Exposing the "No Harm" Mantra
The myth that Fukushima radiation levels were too low to harm humans persists, a year after the meltdown. A March 2, 2012 New York Times article quoted Vanderbilt University professor John Boice: “there’s no opportunity for conducting epidemiological studies that have any chance for success – the doses are just too low.” Wolfgang Weiss of the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation also recently said doses observed in screening of Japanese people “are very low.”
Views like these are political, not scientific, virtually identical to what the nuclear industry cheerleaders claim. Nuclear Energy Institute spokesperson Tony Pietrangelo issued a statement in June that “no health effects are expected among the Japanese people as a result of the events at Fukushima.”
Where did the radioactive particles and gases go? Officials from national meteorological agencies in countries like France and Austria followed the plume, and made colorful maps available on the internet. Within six days of the meltdowns, the plume had reached the U.S., and within 18 days, it had circled the Northern Hemisphere.
How much radiation entered the U.S. environment? A July 2011 journal article by officials at Pacific Northwest National Lab in eastern Washington State measured airborne radioactive Xenon-133 up to 40,000 times greater than normal in the weeks following the fallout. Xenon-133 is a gas that travels rapidly and does not enter the body, but signals that other, more dangerous types of radioactive chemicals will follow.