Epidemiologist, Dr. Steven Wing, Discusses Global Radiation Exposures and Consequences with Gundersen

Epidemiologist, Dr. Steven Wing and nuclear engineer, Arnie Gundersen, discuss the consequences of the Fukushima radioactive fallout on Japan, the USA, and the world. What are the long-term health effects? What should the government(s) do to protect citizens?


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Arnie Gundersen: Hi, I'm Arnie Gundersen from Fairewinds and a little change of scene here tonight. We are going to try some technology and talk in an interview with a reknowned epidemiologist, Dr. Steve Wing, who is at the University of North Carolina. Steve and I spoke together in Harrisburg about 2 ½ years ago on Three Mile Island. Steve's longer presentation about the health affects of Three Mile Island is on our website and you can find it there.

So, Steve, we have been getting lots of questions about is there a safe amount of radiation?

Dr. Stephen Wing: Well, the generally accepted thinking about a safe dose, is that no, there is no safe dose in terms of the cancer or genetic effects of radiation.

The assumption of most people is that there is a linear no threshhold dose response relationship. And that just means that as the dose goes down, the risk goes down, but it never disappears.

Arnie Gundersen: So in terms of Fukushima then, the people near to the reactor then would obviously have much higher dose and the people on this side of the Pacific Ocean would have much lower. So the contamination then, is getting spread out.

Dr. Stephen Wing: That's right. Of course, when the Fukushima situation first started, we heard lots of news media talking about there is no threat to health. Which just flies in the face of all the standard models and all the studies that have been done over a long period of time of radiation and cancer. They could have been talking about acute effects. And those occur only at higher doses such as the types of doses that some of the workers are receiving at the plants.

But as the radiation clouds move away from Fukushima and move far away to other continents and around the world, the doses are spread out. But it is important for people to know that spreading out a given amount of radiation dose among more people, although it reduces each person's individual risk, it does not reduce the number of cancers that result from that amount of radiation. So having millions and millions of people exposed to a very small dose could produce just as much cancer as a thousand or a few thousand people exposed to that same dose.

Arnie Gundersen: So let's put aside for a minute the people who are working there because they are getting extraordinary high doses. In some cases it would probably increase the likelihood of cancer by 10 or 20% because of the radiation they got.

But for the civilians who are not members of the staff, what does that mean for the continental U.S. in general?

Dr. Stephen Wing: Well, that is a question that a lot of people have right now.

Should they take iodine, should they avoid certain foods, should they move, and that kind of thing. What I would suggest to people thinking about that is that as the contamination from Fukushima is spread out, it is just more difficult to avoid exposure by changing your behavior, your eating habits or where you live. Now, if you live near Fukushima, you can move away and it makes a big difference because the doses there are very, very high. But the doses here are much, much lower, so in North America, it is much more difficult to change your dose in any significant way by moving or changing your diet.

Now this is in part because we do not know that much about exactly how contaminated any place or any food is. But still, the doses are much, much lower. So I would encourage people not to become too concerned about themselves only. Because there is another problem: if people focus exclusively on the concern about radiation from Fukushima, they can become distracted from other sources of radiation or other types of exposures in air and water and food that can cause cancer.

And so, the world is complex. For those of us far away, it is very much harder to treat this as something that we can handle ourselves as individuals. That is a little bit different when it comes to our public officials. They have the capacity to issue statements about what things to avoid if they find contamination. And that is very important. So they have the potential to be able to influence the food supply or to make recommendations that can be followed by thousands or millions of people. I am certainly supportive of that in the event that contamination is found that people can avoid.

Arnie Gundersen: So in an earlier video, I was talking about how I felt that the FDA should be sampling fish in the Pacific, especially the ones that are up in the food chain, the tuna and the salmon and things like that. And that is an appropriate public health response. But for an individual catching a trout in a stream in Idaho, to worry about that particular fish, is not a reasonable idea?

Dr. Stephen Wing: I think there are probably other things more important to worry about including other sources of radiation.

Arnie Gundersen: OK. So you are basically suggesting that as a collective, as the country as a whole, or perhaps the world, but certainly the closer you get, the Pacific Coast, etc., as a collective group, we should be concerned, and there will be cancers, but also as individuals on this side of the Pacific, there is not much to do that changes the likelihood that you will be it, is that right?

Dr. Stephen Wing: That is true. I think that is a good way to put it. To me as a public health response, what is most important for us is to be involved in taking collective action, which means that we should be focusing on putting pressure on people in government and in the energy industry, to come up with an energy policy that minimizes harm. And right now, that is a very complicated thing to do. But building nuclear power plants that are potentially going to have problems like what we are seeing at Fukushima, or other problems that we have not yet observed, just as the problems at Fukushima had never been observed in the history of the nuclear industry before. We need to be more creative about imagining what things might happen and working towards a more sane energy policy.

Arnie Gundersen: The 3 big accidents in my career, Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986 and now this one, they all happened for reasons that the experts never anticipated. When you look at the unknown unknowns if we were going to quote famous people in the past, that really when we are looking at this technology, it seems like the things we plan for are not what happens, but the things that we do not know or underestimate are what comes around and causes the accidents.

Dr. Stephen Wing: That is very true. So adopting technologies that minimize the consequences of something unforeseen, I would argue is a key idea for all of us to think about and to become involved in, in our civic life, working for those kinds of changes, at the local level, at our national level and international.

Because these are problems that will go on for a very long time. In the case of the nuclear industry, we have spent fuel that is being stored on site and which is one of the big problems at Fukushima. We have as yet to determine it's final fate. So there are big problems that, I am afraid that those who have led us into this situation, have not fully faced.

Arnie Gundersen: All right. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

We will touch base with you as this develops. If there is a rainout of significant radiation deposition on the United States, we will get you back on, because our discussion was low level spread over a lot of people. If we do have a lot of precipitation that drives a lot of radiation into a local area, we will definitely get you back on.

Dr. Stephen Wing: Good to be with you.

Arnie Gundersen: Well, thank you and as things develop, we will get back to you. Fairewinds, Arnie Gundesen. Good night.

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こんにちは。 フェアウィンズのガンダーセンです。今回は題材を変えてお送りしたく思います。我々は、科学的な試みとして、有名な疫学者、ノースカロライナ大学のスティーブ・ウィング博士にインタビューさせて頂きます。



Wing:一般的に、安全な放射線量は無く、がんや遺伝への影響はある。 放射線に閾値は無く、放射線量が下がれば、リスクは下がる。ただ、リスクは消えない。




福島の放射能の雲は拡散して各地、世界に薄まって行きましたが、放射線拡散の結果として、ひとりひとりのリスクは減りましたが、ガンの発生人数が減るわけではありません。 何百万人もの人が微量放射線をあびて、何千人もの人がガンになる可能性が広まったのです。





もしあなたが福島原発近くに住んでいるなら、避難して下さい。 (遠くに行けばいくほど)その大きな違いがでるでしょう。 現地の放射線は高く、米国においては、放射線の影響はとてもとてもちいさいです。 北米では、被曝量を食習慣の変更や、移住により変えるのは難しい。どの食物、どの地方にどれだけの放射能汚染があるのかわかりにくいし、被曝量はとてもとても少ないです。私は(米国の)皆さんに、この事だけについてあまり心配し過ぎはいけない、なぜなら別の問題を招くと言っています。(米国では)このフクシマの放射線を気にするより、他の原因の放射線や、空気・水・食物への別のタイプの汚染が発癌の原因になります。



G:以前、私は米国FDAが魚と太平洋の放射線モニタリングをすべきだと述べました。 特に食物連鎖するマグロ、サーモンなどを調べるべきだと。公共の健康問題としてアイダホなどの漁についても。

W:それよりも、他の事の方が重要でしょう。 これには(米国内の)別の放射能のケースが含まれます。


W:その通りですね。我々は、集中して、人々、政府、電力会社に圧力をかけて、電力政策を問題化し、その解決時間を短くすべきです。 新しい原発を作るのは、福島原発の様な問題を起こし、今まで想定されていない新たな問題を起こす。福島原発事故が原子力会社の歴史の中で想定されていなかったようにね。我々は、電力政策において、どんな問題が起こるのか想像しなければいけない。

G:1979年のスリーマイル、1986年のチェルノブイリ、今回の福島原発事故、どれも技術者が想定していないのが原因だった。著名人に現状評価を聞くと、想定外、計測中、わからないとか。 この原発技術を評価するときは、この様な出来事は起らないと想定していた。


W:その通りですね。今まで観たことが無かった事故は、我々すべてに、市民生活、地域、国家、国際レベルで、想像の鍵になります。 これらの問題は、長い期間が必要になるでしょう。原子力発電の場合、核燃料保管プールが原発にあり、福島原発ではこれが大きな問題の一つです。 そう、多くの大きな問題があり、福島原発事故の惨状に我々を巻き込んだ人たちは責任をとっていない。

G:今日はご出演ありがとうございました。またの出演を期待しております。もし、米国での目立った放射線の動きがあった時は、またお話をお聞かせ下さい。 我々の議論は、色々な人達に伝わります。もし、放射線の影響がここでもあった場合は、またお話させてください。 W:ええ、わかりました。またお話しましょう。

G:どうもご視聴ありがとうございました。また、次回ご報告させていただきます。 フェアウィンズのガンダーセンでした。