Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local News & Opinion

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Travel
Books, Films, Arts & Education

05.22 Robert Reich: Bernie Sanders could save higher education [2:55 video]

Letters
Open Letters:

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

05.26 Suicide By Pesticide

05.26 ‘Climate Change Deniers Are Like Alcoholics’ | Ed Begley, Jr. [9:50 video]

05.26 Companies aren't doing enough to prevent catastrophic climate change, new report finds

05.26 Dow Chemical aims to 'redefine the role of business in society'

05.25 Decision Time on the Hudson

05.25 Stronger Regulation of Toxic Chemicals

05.25 The benefits of solar do outweigh its costs. Some have a hard time accepting it

05.24 Welcome to Baoding, China's most polluted city

05.24 Shell boss endorses warnings about fossil fuels and climate change [Related: Protests at Shell's annual meeting]

05.24 Cannes concludes with call-to-arms on climate change: ‘To not tackle the issue through film would be criminal’

05.24 Denton, Texas, banned fracking last year – then the frackers fought back [It's Texas, so...]

05.24 Can high-tech photosynthesis turn CO2 into fuel for your car?

05.24 California oil spill company under local, state and federal investigation [Non-public infrastructure is stupidly neglected, too]

05.24 Drought-stricken California loses 50m gallons of water as vandals target dam

05.24 Where the River Runs Dry

05.23 California accepts historic offer by farmers to cut water usage by 25%

05.23 Altering Course [long book review]

05.23 Organic farming 'benefits biodiversity' [The opposite of GMO focus on yield only]

05.23 Air Pollution Reduces Cognition, & Not Just Via The Lungs

05.23 Study Finds Possible Association Between Autism and Air Pollution

News Media

05.26 Glenn Greenwald, I’m sorry: Why I changed my mind on Edward Snowden

Daily FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

05.26 Bobby Jindal reaches peak stupid: One-time GOP savior embraces hate speech to appease bigots, wingnuts

05.25 Bernie Sanders warns Democratic rivals for presidency: don't underestimate me

05.25 Stupid Pentagon Budget Tricks

05.25 Public-Sector Jobs Vanish, Hitting Blacks Hard

05.25 'Fight for $15' will ease economic inequality. But could it end police violence too?

05.24 Multiple arrests in Cleveland after officer in case of 137 police shots is acquitted [Here we go again]

05.24 Elizabeth Warren is winning: How the progressive icon is remaking politics — without running for president

05.24 7 ways Bernie Sanders could transform America

05.23 'Prisonized' neighborhoods make ex-cons more likely to return to the slammer

05.23 Who held the first Memorial Day celebration?

05.23 Edward Snowden: NSA reform in the US is only the beginning [0:58 video: 'When you monitor everyone, you understand nothing']

Justice Matters

05.26 The Fraud of War

05.23 Why We Let Prison Rape Go On

05.21 Columbia student protesting rape brings mattress to graduation

High Crimes?

05.23 Attacks on the last elephants and rhinos threaten entire ecosystems

05.22 Matt Taibbi: World’s Largest Banks Admit to Massive Global Financial Crimes, But Escape Jail (Again)

05.22 Gaza economy 'on verge of collapse', with world's highest unemployment

05.21 Elephant Watch

Economics, Crony Capitalism

05.26 Robert Reich: Corporate Collusion Is Rampant and We All Pay the Steep Price

05.25 Senator Warren calls for public hearings on bank waivers: FT

05.25 Did China Just Launch World's Biggest Spending Plan?

05.25 HSBC fears world recession with no lifeboats left

05.23 EU dropped pesticide laws due to US pressure over TTIP, documents reveal

International

05.26 Interview with Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei: 'The State Is Scared'

05.26 Refugee Abuse: Torture Scandal Rocks German Police

05.26 Cyber-Attack Warning: Could Hackers Bring Down a Plane?

05.26 They’re all still lying about Iraq: The real story about the biggest blunder in American history — and the right wing’s obsessive need to cover it up

05.25 Daesh/ ISIL blows up Shiite Mosque in Saudi Arabia, seeking Sectarian Civil War

05.25 US Kneejerk support for Israeli Nukes Torpedoes UN Disarmament Talks

05.25 Did the US DIA see ISIL as a strategic Ally against al-Assad in 2012?

05.25 Burma's birth control law exposes Buddhist fear of Muslim minority

05.25 3,000 children enslaved in Britain after being trafficked from Vietnam

05.25 India heatwave kills more than 500 people

05.25 Amid the ruins of Syria, is Bashar al-Assad now finally facing the end?

05.24 Pentagon report predicted West’s support for Islamist rebels would create ISIS

05.23 France to force big supermarkets to give unsold food to charities

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: