THE LOW LEVEL RADIATION CAMPAIGN
We research the health effects of ionising radiation
We demand a re-evaluation of the risks of radioactive pollution
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We have checked the calculation. It appears that CRIIRAD has used ICRP dose and risk coefficients and a ten-fold multiplier to correct for the small body mass of these little children. This is reasonable (for any given intake, a small body mass means a larger dose). According to LLRC's arithmetic the effective dose to the child is 11µSv. Using ECRR dose coefficients it would be 27.5µSv.
Cancer cluster downwind of UK nuclear power station
Welsh TV channel S4C has revealed significant excess breast and lung cancer deaths downwind of the Wylfa Nuclear Power Station on the Isle of Anglesey, Wales. Wylfa is proposed as the site of a new reactor. More.
Answering George Monbiot's attacks on Professor Chris Busby in The Guardian )
Uranium weapons link to genetic damage confirmedA new paper in Conflict and Health shows high levels of Uranium in the hair of Iraqi parents of children born with deformities. This follows earlier research showing very high rates of cancer and congenital deformity in Fallujah after US attacks in 2004 believed to have involved Uranium weapons. More.
Increase in US infant mortality- a Result of Fukushima Fallout?
Le Monde reports Falluja's "monster babies"- the human price of America's illegal Uranium weapons .
Citizen Epidemiology for the people of Japan- a Do-It-Yourself antidote to official denials. How to do it.
Japanese translation of ECRR Recommendations publishedMihama No Kai has published the 2010 Recommendations of the European Committee on Radiation Risk here. This is an important development for the people of Japan, as it gives them, free of charge, access to the scientific reality of the health threat they face.
Biased BBC Chernobyl documentaryFallout: The Legacy of Chernobyl (BBC Radio 4, 26 April 2011 20.00 - 20.40) Complaints reach the next phase.
As we predicted, evidence of hot particles from Fukushima:Autoradiographs from Japan.
What if a tsunami hit Hinkley Point?(one happened in 1607) See where the fallout would go.
European Committee on Radiation Risk estimates Chernobyl's cancers will total 1,400,000 in 50 years
On the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl catastrophe ECRR (European Committee on Radiation Risk) published calculations of cancer resulting from the fallout.
As with its forecasts for cancer in Japan after Fukushima, the Committee has used two separate methods: the "Tondel" method and the "ECRR Absolute" method.
The "Tondel" Method is based on a conservative study by Martin Tondel which examined cancer incidence in northern Sweden during 10 years after Chernobyl. Tondel differentiated the varying levels of land contamination and found that the disease increased by 11% for each 100 kiloBecquerels of fallout per square metre of land surface.
The "ECRR Absolute" method employs weighting factors developed by the ECRR to correct for the inadequacy of "absorbed dose" quantities on which the ICRP risk estimates are based. The ECRR weightings take account of the different ways in which different radionuclides behave in biological systems. See ECRR Recommendations (a free download) for detail.
ECRR has applied these methods to UNSCEAR and UNESCO data for fallout in 39 countries with a combined population of 2,342 million people.
The "Tondel" Method forecasts approximately 492,000 incident cancers in the 10 years following exposure over and above the numbers expected in the absence of radioactive fallout. The "ECRR Absolute" method forecasts 1.4 million additional cancer cases in the 50 years to 2036.
There is good agreement between these results obtained by the two methods. The yield of about 1.4 million cancers worldwide also agrees quite well with the calculations of John Gofman, Rosalie Bertell, and Alexey Yablokov (free access to PDF of Yablokov's book)
It should be noted that the ECRR method was developed in 2003, before Tondel et al published the results of their study of cancer in Sweden. The ECRR 2003 method predicted what they found with a fair degree of accuracy.
It should also be noted that the Caesium contamination levels associated with the Tondel findings give annual external doses of about 3mSv (according to ICRP methodology). This is roughly the same as natural background and should not have caused any observable increase in cancer, according to the ICRP model.
EPA data shows Fukushima Uranium in California
Elevated levels of Uranium have been found in air samplers (filters) operated by US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the north Pacific. Recent data for the Mariana Islands (2800 km south of Fukushima) Hawaii, California and Seattle have been found in the RADNET EPA website.
The graph left has been created from the very limited data provided. It shows that uranium (and probably also therefore plutonium) particles have been or are being released by the Fukushima catastrophe. They are appearing in California some 8000km away at levels which are greater than background. (Note: EPA has not provided baseline data. The background level indicated by the blue line on the graph is based on averaged measurements at UK Atomic Weapons Establishment.)
The increasing trend with proximity to Japan suggests that Japan is far more heavily contaminated than any of these sites, as we have predicted. It is of the greatest concern that no data on uranium and plutonium have been published by the authorities there. Report.
Data on EPA site
CA San Francisco
Saipan, Mariana Is.
Saipan, Mariana Is.
Guam (Mariana Is.)
Guam (Mariana Is.)
Mean levels AWE (Atomic Weapons Establishment, UK)
(20 April 2011)
Chernobyl deniers use far too simple a measure of radiation risk- a short article in the UK daily paper Guardian giving an accessible explanation of what's wrong with the risk modelling advised by the International Commission on Radiological Protection and why it should be replaced by the European Committee on Radiation Risk. (20 April 2011)
Iodine 131 and a classic magicians' distraction technique.This post is about radio-Iodine but we have doubts about going with it. If the authorities can get us all thinking about Iodine and then reassure us that actually it's not a problem except for people in Japan (which is broadly true) then we might not realise that the really dangerous isotopes - Plutonium, Uranium, Strontium, Tritium in particular - are not even being reported. This is a massive failure of Governments' duty of care.
However, with that caveat, we'll fall into the Iodine trap because we have received many requests for advice since the Fukushima emergency began.
Our early advice on taking stable Iodine is unchanged. It is here.
The European Committee on Radiation Risk has published a method for calculating doses from drinking water or milk contaminated with Iodine 131. ECRR's main message is reassuring about the risks, so far as USA and Europe are concerned. They are not much different from what you hear from official sources.
Calculating doses from Iodine.
Take the figure for Becquerels per litre (Bq/l). (There is information on the internet. LLRC has no resources for monitoring it all). If, as in USA, the radioactivity levels are expressed in picoCuries (pCi), convert pCi to Becquerels (Bq) by multiplying by 0.037.
To convert a dietary intake into a dose multiply the Becquerels by 0.11 and the answer will be the dose in microSieverts. For example, if a litre of water is contaminated with 0.5 Bq, drinking it will give 0.5 x 0.11 = 0.055microSv. (This uses the ECRR adult dose coefficient for Iodine 131 which is slightly different to the ICRP dose coefficient - see ECRR 2010 p. 244).
The cancer risk associated with this dose is small. It can be calculated by dividing the dose in microSv by 1 billion. For the above example this means that if a billion people each drank a litre of water contaminated with 0.5 Bq then 5.5 of them would develop cancer over a period of 50 years. The individual person would increase his or her chances of getting cancer by 1 in 182 million. (This uses the ECRR cancer risk coefficient of 0.1 per Sievert which is different to the ICRP risk coefficient 0.05 per Sievert - see ECRR 2010 p. 180).
Note that this calculation is for a single intake. Iodine 131 loses half of its radioactivity in 8.04 days. This means that if your water supply comes from rainfall and if the rain becomes contaminated in a single episode the radioactivity will decay to 1/16th of its original concentration during a month and so on. That's assuming no further releases from the reactor affect your region.Black Ops on CRIIRAD?In the last few days many websites and newspapers have misreported Iodine dose figures from the French NGO CRIIRAD. It is claimed that CRIIRAD has said if a child under 2 years ingested 50 Becquerels of Iodine 131 the dose would be 10milliSieverts. At best, this is a transcription error; at worst it's a propaganda attack intended to discredit good sources of independent advice by making them look like scaremongers.
CRIIRAD actually said:Les enfants en bas âge (0 – 2 ans) sont les plus vulnérables : l’ingestion d’une cinquantaine de becquerels d’iode 131 suffit à délivrer à leur organisme une dose de10 µSv. (Children under the age of 2 are the most vulnerable. Ingesting about 50 becquerels of Iodine 131 is enough to give them a dose of 10 µSv.)
That's 10 microsieverts, a thousand times smaller than 10 millisieverts.
So beware of nonsense on the net. The micro / milli confusion can arise because the International System of Units (SI) uses the letter m to stand for milli or 1/1,000. The Greek letter mu (µ) stands for micro or 1/1,000,000. Some software packages use the Symbol font to allow Greek characters and the key you press to get µ is the "M" key. If someone pastes the resulting text into an editor that doesn't recognise Symbol it will give an m. It looks like a small error but in this case it's a thousand times wrong.
If you have more questions email us. We get a lot of emails. We can't answer them all, but we read them all and they influence what we write about here.Bad news and good advice for Fukushima's refugeesIodine131 affects the thyroid gland. A few years ago the New York Times reported that doctors had found a puzzling increase in thyroid cancer in New York State. Here's the link. The increased cancer rate was driven by immigrants from Belarus and Ukraine, many of whom settled in New York. Their doctors and, presumably, public health officials didn't realise that it was important to watch for changes to their thyroids, while back in the homeland the people who stayed behind were monitored closely and treated early. Eventually, the emigrés' thyroid cancers became impossible to ignore. Unfortunately, in many cases they were diagnosed too late.
Apologists for nuclear power claim that the increase in thyroid cancer in the Chernobyl-affected territories is an artefact caused by increased vigilance - more thyroid cancers were detected because doctors were looking for them. (This quote is from the BBC's disgraceful Nuclear Nightmares mockumentary of 2006, which the BBC Trust ruled was biased.) They think this gets radioactive fallout off the hook. The New York experience shows the opposite; radioactive fallout caused the cancers and lack of vigilance killed the victims. This is a powerful warning to people who have left the blighted parts of Japan. Don't think you have left the radiation problem behind; it might have come with you. If you think you have been exposed, make sure your doctor knows it. Get regular checkups long-term. If medical people on LLRC's circulations send us relevant advice we will post it later.
This 10 min sequence on Youtube shows ICRP's Jack Valentin admitting that the ICRP model can not be used by governments to predict the health risks of nuclear accidents:
Monday 11th April 20111st paragraph updated 12th April
Advice for the people of Japan
Large areas of Japan are contaminated to measured levels around 1 microsievert per hour. This figure is just for Caesium 137; it does not measure the alpha-emitting radionuclides Plutonium and Uranium. These contaminants are the real threat to health. No official sources are saying anything about this hazard although hundreds of tonnes of Uranium and Plutonium are missing from the spent fuel ponds. It's known that up to 1760 tonnes of spent fuel was stored on site. Some of it was in pools in the roofs of reactor containments which these high resolution aerial photos show to be absent, following explosions.
"Dose": the doses the Japanese government is publishing (e.g. here) are not a measure of risk. The data are for Caesium 137 which is easy to monitor because it is a strong gamma emitter. The data should be regarded as a signal for the very likely presence of the dangerous alpha emitting radionuclides like Uranium and beta emitters like Strontium-90 which are very hard to detect.
Food - LLRC advice: Vegetables and other foodstuffs showing more than 50 Bq/Kg Caesium indicate airborne contamination with other radionuclides. If food shows more than 50 Bq/Kg don't eat it unless you have absolutely no choice.The Japanese government should immediately ask for international food aid supplies to prevent its people eating contaminated food.
Early signs of health damage: We have received information from people in the Tokyo region stating that they have swollen lymph nodes and sores in their nostrils. These are indicators that they have probably inhaled particles of Plutonium and Uranium.
LLRC advice: unless it is absolutely impossible to leave, evacuate to areas where there has been no fallout - check MEXT data (English) or MEXT data (Japanese) .
To evacuate or not? Here is a novel scientific approach to the problem of quantifying the health effects of radioactive pollution.
Put simply, in an area now contaminated to a level of 1 microsievert per hour the fallout raises every individual person's risk of getting cancer in the next 10 years by 11%.
How do we know this?
The Japanese authorities are publishing data on contamination levels in the form of hourly dose rates from Caesium137. It is therefore possible to calculate the cancer yield using the same criteria as used by Tondel and colleagues in a robust but conservative study of cancer in Sweden after Chernobyl. Sweden is known to have been contaminated with Uranium fuel although fallout mapping generally used data for Caesium, just as in Japan now, exactly 25 years later. Tondel and colleagues found an 11% increase in cancer incidence for each 100 kiloBecquerels Caesium137 on each square metre of ground. The cancers were expressed (diagnosed) in a ten year period; cancers appearing later than 10 years are of course possible but were not included in Tondel's study.
A longer description of the method is here as HTML. The detailed method as provided by Professor Busby is here as a PDF .
To calculate the additional risk from fallout,
We will post a worked example on this page later and state the assumptions behind the 1565 multiplier.
- download the charts for your prefecture from MEXT data (English) or MEXT data (Japanese):
- Calculate the average rate; it is given in microsieverts per hour (µSv/h). (Exclude any short-term peaks as these will have been caused by radioactivity landing on the detectors and associated structures; it will since have been washed off by rain.)
- Find the historical background rate for your area, given as Range of past usual figures at the bottom of the charts (typical values are 0.017 - 0.1) Subtract this from your average.
- Multiply the result by 1565. Your new result will be the number of additional, fallout-related cancers expected in ten years for every 100,000 people in the population of your prefecture (This is over and above the pre-accident rate, calculated for all malignancies in the Japanese population.)
We recommend you save the MEXT data sheets in case the government deletes them. It is important to know the true historical levels so that the additional exposure from fallout can be calculated in future.
We recommend you to download (free) the book on Chernobyl's effect on human, animal and plant life published last year by the New York Academy of Sciences. All you need is to click on this link (Help). This book tells the facts as scientists have seen, measured and counted them, free of the dogma of "dose". This means they have not ignored the evidence of their own eyes just because it isn't predicted by the ICRP model.
This set of Recommendations from the European Committee on Radiation Risk is also a free download. It provides the scientific material to allow the authorities in Japan to regulate industry discharges on a rational scientific basis and to take precautionary action to protect the public. Unlike the recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection the ECRR advice is specifically intended to apply to post-accident scenarios.
Earlier material from this home page has been removed and will be archived on a separate part of the site. For a few hours it will not be visible. We apologise for the delay - the emergency in Japan has placed demands on LLRC at levels we have never before experienced. For the same reason we are not able to answer all emails. We read them all, but there isn't enough time in the day to answer them all.
Here is Inside report from Fukushima nuclear reactor evacuation zone, a video showing radiation levels on a dangerous journey approaching from the south.
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Send email to: SiteManager@llrc.org with questions or comments about this web site.