Deaths and mutations spike around Fukushima; No safety threshold for radioactive cesium exposure — GlobalResearch

” Plants in the area around Fukushima, Japan are widely contaminated with radioactive cesium, which is producing mutation and death in local butterflies, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa and published in the journal Scientific Reports.

The butterflies were found to experience severe negative effects at all detectable radiation levels, even very low ones.

“We conclude that the risk of ingesting a polluted diet is realistic, at least for this butterfly, and likely for certain other organisms living in the polluted area,” the researchers wrote.

Insects hard hit

The researchers note that although the 2011 meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant released “a massive amount of radioactive materials … into the environment,” few studies have looked at the biological effects of this disaster. Researchers have, however, measured elevated radiation levels in the polluted area, and have chronicled the accumulation of radioactive material in both wild and domestic plant and animal life in the region.

Studies have also suggested that insects may be particularly hard-hit by the increased radiation. One study found an increase in morphological abnormalities (physical deformities) in gall-forming aphids. Another found that insect abundance has decreased in the affected region, particularly butterfly abundance.

In order to test the effects of the radioactivity on local insects, researchers collected pale grass blue butterfly (Zizeeria maha) larvae from Okinawa, which is distant from Fukushimaand “likely the least polluted locality in Japan.” They then fed the larvae on plant leaves collected from one of five different regions: Hirono, Fukushima, Iitate-flatland, Iitate-montane and Ube. Because the five regions are all at different distances from Fukushima, the researchers expected that plants collected there would have differing levels ofradioactive cesium, which tests confirmed. The plants from Ube contained essentially no radioactivity, and were used as a control group.

The pale grass blue butterfly is a species commonly found in many regions of Japan, including near Fukushima.

The researchers found that caterpillars that ate radioactive leaves pupated into mutated butterflies that did not live as long, compared with caterpillars that ate non-radioactive leaves. These mutations and increased mortality were seen even in butterflies that consumed only very small doses of radioactive cesium.

“There seemed to be no threshold level below which no biological response could be detected,” the researchers wrote.

Small dose increases lead to large jump in mutation and death

The more radioactive cesium that the larvae consumed, the greater the rates of mutation and early death. Indeed, rates of both problems increased more rapidly than dosage (a non-linear relationship).

The study was not designed to test for similar effects on human beings, but the researchers warn that there is still enough evidence to be concerned. Two of the locations that radioactive leaves were collected from – Fukushima City and Hirono Town – currently have people living in them. In addition, the study findings were consistent with radioactivity levels found in plants following the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

The Chernobyl meltdown led to a sharp rise in infant deaths in locations as far from the plant as Western Germany and the United States. A recent study, published in the journalRadiation Research, linked a sharp jump in thyroid cancer rates in the years following that disaster directly to the amount of radioactive iodine that children were exposed to in the months immediately after the meltdown and explosion.

The triple meltdown at Fukushima is now considered by many scientists to be the worst civilian nuclear disaster the world has ever seen, surpassing even Chernobyl.

Both sites have yet to be fully cleaned up or sealed off. ”

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Fukushima contamination – Dr. Tim Mousseau

In this video, evolutionary biologist Dr. Timothy Mousseau discusses research on the biological effects of radiation exposure on biota in Chernobyl and Fukushima. At the end, he highlights the importance of research on the long-term effects of lose-dose radiation on the environment by universities and groups that are NOT  funded by the nuclear industry or somehow connected with them. From my personal research experience, I have found that that type of research is seldom conducted because of the strong foothold that intergovernmental agencies that promote the “safe use of nuclear energy” have in academia. Some good places to find reliable information on radiation doses and effects are the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

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Livestock offspring contaminated by Fukushima radiation — Fukushima Watch

” On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9 earthquake sparked a tsunami off the coast of Japan that left the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in ruins. Thousands of animals were abandoned and exposed to toxic levels of radiation from the power plant. A growing body of empirical studies after the disaster shows that the radiation harmed not just neighboring animals but their offspring conceived after the disaster as well.

When the radioactive material was first released into the air, the Japanese government issued an evacuation notice for residents 30 kilometers around the nuclear power plant. Since then, studies have shown that the radioactive material has caused genetic damage and morphological changes in abandoned animals and their offspring.

Calves contain more radiation than their mothers

A study published in the journal PLOS ONE found that approximately 79 cattle that contained trace amounts of radioactive cesium, silver and tellurium. The radioactive material concentrations were 1.5 times higher in fetuses and calves than in their mothers. The heaviest concentrations of radiation were in the calves’ muscles.

“Calves are known to have excellent metabolism, but it was a surprise to learn that radiation could accumulate so easily,” Tohoku University Prof. Manabu Fukumoto, a contributing author of the study, said to sources. “We have to pinpoint the cause.”

The amount of radiation the cattle were exposed to depended on what and where they ate. Some cattle were fortunate enough to be kept in a pen and fed grass that had not been contaminated by the radiation. Predictably, the researchers found that cattle in the pen were less radioactive than cattle that grazed freely around the nuclear power plant.

Once prized for their high quality beef and milk, abandoned cattle have become tainted. Several cattle were slaughtered by the government in an effort to cover up the disaster. Some farmers, despite government orders and the risk of contamination, have returned to their properties for their abandoned livestock.

Nevertheless, researchers are making use of the cattle that remain. They are now harvesting the sperm and eggs from radioactive cows for in vitro fertilization in order to scan for DNA abnormalities in their off spring.

All wildlife contaminated

Little is known about the long-term health effects of the radioactive material. Studying contaminated animals in the surrounding region can shed light into the long-term health effects the radioactive material may have on people. Although none of the cattle showed physical deformities, the radiation has effected the outward appearance of other animals in the surrounding region.

The radiation has contaminated wildlife from the inside out. For example, pale grass blue butterflies, the most prevalent butterfly in Japan, have significantly shrunk in size. Pale grass blue butterflies that surround the plant are also experiencing slow growth rates and high mortality rates.

To examine the long-term health effects that radiation can have on human health, scientists have also studied the physiological changes in one of our closest living relatives exposed to the radioactive fallout, the Japanese macaque monkeys. The researchers found that the contaminated monkeys had low red and white blood cell levels. Having fewer blood cells makes the monkeys more susceptible to diseases. The researchers attribute these changes to the radiation.

Radiation leaking from the power plant has damaged wildlife and increased mutation rates in reproductive and non-reproductive cells. The long-term effects that this radiation will have on humans remains unknown. Nevertheless, the alarming finding of high radiation levels in calves in comparison to their mothers is sobering. ”

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Size reduction in Fukushima pale grass blue butterflies — Scientific Reports

Abstract: ” The body size of the pale grass blue butterfly, Zizeeria maha, has been used as an environmental indicator of radioactive pollution caused by the Fukushima nuclear accident. However, geographical and temporal size distributions in Japan and temperature effects on size have not been established in this species. Here, we examined the geographical, temporal, and temperature-dependent changes of the forewing size of Z. maha argia in Japan. Butterflies collected in 2012 and 2013 from multiple prefectures throughout Japan demonstrated an inverse relationship of latitude and forewing size, which is the reverse of Bergmann’s cline. The Fukushima population was significantly larger than the Aomori and Miyagi populations and exhibited no difference from most of the other prefectural populations. When monitored at a single geographic locality every other month, forewing sizes were the largest in April and the smallest in August. Rearing larvae at a constant temperature demonstrated that forewing size followed the temperature-size rule. Therefore, the converse Bergmann’s rule and the temperature-size rule coexist in this multivoltine species. Our study establishes this species as a useful environmental indicator and supports the idea that the size reduction observed only in Fukushima Prefecture in 2011 was caused by the environmental stress of radioactive pollution. ”

by Wataru Taira, Mayo Iwasaki and Joji M. Otaki

read entire study

Are butterflies still fluttering in Fukushima? — BioMed Central

BioMed Central guest blogger, Joji M. Otaki:

” The collapse of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011 is the second largest nuclear accident, next to Chernobyl, in the history of mankind. Many theoreticians and politicians have claimed, without any field-based or experimental evidence, that there are no harmful biological effects caused by the released artificial radionuclides.

Even worse, some biologists have claimed that there are no biological impacts in the polluted area, based solely on fragmentary data from a short survey or a non-informative experiment (or based on irrelevant data) that have no power to resolve the issue. These claims were often relatively well advertised.

However, this situation has changed in recent years. For example, it has already been reported that some animals, especially butterflies, decreased in number in the polluted areas in Fukushima, based on field surveys conducted by Prof. Timothy Mousseau and his colleagues. We have been working on the pale grass blue butterfly, Zizeeria maha, to evaluate the biological impacts of the accident. We are sure that this species of butterfly was considerably affected by the accident, based on several field surveys, rearing experiments in our laboratory, external exposure experiments, and internal exposure experiments, some of which have already been published. The internal exposure experiments were performed in the previously published papers by feeding Okinawa larvae (least affected in Japan) leaves contaminated at high levels.

Now in the paper just published in BMC Evolutionary Biology, we tested if leaves contaminated at relatively low (or very low) levels from places where many people live could be harmful to this butterfly from Okinawa. As expected, leaves contaminated at very low levels (e.g., Okinawa, 0.2 Bq/kg; Atami, 2.5 Bq/kg) did not show any significant effect. However, to our surprise, leaves contaminated at relatively low levels, approximately 100 Bq/kg (e.g., Koriyama, 117 Bq/kg), resulted in a mortality rate of more than 50%. This result differs from the previous one which was based on leaves contaminated at relatively high levels (e.g., Fukushima, 7,860 Bq/kg; Iitate-flatland, 10,170 Bq/kg) see). Because the breeding lines used in these two experiments were different, the difference indicates sensitivity variation within this single species.

Indeed, in our experiments, a mortality rate never reached 100%, even in feeding leaves contaminated at extremely high levels. In other words, some are completely fine at least morphologically, but others are heavily ill or dead. Sensitivity to radiation varies very much among individuals.

The ingestional impacts appear to be transgenerational, as the body size (more precisely, the forewing size) of this butterfly decreased in the offspring generation. Moreover, the sensitivity of the offspring generation increased, resulting in very high mortality rates. Interestingly, feeding the offspring larvae non-contaminated leaves resulted in low mortality rates.

Of course, we do not know how much of our experimental results from the pale grass blue butterfly are applicable to humans. However, it is widely believed among modern biologists that insights obtained from one biological system are largely applicable to other systems. This is why biologists study model organisms such as the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Studies on this insect have greatly contributed to our understanding of humans.

To my knowledge, there have been no cases of human health effects of the Fukushima accident reported in scientific literature thus far, although anecdotal evidence has been around. To be sure, human-based studies are slow, descriptive, less conclusive, and more often a target of political pressure, compared with insect studies, but of course human studies are necessary. I believe that at least some studies on human health will appear sooner or later in scientific literature. ”

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View the scientific study HERE.

Number of Fukushima kids with thyroid cancer jumps by 17 from Dec — The Japan Times; Radiation exposure to butterflies — Smithsonian.com

“Number of Fukushima kids with thyroid cancer jumps by 17 from December” — Jiji via The Japan Times

“FUKUSHIMA – The Fukushima Prefectural Government has confirmed in a new report that 50 children in the prefecture have developed thyroid cancer, an increase of 17 from previous study last December, sources said Monday.

The latest report, made Monday to an expert panel examining the results of health checkups on Fukushima residents, also detailed 39 children suspected of having developed cancer, sources said.

The cancer figure was taken at the end of March among Fukushima residents who were 18 or younger at the time of the March 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 atomic plant.

After studying data provided so far, including the new cancer figures, the panel said it was difficult to determine that a causal link existed between the children’s cancers and the triple meltdown at the nuclear plant.

The Fukushima health examination program covers some 370,000 residents. Of them, some 80 percent have already received the checkups. … ”

“Even tiny amounts of radioactive food made caterpillars become abnormal butterflies”Smithsonian.com

” It’s no surprise that radiation is bad for animals, but how much is too much? Researchers in Japan decided to put this question to the test for the pale grass blue butterfly, a species commonly found around the remains of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. And, they discovered, even a small amount of radiation is too much.

Rather than study butterflies in the environment, the researchers performed meticulous lab experiments on specimens collected in Okinawa, far from any radioactive contamination. The scientists collected plant material from around Fukushima and fed it to pale grass blue butterfly caterpillars.

When the caterpillars turned into butterflies, they suffered from mutations and were more likely to die early than ones that had not eaten radioactive plants. This finding applied even to those butterflies had only eaten a small amount of artificial caesium as caterpillars. “We conclude that the risk of ingesting a polluted diet is realistic, at least for this butterfly, and likely for certain other organisms living in the polluted area,” the team concludes.

In other words, things don’t look good for the animals living around Fukushima. “