Elevated Rates of Thyroid Disease in California Newborn Linked to Fukushima Fallout

by on November 27, 2013 · 8 comments

in California, Energy, Environment, Health

fukushima fallout mapBy Michael Steinberg

A new study indicates that rates of a thyroid disease in California newborn spiked after they were exposed to fallout from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.

The peer-reviewed study, “Changes in confirmed and borderline cases of congenital hypothyroidism in California as a function of environmental fallout from Fukushima,” appears in the November 2013 issue of the periodical Open Journal of Pediatrics.

In California all babies are tested at birth for congenital hypothyroidism, a rare disease that nevertheless can cause serious growth problems in children if it remains untreated.

Study authors Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman of The Radiation and Public Health Project (radiation.org), along with Chris Busby, Scientific Secretary for the European Union Committee on Radiation Risk, obtained information from the state of California related to this issue.

Analysis of the data revealed that for babies born between March 17 and December 31, 2011—the period when Fukushima fallout peaked in the US—rates of Congenital Hypothyroidism (CH) shot up “21% in the group of babies that were exposed to excess radioactive iodine in the womb. The same group of children had a 27% increase of ‘borderline’ cases.”

This calculation was obtained by comparing cases of CH from this group with those in babies born in an earlier period, and in 2012.

Elevated levels of the radioactive chemical Iodine 131 in Fukushima fallout following its March 2011 meltdowns. were found in rainwater and milk across the US, from Berkley to Boston.

Radioactive iodine tends to concentrate in the thyroid gland, where it can cause a number of diseases, including hypothyroidism and cancer.

In a March 2013 paper, also in the Open Journal of Pediatrics, Mangano and Sherman reported, in a study of CH in 5 US Pacific states, “All newborns diagnosed with primary CH born March 17-December 31, 2011, were exposed in utero to radioactive fallout from the Fukushima meltdowns…exposure is elevated during the fetal period, compared to those during infancy, childhood and adulthood.”

The authors also reported, “Just days after the [Fukushima] meltdowns, I-131 concentrations in US precipitation was measured up to 211 times above normal,” with the highest levels in US western states, including California.

“A well documented risk factor affecting CH is exposure to thyroid seeking isotopes such as I-131.”

Thanks to the Environmental News Network and The Ecologist for the information.

Michael Steinberg is a former OBcean, now lives in the Bay Area and writes for blackrainpress.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Seth November 27, 2013 at 4:17 pm

FWIW, these study authors aren’t taken to be very credible among actual scientists, and the map itself is a complete hoax. This is their 3rd “study” trying to draw this link and their methodology is highly flawed, to put it mildly, such as when they tried to claim that Fukushima killed 14k Americans in its aftermath after comparing unequal datasets.


Map hoax:


Alex November 27, 2013 at 7:56 pm

Not well written. Why would you use ‘rads’ as a unit of measurement?


John Finnity November 28, 2013 at 3:56 am

Interestingly enough, the EPA just issued new PAG (Protective Action Guidelines) that indicate safety procedures after a nuclear incident. The old guidelines allowed one cancer case in 10,000. The new standard allows one cancer case in 23. The EPA began extra testing for Fukushima radiation but stopped it in May, 2011. Canada stopped about the same time. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/canada-and-u-s-cut-back-radiation-reporting-1.1114828 Norway stopped at exactly the same3 time, after showing this graph of fallout heading for and enveloping the West Coast. http://www.redicecreations.com/article.php?id=15332 Japan just passed secrecy laws to prevent reporting of such incidents. Then the US relaxed safety rules for older reactors. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/43455859/ns/us_news-environment/#.UpcuOdct-M1. Now, 8 out of 18 radiation monitors on the West Coast are shut down for “maintenance”. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-21/some-radiation-tracking-air-monitors-may-not-be-working-properly-epa-says.html Noting to see here, move along … baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!”


Hiroshi Suzuki November 28, 2013 at 10:06 am

Tokyo Electric Puts Off Tainted Groundwater Removal at Fukushima Plant
Tokyo, Nov. 28 (Jiji Press)–

Tokyo Electric said Thursday that a shortage of water storage tanks has forced it to postpone removal of contaminated groundwater at its crippled Fukushima Plant.

The postponement would allow radioactive groundwater to continue to flow beyond soil hardened with chemicals between the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors and into the sea.

Early this month, about 6,000 becquerels per liter of strontium 90 and other beta ray-emitting radioactive substances were detected in groundwater in an observation well between the two reactors, far exceeding the standard for water to be released into the sea.


George Lerner November 29, 2013 at 7:26 pm

21% of how many? 4/19 is 21%
How much had that number varied before Fukushima? What if the number fluctuated normally up or down 5 children in a small sample?

The map shows levels of radiation that would be Fatal, to thousands of people. That’s not radiation levels that were measured. If people were dying by the thousands, we wouldn’t be getting news about “contaminated water”, we’d be getting news about numbers of people who died, and people who attended funerals.

The whole story is made up.

More people died from oil/gas/gasoline fires and smoke at Fukushima, and the rest of Japan, than died from the nuclear reactors. Evaluate the dangers of nuclear reactors compared to other dangers — nuclear reactors, including Chernobyl and Fukushima, have very low levels of deaths, injury, sickness, pollution, compared to all other energy sources, including wind and solar, per gigawatt-year generated. Coal is worst, then oil.

p.s. As safe as they are, Light Water Reactors we have been using almost exclusively, are only One type of nuclear reactor. (Chernobyl was a very different reactor, with a very different accident.) There are types of reactor that have been tested, that have none of the water-based risks (they don’t use water for coolant, they use salts nowhere near hot enough to boil away, so run at atmospheric pressure), and don’t leave 98% of the fuel as waste (molten fuel in a Molten Salt Reactor can easily be kept clean of fission products and thereby fission over 99% of the fuel). With no steam and no pressure, no steam containment building is needed, no high-pressure pipes, no emergency pressure systems, these reactors can be built in factories, shipped whole, at about 1/10th the cost of LWR. See http://liquidfluoridethoriumreactor.glerner.com/ for one of those types of reactor. Provides the baseload power that solar and wind need, to eliminate fossil fuel use.


Michael Steinberg November 30, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Thanks for taking the time to take a look at my report.
I too recommend taking a look at the critique link that Seth has provided for us. The author’s examination of that study is measured and even handed, and includes parts of an interview withthe Radiation and and Public Health Project’s Joe Mangano (radiation.org).
The RPHP is perhaps the foremost national critic of the nuclear establishment and the government so called regulators who seldom see any problems with the nuclear industry it is supposed to regulate. One has to look no further than San Onofre to illustrate that.
This is especially true when it comes to the issue of radioactive releases to the environment and their effects on human health. The scientific establishment has established allowable limits below which various radioactive releasessupposedly can cause no harm to us, it tells the world.
But there has always been another school of thought, which asserts that ionizing radiation-the kind that comes out of nuclear weapons and power reactors-is much more threatening than the current standards portend.
Pioneers such as Albert Schweitzer, Alice Stuart, John Gofman, Ernest Sternglass, Rosalie Bertelle, Karl Morgan, Steve Wing, Jay Gould, and Ralph Graeb warned us that radiation is much more dangerous than authorities asserted.
In 2005 things changed. The National Academy of Sciences concluded, “The scientific research base shows that there is no threshold of exposure below which low levels of ionized radiation can be demonstrated to be harmless or beneficial.”
But you won’t hear this conclusion included by the nuclear establishment when it talks about Fukushima fallout or radiation releases from US nuke plants. Everything is still below acceptable limits, so there’s nothing to worry about.
So that’s why the Radiation and Public Health Project has to carry on its work. It never claims to have the last word on the issue of radiation and public health. It calls for more investigation and studies.
But they’re never forthcoming.
The nuclear establishment was born in secrecy and mass murder. But its time has come, and as we’re denuclearizing the world, we need truth tellers like the RPHP to educate us as we go about it.


Reddy Kilowatt December 8, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Hi Michael,
I think it’s important to consider the sources of your scientific information. Mangano and Sherman published this report in what is known as a predatory journal, where all you need is a cheque and enough of a pulse to hit the “send” button to get your paper “peer-reviewed” and published.


Also, you repeatedly use terms like the “nuclear establishment,” “scientific establishment,” “the authorities” and “so called” regulators as perjoratives to dismiss the perspectives and efforts of broad classes of people. These terms imply the existence of a decades-long conspiracy to commit crimes against humanity, especially when you say things like “The nuclear establishment was born in secrecy and mass murder!”

As a cancer researcher, I find that this line of attack has a familiar ring to it. People With Microphones are often heard to say that the cure for cancer is out there, but too many people are getting rich TREATING cancer to ever allow it to be CURED. Blanket accusatory statements like these are dehumanizing, deny the fact that we all have skin in this game, and ignore the fact that the VAST majority of people are making good faith decisions based on too little information and inadequate resources.

I don’t have time to go into detail as to why I am not very concerned about Fukushima radiation in the U.S. (or low level radiation in general) except it to say that I believe we’ve got bigger fish to fry and better places to spend our money if we want to survive as a species. I was a bit of an anti-nuclear activist in the 1980’s, but as a scientist today I have to accept that the data are in, and we are fvcked if we don’t get greenhouse gases under control. If we want to succeed (and survive) part of that solution will likely have to be nuclear power. Given that, it’s important that we stop screaming accusations at one another and start wrestling with the difficult and important questions of nuclear plant design and how to safely dispose of nuclear waste.

Thanks for keeping the discussion going.



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