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Critical data is missing for two-thirds of children tested for thyroid problems in Fukushima Prefecture


September 28, 2012

Critical data is missing for two-thirds of children tested for thyroid problems in Fukushima Prefecture, because their families have failed to declare the children’s hour-by-hour whereabouts during the immediate post-disaster period.

Investigators need residence records for the four months following March 11, 2011, when radioactive fallout was high from a nuclear disaster and ingested iodine isotopes could have damaged the thyroid glands of growing children.

The records are arduous to complete, but are needed in order to estimate a possible dose. Absence of a dose estimate could make people ineligible for compensation if they later develop serious problems such as thyroid cancer, because of an inability to establish a cause.

By late September, about 100,000 children had their thyroid glands tested because of their relative proximity to the melted-down reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

The tests targeted those living in districts such as the 13 municipalities near the crippled nuclear plant, and Fukushima city, the prefectural capital. Results for 80,000 tests are now available.


But Fukushima Medical University officials say only slightly more than 30 percent of the 80,000 children who had thyroid gland tests have received estimates of their external radiation dose.

External doses are calculated on the basis of the individuals’ whereabouts in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. The factors include records of airborne radiation levels and the time the individuals spent outdoors.


When dose data is unavailable, there is no way to tell whether an abnormality in the thyroid gland has anything to do with the nuclearaccident.

“Dose estimates are essential for evaluating a causal relationship between disease and radiation in those cases where people unfortunately fall ill and consider applying for compensation,” said Saburo Murata, deputy director of the Hannan Chuo Hospital in Osaka Prefecture.

In the past, Murata has helped atomic bomb survivors and nuclear plant workers apply for health compensation.

“I advise people to keep records of any changes in their health conditions and their whereabouts, including from now on,” he said.

(This article was written by Yuri Oiwa and Teruhiko Nose.)


September 28, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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