Increases in perinatal mortality in prefectures contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident in Japan — U.S. National Library of Medicine

This is a spatially stratified longitudinal study.

” 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. ”

by Hagen Heinrich Scherb, Dr rer nat Dipl-Math, Kuniyoshi Mori, MD, and Keiji Hayashi, MD

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Increases in perinatal mortality in prefectures contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident in Japan — Scherb et al.

” 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. ”

by Hagen Heinrich Scherb, Dr rer nat Dipl-Math, Kuniyoshi Mori, MD, Keiji Hayashi, MD

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Estimated radiation doses of Fukushima returnees withheld for half a year — The Asahi Shimbun; The Government’s response — Kyodo News

” The government withheld findings on estimated radiation exposure for Fukushima returnees for six months, even though levels exceeded the long-term target of 1 millisievert a year at more than half of surveyed locations.

Individual radiation doses were estimated to be beyond 1 millisievert per year, or 0.23 microsievert an hour, at 24 of all the 43 surveyed sites, including ones in the Miyakoji district in Tamura, Fukushima Prefecture, The Asahi Shimbun learned April 15.

The revelation comes just two weeks after the central government lifted the evacuation order for the district on April 1.

Last July, the Cabinet Office’s working team in charge of assisting the lives of nuclear disaster victims asked the National Institute of Radiological Sciences and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency to measure air dose rates and estimate individual radiation doses at 43 locations.

The survey covered seven types of living spaces, including private residences, farmland and schools, in the prefecture’s three municipalities of Tamura, Kawauchi and Iitate.

The government’s decontamination work aims at bringing radiation levels in contaminated areas to within 20 millisieverts a year before it gives the go-ahead for residents to return.

It also intends to bring readings to 1 millisievert or less eventually. The International Commission on Radiological Protection says a reading of up to 20 millisieverts is acceptable in areas where cleanup is under way.

The central government has also proposed to distribute devices that measure individual radiation to returned evacuees, so residents can monitor their radiation doses on their own.

But some evacuees from areas affected by the Fukushima No. 1 plant nuclear accident, which was triggered by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, worry about the possibility they may be exposed to high radiation doses after returning to their homes.

For this reason, the government decided to study correlations between air dose rates and individual radiation doses around the crippled facility to prove that the amount of radiation to which residents will be exposed is sufficiently low, even when air dose rates are relatively high.

The National Institute of Radiological Sciences and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency last fall measured radiation levels at several dozens of spots at each of the 43 sites in the three municipalities. They found that individual radiation doses are typically 30 percent lower than air dose rates.

The government-affiliated bodies also discovered that average air dose rates exceeded 0.23 microsievert per hour at 27 of the 43 sites, while they estimated individual radiation doses at over 0.23 microsievert an hour at 24 locations.

In mid-October, the two agencies compiled a midterm report and submitted it to the government. But the Cabinet Office’s working team did not disclose the report until the evacuation order for the Miyakoji district was lifted. According to a member of the team, this was because the finding “has no direct relationship with lifting the evacuation orders.”

Although the government held numerous meetings with Miyakoji residents to discuss lifting the evacuation order, it never presented the survey results, nor did it even refer to the existence of the data.

The government only presented an outline of the results to the three municipalities earlier in April.

Asked to disclose the findings, the government released the survey results to The Asahi Shimbun and posted the midterm report on the website of the industry ministry.

The working team said it planned to reveal the survey’s findings and analysis of the data on April 18 after fine-tuning its final report. But the team changed its mind because The Asahi Shimbun’s request to disclose the findings made it realize that public interest in the survey was greater than expected. ”

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And the Japanese government’s response to the above headline’s accusation…

Motegi denies hiding radiation report around Fukushima plant – source

 
” Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi on Friday denied that the government hid for six months the outcome of a radiation study around the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, but apologized for having given “the impression” that the outcome announcement delayed.

An interim report on the study on radiation measurement with dosimeters carried by individuals was compiled in October, showing that the radiation level in some areas in the city of Tamura and other villages is beyond 1 millisievert per year — a level the government is eventually seeking to achieve in contaminated areas.

But the report was not made public before April 1 when the government lifted for the first time an evacuation order imposed on an area within a 20-kilometer radius of the Fukushima plant. The area was a district in Tamura. “