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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid