Thursday, April 3, 2014

UNSCEAR: Increase in Cancer Unlikely following Fukushima Exposure

Press release from the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) (4/2/2014; emphasis is mine):

2 April 2014

Increase in Cancer Unlikely following Fukushima Exposure - says UN Report

Low Risk of Thyroid Cancer Among Children Most Exposed

VIENNA, 2 April (UN Information Service) - Cancer levels are likely to remain stable in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power accident, according to a new UN report released today.

The report is titled Levels and effects of radiation exposure due to the nuclear accident after the 2011 great east-Japan earthquake and tsunami, by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR).

It finds that no discernible changes in future cancer rates and hereditary diseases are expected due to exposure to radiation as a result of the Fukushima nuclear accident; and, that no increases in the rates of birth defects are expected.

Nevertheless, it notes a theoretical possibility that the risk of thyroid cancer among the group of children most exposed to radiation could increase and concludes that the situation needs to be followed closely and further assessed in the future. Thyroid cancer is a rare disease among young children, and their normal risk is very low.

"People are rightly concerned about the impact on their health and their children's health," said Carl-Magnus Larsson, Chair, UNSCEAR. "Based on this assessment, however, the Committee does not expect significant changes in future cancer statistics that could be attributed to radiation exposure from the accident," he said.

The findings are based on estimates of the exposure of various population groups - including children - as well as scientific knowledge of health impacts following radiation exposure.

According to the study, the expected low impact on cancer rates of the population is largely due to prompt protective actions on the part of the Japanese authorities following the accident.

The Committee analyzed reported worker doses and also independently assessed doses for some of the workers. The Committee's assessments are broadly consistent with reported doses, but uncertainties remain for exposures during the early phase of the accident. "The Committee concluded that no discernible increase in cancer or other diseases is expected; however, the most exposed workers will receive regular health checks," said Wolfgang Weiss, Chair of the Assessment.

The Committee also evaluated the effects of radiation exposure on both terrestrial and marine ecosystems, finding that any effects would have been transient.

For marine ecosystems, the possibility of effects on flora and fauna was limited to the shoreline area adjacent to the power station and the potential for effects over the long term was considered insignificant.



The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), established in 1955, is mandated to undertake broad reviews of the sources of ionizing radiation and the effects on human health and the environment. Its assessments provide a scientific foundation for governments and UN agencies to formulate standards and programmes for protection against ionizing radiation.

More than 80 leading scientists worked on the study analyzing the effects of radiation exposure following the accident at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power station. Material they prepared was reviewed for technical and scientific quality by its 27 Member States at their annual session in May 2013. All scientists had to declare any conflict of interest related to their participation in the assessment.

The UNSCEAR secretariat is administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

* *** *

For more information, contact:

Jaya Mohan
Communications, UNSCEAR
Tel: +43 1 26060-4122
Mobile: +43 699 1459 4122
Email: jaya.mohan[at]

Watch the webcast of the press briefing on 2 April 2014 at 10:30 CEST at

Link to the 321-page report:


Anonymous said...

Are these the same '80 leading scientists' who wrote that lovely rapport (for the nuclear industry) after Tsjernobyl?
Because thyrod cancer can not be denied so easily anymore, so they are willing to 'give' us that, all other cancers must come from your bad life style.
That 'bad life style' means eating sushi and live near Fukushima or in Japan for that matter, they will forget to add that.

So, it's your own fault, as always. Nothing to do with our very safe nuclear industry.

The UN can only publish about nuclear things if it gets the nod from IAEA.

This report makes one thing very clear, nothing is learned again.

Anonymous said...

All puff and spin to deter the population from panicking.

Huge areas of Honshu are contaminated. Discovery recently of hot particles approx 150 miles from Fukushima with radioactivity in the PETABEQUEREL range!

Good luck if you happen to breathe in just one of these particles.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 12:27 AM
I am afraid for people - and young ones - North-West and around the plants.
Yet I spend 3 months a year in Tokyo prefecture, and exceptionnally was also there in march-april 2011, alas. What a good oportunity to see the cherry-blossoms for the first time in my life !
I've just had an in deep blood test showing nothing wrong, including thyroid things.
So I'am glad I zigzagged away from the hot spots -don't ask me how - although we intenionally took care of what we would eat when in Japan.

Anonymous said...

If I remember correctly, the last UNSCEAR report on Chernobyl stated a total of 36 deaths as a result of the nuclear accident there. In the fine print, one could find language that explained that any and all other deaths could not positively be linked to radiation exposure. I haven't read the Fukushima report, but if it's as much of a whitewash as the one on Chernobyl was, it's not worth the paper it's written on - imho.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Hi mscharisma. I'm reading the report, even if it may not be worth the paper it is written on. I've read many questionable papers and articles from BOTH SIDES in the past 3 years, adding UNSCEAR report to my reading list is probably less stressful than most...

Anonymous said...

A total whitewash that relies on flawed science.

Anonymous said...

anon at 12:27AM, link please, for your BS.

Unknown said...

yes, 500km away from the plant they find hot particles in the petabcquerel range... only when converted in kg. a hot particle is way lighter that a kg.
but if you were to have one kg of those, yes it's in the petabequerel range.
here's the link:

and, ex-skf, unscear is pro nuke. what did you expect from them beside propaganda ? and why do you choose to repost that propaganda?
sometimes your motives are difficult to understand.
are you just trying to show us how corrupted and inhumane they are by showing us this?

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 5:13 AM

According to Report on Chernobyl Health Effects July 06.pdf:

Pg 106: "In the UNSCEAR 2000 report, 28 persons died in 1986 due to Acute Radiation Syndrom and 19 more died in 1987-2004 for different reasons."

Pg 60: "Typically, papillary thyroid carcinoma is prevalent in more than 90% of these children of young age."

Pgs 106 - 109: "... 61,000 Russian emergency workers under study ...Deaths: 515 Malignant neoplasms, 1,728 Circulatory system diseases, 1858 Injuries and Poisonings, 894 Other for a total of 4,995 deaths. Statistical estimates were used to estimate that 116 of the malignant neoplasms (cancer) and 100 of the Circulatory system diseases or about 216 were attributable to radiation." (The 95% uncertainty means that the deaths attributable to radiation could range from 105 to 329.)

According to

Pg. 17: Thyroid cancer cases: "Belarus, 2,010, Russian Federation, 483, Ukraine, 2,344 for a total of 4,837. Of these only 15 are known to have died." (pg. 6)

Thyroid cancer is far and away the principal cancer risk after Chernobyl.

According to

Pg. 12: "Today, nearly 20 years after the Chernobyl accident, the large increase in thyroid cancer incidence among those exposed in childhood and adolescence continues; fortunately, few of these have been fatal. In contrast, at this time, no clearly demonstrated increase in the incidence of other cancers can be attributed to radiation exposure from the accident."

Pg. 7: "By 1995, the incidence of childhood [age 0 -14] thyroid cancer had increased to four per 100 000 per year compared to 0.03–0.05 cases per 100 000 per year prior to the accident. As those who were children at the time of the accident have aged (by 2002, even the very youngest had reached adulthood), the childhood thyroid cancer rates have declined to near zero and parallel increases in the incidence of thyroid cancer in adolescents and slightly later in young adults have been seen." (The adolescent rate (age 15 - 18) peaked at 11.3 per 100,000 per year in 2001 and the adult (age 19-34) rate was 6.9 per 100,000 per year in 2002 and still climbing.)

My quick read is that the dose rates in Japan have been much lower than Chernobyl and, even though there were evacuation problems, the evacuation was much faster and much better than Chernobyl. If you remember, the Soviets did not acknowledge that the accident had happened for several days afterwards and very large populations were needlessly exposed. One should not confuse the low expected mortality in Japan with "no consequences," as very large areas remain uninhabitable. Paradoxically, Japan should be praised for a fairly quick evacuation compared to Chernoby, but comparing anything to the response after Chernobyl is faint praise. Most of the thyroid exposure is attributed to feeding children contaminated milk in the MONTHS after the accident (unthinkable). The investigators feel that the thyroid cancer rates would have been MUCH lower if contaminated milk could have been avoided. Again, Japan may look much better by comparison, but that, again, may be faint praise. Credit should be given to our gracious host for keeping "the feet to the fire" regarding contamination issues. In the end, a lot of harm may have been avoided.

Anonymous said...

Further thoughts: Please do not confuse the deaths so far from thyroid cancer (15 as of 2002) with expected deaths. IIRC, the 40 year mortality rate may be 35% or higher, so one could expect thousands of deaths eventually from the about 5,000 that have been documented so far, if the victims don't pass away from something else before. Remember, these were children when they were exposed. Paradoxically, the treatment for exposure to I-131 is more I-131 to kill all the cancer cells, including metastasis. Surgery is also common. However, the treatment can cause harm to the lungs and breast tissue can receive significant radiation exposure, so breast cancer is a risk of the treatment. If you read all the links I posted, (I skimmed them), the investigators don't really look very deeply at quality of life issues or chronic disease as life expectancies and general health have dropped considerably in the affected regions due to the collapse of the Soviet Union (due in part to the Chernobyl accident.)

Anonymous said...

At Anon @ 11:25 and 11:32:
Thanks for all the info.
Quality of life was not necessarily the only thing the WHO overlooked. One problem - and if IIRC even admitted by UNSCEAR - was also the lack of reliable data as much has never been collected in the former Soviet Union or has since been lost.

One may also want to take a look at Yablokov's 2009 "Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment." Although also controversial, the death toll number here reaches 1 million and counting. Available for free here:

I wholeheartedly agree that one has to look at all sides of an issue. My only point really was to approach the UNSCEAR report with caution based on past performance. Again, good to have you back.

Anonymous said...

Here's a sonography study for Fukushima:

Ultrasonography survey and thyroid cancer in the Fukushima Prefecture

Anonymous said...

One more thing:
The IPPNW (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War) has criticized the Fukushima UNSCEAR report. Original in German, here the Google translation with my clarification in [ ]:
Today's report by the United Nations Committee on the Consequences of Radiation (UNSCEAR) plays the true extent of the health consequences of the Fukushima nuclear disaster down systematically. UNSCEAR claims in his 300-page final report that "are to be expected, no significant changes of future cancer rates that can be associated with radiation exposure from the accident." Doctors of the IPPNW, however go into their calculations of tens of thousands of additional cancer cases. As the number of cancers in the Japanese population, but in any case is already high, the majority of these cases will be to bring not causally related to the radiation exposure in connection.

The fact that a cancer bears no designation of origin, and never can be clearly attributed to a single cause, is used by the nuclear industry and also by UNSCEAR to deny any causality. One tactic, as they are known by the tobacco industry or the asbestos industry for a long time. "History repeats itself. As then, after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster , the risks for the people living in the contaminated areas are covered up, trivialized and secretive, "criticized the deputy chairman of the IPPNW, Dr. Alex Rosen.

The IPPNW also complained that the members of UNSCEAR support them in their report mainly on information from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the operating company TEPCO and the Japanese nuclear authorities. Neutral, independent institutes and research institutions will be ignored. So based dose calculations of the affected population in the report "to promote worldwide use of nuclear energy" largely on food samples IAEA, an organization that was founded with the goal. Unwanted results of independent food samples are ignored. To estimate the total emissions of radioactivity studies of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency are used, instead of the significantly higher calculations by independent institutes to consider. The radiation doses from the power plant workers were mostly directly from the controversial operating company TEPCO accepted.

The large number of reports of manipulations and inconsistencies of these readings overlook the authors benevolent. In 47% of the examined children in Fukushima Prefecture nodes and cysts were found. In 33 children, the doctors now firmly thyroid cancer and had to remove the thyroid surgery, a further 42 children with acute suspicion of cancer is such an operation before. These figures correspond to an incidence of 13.0 per 100,000 children. Before Fukushima, the annual number of new cases was in Japan at only 0.35 per 100,000 children. The number of thyroid cancer cases in Fukushima are so alarmingly high. Is undisputed: every little dose of radioactivity goes with a higher risk of cancers associated. Instead of the affected educate people openly about these risks, however, the report's authors try based on questionable assumptions, selective samples and geschönter [whitewashed] doses of radiation to scatter the industry complacent message that you had come in Fukushima once again with the horror of it.[... that Fukushima escaped with just a scare]

Anonymous said...

I wasn't trying to minimize Chernobyl. My point was that the "official" count was significantly higher than 36, although I have read people trying to claim that Chernobyl only killed 28 (the ones that died pretty quickly of acute radiation poisoning). I have only skimmed the Yablokov book, but I found something to compare. On page 225, paragraph 2, he mentions the officially accepted radiation induced deaths of 216 cases (Ivanov, et al., 2004). However, the WHO reference I gave on pg. 106 says there were 61,000 liquidators in the cohort, while Yablokov says there were 52,714. WHO says there were 4,995 deaths to Yablokovs 4,136. Trying to compare apples to apples is a nightmare. If you are trying to compare death rates, these differences drive you batty. Furthermore, Yablokov mentions 24 leukemia deaths from 1986 to 1998, while WHO mentions 58 leukemia deaths in a different cohort of 72,000, of which 16 were chronic lymphocity leukemia (CLL) that don't count, since "this leukaemia type is not thought to be caused by radiation." That leaves 42 WHO leukemia deaths to 24 Yablokov leukemia deaths. AAAARGH!

WHO then makes a calculation of excess cancer and circulatory system deaths compared to a "background rate" on the assumption that, absent Chernobyl, there would have been a certain number of cancer and circulatory system deaths anyway. Applying this to the leukemia deaths, WHO then says there were 24 leukemia deaths attributable to radiation, but is this the same 24 that Yablokov is counting?

In general my biggest gripe with these epidemiological studies and with the linear no threshold hypothesis (LNT) is not that it ins't linear nor that there is a threshold, but rather, that you end up multiplying a very small number (death rate) by a very large number (populations). I think that creates a very large uncertainty in the result. It isn't that the casualties don't exist, but that doing an accurate count is very difficult. I need to take a closer look at Yablokov when I get a chance.

One other thought: If you look at the references I gave on Chernobyl, it is awful that so many of the thyroid cancers weren't found until they had spread, sometimes to multiple places. Look at the sonography study. Thyroid cancer is very treatable and thyroid supplements are inexpensive and easy to take (one little pill a day). If there is good monitoring and aggressive surgery, there is good reason to believe that good medicine may result in very few deaths and a good quality of life for those exposed, especially children. If the thyroids can be removed when clearly diseased but not yet malignant, then there should be very little loss of life expectancy or quality of life. The government should have its feet held to the fire to ensure resources for proper monitoring. You can't turn back the clock on Fukushima, but you can certainly, with modern medicine, minimize the consequences to the affected population, especially the children - at least for thyroid cancer.

VyseLegendaire said...

The aftereffects of the nuclear meltdown (s) may very well cause cancer, but this whitewash is simply spick-and-span.

Mike said...

Thank you for your work, arevamirpal.
Since you are reading the report, perhaps you can share whether the marine ecosystem report is based on the former inaccurate water release data, or takes into account Tepco's recent admission that leak estimates may have been off by an order of magnitude or more? Also, does it take into account the San Diego measurements of Bluefin tuna, or simply disregard the possibility of such long-distance dispersion beyond the plant shoreline?


Unknown said...

one shouldn't re-post propaganda from unscear, who or iaea without adding at least a small line saying what it is. not everyone knows what you do ex-skf, like unscear being the bad guys pro-nuke, that their numbers are false.
think if someone read your article and gets happy about the data he find in it and believe it ?

don't you have enough meeting ppl believing the lies,
saying "chernobyl killed only a few, nuke is safe" ?

i think, analysing arguments from both side is good, but not re-posting them vanilla without adding something saying what it is.

Anonymous said...

Is this report just about UNSCEAR own's calculations or is there any concrete finding? If it's just speculation, who cares?


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