Fukushima Had Less Radiation Outside the Plant than Kerela Background Radiation Levels

Nextbigfuture has written a lot about energy safety with dozens of articles about the deaths per terawatt hour. This statistic shows the actual danger of energy against the amount of energy produced by the energy source.

The fossil fuels and burning of ethanol or wood all produce particulates in the 10 micron to 2.5 micron sizes. Those particulates along with smog are closely correlated with lung disease, cancer, heart disease and increased hospitalizations and deaths. The effects are often fairly immediate. Bad air days increase the amount of hospitalizations on those days. This is because everyone breathes and air pollution goes everywhere in a large region. This means babies and the elderly and those with asthma or other lung problems are all exposed.

In cities in China and India, air pollution is very bad and is like forcing everyone to 6 cigarettes to a pack of cigarettes every day.

This is one of the main reasons the estimate of deaths from outdoor air pollution is about 4.2 million people per year. Deaths from indoor air pollution is about 3 million people per year. The amount of air pollution from energy generation sources varies. Coal plants and natural gas plants do produce a lot of electricity and a lot of air pollution. There is also air pollution from trucks, cars, motorcycles and small engine devices and vehicles.

Chernobyl and Fukushima

The World Health Organization had estimates of 4000 to 9000 deaths related to radiation from Chernobyl.

Among 134 first responders, about 47 have died from acute radiation exposure.

Dozens of cleanup workers at the plant were exposed to radiation levels as high as 8,000 to 16,000 mSv (millisieverts). About 30% of them have died. Doses of 200 to 1,000 mSv can cause a temporary drop in white blood cell count and serious radiation sickness sets in at about 2,000 mSv. Kerala, India has a background level of 70 milliSieverts per year all the time. The millions of people who live there do not have higher incidents of cancer.

A Japanese assessment counts possibly 351 additional deaths from thyroid cancer in Belarus from 1987-2000.

Belerus had one-third of the thyroid cancer cases. About 1% of the people who get thyroid cancer die.

This would put the death toll so far at about 1100. Although, one would expect a total deaths from thyroid cancer at about 250 from 20,000 cases of thyroid cancer.

A UN report from 2017 has long term tracking that 25-60% of the thyroid cancer cases could be attributable to Chernobyl.

Fukushima had 1600 deaths from evacuation of old, hospitalized people. Some people were evacuated for the tsunami and earthquake which killed about 16,000 people.

It takes time for higher levels of radiation to kill people. Most of the old people should not have been evacuated. Analyzing Chernoble which had far higher radiation levels than Fukushima. Men in the Chernobyl affected areas were ten times less likely to develop thyroid cancer or die from thyroid cancer. Older men should be the ones to handle higher levels of radiation situation.

Background Radiation

The World Heath Organization had estimated that the deaths from radiation from Fukushima ranges from 0 to 400. I discount the 400 assessment because the Fukushima level of radiation to the people beyond the plant reached about 170% of the background radiation of Denver, Colorado. The level of radiation was one-third the level of background radiation of Kerela. Kerala is a state on the southwestern Malabar Coast of India. 33 million people live in Kerela. Kerela residents do not have higher levels of cancer than other places in India. Denver does not have higher levels of cancer than other places in the US with lower levels of background radiation. Most of the Denver radiation is from Radon gas. Kerela has sand with thorium.

The Japanese have set the maximum annual radiation level at 20 milliSieverts per year around Fukushima while some parts of Kerala have had a level of 70 milliSieverts per year all the time.

The cancer incidence rate overall in Kerala is much the same as the overall rate in India; which is about 1/2 that of Japan and less than 1/3rd of the rate in Australia. Some 95 new cancers per 100,000 people per year compared to 323 per 100,000 per year in Australia (age standardized).

The best available evidence is that an annual exposure to 100 milliSieverts results in an actual dose of zero because it is below a person’s capacity for perfect repair.

The 0.06 milliSieverts around Fukushima would take 6 months to reach one CT scan (10 millisieverts). It is generally a lot of radiation all at once that overwhelms the bodies repair systems.

SOURCES – UNSCEAR, World Health Organization, Harvard, Brave New Climate, Our World in Data, Kyoto University.
Written By Brian Wang