News / Asia

WHO: Health Risk from Fukushima Radiation Exposure Low

A radiation monitor indicates 102.00 microsieverts per hour at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)'s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan, Feb. 20, 2012.
A radiation monitor indicates 102.00 microsieverts per hour at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)'s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan, Feb. 20, 2012.
Lisa Schlein
The World Health Organization reports the health risks for people exposed to radiation in the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan are low.  The nearly 200-page WHO report represents the first international global assessment of health risks from the nuclear accident following the earthquake and tsunami, which struck Fukushima on March 11, 2011. 

International experts conducted the study over the past two years.  The experts, chosen by the World Health Organization, looked at the potential lifetime risk of so-called solid cancers including leukemia, breast cancer and thyroid cancer. 

The experts estimated risks in the general population in the highly contaminated Fukushima Prefecture, as well as inside and outside Japan.  They also assessed the health risks to emergency workers who were exposed to radiation at the power plant in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.

WHO Director for Public Health and Environment, Maria Neira, says the assessment finds no discernible increase in health risks from the Fukushima event in countries outside Japan. 

With respect to inside Japan, she says the lifetime risk for some cancers may be somewhat elevated above what would normally be expected during a person’s lifetime.  The information was gathered in certain age and sex groups that were living in the most-affected areas.

“Those levels in the Fukushima Prefecture were too low to affect development or outcome of pregnancy and no increases as a result of anti-natal radiation exposure in a spontaneous abortion or miscarriage or perinatal mortality or congenital defects or cognitive impairments are anticipated,” said Neira. 

In the most contaminated location, the report estimates the increased risks of all solid cancers, over what would normally be expected, are around four percent in females exposed as infants.  It expects a six percent rise of breast cancer in females, about a seven percent increase in leukemia in males, and a rise in thyroid cancer of up to 70 percent in females exposed as infants.

The report finds around two-thirds of emergency workers are estimated to have cancer risks in line with the general population, while one-third is estimated to have an increased risk.

During the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, concerns were raised about the contamination of food and water.  Acting Director for WHO’s Food Safety and Zoonosis Department, Angelika Tritscher, says these concerns persist.  She says monitoring is continuous because of the long lifetime of the nuclear environment.

“The external exposure sources air and through the ground and the cloud, while this is relatively decreasing, relatively proportionally, the ingestion continues to be a concern and monitoring has to continue on this,” said Tritscher.

The WHO report does not deal with the mental or psychological impact of the Fukushima accident and its possible consequences on health and well-being.  But, the experts agree these should not be ignored and people affected by the disaster should be monitored and provided with therapeutic help if needed.

You May Like

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

Video Better Protective Suit Sought for Ebola Caregivers

Current suit is uncomfortable, requires too many steps for removal, increasing chance of deadly contact with virus More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid