact with anti-nuclear people, the less respect I have for them.

    This is how you come across to me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_c6HsiixFS8

  32. I think Sensationalism’s tag tells it all. Enough sensationalism already. Let’s move on. Remember Fukushima, and stop the nuclear madness.

  33. Anna Churchill

    Before I take you seriously, can you please state:

    1. that you are not now and never have been a Republican; that you have never taken any pay to promote the interests of any entity with investments in nuclear energy or fossil fuels–

    2. nor do you work in any capacity in any context or industry in any way related to those two industries

    Your response to Laing (who was a scientist…by the way) proves a couple of different points

    1. that you have outed yourself as one with an asphyxiated world view. constrained by an ideological vice.

    2. and that point is proved by the fact that you don’t have a clue who RD Laing was or you would have understood the ‘rant’ was not against science (how utterly stupid for you to even entertain that and your literal rebuttals attest to your actually thinking that…’without science we wouldn’t blah blah’ good god aren’t you embarrassed?) but against materialism./corporatism and the very ism by which you seem to live and breathe that will rationalize away life in exchange for the quick buck fuck. Its more complicated than that but suffice to say your arguments smacked of corporate spin. we have all seen it before and your point of view is not worth taking seriously.

    Stewart Brand in his recent book Whole Earth Discipline makes a case for reconsidering nuclear as did Freeman Dyson years ago. They both concluded the problem was engineering…engineered by greed. And that– you idiot–is the annoying little factor your tweakable statistics don’t register.

    THE HUMAN FACTOR

    Deepwater Horizon nor Fukishima (Chernobyl, Bophal, Chile mine disaster and a thousand other horrors) were all preventable despite working with dangerous materials or in dangerous environments.

    The molecules in the human factor mixing with volatile chemicals/compounds and or nuclear energy are too combustible to ever be safe.

    Until greed can be accounted for as an element in your little studies they will never speak the truth.

  34. Sensationalism

    @Anna: I considered myself a Republican briefly when I was a teenager, but it was not because I had any political principles of my own; I was just following in the footsteps of my parents. I was anti-nuclear at the time, as are all of my right-wing family members still today.

    Today I am a registered member of the Green Party and vote liberal. Now that I’ve abandoned religion and the anti-scientific thinking that goes along with it, I am hesitantly pro-nuclear. Obviously I don’t agree 100% with the Greens, but we share the same ultimate values. I try to think for myself instead of letting lobbyists tell me what to think.

    I do not work for the nuclear industry or know anyone who does. If you think that anyone who disagrees with you is only doing it because of some vast conspiracy of greed, you need to get out of your homogenous bubble and talk to some people with different opinions once in a while. You think there isn’t any greed funding the anti-nuclear movement? Everything you hear on TV has been paid for.

    I’m here to point out the flaws in this bogus study and see if anyone has a credible counter-argument, not because I’m part of your vast corporatism conspiracy. This story shook me for a bit, until I realized it was a (probably intentional) falsehood. You don’t seem to mind the intellectual dishonesty as long as it reinforces your position.

    Are you saying that Fukushima was preventable or inevitable? You seem to say one and then the other in subsequent sentences.

    I’m not sure what “little studies” you’re talking about.

    I am perfectly open to counter-arguments, but no one seems willing to make them. All I see are idiotic personal attacks, trying to claim that science isn’t the only way to see the world (as if that has anything at all to do with babies dying from radiation), or completely ignoring my questions. It seems as though the only real objection to nuclear power is “I don’t understand it and I’m afraid of it”.

    @BJ: Are you going to respond to any of the questions you’ve been asked, or just ignore them?

    Sensationalism is what the mainstream media uses to scare you about things you don’t understand. If it bleeds, it leads.

  35. @Sensationalism,
    I simply don’t have to the time to answer your barrage of questions other than to say the following. I am far more concerned about Fukushima and it’s aftermath than I am about your take on what seems to me to be a very plausible and well-written article. Jumps in infant mortality rates are one tragic indication of environmental toxins which show themselves first in the fragile fetus. Just as many seemingly useful drugs enter the bloodstreams of pregnant women and cause deformities and a high rate of miscarriage, toxins absorbed through the environment do the same. If the rate of infant mortality spikes during the period following an environmental disaster, nuclear or otherwise, and the spike is not due to any other causative factor, it is quite reasonable to hypothesize that that environmental toxins are the cause. If such spikes show up in areas of greater contamination compared to non-contaminated or less contaminated areas, that is further evidence to support the hypothesis. None of this is however proof positive, but it is far better to err on the side of caution, don’t you agree? The aftermath of Chernobyl dramatically shows that underestimating the possible if not probably effects of radioactive fall-out led to enormous and possibly unnecessary human suffering and loss of life.

  36. Sensationalism

    @BJ: The article is not well-written and not plausible. You fear nuclear power and so you unthinkingly accept things that reinforce your beliefs, regardless of how credible they are. There is NO SPIKE in infant mortality on the west coast of the US. It’s a lie. The CDC data is freely available for you to look into yourself, but I suspect you won’t bother. “I *know* nuclear power is evil and unnatural and dangerous. I don’t need to investigate the evidence to believe that it’s killing people.”

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?WT.mc_id=SA_Twitter_sciam&id=are-babies-dying-in-the-pacific-nor-2011-06-21

    http://wonder.cdc.gov/mmwr/mmwrmort.asp

    The only way they could even get this “spike” is if they pick out only the 4 weeks prior. I don’t see any way they could have done this accidentally, and suspect they are intentionally lying to make nuclear power seem more dangerous than it actually is. Maybe we should look into who funds them?

    There is no spike. Even if there were, it’s completely absurd to blame it on Fukushima without looking at 1. The causes of death (what if all the babies died of traumatic injury?) 2. Local causes (pollution of the air or water, weather conditions, power outages, outbreak of disease, etc.)

    “If the rate of infant mortality spikes during the period following an environmental disaster, nuclear or otherwise, and the spike is not due to any other causative factor, it is quite reasonable to hypothesize that that environmental toxins are the cause”

    Sure, but no one *even looked* at other causative factors, and the “hypotheses” are being reported as demonstrated fact, not as the far-fetched fantasies they actually are. (And in case you missed it the previous times, there has been NO INCREASE in infant mortality on the west coast of the US, so hypothesizing about causes is irrelevant.)

    Yes, I agree in erring on the side of caution. I don’t agree in erring on the side of hysteria.

  37. Dear BJ Sachs,
    Be concerned about the aftermath of Fukushima, but please drop the infant mortality issue for the US! There is no spike in infant mortality during this spring, I thought we went through this a couple of weeks ago, now you seem to be back at square one, why?
    Looking closer at the data, it turns out that for the 10 weeks after Fukushima the infant mortality rate is at the second lowest level since 2005. Sherman and Mangano want us to believe the opposite. You refuse to answer questions, instead you put your hands over your ears and then go on with “disaster disaster disaster…”
    Aren’t the actual events in Fukushima bad enough for you? Why do you have to cling on to an article that is based on a lie?

  38. Anna Churchill

    dear sensationalism why are you on a blog hosted by one of the great muckrackers who made his chops uncovering corporate conspiracy?

    i love it when those with your bent for denial of both anecdotal and empirical evidence reduce anyone who disagrees with to some sort of paranoid slouch…

    no matter how much data or evidence would be thrown in your face not to mention common sense you would deny or eschew it to doggedly ring the bell of whatever weird point of view you hold to. thats just your nature.

    i referred to Stewart Brand’s re think on using nuclear in his Whole Earth Discipline. very fetching piece and then Fukushima happened. tant pis.

    more interesting was Freeman Dyson many years ago on how yes, that pesky HUMAN FACTOR/corporate malfeasance/greed/stupidity pretty much fucked our being able to make good use of nuclear energy because he felt had their been a will to work on it the proper technology to utilize nuclear energy could have been imagined, built and put into use.

    you are refusing to deal with this issue and put it into your little equation and statistics (which Brand brandished with great relish all the comparisons between coal and even the carbon footprint of solar plus the urgency to DO SOMETHING about global warming meant nuclear energy the only real viable option for the short term fix to get a handle on the problem).

    Imagine a rush to put online nuclear energy plants all over the world to mitigate the emissions problem. just imagine the wonderful probability of fatal mishaps given human nature/greed/poorly trained staff and lack of oversight.

    we are not evolved enough/conscious enough/moral enough to handle nuclear energy. do you get it now?

  39. Anna Churchill

    how do you feel about fracking/natural gas exploration and tar sands?

    this just in from Sierra Club:

    “The environmental devastation resulting from tar sands production goes beyond its impact on the climate. Currently tar sands production threatens to turn an area the size of England into an industry wasteland blighted with massive, toxic wastewater dumps – affecting the pristine Boreal Forest, wildlife, and the First Nations communities living nearby.”

    What will Obama do? sign off???

    it is hilarious when politicians waffle around about being more careful and doing more studies and enforcing stricter regulations whether talking about off shore deep water oil drilling or doing something so phenomenally stupid as exploiting oil from tar sands and spending untold amounts on a filthy pipeline rather than dealing with a million alternatives and the investment needed to make them operational.

  40. Thanks Anna for raising those important issues in a graphic way.
    .
    We all know that one can “prove” almost anything with statistics. At some point, it is worthy to ask who compiles the stats, and also ask who if anyone funds their work. ….
    I strongly suspect that further studies will show more of the same re: Fukushima. The British Colombian government study shows a similar rise in infant mortality…..Radiation levels in Europe have been very high, and many foods are considered too radioactive to eat..Time to connect the dots!

  41. Sensationalism

    @Anna: I’m on the blog because Google sent me here. I don’t know anything about your site, just that this article was posted on it and I wanted to get the truth out about the claims made in it.

    Now I’m reading about Stewart Brand and he sounds like a good guy. “Ecopragmatist.” I like it.

    I don’t recall anyone throwing any data in my face, or me disregarding it. In fact, your previous argument was that science and empirical data itself is invalid.

    Thank you for making an argument. I agree that human stupidity and greed gets in the way of making safe nuclear plants. Most of the Fukushima disaster could have been prevented by building elevated generators that can’t be wiped out by a tsunami, for instance, or, better yet, building a reactor that fails safe even when all power has failed. Seems like a no-brainer, and I don’t know much about the economic or political decisions responsible for this risk-taking.

    But the thing is: Human factors ARE included in these statistics. Wind turbines *could* be totally safe, but they aren’t in practice, because arrogant human workers get lazy and take risks while working on them, making mistakes and getting killed in the process. Nuclear power *could* be totally safe, but corporations cut corners and ignore best safety practices when they are inconvenient, taking risks because they think the danger is unlikely, which eventually blows up in someone’s face.

    But the thing is that STILL, even including Chernobyl and Three Mile Island and Fukushima, wind power has killed more people per kilowatt-hour than nuclear. That’s *including* all the mistakes and human stupidity and greed over several decades.

    And coal is far far worse. You can’t just say “no” to every form of energy. One of them is going to be used. If you shut down a nuclear plant, it will be replaced by a coal plant, kill far more people, and cause far more damage to the environment. That’s not a good trade-off in my view. 80% of Japan’s energy production uses fossil fuels and that’s just going to increase with this anti-nuclear hysteria.

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