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The health impacts of climate change

‘Like a sunburn on your lungs’: how does the climate crisis impact health?

Children, pregnant women and the elderly are the most at risk from extreme weather and heat – but the impact is already felt across every specialty of medicine

‘Americans are waking up’: two thirds say climate crisis must be addressed Guardian,  Emily Holden in Washington  16 Sep 2019 The climate crisis is making people sicker – worsening illnesses ranging from seasonal allergies to heart and lung disease.

Children, pregnant people and the elderly are the most at risk from extreme weather and rising heat. But the impact of the climate crisis – for patients, doctors and researchers – is already being felt across every specialty of medicine, with worse feared to come……..

  • Allergies

    Climate change makes allergies worse.

    As temperatures increase, plants produce more pollen for longer periods of time, intensifying the allergy seasons. Increased concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can make plants grow more and cause more grass pollen, which causes allergies in about 20% of people. Carbon dioxide can also increase the allergy-causing effects of pollen.

  • Pregnancy and newborn complications

    Pregnant people are more vulnerable to heat and the air pollution that is being made worse by climate change……….

  • “We’re finding that we have increasing numbers of children born already in a weakened state from heat and air pollution. That’s a totally different story than thinking about climate change as the cause of hurricanes over Florida … It’s a much more pervasive and ongoing impact.”In the developing world pregnant people can also suffer from food and water scarcity. Insect-borne illnesses – such as the Zika virus, which was spread by mosquitoes – are also a hazard to developing fetuses.
  • Heart and lung disease

    Air pollution gets worse as temperatures rise, stressing both the heart and lungs. The fossil fuel pollution that causes the climate crisis also is linked with increased hospitalizations and deaths from cardiovascular disease, and it is connected with more asthma attacks and other breathing problem……

  • Risks for children

    Children under the age of five experience the majority of the health burden from climate change, according to Salas’ report………

  • Dehydration and kidney problems

    Much hotter days make it harder to stay hydrated. They are linked with electrolyte imbalances, kidney stones and kidney failure. Patients who need dialysis as their kidneys fail can have trouble getting treatment during extreme weather events.

    Skin disease

    Higher temperatures and the depletion of the ozone layer increase the risk of skin cancer. The same refrigerants and gases that damage the ozone layer contribute to climate change.

  • Digestive illnesses

    Heat is linked with higher risks for salmonella and campylobacter outbreaks. Extreme rains can contaminate drinking water. Harmful algae blooms that thrive in higher temperatures can cause gastrointestinal problems, too.

    Infectious disease

    Changing temperature and rainfall patterns allow some insects spread farther and transmit malaria, dengue, Lyme disease and West Nile virus. Waterborne cholera and cryptosporidiosis increase with drought and flooding.

    Mental health conditions

    The American Psychological Association created a 69-page guide on how climate change can induce stress, depression and anxiety. The group says “the connections with mental health are often not part” of the climate-health discussion……….

  • Neurologic disease

    Fossil fuel pollution can increase the risk of stroke. Coal combustion also produces mercury – a neurotoxin for fetuses. Diseases spread by mosquitoes and ticks increase the chance of neurological problems. Extreme heat is also linked with cerebrovascular disease, a disorder that affects blood supply to the brain.

    Nutrition

  • Carbon dioxide emissions are lowering the nutritional density of food crops, reducing plant levels of protein, zinc and iron and leading to more nutritional deficiencies. Food supplies are also disrupted by drought, societal instability and inequity linked with climate change.

    Trauma

    Extreme weather events, including hurricanes, floods and wildfires, often cause physical injuries. Doctors see minor fractures, crush injuries and smoke inhalation. Extreme heat is also linked with aggression and violence, and the climate crisis globally is connected with violent conflict and forced migration.  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/16/climate-crisis-health-risks-extreme-weather

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September 17, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, health | Leave a comment

Environmental, health, threats of USA’s zombie uranium mines

When toxic waste piles — either solid rock or liquid confined behind earthen dams — are left unaddressed, the potential increases for “catastrophic failure

WHILE ‘ZOMBIE’ MINES IDLE, CLEANUP AND WORKERS SUFFER IN LIMBO As the governor of West Virginia and other mine owners warehouse their operations and avoid cleanup, the Trump administration stifles attempts to write rules that could restrict the practice. Center for Public Integrity, 8 Sept 19

…….RADIOACTIVE LEGACY

Remnants of America’s nuclear past litter the Grants Mining District in northwest New Mexico: signs warning of radioactivity, a spiked drill bit outside the New Mexico Mining Museum in Grants, businesses offering to help retired miners get U.S. Department of Labor health benefits.

Mount Taylor — “Tsoodzil” to the Navajo Nation — towers over the landscape. At the base of the 11,305-foot-tall inactive volcano sits the Mount Taylor Mine, idled in 1990 and allowed to flood.

The heyday of Southwestern uranium mining lasted just 30 years. Much of the industry, including this mine, has since remained in standby.

The country’s last operational underground uranium mine shut in 2015, and  open-pit mines haven’t produced in decades. Only one mill in Utah and four in-situ-leach operations, in which ore is dissolved belowground and pumped up, are still active. Two other mills and 15 in-situ-leach sites are either officially in standby or not producing. The American uranium industry employed only 372 people last year, down from 1,120 two decades earlier. Production from U.S. uranium mines fell 85 percent during that period, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

At current prices, mining uranium in the Four Corners remains untenable.

But now the Mount Taylor Mine is reopening, at least on paper. 

…  the Jackpile-Paguate Uranium Mine, once the world’s largest open-pit uranium mine, is now a Superfund site. In the broader Four Corners region, the U.S. Department of Energy is supposed to clean up more than 20 such Cold War relics, from former mills to waste piles. Some leak arsenic, lead, uranium and other toxic substances into groundwater. Recently, hoofprints were found leading from an unfenced pollution control pond near Slick Rock, Colorado, indicating that cattle likely drink from it.

Just inside the southeastern corner of the Navajo Nation in New Mexico, an unsettling sign hangs from barbed wire: “DANGER. ABANDONED URANIUM MINE,” a pile of mine waste looming behind it. Residents here in the Red Water Pond Road Community are surrounded by two abandoned uranium mines and a mill…….

Living around or working in uranium mines can worsen, or even trigger, autoimmune disorders, kidney disease, respiratory issues, hypertension and cancer. A study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the University of New Mexico and Navajo agencies found that Navajo Nation citizens, including infants, had elevated levels of uranium in their bodies.

Paul Robinson, Southwest Research and Information Center’s research director, has tracked the industry for more than 40 years. While the New Mexico Mining Act mandates that waste rock and other infrastructure be stabilized before entering standby status, it allows operators to delay reclamation while mining is paused, he said.

Leaving the wastes that are generated at a mine uncovered is one of the ways to ensure airborne or waterborne release,” Robinson said.

Thompson Bell, a member of the Navajo Nation who spent five years as a mechanic in a uranium mine, grew up here and returned for the study. He said many of his mining coworkers died from lung cancer. The sheep and cattle that used to graze here have all but disappeared, the flocks given up for fear of contamination.

The thing about uranium, we found out: It destroys humans and land,” Bell said.

Opinion remains split locally about whether the return of relatively high-paying mining jobs — if that ever happened — would be worth the human and environmental consequences. Christine Lowery, a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and a commissioner for the county where the Mount Taylor Mine is located, said she welcomes a cleaner economy.

Those mines were open for one generation,” she said. “The legacy lasts forever…….

The federal government leaves it to the states to impose limits on uranium-mine idling. The resulting patchwork of state rules are largely anchored on a 147-year-old federal law aimed more at promoting mining than managing it.

Over time, uranium production has dropped, stockpiles remained large, nuclear power’s share of the country’s electricity production fell, and power plants bought more uranium from overseas. Still, mine owners hope for a revival…….

 Modern surface mining in Central Appalachia has been linked to health problems ranging from cancer to birth defects. And in a 2012 study, Bernhardt estimated that surface mining impaired about one in three miles of southern West Virginia’s rivers.

But idling poses other risks, Bernhardt said. When toxic waste piles — either solid rock or liquid confined behind earthen dams — are left unaddressed, the potential increases for “catastrophic failure,” she said, even as opportunities to use the land for new purposes are delayed…..

Regulators in Virginia have few options. Justice mine cleanup liabilities in Virginia total as much as $200 million, and taxpayers could get stuck with a large share of that if the state takes over. That’s because those companies have put up only about $51 million for cleanup if the operations are abandoned. Half of that amount would likely be worthless in that scenario because, state records show, it is backed against the value of the companies. A pool of money Virginia set up to close gaps like this at 150 permits across the state, including some of Justice’s, has less than $10 million in it. ……..https://publicintegrity.org/environment/while-zombie-mines-idle-cleanup-and-workers-suffer-in-limbo/?fbclid=IwAR1PsslGwAV0UPxPBIn4qv1JTypoGVk1

September 10, 2019 Posted by | environment, health, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

The radiation poisoning of Iraq lingers on

“The destruction of a society”: First the U.S. invaded Iraq — then we left it poisoned      Scientist: Bombs, bullets and military hardware abandoned by U.S. forces have left Iraq “toxic for millennia”, Salon.com  DAVID MASCIOTRA  7 Sept 19

The political and moral culture of the United States allows for bipartisan cooperation to destroy an entire country, killing hundreds of thousands of people in the process, without even the flimsiest of justification. Then, only a few years later, everyone can act as if it never happened.

In 2011, the U.S. withdrew most of its military personnel from Iraq, leaving the country in ruins. Estimates of the number of civilians who died during the war in Iraq range from 151,000 to 655,000. An additional 4,491 American military personnel perished in the war. Because the bombs have stopped falling from the sky and the invasion and occupation of Iraq no longer makes headlines, Americans likely devote no thought to the devastation that occurred in their name.

With the exception of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who is currently polling at or below 2 percent, no candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination has consistently addressed the criminality, cruelty and cavalier wastefulness of American foreign policy. Joe Biden, the frontrunner in the race, not only supported the war in Iraq — despite his recent incoherent claims to the contrary — but as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee acted as its most effective and influential salesman in the Democratic Party.

The blasé attitude of America toward the death and destruction it creates, all while boasting of its benevolence, cannot withstand the scrutiny of science. Dr. Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, an environmental toxicologist at the University of Michigan and recipient of the Rachel Carson Prize, has led several investigative expeditions in Iraq to determine how the pollutants and toxic chemicals from the U.S.-led war are poisoning Iraq’s people and environment. The health effects are catastrophic, and will remain so long after the war reached its official end.

previously interviewed Savabieasfahani about her initial research, and recently acquired an update regarding her team’s latest discovery that there is a close correlation between proximity to a U.S. military base and birth defects in Iraqi children.

Average Americans, even many who opposed the war in Iraq, seem to believe that once the military campaign is over the casualties of war stop accumulating. What is the purpose of your general research regarding the toxicity of the Iraqi environment resulting from American bombs, munitions and other materials? How does the American invasion and occupation continue to adversely affect the health of Iraqis?

Bombs and bullets have been used on an extreme scale in Iraq. Dropping tons of bombs and releasing millions of bullets leaves toxic residues the in air, water and soil of the targeted population. These pollutants continue to poison those populations years after the bombing stops

What’s more, the United States imported thousands of tons of military equipment into Iraq to use in their occupation. They include, tanks, trucks, bombers, armored vehicles, infantry weapons, antiaircraft systems, artillery and mortars — some of which are coated with depleted uranium, and much more. These eventually find their way into U.S. military junkyards which remain across Iraq.

There are unknown numbers of military junkyards scattered across the Iraqi landscape.

Fluctuations in temperature facilitates the rusting and weathering of military junk, releasing toxic pollutants [including radioactive uranium compounds, neurotoxic lead and mercury, etc.] into the Iraqi environment.

Uranium and its related compounds remain toxic for millennia and poison local populations through food, air and water contamination.

The exposure of pregnant mothers to the pollutions of war, including uranium and thorium, irreversibly damages their unborn children. We found thorium, a product of depleted uranium decay, in the hair of Iraqi children with birth defects who lived in Nasiriyah and Ur City, near a U.S. military base. 

The destruction of a society does not stop after U.S. bombs stop falling. Environmental contamination which the U.S. leaves behind continues to destroy our environment and poison our people decades after the bombs have stopped falling. The U.S. has a long history of irreversibly destroying human habitats. That must end…….

Forty-four years after U.S. forces left Vietnam, there are still Vietnamese babies born with birth defects from the American military’s use of Agent Orange. How long do you believe Iraqis will continue to suffer from the American-led war?

If left unmitigated, the population will be permanently exposed to elevated toxic exposures which can impact the Iraqi gene pool.

Through the use of the scientific method, you are gaining the ability to identify a severe problem in Iraq. Considering that the problem is a result of the U.S. invasion, what could the U.S. do to solve or at least mitigate the problem?

The U.S. must be held responsible and forced to clean up all the sites which it has polluted. Technology exists for the cleanup of radiation contamination. The removal and disposal of U.S.-created military junkyards would go a long way towards cleaning toxic releases out of the Iraqi environment.

You are a scientist, not a political analyst, but you must have some thoughts regarding the political implications of your work. How do you react to the lack of substantive conversation about the consequences of war in American politics and the press, and the American establishment’s evasion of responsibility on this issue?

I expect nothing from the American political establishment or their propaganda machines which masquerade as “news media” and feed uncritically off State Department press briefings.

Fortunately, there is a movement to criminalize environmental contamination caused by war. Damage to nature and the human environment must be considered a war crime.

Scientists are currently asking international lawmakers to adopt a fifth Geneva Convention which would recognize damage to nature as a war crime, alongside other war crimes. I hope that will make a difference in our ability to protect human lives and our environment. ……  https://www.salon.com/2019/09/07/the-destruction-of-a-society-first-the-u-s-invaded-iraq-then-we-left-it-poisoned/

September 9, 2019 Posted by | environment, Iraq, radiation, social effects, USA | Leave a comment

Spanish group gives summer holidays to kids from Chernobyl’s polluted region

Chernobyl nuclear disaster: Meet the NGO giving children a summer from the still present pollution,   Euro News 1 Sept 19, TV hit series Chernobyl may have revived interest in the 1986 nuclear disaster, but for one Spanish NGO, it’s never gone away.

Vallès Obert has helped organise summer holidays in Spain for around 2,000 children from the Chernobyl region since 1995.

It does this by finding families willing to host them.

The time away from the area helps their bodies recover from exposure to the toxic radioactive materials still present in the atmosphere around the diaster site…….

There are many people who have health problems”, explains Natasha, 14, who was born two decades after the incident.

She is being hosted by a family in La Roca del Vallès, near Barcelona, but will soon return to her hometown, Stanyshivka, about 60km from Chernobyl.

“After radiation, some people born cannot speak,” she told Euronews…….

Vallès Obert estimates two months a year outside the polluted environment helps their defences regenerate significantly.

Manuel, president of the association, explains that “there is an age range between 40 and 50 years old in which cancer problems begin to appear: larynx or stomach cancer, leukaemia… everything related to cancer”…….. https://www.euronews.com/2019/08/31/chernobyl-nuclear-disaster-meet-the-ngo-giving-children-a-summer-from-the-still-present-po

September 1, 2019 Posted by | children, Religion and ethics, Spain, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Radioactive patients – a concern following Russian nuclear accident

Russian nuclear accident: Medics fear ‘radioactive patients’,  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-49432681  23 Aug 19, Russian medics who treated radiation victims after a military explosion in the Arctic had no protection and now fear they were irradiated themselves.

Two of the medics in Arkhangelsk spoke to BBC Russian about the victims’ evacuation, on condition of anonymity.

Five nuclear engineers died on 8 August when an “isotope-fuel” engine blew up at the Nyonoksa test range, officials said. Two military personnel also died.

President Vladimir Putin said the test involved a new weapon system.

Six people were injured in the accident, but officials gave few details about it.

On 14 August Russia’s weather service Rosgidromet revealed that radiation levels had spiked 16 times above normal, in Severodvinsk, a city 47km (29 miles) east of Nyonoksa.

According to the official data, the radiation that reached Severodvinsk was not heavy enough to cause radiation sickness.

Experts in Russia and the West say the test was most likely linked to the new 9M730 Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile, called “Skyfall” by Nato. Last year Mr Putin said the technology would give the missile “unlimited” range.


The Arkhangelsk medics, who spoke to the BBC’s Pavel Aksenov, said at least 90 people came into contact with the casualties, but the military did not warn them of any nuclear contamination risk.

Contamination fears

The medics were at the civilian Arkhangelsk regional hospital, which treated three of the injured, while three other casualties were taken to an Arkhangelsk hospital called Semashko, which is equipped for radiation emergencies.

The medics said they were speaking out now because they feared for their own health and did not want any similar “[safety] violations” to recur.

“We don’t want them to bring us next time not three, but ten people, God forbid, and hide the information from us again,” said one.

The degree of secrecy surrounding the explosion has drawn comparisons with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, when Soviet officials were slow to admit the truth.

The Arkhangelsk medics said it was clear that the three brought to their regional hospital were very sick. Doctors examined them in the emergency room, then sent them to an operating theatre.

But the emergency room continued to admit other patients for about an hour, the medics said, until the doctors realised that the three “had received a very high radiation dose”. The hospital handles pregnancy complications and other difficult medical conditions.

“The radiation picture was developing by the hour. Blood tests were being done, and every hour you could see that this or that cell count was plunging. That signified a very high radiation dose,” they said.

The hospital staff kept treating the victims despite knowing about the radiation dose. The staff had to improvise some self-protection – for example, they took face masks from the helicopter crews’ emergency kit.

The next day the three victims were transferred to a hospital in Moscow which has radiation specialists. Their condition now is unknown.

Nuclear decontamination

A military team later carried out decontamination work in the Arkhangelsk hospital.

The medics said the casualties’ clothing was removed, along with stretchers and a “highly radioactive bath”.

“Our cleaners should have been advised, they’re just simple country folk, they were just picking up sacks and bundles and carrying them out,” said one.

The other medic said hospital staff were now mentally stressed, knowing that radiation safety information had been withheld from them during the emergency.

Two weeks after the explosion the Russian health ministry said none of the medics at the Arkhangelsk hospitals had received a hazardous radiation dose. Its conclusion was based on medical examination of 91 staff.

Incomplete data

On Monday an international nuclear agency reported that the two Russian radiation monitoring stations nearest to Nyonoksa had gone offline soon after the explosion. The revelation fuelled suspicions that the radiation could have been heavier than officially reported.

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) said the technical failure at those sites was then followed by a failure at two more. It tweeted an animation showing the potential radiation plume from the explosion.

Russia said the weapons test was none of the CTBTO’s business, and added that handing over radiation data was voluntary. Two of the monitoring stations have since started working again.

 

August 24, 2019 Posted by | health, Russia | Leave a comment

Two victims of mysterious Russian missile blast ‘died of radiation sickness’

August 22, 2019 Posted by | health, Russia, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Revealed: mental health crisis at Hinkley Point C nuclear construction site

Revealed: mental health crisis at Hinkley Point C construction site.
Guardian 13th Aug 2019 Several workers on nuclear plant have killed themselves or attempted to,
says union. Hinkley is grappling with a mental illness crisis, with several
attempted suicides since work began in 2016, a Guardian investigation can
reveal.
More than 4,000 workers are on site delivering the vast decade-long
building project, a central plank in Britain’s future energy strategy. But
according to union officials, there has been a surge in suicide attempts
this year, a rise in the number of people off sick with stress, anxiety and
depression, and an increase in workers suffering from mental distress.
Officials from the Unite union say they have been told of 10 suicide
attempts in the first four months of 2019. The Guardian understands at
least two workers connected to the project have taken their lives since
construction started in earnest in 2016.
The main causes of the distress
appear to be loneliness, relationship breakdown and the struggle of being
sometimes hundreds of miles away from family. At Hinkley, workers live on
special campuses in nearby Bridgwater, or else in converted digs in the
town. They work a variety of shift patterns and are shuttled to and from
the site on scores of buses. Some contractors work as much as 11 days on
with three days off, including an extra weekend day for travelling home.
But the Guardian understands that most people can cope with the stress and
pressure of the work. The problems start once they clock off.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/aug/13/revealed-suicide-alarm-hinkley-point-c-construction-site

Guardian 13th Aug 2019 Angie Young, the health and wellbeing manger at the Hinkley Point C (HPC)
site, does not hesitate when asked what the main cause of mental health
issues there is. “It’s loneliness. You’re living away from home,
living without your family. Loneliness is the big thing.” But a major
complicating factor is that tough men who build stuff are not always great
at talking about feelings. “Our guys are construction guys – they are
macho. The average age is 45-55. They haven’t got someone nagging them to
go and see someone. We’re trying to address that.”

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/aug/13/no-more-man-up-better-mental-health-hinkley-point-c

August 15, 2019 Posted by | employment, social effects, UK | Leave a comment

Church Rock America’s Forgotten Nuclear Sacrifice Zone

August 13, 2019 Posted by | health, incidents, indigenous issues, Reference, USA | 2 Comments

Health research on descendants of Pacific nuclear veterans.

Pacific nuclear veterans’ descendants sought for study.  https://www.odt.co.nz/news/national/pacific-nuclear-veterans-descendants-sought-study    A search is underway for descendants of service personnel who witnessed a nuclear test at Mururoa Atoll to take part in a nationwide study.A Mururoa Nuclear Veterans Group wants all veterans who were deployed to Mururoa Atoll in 1973, and their families, to be part of a study as it’s believed their children may have been affected by their parents’ exposure to radiation.

The then Labour government sent a frigate to Mururoa Atoll, including then Cabinet Minister Fraser Colman, to protest against French nuclear testing there.

Mururoa Nuclear Veterans Group wants all people on the frigate, and their families to be part of a study as it’s believed their children may have been affected by their parents’ exposure to radiation. The group, which was established in 2013 to press the government to help families with nuclear related illnesses, had 135 members who served at the protest. Of those, 56 had children or grandchildren with unexplained medical conditions.

University of Otago associate professor David McBride, has been tasked with conducting the first medical testing of veterans’ children and grandchildren.

To establish whether genetic transfer of illnesses are related to exposure to nuclear radiation and create a registry “would be difficult but not impossible,” Mr McBride said.

Mururoa Nuclear Veterans Group vice-president, Tony Cox, was concerned veteran’s offspring could be more susceptible to conditions like leukaemia and auto-immune diseases.

“If we don’t do it now, when we die no one else is going to care. Their sickness and problems we consider is directly attributable to our service,” Mr Cox said.

“Be it Operation Grapple, Christmas Island, Mururoa, anywhere else … widows and children especially we are looking for.”  The University of Otago will carry out the study from October or November this year, but a registry needs to be created for the study to work.

Mr Cox encouraged anyone with a nuclear testing background to come forward to take part in the study or identify themselves in order to be included in the registry.

August 12, 2019 Posted by | health, OCEANIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Harm to astronauts’ brains from space radiation

Space Radiation Will Damage Mars Astronauts’ Brains, Space.com By Mike Wall 9 Aug 19, Space radiation will take a toll on astronauts’ brains during the long journey to Mars, a new study suggests.

August 10, 2019 Posted by | deaths by radiation, radiation, space travel | Leave a comment

Belarus’ forgotten children – victims of Chernobyl’s nuclear radiation

Kevin Barry in Chernobyl: ‘Misha is an example of what happens when a country is on its knees’  Irish Examiner, August 05, 2019 

In 2000 the Irish Examiner sent Kevin Barry, now longlisted for the Booker Prize for his novel Night Boat to Tangier, to Chernobyl. Here we reproduce what he reported

Misha photographed by Eugene Kolzov at the No 1 orphanage in Minsk.Misha, aged seven, is the victim of not one but many sicknesses. His physical disorders, as can be plainly seen, are many and various.

But Misha is the victim of another ailment too, a kind of compassion deficiency.

Chernobyl isn’t fashionable these days, it’s been around so long now. April 26, 1986 seems a long time in the way-distant past. After the initial blurt of paranoia and charitable outreach, the fickle gaze of public interest quickly flicked from the incident at Reactor No 4 to fresher horrors.

Misha, then, has been shuffled way back in the compassion pack. He has fallen behind the other ravaged children who sombrely people the planet’s trouble spots, in places like Mozambique and Ethiopia.

He’s competing with Rwanda and Chechnya. And it’s beginning to tell Misha’s illness is a direct consequence of the Chernobyl explosion.

The radioactive danger in Belarus is not so much in the air now as in the food chain. Professor Yuri Bandashevsky, a dissident scientist, told the Irish Examiner this week that the mutations caused by radiation in children like Misha have by now entered the gene pool and thus the effects of the ‘86 explosion can stretch to infinity.

After criticising the state’s alleged misspending of research money for Chernobyl, Professor Bandashevsky recently found himself banged up in jail for five months, bound at the feet.

Which isn’t the sort of thing that bodes well for the likes of Misha. Some aid continues to filter through. This week, a convoy run by the Chernobyl Children’s Project has been on a drive through Belarus, dispensing almost £2 million in food and medicines.

One of the institutions the orphanage supports is Novinki, a children’s asylum on the outskirts of Minsk. Such is its Dickensian squalor, its actual existence was long denied by the state. This is where you’ll find little Misha.

Project leader Adi Roche says she has known the child since he was a baby, but has been stunned at his deterioration since she last visited in December.

After finding him emaciated and dying this week, the project has placed a Dublin nurse and a local Chernobyl nurse on 24-hour care alert with Misha, an attempt to make whatever is left of his life as painless as possible

“We don’t know how long Misha will live, or if he will live, but we are morally obliged to do everything in our power to attempt saving his life,” said Ms Roche last night.

“‘He is not the only child in Belarus suffering as horrifically as this. he’s just one of many.” she added. “‘These children are the victims of 14 years of neglect by the international community.”’

Many children in Belarus consigned to mental asylums have no mentaI handicap. “All orphaned children with any kind of disability are put into mental asylums if they live beyond the age of four,” she said.

Meanwhile, staffed by1,000 workers, the Chernobyl plant continues operate a couple of kilometres inside the Ukraine border.

The authorities say it will close this year. The concrete sarcophagus built to contain contamination from the reactor has 200 holes and counting.

Orphans of the nuclear age

Kevin Barry, in Chernobyl, finds a land and its people scarred by a disaster from which they may never recover.

Chernobyl at this time of year is beautiful, the borderlands of the Ukraine and Belarus a pastoral and idyllic place. Vast swardes of rich woodland are full of babbling brooks and twittering songbirds, every way you turn, there’s a postcard vista to please even the most jaded eyes.

The locals, however, are edgy. The President of Belarus, Alaksandr Lukashenko — aka ‘Batska’ (‘The Father’) — has decreed that the farmlands here–abouts are now safe to plant and he’s threatening to fly overhead and make sure the workers are toiling.

If not, he says, there will be trouble. Big trouble.

The notion of Batska in an airplane is enough to prompt sleepless nights for those who remain in the Purple Zone, the area most contaminated by the accident in 1986 at Smelter No 4 of the nuclear plant that lies inside the Ukranian border.

In a tragedy of happenstance, because there was a stiff northerly gusting that day, Belarus took the brunt of the damage and because radioactivity is most lethal when it attacks developing human systems, children have borne most of the pain.

But for these children, the most serious ailment is not the thyroid cancer or the leukaemia or the heart trouble or the kidney failure or the various disorders of colon and spleen prompted by Chernobyl.

The greatest danger is the compassion-fatigue. 1986 seems a long time ago now and the incident at Smelter No 4 is no longer swaddled in the necessary event-glamour or crisis-chatter.

When the evening news is an atrocity exhibition, when daily there are hellish dispatches from Mozambique, Ethiopia and Chechnya, the Belarussians fall ever further back in the line.

The foreign correspondents have long since moved on elsewhere. The story of a child developing thyroid cancer over a period of years doesn’t conform neatly with the sound-byte culture.

By this stage, the Belarussians have had enough. A condition of mass denial exists in the country and a native of the village Solchechy in the Purple Zone says that up to around 1993, everybody fretted and freaked out but then they decided, well, to hell with it.

“The mess got to be too much,” she says.

We don’t think about it now. Life is life and we try to get on with it.

This is easier said than done in Belarus. The country’s economy is shot — agriculture was its mainstay and since Chernobyl, the income from farming has been negligible. Almost 30% of the country’s annual turnover goes to the clean-up operation.

Belarus remains the most Soviet of states. There are thickly-piled layers bureaucracy and this tangle of demented protocol regulations and petty restrictions is amorphic, constantly shape-shifting.

The natives have had to develop a stoic acceptance of a hard frustrating life…….. https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/views/analysis/kevin-barry-in-chernobyl-misha-is-an-example-of-what-happens-when-a-country-is-on-its-knees-941735.html

August 6, 2019 Posted by | Belarus, children, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference | Leave a comment

Radiation research facility opens to public on anniversary of Hiroshima bombing to raise awareness of effects

Radiation research facility opens to public on anniversary of Hiroshima bombing to raise awareness of effects, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/08/05/national/radiation-research-facility-opens-public-anniversary-hiroshima-bombing/#.XUiq5m8zbIU  

KYODOm A Japan-U.S. joint research organization opened one of its radiation research facilities in Hiroshima to the public Monday to raise awareness of the effects of radiation on human health, ahead of the anniversary on Tuesday of the atomic bombing of the city.Although the Hiroshima facility will only be open to the public for two days, the Radiation Effects Research Foundation will open another research facility in the city of Nagasaki on Thursday and Friday to coincide with the city’s Aug. 9 A-bomb anniversary.

This marks the 25th annual public opening of the facility in Minami Ward, Hiroshima. It aims to share research content and help the public better understand the health effects of radiation. The research facility has been collecting data from hibakusha since the institute was established in 1975, when it succeeded the research efforts of its predecessor, the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission.

Some of the exhibition booths explain the risks of radiation, as well as the role of blood. Visitors can also experiment with freezing cells in liquid nitrogen for preservation, which tends to be popular with children when the experiment is successful.

“The (facility was) full of things I didn’t know were there, like health research on second generation hibakusha. Even as a Hiroshima resident, I learned a lot,” said Sanae Yamamoto, a 41-year-old housewife from Asakita Ward in the city who visited the facility with her children.

August 6, 2019 Posted by | Japan, radiation | Leave a comment

Major problem for astronauts – radiation damages mood and memory?

August 6, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, space travel | 2 Comments

Sunken Soviet Sub leaking high levels of radiation, Norwegian researchers say

August 6, 2019 Posted by | environment, radiation, Russia | Leave a comment

Radiation effects on the “downwinders” and others close to nuclear weapons tests

The fallout of uncertainty in nuclear test communities   https://www.hcn.org/articles/nuclear-energy-the-fallout-of-uncertainty-in-nuclear-test-communities  

For downwinders of bomb testing, plans for compensation to redress past harms makes for tricky politics.   Aria Alamalhodaei Aug. 2, 2019,   The atomic bomb was born in the desert. In the early hours of July 16, 1945, after a spate of bad weather, a 20-kiloton plutonium-based nuke referred to as “the gadget” detonated near Alamogordo, New Mexico. Firsthand testimonies of the test, codenamed Trinity, converge on the uncanny axis of awe and dread. The Manhattan Project’s Chief of Field Operations, General Thomas Farrell, wrote that “the strong, sustained, awesome roar … warned of doomsday and made us feel that we puny things were blasphemous.”

The bomb produced a massive cloud column that drifted in several directions, dusting large swaths of the surrounding region with radioactive snow – fallout that settled on buildings, plants, and animals, and that continued to permeate the air as invisible particulate in the weeks and months that followed. Five years later, the Nevada Test Site was established to continue the work that Trinity set alight.
Although the mushroom cloud became the icon of American nuclear activity in the 20th century, the harms of these bombs did not fade with their dimming fireballs. No group in the U.S. understands this better than the downwinders, communities throughout the American Southwest and beyond who were exposed to the fallout of the military’s domestic nuclear test program.
In 1990, the U.S. government passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), which provided financial remuneration to downwinders who had contracted cancer or other illnesses linked to radiation exposure. (The law also provided compensation for certain on-site test participants and uranium miners.) As of April 2018, the program had awarded more than $2.2 billion to some 34,370 claimants.
As the law was written, however, only downwinders in specific counties in Arizona, Utah, and Nevada were eligible for compensation. Even residents of New Mexico, the site of the Trinity test, were excluded. Since the law was passed, studies and fallout reconstructions have suggested that the health impacts of the nuclear tests likely extend to areas as far away as Idaho, Montana and Guam. Residents in those far-flung locales have provided vivid testimonies of glowing duststrange maladies befalling livestock, and cancer clusters ravaging whole families.
For more than a decade, civic groups have lobbied lawmakers, unsuccessfully, to open RECA to a broader population of downwinders. That Congress has so far balked at those proposals is a testament to many factors; legislative decisions are informed not only by science but by moral and political calculus. But lawmakers’ inability to come to terms on who suffered, and on who deserves reparations for that suffering, points to a little discussed weak spot of modern politics: its uneasy relationship with uncertainty.
RECA’S COMPACT DELIMITATION OF “affected areas” was based on dose estimates produced by the Department of Energy’s Off-Site Radiation Exposure Review Project — a complicated calculation that drew from atmospheric transport models, reconstructions of fallout patterns, and reports of dosimeters and other radiation recorders. The bill was amended once, in 2000, to include a larger population of uranium workers and to expand the time frame, eligible diseases, and geographic locations covered. Two years later, in response to a congressional mandate, the Health Resources and Services Administration commissioned the National Research Council (NRC) to review the RECA program and determine if additional populations should be covered. Their final report was published in 2005. Based in part on mortality and disease-incidence data on atomic bomb survivors in Japan, uranium miners in the U.S., and Utah schoolchildren exposed to fallout from the Nevada Test Site, the committee concluded that in most cases involving downwinders who had been excluded from RECA, “it is unlikely that exposure to radiation from fallout was a substantial cause to developing cancer.”
But radiation epidemiology is a science of uncertainty, and tracing a person’s illness to a single exposure event can be challenging even in seemingly clear-cut cases. Although high doses of radiation are known to lead to disease and death, the effects of lower doses are far less predictable. Moreover, an individual’s radiation dose — the amount of radiation that he or she internalizes — depends on the person’s age, sex, diet, and pre-existing risk factors; weather conditions; and the characteristics of the nuclear event itself. Extrapolating results from one nuclear event to another, as the NRC study did, is bound to introduce some error.
Consider the Trinity test, which has been consistently ignored by lawmakers. According to the Los Alamos Historical Document Retrieval and Assessment (LAHDRA), conducted in 2010 for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, previous efforts to determine exposures from Trinity ignored the specific characteristics that distinguished it from all other subsequent tests. Unlike tests conducted at the Nevada Test Site, the Trinity “gadget” detonated only 100 feet from the ground. At this height, more organic material would’ve been swept into the explosion and returned to the earth as fallout. Another compounding factor was the relative inefficiency of the device. Of the 13 pounds of fissile material contained in the device, only about 2.6 pounds exploded; the rest was dispersed into the environment, where it remained radioactive.
The LAHDRA report also faulted previous studies for failing to adequately account for internal exposure, caused by the inhalation or ingestion of radioactive material. Research shows that internal exposure is significantly more harmful to the human body than the external exposure that occurs, say, when X-rays or other high-energy radiation penetrate the skin. Internal dosages are influenced by occupation, diet, local environment, and other sociodemographic factors. Any assessment that does not account for those factors is incomplete. And, according to the LAHDRA report, no assessment has properly accounted for the internal radiation dosages experienced by residents near the Trinity site. 
 
In the case of the Trinity test, there’s reason to believe that sociodemographic factors would have been significant. During the 1940s, New Mexican communities were largely agrarian; most people were farmers or ranchers who grew their food, hunted and fished, and drank water collected from cisterns or holding ponds. If those sources were contaminated, residents would likely have been at an increased risk for radiation-linked illnesses.
LAST SUMMER, MEMBERS OF THE NEW MEXICO community organization Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium (TBDC), along with representatives from the Navajo Nation, argued in a Senate Judiciary hearing for amending RECA. Stated TBDC co-founder Tina Cordova, “The New Mexico downwinders are the collateral damage that resulted from the development and testing of the first atomic bomb.” 
Their appeals appear to have fallen on receptive ears. This March, a bipartisan coalition of U.S. Senators, including New Mexico Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, reintroduced Senate Bill 947 (S. 947), “Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2019.” It is the most recent in a long line of bills that attempt to expand the RECA’s coverage. Among other changes, it seeks coverage for downwinders in New Mexico, Colorado, Montana, Idaho, and Guam. A companion was introduced in the House in July.

Meanwhile, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is currently conducting a three-phase study on the diet and lifestyles of mid-century New Mexicans. The models generated in this study may help scientists draw firmer links between present day cancer cases and the Trinity test. In an email, NCI spokesperson Michael Levin confirmed that the results of the study are anticipated to be published in late 2019.

Like other epidemiological studies of its size, the NCI’s study has been expensive to run and frustratingly time-intensive. And time is precisely what many downwinders feel they don’t have. More than 70 years has passed since the Trinity test. Many downwinders have passed away or are battling cancers and other diseases. Over time, it becomes increasingly difficult to demonstrate that a disease was caused by nuclear fallout rather than, say, cigarettes or bad luck.

The government, meanwhile, plods along at its own pace, unconstrained by the length of a single lifetime or the distressing span between a diagnosis and its terminal conclusion. In response to a news article about S.947 posted to the Idaho Downwinders public Facebook page, one commenter wrote, “The government are just waiting for all of us to die off so they won’t have to be bothered with it.”
In its 2005 review of the RECA law, the National Research Council stated that, although scientific recommendations were meant to inform policy, the “attendant policy decisions must come from the larger body of citizenry” and “applying this new scientific knowledge may require additional societal value-based decisions.” This is particularly true of probability-based information on cancer epidemiology. When there is simply not enough data available to definitively estimate risk, the question of compensating the citizens who live in the long shadow of the nuclear testing era becomes a moral one: How much uncertainty can we stand?

August 3, 2019 Posted by | radiation, Reference, USA | Leave a comment