Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Gov’t Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Travel
Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

04.29 Trump has it Backwards: It is Dirty Coal that’s Killing Green Jobs

04.29 Children can’t play if they can’t breathe because our air is so polluted [good government is needed]

04.29 The American people – not Big Oil – must decide our climate future

04.28 1.2 million children in the US have lead poisoning. We’re only treating half of them. [willfully ignoring children's health so the rich can get tax breaks—to be even richer—is immoral and costs much more long-term]

04.28 East coast readies for fresh climate fight as Trump eyes more offshore drilling [the Idiocracy is growing]

04.28 Air pollution plan cannot be delayed, high court tells government

04.27 Trump’s hollow promise on the opioid epidemic: GOP health plan would slash Medicaid funding for drug treatment

04.27 The Last time there was this much CO2 in the air, Florida was under Water [Trump will sell his properties before admitting to a problem]

04.26 Discovery of plastic-eating worms offers chance to finally get rid of world's growing piles of litter

04.26 People whose 'brain age' is older than their real age more likely to die early

04.25 Pollution From Canada’s Oil Sands May Be Underreported

04.25 High court orders UK government to explain clean air plan delay

04.25 Matt Damon: ‘Children are drinking water so dirty it looks like chocolate milk’

04.24 Disney, the Gap and Pepsi urged to quit US Chamber of Commerce ["Its a small world after all..." – Disney]

04.24 Why we joined the March for Science

News Media Matters

04.27 Authoritarians Like Trump Pushing Global Press Freedoms to 'Tipping Point' [stamping out inconvenient truths]

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

04.29 Why Are House Dems Treating 2016 Campaign Autopsy Like a Classified Document? [obsessive money focus requires compromises that kill best and most-efficient public programs and policy—and that makes the public very very angry]

04.29 Trickle Down Devastation: A Single Mom Responds to Trump’s Tax Plan

04.29 With Support Surging, Progressives Push Pelosi on Single-Payer

04.29 Watchdogs: Trump's Disastrous 100 Days Fueling "Golden Era of Activism"

04.28 'We Reject Politics of Fear': Groups Urge Congress to Build Schools, Not Wall

04.28 Red Flags as Trump Team Dodges on Tax Plan's Impact on Middle Class

04.28 For First Time Ever, Majority of House Dems Support 'Medicare-for-All' Bill

04.28 Bernie Sanders takes aim at Trump on climate ahead of march in DC

04.28 Failing the ‘Mnuchin Test’

04.28 America, From Exceptionalism to Nihilism

04.27 4 Ways Trump's Tax Plan Will Make the Trumps Even Richer

04.27 The Trump family’s massive grift: Who cares about policy? As a business and branding venture, this presidency is going swell

04.27 Can Progressives Mobilize to Save the Middle Class?

04.27 A Comprehensive Guide to Donald Trump’s Tax Proposal

04.27 Trump under fire over 'huge tax cut for the rich' [1:03 video]

Justice Matters

04.27 10 signs Trump’s top Homeland Security cop wants to drag America into a paranoid apocalyptic police state

High Crimes?

04.29 Cruelty or keeping it in the family? What I learned from India's slaveholders

Economics, Crony Capitalism

04.27 Digital Rights Groups Vow to Fight FCC Chair's Net Neutrality Attack "Tooth and Nail"

04.27 Brazilians fight back against corruption– with the help of a purple plug-in [we hope app is updated for corrupt politicians everywhere!]

04.26 'Truly Dumb': Why $2.4 Trillion Corporate Tax Cut Will Not Magically Pay for Itself

04.26 Why Is Congress In Such A Rush To Strip The Library Of Congress Of Oversight Powers On The Copyright Office?

04.25 The Right’s Green Awakening

04.25 Trump's Corporate Takeover Detailed 100 Days into 'For-Profit Presidency'

International

04.29 'Europe's dirty secret': officials on Chios scramble to cope with rising tensions

04.29 Brazilians sick of corrupt politicians hit the streets to protest austerity measures

04.28 40 years later, the mothers of Argentina’s 'disappeared' refuse to be silent

04.28 Europe could allow a united Ireland to join EU after Brexit

04.28 Le Pen's replacement steps down after allegedly casting doubt on Nazi gas chambers

04.27 UK should axe state pension for rich people, says OECD [the moral choice for all nations]

04.26 ‘We’re eating the Mercedes’

04.26 Turkish Airstrikes On Kurds Complicate U.S. Operations In Iraq And Syria

04.26 Ivanka Trump met with jeers in Berlin as she calls father 'champion of families'

04.26 Assad forces carried out sarin attack, say French intelligence [evidence proves Syria made the weapon, but not who used it]

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  Print view: Health and the Nuclear Gamble
MEDICAL ANALYSIS:

Health and the Nuclear Gamble

The tragedy in Japan underscores the interconnectedness of our planet. Energy decisions made anywhere can affect all of us.

by Robert F. Dodge, M.D.
The amazing fact is not that the radiation that reaches our shores is described as low-level at the present time, but that it reaches us at all, traveling 5000 miles from Japan.

The world has anxiously watched the events in Japan unfolding this past two weeks after the horrific earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster. The feelings are magnified out of a sense of helplessness in aiding the victims in Japan mixed with concerns for potential effects and implications to our own health and communities. In assessing the devastating effects of natural disasters, we must pause as we consider the potential for catastrophic effects of manmade disasters, specifically from nuclear power plants.

The radiation effects of this disaster are unknown at the present time, with greatest concern for the firefighters and those workers and people in the immediate vicinity of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Unfortunately the news has gotten worse on a daily basis and has not been entirely forthcoming or transparent. We have moved from reassurance of no leakage to a small fissure in the containment chamber to the leaking of critical water from the cooling pools with variable releases of highly radioactive isotopes to the probability of a breach of the containment vessel that houses the nuclear core. The latter poses the greatest threat.

Fortunately the risk and radiation detected at our shores appears nominal at the present time. However our own National Academy of Sciences has stated that any exposure to radiation increases a person’s risk of cancer. There is no safe level of radiation exposure. The amazing fact is not that the radiation that reaches our shores is described as low-level at the present time, but that it reaches us at all, traveling 5000 miles from Japan. This underscores the interconnectedness of our planet and energy decisions made anywhere in the world. With nuclear power and all of its safeguards, it remains imperfect, and with the fragility of human technology there always exists the possibility of a nuclear accident with its risk of radioactivity release.

These invisible radioactive isotopes are intensely toxic to humans. Our bodies when exposed to them incorporate them into our cells as though they were life-giving molecules. This is coupled with their extended half-lives, where they can persist for years promoting health risks. Thus far Iodine 131 and Cesium 137 have been the two isotopes confirmed at present in the Japan tragedy. Iodine 131 has a half-life of eight days and is taken up by the thyroid gland, where it emits radioactivity, increasing the risk for thyroid cancer. Cesium 137, with its half-life of 30 years, is handled by the body like potassium, which is rapidly disseminated throughout our entire bodies where it can cause burns, radiation sickness, cancer (particularly of the soft tissues), and death.

The other isotopes of concern are Strontium 90 and Plutonium 239. Strontium 90, with its half-life of 29 years, is utilized by the body like calcium, depositing it in teeth and bone where it can cause cancer of the bone, bone marrow and soft tissues around the bone. Finally, Plutonium 239 is the most dangerous isotope. Its cancer-causing ionizing radiation risk can be either as an external hazard from outside the body or internal hazard by ingestion or inhalation, where it presents a significant lung cancer risk. Once it circulates through the body, it exposes the blood, kidneys, liver, and spleen to its cancer-causing alpha particles.

At the present time, Iodine 131 has been found in the drinking water in Tokyo at levels 200 percent above the allowable for infants and children, who are the most vulnerable to its cancer-causing effects. Milk and food within the region are showing radioactive contamination. The water within the Reactor 3, which is a mixed-oxide fuel reactor of plutonium and uranium, has shown radiation levels 10,000 times that typically seen.

As physicians our ability to respond to these potential toxins is woefully inadequate, focusing mainly on supportive care and comfort measures.

As physicians our ability to respond to these potential toxins is woefully inadequate, focusing mainly on supportive care and comfort measures while observing for the delayed effects of these agents. As with most serious illnesses in medicine, prevention is the best practice. As physicians, it is our obligation to do whatever we can to prevent illness.

If there were to be a meltdown, it would have the radiation potential of about 1,000 Hiroshima bombs in only one core. Chernobyl was comparable to 400 Hiroshimas.

If there were to be a meltdown, there is the potential for an astonishing release of radioactive material. We are talking about the radiation potential of about 1,000 Hiroshima bombs in only one core. Chernobyl was comparable to 400 Hiroshimas.

As the world grapples with this latest complex compound disaster, a serious reflection and reconsideration of our own nuclear power industry is in order. Nuclear energy is too risky, too dirty and too expensive. Are these risks to the health of our children and community ones we are willing to take? We need investment in safer energy sources, in particular renewable sources. As long as nuclear power plants exist, prevention of nuclear accidents is paramount. We also must have local disaster preparedness efforts and make ourselves aware of them.


Robert F. Dodge, M.D., is a Board Member of Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles, and serves as that organization's and Peace and Securities Ambassador.



Copyright © 2010 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.

This story was published in the Baltimore Chronicle on March 26, 2011.

 

Public Service Ads: