La Jolla Light (Calif. Newspaper), July 9, 2014: Scientists weigh-in on status of radioactive waters from Fukushima reaching California coast [...] the potential health effects cut to the heart of the contemporary scientific debate on the biological consequences of low-level radiation. [...] Experts project the radioactivity will be [...] two-to-20 times greater than the residual radiation already in the Pacific from the nuclear weapons tests [...] Bottom line? So what is the risk of swimming, surfing and splashing about in the low-level radioactive waters?
Dr. Herbert Abrams, Harvard and Stanford University professor of radiology & principal researcher for the National Research Council’s study ‘Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation’ who testified before Congress about its conclusions: “The underlying premise that has to be considered as you talk about radioactivity, the water and people being exposed to it, is that the effects of radiation are cumulative [...] what is the turning point? [...] common sense is to avoid radiation as much as you can.” [...] With the radiation from Fukushima predicted to [linger here for years] Abrams said the potential dose should not be dismissed as negligible. “Am I concerned? Yes I am. And that’s because I know radiation pretty well [...] It shakes up the cell and it goes after the genetic material … The bottom line is that (radiation) is a carcinogenic agent [...] there is increased risk. But how do you translate that into an understandable discussion of what’s going to happen to guys on their surfboards? I don’t know.” [...] Abrams issues his own warning about those scientists declaring the low-level radiation to be absolutely “safe” [...] “Physicists, or at least some of them, are the people in the nuclear industry itself. They play down (the risks) at such low doses, but they never talk about it as being cumulative.”
Prof. Kai Vetter, UC Berkeley Nuclear Engineering Dept.: “People don’t understand nuclear radiation and the impact [...] Everyone is really scared of it [...] It should not pose any health risk on swimmers, divers, people on the beach. [...] The psychological stress and psychological impact which might actually cause health effects, we should never underestimate that [...] that’s really what the big problem is, because there’s a lot of fear. There are a lot claims out there to increase the fear. From my perspective, it is completely unjustified and irresponsible to claim all the effects because that will just cause more and more fear in the public, which is probably the biggest impact. [...] In a way, we feel as a journalist. We see ourselves really as [doing a] service to the community.”
Dr. Ken Buesseler, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: “A lot of people are dismissive of it because it’s so low, and that’s not a good thing to do because radiation can kill [...] t doesn’t necessarily mean it’s at harmful levels [...] We know it’s out there and we know it’s moving slowly across [...] Any additional radioactivity can cause an increase in risk. [...] when no one makes measurements, then people will get more worried [...] We’re looking for agencies to step up [...] we’re not getting any success with places like NOAA or the Department of Energy and that’s too bad. I think they have some responsibility.”
See also: Medical Professor: “We really don’t know the extent of the ionizing radiation that’s going to be reaching us [from Fukushima]; we are just watching the West Coast unfold — There is no safe level”
Published: July 9th, 2014 at 11:52 pm ET