Japanese shaken but not dangerously irradiated

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The 2011 Fukushima earthquake and tsunami were devastating to the residents of Japan. However, a U.N. scientific body s investigation adds to the evidence that radiation exposure from the series of meltdowns and explosions at the Fukushima nuclear power plant did not compromise residents health.

The doses we have seen from the screening of the population ¦are very low, Wolfgang Weiss, chair of the U.N. Scientific Committee on the effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), told the press. He also noted that, of the few workers who had received high doses of radiation, the initial medical follow-up was OK. Weiss attributes the minimal health impact of the nuclear plant meltdown to both prompt evacuation and the spread of radioactive releases over the ocean instead of across populated areas. He remarked that the situation in Fukushima was not at all comparable to Chernobyl the nuclear reactor whose specter has created unduly fearful expectations in many people.

ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan remarked on the U.N. s sound approach to its assessment. When you re looking for effect, she says, you look first at the high exposure groups to see if you can determine any impact. Not even right there, in Japan, have they discovered any kind of health impact from the wrecked plant.

ACSH's Dr. Josh Bloom is not surprised by UNSCEAR s initial findings. He recently addressed the wildly disproportionate health fears of the American public following the nuclear plant damage in Japan. Much of that concern stems from an uninformed, outdated reaction to the entire concept of nuclear radiation, he says. For Dr. Bloom s full consideration of the problem, have a look at his January op-ed in Forbes.