Phew, I'm upset. It's not really "beating the news" per se, but I'm "beating the government's handout." So the now infamous governmental agency, MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport, Science and Technology) released a hangout aiming to help teachers and parents understand what radioactivity is "correctly." Well, you got it, their correct way to me is OH VERY WRONG in every single way (every single page…you will see soon). I am convinced that they created this handout to brainwash teachers and parents how safe to live in Fukushima and other affected areas near the crippled nuclear plant, when they really should be spending time on how to protect children in the area. MEXT is the one who set the infamous "safety standard" of 20mSv/year for children, which has been widely accused nationally and internationally, because the standard is based on the calculation that could eventually kill at least 5 to 10 per 1,000 adults due to cancer. Being already wrong enough, imagine the governmental agency is applying the number to children. Thanks for people in Germany quickly responding to the matter and had a rally against this crazy standard in Berlin on May 4!
So here are my points of every single WRONG information on the hangout (the words in red are translation of what the MEXT handout says). Allow me to be a bit emotional on this one.
Page 1: "To Correctly Understand Radioactivity"
→To me, they should have wrote, "To Distortedly Understand Radioactivity" (and again, you will see soon what I'm talking about).
Page 2: "Radioactive materials are usually in an unstable condition….. when it gets stabilized, it stops emitting radiation anymore"
→LIE! There are materials that become different kinds of radioactive materials after emitting its radiation. For example, Iodine 131 does not disappear its half of the radiation after its half-life ends, but it actually becomes Xenon 131. Similarly, Iodine 135, that got diffused a lot after the explosion of the #3 reactor, eventually becomes Cesium 135.
Page 4: "You get radiated in the natural environment and in getting X-rayed. So don't worry. When you overreact to this matter, it will have negative impact to your daily life and create unnecessary discrimination."
→What? What balance?? First of all, please stop comparing artificial radioactive materials having being emitted from the nuclear plant to medical X-rays and cosmic radiation that do not cause internal exposure (check our past article1 and article 2 in Japanese). Potassium and Radon that can be found in the natural environment do damage our cells, but these materials have been on the earth forever so they are nature themselves and it is our fate as creatures to live with these materials. On the other hand, I consider being damaged by artificial radioactive materials from nuclear plants is human violence. Second, who is talking about "overreact" when they are the ones who created the safety standard that could kill at least 5 to 10 per 1,000 adults by cancer without legitimate considerations? Do we need to keep our "balance" even when we start losing our children by cancer and leukemia in the near future? As long as there is risk, our normal sense of "balance" should be to protect everyone, especially children, as much as possible by considering any possibilities. Third, regarding of bias and discrimination against what we should not be afraid of, stop putting responsibilities on individuals when it is the government and TEPCO who should be blamed for the confusions among citizens by not providing important data and keeping us updated with the facts (our past blog talking about the MEXT safety standard is here).
Page 5: "Exposures to radiation have two ways….internal and external. Both damages are the same to your body" and "Even once you inhale/consume radioactive materials in your body, it gets discharged eventually....."
→Oh PLEASE! Damages of radiation exposure is in inverse proportion to the square of the distance so how can they say that being damaged internally equals to damages from outside of your body? Plus, alpha radiation that goes relatively short distance can give much stronger damage than gamma radiation that travels in long distance. In short, internal exposure to alpha or beta radiation is much more serious than external exposure to gamma radiation from several meters away. As for discharging from body, the MEXT instead should have wrote "not all the radioactive materials get discharged from your body because some materials remain and accumulate in your muscle, bone, thyroid, etc. Plus, even if materials get discharged, they could damage organs while in your body.
Page 6: "ICRP says…..it is possible to set the standard of 1 to 20 milli SV/year at the time of emergency….so we set our standard on 20 milli SV/year."
→It must be easy to use the biased ICRP's standard and ignore all the standards set by other international agencies and scientists. First, this ICRP's standard does not have any scientific legitimacy. Second, the worst thing is that this ICRP's standard completely ignores damages of internal exposure (see our past article in Japanese about this). So setting the 20 milli SV standard means killing many times more children than the calculation that could kill at least 5 to 10 per 1,000 people if considering more serious damage of internal exposure among children.
Page 7: "In a rare occasion, there might be areas where radioactive materials are accumulated in one spot……so just in case, please have children wash their hands and gargle often."
→I don't think it's "a rare occasion." It is everywhere! Some schools and local groups have already been doing their investigations (simply because the government doesn't do it), which have detected abnormal amount of radioactivity in schools. I don't think "just in case" approach will save children's lives. What the MEXT is saying sounds like it's all responsibilities of children and their parents, and I just can't stand it!! I know the government is still so reluctant of evacuating many more people because it will be responsible for much compensations. Please AT LEAST clean up sands and soils of school yards in Tohoku and Kanto regions then? (Tohoku= northeastern Japan; Kanto= highly populated area including Tokyo). I still think that people at wider zones should be evacuated immidiately even with one in a million chance of risk because we are talking aboout people's lives here!
Page 8: "There is no problem to continue with your ordinary life at an area that detects below 3.8 micro Sv/hour"
→Aghhh. There is NO threshold on how much radiation we can get according to the report by the U.S. National Academy of Science released in 2005 (our past article on no threshold of radiationexposure).
Page 9: "There have not been any serious discharges of radioactive materials since March 17. Therefore, if radioactive materials attached to your body or clothing, they should have all been gone by then. Even if you have consumed materials, they should have been discharged from your body."
→REALLY? According to the CTBTO Takasaki Radionuclide Monitoring Station in Gunma, Japan, radioactive contamination increased on March 21, March 30, and April 18 as well. And how can you sound like there will not be "serious discharges" anymore when the plants are still at critical conditions??? If you want to say that radioactive materials are not on your body or clothing, they can still be on the ground outside or even at home. There are also materials that are not been discharged from body yet. Considering what I have just said, can it still be all safe? (our past article in English on data concealed by the government, and another related article in English)
Page 10: "Threshold on how much radiation"
→Actually, it is not only the National Academy of Science who is saying there is no threshold, but Dr. Helen Caldicott is saying the same thing (check NY Times article on April 30, 2011).
Page 11: "There is no proof of negative effect on genes by radiation in our human history (including victims of Hiroshima/Nagasaki, nuclear tests, and Chernobyl)"; "chances of one person developing cancer increase only 0.5% (at the level of 100 milli Sv)"; "Only possible negative effect that we could think of by this Fukushima incident is cancer"; and "There is no proof of developing cancer if you live at below 100 milli Sv."
→Lies! There are many attests by doctors and journalists on dramatically increasing numbers of people developing cancers and other diseases after the Chernobyl accident, but the pro-nuke IAEA decided to ignore all the truth and concluded with seriously much underestimated effects on residents near the Chernobyl plant. I even heard of medical documentations being stolen from hospitals for the Chernobyl victims. Some scientists say there have been at least 1,000,000 Chernobyl victims. NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) aired series of documentaries about the aftermath of Chernobyl in the past, and it says that dramatic increases of cancers and leukemia among both children and adults have been reported even at the Third Contamination Zone. There are also many cases of heart disease, miscarriage, and abnormalities in fertility that happen even until today in the area. I repeat that there is no threshold on how much radiation we can be exposed safely (our past article on Chernobyl, and another related article).
Page 11: "There, however, is an idea that cancer risk can increase even at lower level of radiation exposure. So it is better to avoid radiation as much as possible."
→This is the only acceptable sentence in the entire handout, but they still should call it scientifically proven fact rather than "an idea."
Page 12: "We expect few cases of infant thyroid cancer caused by this (Fukushima) accident." and "There was no increase of infant thyroid cancer caused by the Chernobyl accident."
→ Wow, I can't believe they said these things so definitely! I think they wanted to say, "there was no increase of infant thyroid cancer approved by us." It takes about 5 years for children and about 10 years for adults to start knowing cancer developing inside them. Some biased academic have said it takes over decades in order to know the epidemiological effect of the radiation on human bodies though we do have important, though limited, researches on the Chernobyl aftermath. These biased academia can say any lies in order to maintain their social statuses that have been built and paid by the nuclear industry. They know well how it takes years for many of us to start seeing the effects of the Fukushima accident on human bodies. We have to always remember how former Soviet Union and the IAEA scientists made so much efforts to underestimate the accident by completely shutting down what doctors and residents have been experiencing in the area. MEXT is using these "official" data by former Soviet Union and IAEA, which to me is absolutely unacceptable when we are talking about protecting children's lives (our past article on the Chernobyl aftermaths).
Here comes the final yet the most unbelievable points that the MEXT makes in this handout. Be ready people!
Page 12: "It has been said that damage on your mental health by being overly concerned is much more serious than damage by radiation"
Page 13: "When parents are mentally unstable, it directly effects children's mental health. It is very important for parents to gain correct knowledge on radiation and NOT to be overly concerned about it."
Page 14: Explanation on Relationship Between Brain and Stress Reactions
Page 15: "When you are stressed, you get heavy and butterfly feelings, and feel dark…….cause headache and stomachache…….because your heart and body are so well connected."
Page 16: "Experience that you feel uncontrollable remains in you for a long time as trauma."
Page 17: "PTSD occurs when you face experience that could risk your life."
Not finish yet! The amazing conclusion of the handout!!
Page 18: "If you are worried about radiation too much, it will cause both physical and mental instabilities on you……and on your children. So, please do not believe in rumors and wrong information. You should obtain correct information from your school. Then, you will have fun, blight, harmonious, and stable life everyday by preventing unnecessary damages on you."
I emphasize this so strongly here. There is nothing more important than your life and health, with which, you can maintain your mental stability. MEXT, the governmental agency that is to protect children, is the one who is threatening life and health of people. I think people who made this handout at MEXT are all sick! They are so unscientific and are able to put tasks on children and their parents instead of them taking responsibilities. What? Because of concerned parents, children get mentally unstable? PLEEEEEEASE!!!!
MEXT changed subject of radiation by using the brain system and PTSD. They also look down on people who are making efforts to collect as much trustable data in order to protect children (because the government doesn't do it). I just can't stand their "oh just listen to me and you'll be all fine" approach. It's so bureaucrat!!! I want to sue these crazy people for putting thousands of children being at risk of their lives. I almost feel like getting PTSDed by the MEXT.
I actually have worked for 4 years with women who have been diagnosed with PTSD. I, hence, have some knowledge on PTSD and I can tell how awkward and suspicious to spend so many pages on PTSD when talking about safety precautions on radiation. Well, one can tell the awkwardness of the handout even if you have no knowledge of PTSD. I understand there are many children who have been and will be diagnosed with PTSD due to the earthquake and tsunami. Also, I bet there will be many children who will be diagnosed with PTSD when they get sick or they lose their friends and families in the future all because of INCORRECT information the government, including MEXT, and TEPCO provided to people. I, however, strongly do not believe that there will be children who will be diagnosed with PTSD because their parents are concerned about radiation and appropriately make efforts to protect their children. I have never heard of PTSD diagnose due to overly concerns for life being at risk. Children do not get traumatized by adults who explain well what is going on and who act accordingly by responding to the crisis. I'm more concerned about children who will be diagnosed with Depression or Personality Disorders in the future because they are not able to trust people because of the MEXT handout. Really.
Please come out the MEXT people who created this unbelievably unprofessional handout, and please stop trying to brainstorm teachers and parents with this unscientific information for protecting your social status and power instead of children's lives. And, the MEXT is using our tax money to used this handout. I sincerely ask teachers and parents not to trust the handout. Please!