Dr Helen Caldicott is one of the most articulate and passionate advocates of citizen action to remedy the nuclear and environmental crises.
Bio-accumulation of radioactive elements around Fukushima will devastate many future Japanese generations, while the Pacific Ocean is also being contaminated by leaking radioactive water. Yet there is still no good solution from the Japanese government.
Medical implicationsWater in the bay beside Fukushima is highly contaminated with tritium, which is constantly increasing in concentration and now measures 4,700 Becquerels per liter - the highest level ever recorded in seawater. Furthermore a total of 20 to 40 trillion Becquerels of tritium have now been discharged into the Pacific Ocean –a Becquerel is one disintegration of radiation per second. Tritium is radioactive hydrogen, H3. It combines with oxygen to form tritiated water HTO, which is very dangerous. It emits an electron, or beta particle which, if lodged in the body, is very energetic.
Tritium combines within the DNA molecule inducing mutations. In numerous animal experiments tritium causes birth defects, cancers of various organs including brain and ovaries, and it induces testicular atrophy and mental retardation at surprisingly low doses. Tritium is organically taken up in food and is concentrated in fish, vegetables, and other food groups, and it remains radioactive for over 120 years. Ingestion of contaminated food causes 10 percent to combine in the human body where it can remain for many years continuously irradiating cells.
One of the main elements is cesium, a potassium mimicker, which concentrates in the heart, endocrine organs and muscles where it can induce cardiac irregularities, heart attacks, diabetes, hypothyroidism or thyroid cancer and a very malignant muscle cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma. Cesium remains radioactive for 300 years and concentrates in the food chain.
Another very dangerous element is strontium 90, which also is poisonous for 300 years. Analogous to calcium, it concentrates in grass and milk, then relocates into bones, teeth and breast milk where it can cause bone cancer, leukemia or breast cancer.
Amongst the many other radioactive elements which are almost certainly escaping into the sea is plutonium which lasts for 240,000 years and is one of the most potent carcinogens known, such that a millionth of a gram can cause cancer. Each reactor core contains 500lbs of plutonium, but Reactor 3 contains even more, because it also contained plutonium/uranium fuel rods which were placed inside the core as an experiment.
As plutonium resembles iron in the body, it induces cancers in the lung if inhaled, and also cancers in the liver, bone, testicle and ovary. As an iron analogue, it readily crosses the placenta causing severe birth deformities similar to those produced by the drug thalidomide. All radioactive elements which irradiate the reproductive organs will induce genetic mutations in the sperm and eggs, thereby increasing the incidence of genetic diseases over future generations such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, hemochromatosis and 6000 others.
These are only several of over 100 deadly radioactive poisons polluting the Pacific Ocean and the air, each of which has its own pathway in the food chain and the human body. Radioactive elements are tasteless, odorless and invisible, and it takes many years for cancers and other radiation-related diseases to manifest – five to 80 years for most cancers.
Children are 10 to 20 times more sensitive to the carcinogenic effects of radiation than adults, fetuses are thousands of times more so. One x-ray to the pregnant abdomen doubles the likelihood of leukemia in the baby. Females are also more sensitive than men at all ages. Radiation is cumulative, there is no safe dose and each dose received by a person adds to the risk of developing cancer.
Of great concern is the fact that 18 cases of childhood thyroid cancer in children under the age of 18 have already been diagnosed and 25 more are suspected in Fukushima. This is a remarkably short incubation time for cancer, indicating that these children almost certainly received a very high dose of iodine 131 plus other carcinogenic radioactive elements that were and are still being inhaled and ingested.
Thyroid cancer in Chernobyl victims did not appear for four years. Thyroid cancer is rarely found in young children. Iodine 131 is radioactive for 100 days, and is a potent carcinogen. Iodine 129 on the other hand lasts millions of years. Over 350,000 children still live and go to school in highly radioactive areas, and as juvenile thyroid cancers are arising, so the number of leukemia cases will start to increase about two years from now, with solid cancers of various organs diagnosed about 11 years later. These will increase in frequency for the next 70 -80 years.
Food in the contaminated zone will remain radioactive for hundreds of years because it will continue to bio-accumulate radioactive elements from the soil, thus ensuring that an increased incidence of cancer will devastate many future Japanese generations.
Medical doctors in Japan are reporting that they have been ordered by their superiors not to tell the patients that their problems are radiation related.