What can I say. I am mad. I am ripping mad. I’m disgusted. I’ve seen a level of dishonesty and scientific misinformation so grotesque, I don’t even know what to say.
One expects that vested interests will tweak data or publish biased studies to support their own causes from time to time. It’s dishonest and unacceptable, but it happens. Still, sometimes the level of dishonesty is so severe it really shocks the conscious.
Such is the case with a recent “study” from the Radiation and Public Health Project. It is so dishonest in its claims it really makes me wonder about the pathology of those who are behind it. What is their goal? To they, deep down, think they are serving a greater good with these lies? Have they justified this to themselves through some rationalization that preserves their need for attention and to appear to be heros? I’m sure a psychologist could have a field day.
Here is how it was reported in Yahoo News:
Fukushima fallout may be causing illness in American babies: Study
A new study from the Radiation and Public Health Project found that babies born in the western United States as well as other Pacific countries shortly after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in March 2011 may be at greater risk for congenital hypothyroidism.
Babies born in places including Hawaii, Alaska, California, Oregon and Washington shortly after Fukushima were 28 percent more likely to suffer from the illness, according to the study, than children born in those same regions one year earlier. The illness, if untreated, can cause permanent handicaps in both the body and brain.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “If untreated, congenital hypothyroidism can lead to intellectual disability and abnormal growth. In the United States and many other countries, all newborns are tested for congenital hypothyroidism. If treatment begins in the first month after birth, infants usually develop normally.”
But… how could this possibly be?
It is true that nuclear fission produces a significant quantity of iodine-131, a radioactive isotope which can cause damage to the thyroid, due to its high biological uptake and tendency to accumulate in the thyroid. Thyroid tissue is radiation-sensitive to begin with, so in nuclear accidents, iodine-131 is one of the greatest concerns.
Of course, we are talking about the United States of America. This is thousands of miles from Japan and any iodine-131 that might make it across the Pacific would be expected to be extremely dilute. Not only that, but with a half-life of only eight days, the fact that it takes a minimum of a few days for atmospheric material to traverse the Pacific (and usually more than that) means that a good portion of the isotope would have decayed by the time it reached the US.
This is born out by the fact that when iodine-131 (which normally does not occur in nature) was detected in the US, after the Fukushima incident, the levels were miniscule. Radioisotopes like iodine-131 can be detected at extremely low levels. This is done by collecting samples of precipitation, dust or air and placing them in a detector which can detect the characteristic energy levels of the gamma ray photons radioisotopes emit. When a gamma ray of the energy associated with iodine-131 is detected, it indicates an atom of the isotope has decayed. Since its half-life is so short, even a few hundred atoms of iodine-131 will produce detectable radiation, if they are present in a sample.
It is a testament to the precision of modern gamma spectrometers that iodine-131 could be detected at all in both the US and Europe. Yet, although it was detected, in some cases, the levels were so low that the actual concentration could not even be reliably established. This is not a big surprise, given that even in Tokyo, which was thousands of miles closer to Fukushima, the levels of iodine-131 only briefly exceeded what is considered the “safe” standard for infants. It should be noted that the standard is extremely conservative.
If that is not compelling reason enough to be skeptical of claims that the iodine-131 levels in the US were high enough to cause harm to infants, it should also be noted that an entire generation of US citizens was exposed to hundreds or thousands of times more iodine-131 from atmospheric nuclear testing. What harm this may have caused is still a matter of debate. it likely did result in some additional cases of thyroid cancer, but it certainly did not lead to a large number of kids of the 1950′s and 1960′s with major thyroid problems.
So how could these babies possibly have been damaged by Fukishima fallout?
Lets take a look at the actual study, which can be downloaded here.