From Hiroshima and Nagasaki to Fukushima: Long-term psychological impact of nuclear disasters

July 31, 2015, Lancet

On the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a three-part Series published in The Lancet looks at the enduring radiological and psychological impact of nuclear disasters, including the most recent accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan in 2011. The Series provides vital information for the public health planning of future disasters to protect the millions of people who live in areas surrounding the 437 nuclear power plants that are in operation worldwide.

Although nuclear power plant accidents are uncommon, during the past 60 years, five severe nuclear accidents rated as level 5 or higher have taken place—Kyshtym (Russia, 1957), Windscale Piles (UK, 1957), Three Mile Island (USA, 1979), Chernobyl (Russia, 1986), and Fukushima (Japan, 2011).

In one of the Series papers [Paper 2], radiological protection experts led by Dr Koichi Tanigawa of Fukushima Medical University, Japan, discuss an often overlooked aspect of —the psychological burden of those living in the regions affected by the accident. In 2006, the UN Chernobyl Forum report concluded that the accident's most serious public health issue was the adverse effects on mental health, an effect made worse by poor communication about the health risks associated with reported radiation levels. Rates of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder remain elevated 20 years after the accident. Similar problems were seen after Fukushima, with the Fukushima Health Management Survey reporting that the proportion of adults with psychological distress (14.6%) was almost five times higher among disaster evacuees compared to the general population (3%). The authors also highlight how repeated evacuation and long-term displacement resulted in severe health-care problems for the most vulnerable, with deaths among elderly people increasing threefold in the first three months following evacuation.

According to Dr Tanigawa, "Although the radiation dose to the public from Fukushima was relatively low, and no discernible physical health effects are expected, psychological and social problems, largely stemming from the differences in risk perceptions, have had a devastating impact on people's lives."

The Fukushima accident resulted in the evacuation of 170000 residents within a 30km radius of the power plant, yet at least one-third of the world's 437 have more people living within that radius—21 of these sites have more than 1 million people and six have more than 3 million people (eg, Taiwan's Kuosheng plant has 5.5 million people).

In another Series paper [Paper 3], Professor Akira Ohtsuru of Fukushima Medical University, Japan, and colleagues discuss what can be done to protect the millions of residents who might be exposed to radiation in the aftermath of another nuclear accident, and how to minimize potential harms to their physical and mental health. Examples include responding to parental concerns about cancer risks for children and helping evacuees' adjust to new places.

According to the authors, lessons from Fukushima need to be learned. "One of the key tasks of the health services is to reliably communicate that in most very few people are exposed to a life-threatening dose of radiation. Physicians must play a key role in helping residents' understand the health risks. Evacuation of a large population of vulnerable people in nursing homes and hospitals will also need careful planning and adequate medical support. Additionally, screening for mental illness in residents relocated from their homes and providing mental health care will be essential."

In another Series paper [Paper 1], researchers led by Professor Kenji Kamiya, Vice President of Hiroshima University, Japan, report on the long-term health impact of radiation exposure from the two biggest nuclear disasters in history—the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and from the Chernobyl nuclear accident in Ukraine in 1986.

Evidence from the Japanese Life Span Study that followed 94000 atomic bomb survivors from 1950, 5 years after the bombings to the current day, reveals a clear increased lifetime risk of cancer in survivors. The risk was found to be proportional to dose for solid cancers, and a higher risk was found in those exposed as children or young adults. After Chernobyl, an increased risk of childhood thyroid cancer among those with internal exposures from consuming radioactivity in food was also seen in affected areas. Hereditary effects in the children of survivors have not yet been detected.

The authors present critical evidence that cancer risk increases significantly after exposure to moderate and high doses of radiation (upwards of 0.1-0.2Gy), but it remains unclear whether risk is increased at lower doses (0.1Gy or less). Given the unknown effects at lower doses, they conclude that, "Ongoing research is vital not only to understand the potential health effects of nuclear disasters, but to develop radiation protection limits and standards for occupational and medical exposures."

Explore further: No health risk from Fukushima radiation, UN says

More information: The international nuclear and radiological event scale classifies level 5 as "an accident with wider consequences" … agasaki-to-fukushima

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3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 31, 2015
"Long-term psychological impact of nuclear disasters"
Thanks to unscrupulous scaremongers and sensationalist mass media(>90% antinuclear) always on duty to raise the public's irrational fears.

"There was no Fukushima nuclear disaster
The terrible toll from Japan's tsunami came from the wave, not radiation"

"..the real health and environmental impacts from the Fukushima reactors are nothing compared to the tsunami."
"No one will die from Fukushima radiation, there will be no increased cancer rates"
"..children have no more thyroid cancer rates than any other regions in Japan, and are actually lower than many."
"..some very unethical and greedy people knowingly reported the wrong data sets and claimed that thyroid cancers have exploded in Japan and Japanese children are dying by the thousands"
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 31, 2015
"No radiation-related deaths or acute diseases have been observed among the workers and general public exposed to radiation from the accident."
"No discernible increased incidence of radiation-related health effects are expected among exposed members of the public or their descendants."
"..any increased incidence of cancer in this group is expected to be indiscernible because of the difficulty of confirming such a small incidence against the normal statistical fluctuations in cancer incidence."

"Ironically enough, however, solar power is far more dangerous than nuclear, even in a year when an accident like the disaster at Fukushima occurs."
1.8 / 5 (5) Jul 31, 2015
Why do we play with such dangerous stuff? The reason is money and the billions and billions and billions of dollars we have invested in this loser technology.

Willie, look up Boone Dam, which is failing, being undermined by currents of water, and tell us how many nuclear reactors are directly downstream from it.
3 / 5 (2) Jul 31, 2015
..look up Boone Dam, which is failing, being undermined by currents of water, and tell us how many nuclear reactors are directly downstream from it.
Boone Dam is a hydroelectric, and as renewable it causes ecosystem damage and loss of land, and now is menacing the ecologically friendly nuclear power plants.
"Large reservoirs required for the operation of conventional hydroelectric dams result in submersion of extensive areas upstream of the dams, changing biologically rich and productive lowland and riverine valley forests, marshland and grasslands into artificial lakes."
"..substantial amounts of methane."
"The construction of Boone Dam and its reservoir required the purchase of 5,160 acres (2,090 ha) of land, 1,363 acres (552 ha) of which had to be cleared."
It should be shut down and replaced by a compact Eco-friendly nuclear power plant.
1 / 5 (5) Aug 03, 2015
Willie wants to go to Fukushima and show us how safe it is!

Meanwhile, Willie will tell us how many nuclear reactors are directly downstream from this failing dam.
1 / 5 (5) Aug 03, 2015
Willie is afraid to tell you there are 7 - SEVEN - nuclear reactors directly downstream from a failing dam.

Get your shovel, Willie!
3 / 5 (2) Aug 03, 2015
..wants to go to Fukushima and show us how safe it is!..
Get your shovel..
"The nuclear waste disposal debate is fueled by fear mongering ignorance, that appears to have a half life equal to that of uranium...." uranium that naturally occurs in rare-earth metals largely employed in renewables.
"Nuclear Power is the only way to go, Modern, Clean, Safe Nuclear power Generation can greatly increase our industry by reducing cost of Power , Forget about all the scare mongering by fools that know absolutely nothing about developments in safety and reliability."

1 / 5 (2) Aug 03, 2015
"Forget about all the scare mongering by fools that know absolutely nothing about developments in safety and reliability."

TEPCO president, 2010?
1 / 5 (2) Aug 03, 2015
Got any property in Knoxville?

There are seven nuclear reactors just upwind from Knoxville, and directly downstream from a failing dam.
3 / 5 (2) Aug 03, 2015
Got any property in Knoxville?

There are seven nuclear reactors just upwind from Knoxville, and directly downstream from a failing dam.
Im sorry but, given your record of bullshit and lies, you will have to provide proof of this or we will have to consider it a LIE.

Provide please a map showing these facilities in relation to knoxville along with data on prevailing winds; as welll as info on the alleged pending dam failure.

Or, as I say, its a lie (of course its a lie.)

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