I am afraid that there are many Japanese people now living on lands equally
contaminated with radioactive cesium. If Japanese children are allowed to routinely ingest foodstuffs contaminated with Cesium-137, they will likely develop the same health problems that we see now in the children and teenagers of Belarus and Ukraine.
Thus it is very important that we recognize the danger posed to children by the routine ingestion of contaminated food with Cesium-137 where ever they might live. It is also important to prevent further nuclear disasters which release these fiendishly toxic poisons into the global ecosystems. Given the immense amounts of long-lived radionuclides which exist at every nuclear power plant this is an urgent task.
The Implications of The Massive Contamination of Japan With Radioactive Cesium
Steven Starr Senior Scientist, Physicians for Social Responsibility Director, University of Missouri, Clinical Laboratory Science Program Helen Caldicott Foundation Fukushima Symposium New York Academy of Medicine, 11 March 2013 A large number of highly radioactive isotopes released by the destruction of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant grossly contaminated the Japanese mainland. Most of these radionuclides had short half lives which meant they would essentially disappear in a matter of days or months. For many of those who were exposed to them there will be major health consequences.
However, there were some radioactive elements that will not rapidly disappear. And it is these long-lived radionuclides that will remain to negatively affect the health of all complex life forms that are exposed to them.
Chief among them is Cesium-137, which has taken on special significance because it is has proven to be the most abundant of the long-lived radionuclides that has remained in the environment following the nuclear disasters at Chernobyl and Fukushima. It has a 30 year radioactive half life which is why it persists in the environment. Scientists now believe that it will be 180 to 320 years before the Cesium-137 around the destroyed Chernobyl reactor actually disappears from the environment.
Cesium is water soluble and quickly makes its way into soils and waters. It is in the same atomic family as potassium and it mimics it, acting as a macronutrient. It quickly becomes ubiquitous in contaminated ecosystems.
It is distributed by the catastrophic accidents at nuclear power plants because large quantities of volatile radioactive cesium build up inside the fuel rods of nuclear reactors. Thus any accident at a nuclear reactor that causes the fuel rods to rupture, melt, or burn will cause the release of highly radioactive cesium gas.
Long-lived radionuclides such as Cesium-137 are something new to us as a species. They did not exist on Earth in any appreciable quantities during the entire evolution of complex life. Although they are invisible to our senses they are millions of times more poisonous than most of the common poisons we are familiar with. They cause cancer, leukemia, genetic mutations, birth defects, malformations, and abortions at concentrations almost below human recognition and comprehension. They are lethal at the atomic or molecular level……….
Sometimes these man-made radionuclides are compared to naturally occurring radionuclides, such as Potassium-40, which is always found in bananas and other fruits. However this is a false comparison since naturally occurring radioactive elements are very weakly radioactive. In the lab chart the radioactivity is described as the “specific activity”. Note that Potassium-40 has a specific activity of 71 ten millionths of a Curie per gram. Compare that to the 88 Curies per gram for Cesium-137. This is like comparing a stick of dynamite to an atomic bomb.
Highly-radioactive fission products such as Cesium-137 and Strontium-90 emit 10 to 20 million times more radiation per unit volume than does Potassium-40. So which one of these would you rather have in your bananas?
It is in fact the amount of Cesium-137 deposited per square kilometer of land that defines the degree to which an area is classified as being too radioactive to work or live. One may get an idea of the extreme toxicity of Cesium-137 by considering how little of it is required to make a large area of land uninhabitable………
as little as one third of a gram of Cesium-137, made into microparticles and distributed as a smoke or gas over an area of one square kilometer, will make that square kilometer uninhabitable.
Less than two grams of Cesium-137, a piece smaller than an American dime, if made into microparticles and evenly distributed as a radioactive gas over an area of one square mile, will turn that square mile into an uninhabitable radioactive exclusion zone. Central Park in New York City can be made uninhabitable by 2 grams of microparticles of Cesium-137. Hard to believe, isn’t it?
Remember, these nuclear poisons are lethal at the atomic level. There are as many atoms in one gram of Cesium-137 as there are grains of sand in all the beaches of the world.
So now that we have some idea of the extreme toxicity of Cesium-137, let’s look at the extent of the contamination of the Japanese mainland.
It is now known that the reactors 1, 2, and 3 at Fukushima Daiichi all melted down and melted through the steel reactor vessels within a few days following the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011. This was not made public by either TEPCO or the Japanese government for two months.
The greatest amounts of highly radioactive gases were released shortly after the meltdowns and 80% of this gas released by the reactors is believed to have traveled away from Japan over the Pacific. However the remaining 20% was dispersed over the Japanese mainland………
Two million people in Belarus live on lands severely contaminated by Cesium-137. Most of the children that live there are not considered to be healthy although they were before the nuclear power plant at Chernobyl exploded in 1986. Fourteen years after the explosion, 45 to 47 percent of high school graduates had physical disorders, including gastro-intestinal anomalies, weakened hearts, and cataracts. And 40% were diagnosed with chronic “blood disorders” and malfunctioning thyroids.
I am afraid that there are many Japanese people now living on lands equally contaminated with radioactive cesium. If Japanese children are allowed to routinely ingest foodstuffs contaminated with Cesium-137, they will likely develop the same health problems that we see now in the children and teenagers of Belarus and Ukraine.
Thus it is very important that we recognize the danger posed to children by the routine ingestion of contaminated food with Cesium-137 where ever they might live. It is also important to prevent further nuclear disasters which release these fiendishly toxic poisons into the global ecosystems.
Given the immense amounts of long-lived radionuclides which exist at every nuclear power plant this is an urgent task.