I’ve noticed in the recent months Jake Adelstein getting a bit more excited about Fukushima. Previously he focused on the links between the Yakuza and TEPCO and their subcontractors, obviously his area of expertise, but recently he’s been straying into not quite Fookooshimar territory, but at least into overexaggeration of the contamination. It used to be just on Twitter, but now I have seen an article on The Daily Beast looking at birth defects which is trying to find controversy where there is most likely none.
The article leads off with:
The prevalence rate—the frequency of malformations among childbirths, such as holes in the heart (atrial septal defect)—was 2.43 percent, a number that is still below what is considered a normal figure among radiation experts.
So, err, nothing. I’m also trying to parse exactly what “a normal figure among radiation experts” means, but reading ahead shows me that it should actually be “a normal incidence rate among medical experts”. (Please feel free to correct my paraphrasing!)
Near one group of tanks the levels reached 2,200 millisieverts per hour. An unprotected person standing close to the contaminated areas would receive a lethal radiation dose within hours.
Where “unprotected” means “nude” and “close” means “within tens of centimetres”.
The 2011 Report on Congenital Malformations notes the prevalence of malformed infants as 2.43 percent
I don’t like the word “malformed” here – the report title is obviously a medical understanding of the term, but “malformed infants” suggests extra legs or whatever, whereas both I and my step-nephew have the holes-in-the-heart menioned above but the requisite number of limbs. Furthermore, the survey was for children born during the 2011 calendar year, but as far as my Googling goes, the reasons for holes in the heart are not well known; is it hereditary (yes to some extent), a genetic artifact at conception (don’t know), or something during pregnancy (smoking, perhaps?).
British radiation expert Dr. Ian Fairlie
Get Googling guys! He has real qualifications, but he hangs around with the usual suspects. Here is an interesting paper that he has produced which I think takes about the worst-case scenario that he as a scientist can honestly produce, and assumes the Linear No-Threshold Model to get 3,000 additional deaths over 70 years, which also assumes everyone who doesn’t die from radiation manages to keep going for another 70 years, yet for the majority of Fukushima Prefecture residents, medical X-rays, airplane flight, and even natural background radiation is likely to be a bigger factor.
Of the roughly 360,000 children, there were 44 suspected cases of thyroid cancer. […] In the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, thyroid cancers cases started to show up after four to five years after the accident.
I think we can all read between the lines.
BTW, I wish I could find a link to it, or even remember what the name was, but one of the towns near Fukushima Dai-ichi paid for all children to have some expensive DNA-level blood test (I think that was what it was) to see if their genes had been spliced by radiation. About 20% of the children have been tested so far, and the one child they covered came back 100% clear, no dodgy DNA. Cynics would say that of course NHK would make sure they covered someone who was OK, especially as they didn’t report overall statistics on what percentage had been found to have damaged DNA.