WASHINGTON — Researchers have found very low amounts of radioactivity in the bodies of about 10,000 people who were living near the Fukushima No. 1 power plant when three of its reactors melted down.
The first published study that measured the radiation within a large number of residents reassured health experts because the numbers reported imply only negligible health risks. The threat appeared to be considerably lower than in the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster, the experts agreed.
“Out of 10,000 people with a dose of 1 millisievert, the radiation would cause two to get cancer during their lifetimes, but about 3,500 would get cancer also without any radiation,” he said. “The jury is still out, but I expect the public health impact from radiation to turn out to be considerably lower than that of Chernobyl.”
Although cesium isotopes have half-lives of years, radioactive iodine isotopes can be measured for only a short time. As a result, the threat from iodine may not be known for years.
David Weinstock of Harvard University, while aware of the shortcomings of the report, agrees with the authors’ conclusions. He calls the measured doses an “approximately zero risk.” He attributes the results to the public health response in Japan.
“In Chernobyl, there was no response in the beginning and people were left to consume contaminated food, while in Fukushima the response has been to evacuate and to stop food consumption from contaminated areas, and it seems to have been validated,” he said.
Continue reading at Cesium in those near No. 1 rated low, now