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

06.29 Dems Refuse to Back GOP Zika Bill that Attacks Women, Vets, Obamacare, and Clean Water

06.29 Millions exposed to dangerous lead levels in US drinking water, report finds

06.28 US, Canada and Mexico pledge 50% of power from clean energy by 2025

06.28 How the London Array blows away the competition in green energy

06.28 69m children will die of preventable causes, says Unicef

06.27 This City Is Home to 820 Urban Farms and Quickly Becoming America’s Urban Ag Capital

06.27 Global air pollution crisis 'must not be left to private sector'

06.26 New pain drug being developed at University of Maryland could offer relief without addiction [a non-addicting, legally prescribed opioid drug would greatly reduce crime and and improve public health]

06.26 German government agrees to ban fracking after years of dispute

06.26 Coal-Plant Retirements in New England Have ‘Opened the Door’ for Alternatives

06.24 UK's out vote is a 'red alert' for the environment

06.24 66 million dead trees in California could fuel 'catastrophic' wildfires, officials say

06.22 Republicans Offer a Plan to Replace Obamacare

06.22 Women Take Over the Family Farm

06.22 Our new alliance unites 600m city dwellers in fight against climate change

06.22 California's last nuclear plant to close amid longstanding earthquake concerns

News Media Matters

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

06.29 Taxes: Fund the IRS!

06.29 Trump Just Drove a Truck Through Hole DNC Platform Panel Left in Clinton's TPP Promise

06.29 Trump escalates economic tirade against free trade, China and globalism

06.29 The G.O.P. Waits, and Waits, for Donald Trump to Grow Up

06.29 MAKING A KILLING

06.28 Donald Trump’s campaign looks more like a con every day. The press should cover it accordingly

06.28 The Clinton Campaign Is Obstructing Change to the Democratic Platform

06.27 Fear, loathing and firearms: sensory overload inside the NRA's Mall of Death

06.27 Cracks deepen inside troubled marriage of Trump and Republican party

06.27 Decrying 'Jim Crow 2.0,' Advocates Demand Updated Voting Rights Before Election

06.27 Landmark Survey Finds Special Interests are Pouring Money into Local Elections

06.27 Betraying Progressives, DNC Platform Backs Fracking, TPP, and Israel Occupation

Justice Matters

06.29 Lynch presses for more action to address gangs, youth violence

06.28 Clinton hails Texas abortion decision a 'victory for women', Trump stays silent

06.24 Experts ask for new investigation into disappearance of 43 Mexican students

High Crimes?

06.21 THE SHADOW DOCTORS

Economics, Crony Capitalism

06.26 Coal Industry on the Brink in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah

International

06.29 House Benghazi report faults military response, not Clinton, for deaths

06.29 Revolt of the Masses

06.29 Bernie Sanders: Democrats Need to Wake Up

06.29 Turkey airport attack: 36 killed in explosions at Istanbul Atatürk

06.29 John Kerry: Brexit could be 'walked back'

06.28 Farc rebel leader: ‘We repent everything, not just the war’

06.28 Kenya clamps down on journalists covering war on al-Shabaab

06.28 Family rifts over Brexit: ‘I can barely look at my parents’ [since the EU break-up–'said' by vote–won't actually occur for 2 years, why not have a make-up EU vote to reverse the horrible consequences?]

06.28 After a campaign scarred by bigotry, it’s become OK to be racist in Britain

06.27 First ship sails through newly expanded Panama canal

06.27 Post-referendum chaos shows the inadequacy of our political class

06.27 $4 Indian smartphones 'will ship this week'

06.27 AFGHANISTAN’S THEORIST-IN-CHIEF

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: