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Researchers Find Radioactive Particles from Fukushima or other Nuclear Disasters Could Stay in Environment, Human Lungs for Decades

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Aftermath of the Fukushima 2011 earthquake.
June 17, 2019
Q&A with Professor Rodney C. Ewing, Frank Stanton Professor in Nuclear Security and co-director at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI). Interview with Katy Gabel Chui.
Your previous research with this team helped identify the types of radioactive particles that can become airborne and were transported away from Fukushima during the 2011 nuclear disaster.
This most recent paper goes further to show how these Cesium (Cs)-rich silica particles behave in several types of fluids, including simulated human lung fluid, concluding that the particles are fully dissolved in the latter after more than 35 years. What might that mean for human health in the Fukushima area and beyond?
The first breakthrough was the recognition that such particles, a few microns in diameter, existed, a discovery by Japanese scientists at the Meteorological Research Institute, Tsukuba, in 2013. The particles are important because they were dispersed over distances of tens of kilometers and were “carriers” of highly radioactive Cs. Our team’s previous work, led by Professor Satoshi Utsunomiya, mainly focused on the characterization of the particles and their constituents at the atomic-scale and surveyed their distribution in the area away from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants. Our earliest work from 2016 can be found online. A good summary of the history of the work on these cesium-rich microparticles was recently published in Scientific American.
This latest paper published in Chemosphere is the 6th in a series of papers on the Cs-rich microparticles. We describe the behavior of these particles when exposed to different types of fluids: ultra-pure water, artificial sea water and simulated lung fluid. The microparticles dissolve in all three fluids, reaching a long-term but a continuing, slow rate of release after just three days. Essentially, the calculated release rate of cesium depends on the rate of dissolution of the silica glass matrix and the initial size of the particles. In the simulated lung fluid, the particles are modelled to fully dissolve after more than 35 years.
What is the simulated lung fluid made of, and how does it work in simulation? How do you estimate 35 years?
The constituents of typical lung fluid were simply mixed to simulate its composition based on a recipe reported by previous studies. The lung fluid is different from the other solutions because it contains organic compounds and has a different chemistry, i.e., higher sodium and chlorine content. The estimates of residence time in the body assumes that the particles are inhaled and find their way to the pulmonary system. The calculation of residence time is based on assumptions about the size and composition of the microparticles, and we used the long-term release rate from the experiments. We assumed a spherical shape and a constant decrease in size as the leaching process continued. The rate can vary depending on the actual shape, internal texture, composition (such as occurrence of intrinsic Cs-phase inclusions), and precipitation of secondary phases that may form a “protective” coating on the cesium-rich microparticles (CsMPs). The rate of release was fastest in the simulated lung fluid.
The important result is to realize that the Cs-rich silica particles dissolve slowly in the environment and in the body. Essentially, the release extends for several decades.
How can nuclear energy experts and policy makers use this research to avoid future risk?
Understanding the form and composition of materials that host and disperse radionuclides is the first step in completing a careful dose calculation. Based on these results, the fraction of Cs contained in the silica particles will not be rapidly “flushed” through the environment or the body, but rather will be released over several decades.
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June 19, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Radiation-absorption tests under development could save lives in nuclear explosion

Direct measurement (like Becquerels) via blood samples described in the article sounds like the way to go.

The key to understand is that this is something that has never existed and we hope it never gets used,” Josh LaBaer, principal investigator and director of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, told Homeland Preparedness News.

The tests could also have civilian applications as well, LaBaer said, such as in the event of industrial accidents at a nuclear power plant or in medical situations when people are exposed to excessive radiation.

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The U.S. government is funding the late-stage development of tests that would quickly determine how much radiation a person has absorbed in the event of a catastrophic nuclear explosion.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) is sponsoring the development of tests that go beyond detecting whether radiation is on a person’s skin to determining the amount of radiation that has been absorbed into a person’s body.

The key to understand is that this is something that has never existed and we hope it never gets used,” Josh LaBaer, principal investigator and director of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, told Homeland Preparedness News.

ASPR’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) will provide more than $21.3 million over four years to develop the tests. Kansas City, Missouri-based MRIGlobal said in a written statement the contract could be extended for up to $100 million over 10 years.

MRIGlobal is partnering with Thermo Fisher Scientific and Arizona State University to lead the development of the program for BARDA. The agency also will provide more than $22.4 million in funding over two years to DxTerity Diagnostics based near Los Angeles.

The challenge was that in the event of a nuclear bomb in a major American city, there is an instantaneous release of high doses of gamma radiation, which is the type of radiation that travels through the air over large distances,” LaBaer said. “In that type of mass casualty event there would be lots of people who would need to be evaluated.”

The task for researchers was to develop a device that could quickly measure how much radiation large numbers of people had potentially absorbed into their organs and blood cells during a nuclear emergency. Devices currently available today can only detect radiation on the skin.

The amount of radiation that gets absorbed into the body has a direct implication on how that person gets triaged and managed,” LaBaer said. Absorption of a small or moderate dose of radiation could require medication, while a larger dose could require hospitalization and a potential bone marrow transplant.

BARDA is supporting development of the tests with the goal of potentially purchasing them from one or more of the companies for the Strategic National Stockpile.

After a six-year effort, the university has developed the ASU radiation (ARad) biodosimetry test, which would generate results in about eight hours and could be used on people who were exposed to radiation up to seven days after the event. HHS said the potential exists where 400,000 or more tests could be processed a week.

In the test, a blood sample is taken to isolate the white blood cells in order to collect the genes that have been exposed to radiation. Certain genes are more predictive when it comes to determining the amount of radiation the body was exposed to.

We were looking for the smallest number of genes we could use but that still were accurate in predicting dose depending on the time after the event,” LaBaer said.

Work to date has been based on animal studies and developing conversion factors to transfer to humans.

The tests could also have civilian applications as well, LaBaer said, such as in the event of industrial accidents at a nuclear power plant or in medical situations when people are exposed to excessive radiation.

https://homelandprepnews.com/featured/20018-radiation-absorption-tests-development-save-lives-nuclear-explosion/

October 24, 2016 Posted by | radiation | , , | Leave a comment

Increases in perinatal mortality in prefectures contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident in Japan: A spatially stratified longitudinal study.

“Radiation damage spreading to Fukushima and other Tohoku Prefectures, and Kanto Prefectures Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, is demonstrated. Perinatal mortality is increasing, it has been announced for the first time in peer-reviewed medical journals the Fukushima/Perinatal mortality link.”

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Abstract

Descriptive observational studies showed upward jumps in secular European perinatal mortality trends after Chernobyl.

The question arises whether the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident entailed similar phenomena in Japan.

For 47 prefectures representing 15.2 million births from 2001 to 2014, the Japanese government provides monthly statistics on 69,171 cases of perinatal death of the fetus or the newborn after 22 weeks of pregnancy to 7 days after birth.

Employing change-point methodology for detecting alterations in longitudinal data, we analyzed time trends in perinatal mortality in the Japanese prefectures stratified by exposure to estimate and test potential increases in perinatal death proportions after Fukushima possibly associated with the earthquake, the tsunami, or the estimated radiation exposure.

Areas with moderate to high levels of radiation were compared with less exposed and unaffected areas, as were highly contaminated areas hit versus untroubled by the earthquake and the tsunami.

Ten months after the earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent nuclear accident, perinatal mortality in 6 severely contaminated prefectures jumped up from January 2012 onward: jump odds ratio 1.156; 95% confidence interval (1.061, 1.259), P-value 0.0009.

There were slight increases in areas with moderate levels of contamination and no increases in the rest of Japan.

In severely contaminated areas, the increases of perinatal mortality 10 months after Fukushima were essentially independent of the numbers of dead and missing due to the earthquake and the tsunami.

Perinatal mortality in areas contaminated with radioactive substances started to increase 10 months after the nuclear accident relative to the prevailing and stable secular downward trend.

These results are consistent with findings in Europe after Chernobyl. Since observational studies as the one presented here may suggest but cannot prove causality because of unknown and uncontrolled factors or confounders, intensified research in various scientific disciplines is urgently needed to better qualify and quantify the association of natural and artificial environmental radiation with detrimental genetic health effects at the population level.

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https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27661055

http://ebm-jp.com/2016/10/media2016002/

Read more on the PDF:

http://ebm-jp.com/wp-content/uploads/media-2016002-medicine.pdf

October 5, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Meet the nuclear cattle of Fukushima

(CNN)Some families have at least one relative who’s either odd or eccentric. Others boast family members of a more unusual kind.

That’s what one filmmaker discovered in 2011 when he heard of a group of former farmers in Fukushima‘s nuclear exclusion zone, fighting to keep their radiation-affected cows alive, though they brought them no profit.

“The farmers think of these cows as family. They know that these cows can’t be sold, but they don’t want to kill them just because they’re not worth anything,” Tamotsu Matsubara, who made a film called ‘Nuclear Cattle’ (Hibaku Ushi) on their plight, told CNN.

It costs around 2,000 dollars to maintain each cow for a year. The farmers featured in Matsubara’s film are among those who refused to obey the Japanese government’s initial requests to euthanize cows in the exclusion zone.

“[These farmers] really want them to serve a greater purpose for humans and for science,” explained Matsubara.

Nuclear Cattle

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On March 11 2011, a 15-meter tsunami triggered by a 8.9-magnitude earthquake, disabled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima, causing a nuclear accident.

Residents within a 20 km radius of the facility were forced to evacuate their homes and leave behind their livelihoods and possessions.

Before leaving, some farmers released their cows so they could roam free and survive in the nuclear fallout-affected area. 1,400, however, died from starvation, while the government euthanized 1,500 more.

Since 2011, Matsubara has documented both the relationship six farmers have with their surviving herds as well as an ongoing study examining the effects radiation has on large mammals.

A greater scientific purpose

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A cow from within Fukushima’s 20 km exclusion zone with an abnormal white spot outbreak.

The farmers — who return two or three times a week to their former farms — initially kept their cows alive just out of love. But since 2013, Keiji Okada, an animal science expert at Iwate University, has been carrying out tests on them.

Okada established the Society for Animal Refugee & Environment post-Nuclear Disaster, a non-profit with researchers from Kitazato, Tohoku and Tokyo university. The researchers are funded through their universities, and say their project is the first to look into the effects of radiation on large animals.

“Large mammals are different to bugs and small birds, the genes affected by radiation exposure can repair more easily that it’s hard to see the effects of radiation,” Okada, told CNN.

“We really need to know what levels of radiation have a dangerous effect on large mammals and what levels don’t,” he added.

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A mountain of black bags filled with contaminated soil sits piled on a roadside in Tomioka, Fukushima. A massive national project to remove topsoil and vegetation contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster will produce at least 22 million square meters of radioactive waste.

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Colossal quantities of contaminated material have been collected from the Fukushima site and surrounding area. What will be done to dispose them still remains to be seen.

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One of hundreds of temporary storage sites for contaminated material.

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A giant, 780-meter sea wall under construction near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is designed to prevent contaminated water on the site from seeping into the ocean

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Tetrapods piled up at Udedo port in Namie, Fukushima, waiting to be used for a 7 meter high, 3 kilometer long breakwater along the coast line.

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Prior to the wall’s construction, radioactive water and materials readily seeped into the ocean, threatening local fishing stocks and causing potentially irreversible damage to the sea floor.

 

So far, the cows living within the exclusion zone haven’t shown signs of leukemia or cancer — two diseases usually associated with high levels of radiation exposure. Some, however, have white spots on their hides. Their human minders suspect that these are the side-effects of radiation exposure.

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Keiji Okada, associate professor of veterinary medicine and agriculture at Iwate University, examines a cow at Ikeda Ranch in Okuma town, 5 kilometers (3 miles) west of Japan’s crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

As Japan continues to confront its nuclear past, present and future, Okada said his group’s study would keep the country prepared in the event of another disaster.

“We need to know what levels of radiation are safe and dangerous for large mammals, and have that data ready so that the euthanization of livestock can be kept to the minimum,” added Okada.

The ‘cows of hope’

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Elderly farmers feeds their radiation-affected cows in the exclusion zone.

Since 2011, the Japanese government has taken measures to decontaminate radiation-affected zones within Fukushima by stripping surface soil from contaminated zones and by cleansing asphalt roads and playgrounds.

Evacuation notices have also lifted on some towns in Fukushima. Taichi Goto, a spokesperson from the Ministry of the Environment’s Office for Decontamination told CNN that Namie, a town currently in the exclusion zone, was scheduled to be decontaminated by March 2017. Yet critics point that the state’s measures still aren’t enough.

Matsubara acknowledged the government’s decontamination work but asserted that it was impossible for them to clear the mountainous areas west of the exclusion zone.

While some farmers have slowly started to rebuild their lives by starting new businesses in decontaminated areas in Fukushima, the campaign to keep alive irradiated cows within the exclusion zone continues.

“These cows are the witnesses of the nuclear accident,” Masami Yoshikawa, who lives in Namie town in the heart of the exclusion zone, states in Nuclear Cattle.

“They’re the cows of hope.”

http://edition.cnn.com/2016/09/27/asia/japan-fukushima-nuclear-cows/index.html

 

September 29, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Radiation research in children teeth in US

Radiation and Public Health Project

Tooth Donation Form/Kit

How to Send Teeth

  • If not already clean, wash the teeth and let them dry.
  • Wrap each tooth in paper and cushion with tissue or something similar.
  • Print out the tooth donation form, fill it out, and send it with the teeth to:

    Radiation and Public Health
    P.O. Box 1260
    Ocean City NJ 08226


Do not worry if you do not have all the information requested

There is some information we need in all cases:

  • Where the mother lived when carrying the child.
  • The child’s birthdate.
  • Where the child lived the first year after birth.

If you can supply us with this information, don’t worry about the rest if you do not know the answers.

Important: If you have a tooth or teeth from more than one child, please fill out a separate form for each child and clearly mark which teeth came from which child. We cannot use teeth from more than one child when they are mixed together.

Would you like preprinted envelopes?

For envelopes with the teeth form pre-printed on them, email us (odiejoe@aol.com) with your name, address, and phone, and how many envelopes you need.

* For more than 10 envelopes and Group Networking, contact our Executive Director Joseph Mangano.(odiejoe@aol.com)

Tooth donation form: http://www.radiation.org/projects/tooth_donation_form.html

Source: http://www.radiation.org/projects/tooth_donation.html

February 28, 2016 Posted by | USA | , , | Leave a comment