By Pierre Fetet (translation by Hervé Courtois)
Scientific studies conducted following the Fukushima disaster revealed little by little the consequences of radioactivity on the living and particularly on wildlife. Although published, they are nevertheless rarely circulated. This is why I would like to put a spotlight on some of them and publicize various observations which we do not hear much about, to counter the silly optimism to always relativize the consequences of low doses on life. Any dose of radiation, however small it be, has effects on the living: the ionizing radiation breaks the DNA molecules.
The feathers of birds take radioactive dust released into the atmosphere continuously by the wind. They therefore suffer permanent external irradiation.
We can see this dust by placing a contaminated bird on a radio-sensitive paper for a month. Here is an example with a bird picked in Iitate in December 2011.
Autoradiography also allows to highlight that the birds also undergo internal contamination.
Autoradiography of a bird revealing radioactive contamination in the plumage and stomach (Source Morizumi)
Yasuo HORI has also reported that some swallows Fukushima undergo depigmentation, as had already been found in Chernobyl. The Wild Bird Society of Japan also noted that the tail feathers of some Japanese swallows were not uniform.
It must be said that nests of swallows up to 1.4 million becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram (Bq / kg) have been found in the towns of Okuma and Namie. The nests of chickadees, were not better: 1.3 million Bq / kg.
Left: Swallow from Minamisoma (Fukushima Prefecture) – Right: deformed tail of a swallow from Kakuda (Miyagi Prefecture)
According to studies conducted by Tim Mousseau (University of South Carolina), the population of fifteen bird species living in contaminated areas of Fukushima prefecture decreases with time, with a 30% survival rate.
Another research focused on a falcon species returning in the same nest every year was also conducted by a team of scientists led by Naoki Murase (Nagoya University) at a distance of 100 to 120 km from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The interest of this study is that raptors are at the top of a food chain and concentrate radionuclides accumulated by their prey. The authors have shown that the reproductive capacity of the bird was related to radiation measured directly under the nest : radioactivity affects the germline of the bird. The ability of birds to leave the nest fell from 79 to 55% in 2012 and 50% in 2013.
Another study finally published in 2015 by ASN and the Anders Møller laboratory (CNRS), focused on the total dose – internal and external – of birds.
It showed that 90% of the 57 species studied had been chronically exposed to radioactivity dose rate possibly affecting their reproduction.
Simplified representation of the level change of maximum exposure of adult birds (in dose rate) for 57 species of the bird community observed on 300 sites and four years of study. Compared to the range of variation (in blue) ambient dose rate measured on the sites and ranges (red) corresponding to various effects in birds published by the ICRP (2008) (Source IRSN)
So there are three factors that affect living organisms in contaminated areas: the ambient radiation (the dose that is received by being next to a radioactive object), the external contamination (radioactive dust that sticks to the skin, hair, feathers), and internal contamination (radionuclides ingested or trapped in organs).
The first scientific evidence of damage to a living organism by radioactive contamination due to the disaster of Fukushima Daiichi was delivered by the team of researcher Chiyo Nohara (University of Okinawa).
The study highlighted the physiological and genetic damage of a common butterfly of Japan, the maha zizeeria. In May 2011, some show relatively slight abnormalities. But the first female offspring of the first generation showed more serious defects, inherited by the second generation. Adult butterflies collected in September 2011, then showed more severe abnormalities than those collected in May: abortive hatching, infertility, size reduction, slow growth, high mortality and morphological abnormalities (Atrophied wings, curved or in excess number, malformed antennae, bumpy eyes, discolored).
Representative anomalies of butterflies fed contaminated leaves. (Source: Hiyama et al)
In 2014, Shin-ichi Akimoto (Hokkaido University) found that about 10% of certain insects, such as aphids, have malformations in Fukushima. But their survival and their reproduction remain possible.
Sorini aphid T. From Fukushima. (A) normal morphology, (B) Level 3 malformation of the abdomen (Source: S. Akimoto)
The phenomenon of white patches (depigmentation) on the observed swallows in Fukushima and Chernobyl is also found on the cows of Masami Yoshizawa, at the Farm of Hope in Namie, a town located 14 km from the destroyed plant .
A cow of Masami Yoshizawa was brought to Tokyo in 2014 to the government for diagnosis (AFP Photo)
The biologist Hayato Minamoto reported the carnage suffered by Tokuei Hosokawa, an Iitate farmer who lost a hundred horses in two years. Iitate had suffered the brunt of the radioactive cloud from the Fukushima Daiichi plant in March-April 2011.
Between April 2012 and March 2013, researchers led by Shin-ichi Hayama (Japan University of Life Sciences and Veterinary Sciences) analyzed the blood of 61 Japanese monkeys living in a forest 70 km from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The total concentration of cesium in monkeys muscles was between 78 and 1778 Bq / kg. Blood tests in these animals revealed a small quantity of white blood cells and red blood cells, which could make them more vulnerable. The decrease of blood cells was directly proportional to the concentration of cesium in the muscles, which suggests a dose-response correlation. Researchers estimate that exposure to radioactive materials contributed to hematological changes in Fukushima monkeys.
Drawing by Julien Loïs
The consequences of radioactivity on animals are visible to anyone who will bother to observe what happens. In this article, I focused on some animals only (there would be other cases to develop: the population decline of the cicadas, the increased cataract of rodents, etc.). Scientists could conduct similar studies on this strange animal that is man, but it would not be politically correct.
Yet this has already been done, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Chernobyl. For example, studies conducted between 1993 and 1998 on Ukrainian children permitted to observe a drop of blood cells, which was related to the exposure of each child to cesium depending on the place of residence. And yet, in Tokyo, from 2011 to 2014, Dr. Mita observed that white blood cells, especially neutrophils, decreased in children under 10 years old. (Which prompted him to move and to ask his patients to leave Tokyo). But no, do not say anything, and do not look into such matter.
In Japan, the denial of the danger is a must. The only mention of a nosebleed in a manga can cause a national affair and censorship … To speak of the negative consequences of the nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi is not accepted.
You must rebuild, you must forget, you must think about the future. Institutionally, only one study is accepted, the monitoring of thyroids of children in Fukushima. That study is the screen that hides the forest of lies.
And yet, despite 131 thyroid cancers confirmed in June 2016, the official Japanese scientists refuse to see them as caused by radioactivity.
To read more:
1) Scientific studies cited in this article
Low blood cell counts in wild Japanese monkeys after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, K. Ochiai, S. Hayama, S. Nakiri, S. Nakanishi, N. Ishii, T. Uno, T. Kato, F. Konno, Y. Kawamoto, S. Tsuchida, T. Omi, 2014
Radiological dose reconstruction for birds reconciles outcomes of Fukushima with knowledge of dose-effect relationships, J. Garnier-Laplace, K. Beaugelin-Seiller, C. Della-Vedova, J.-M. Métivier, C. Ritz, T. A. Mousseau, A. P. Møller, 2015
2) Articles and file