Pregnant Mothers Going Back to Minami Soma City to Give Birth

Diposkan oleh Pengetahuan dan Pengalaman on Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I just don't know what to say.

NHK's program "Close-up Gendai" aired the episode on August 31 (which you can view at the program's site here) about a 72-year-old obstetrician and over 50 pregnant mothers coming back to Minami Soma City to give birth.

The reason for coming back to their homes in Minami Soma City, even if the radiation level remains elevated, is that they were totally stressed out in the evacuation centers. When asked why she came back to the city, one young mother coming to see the obstetrician says, "Well, it was very cold sleeping on the hard floor of the gymnasium, and we thought our home would be better."

While the national government created the evacuation-ready zone in Minami Soma City and advised small children and pregnant women to stay out of the zone, there was no actual support as to where they, particularly pregnant women, can stay comfortably outside the zone.

NHK's program also makes it clear that Minami Soma City itself has no such plan. On the contrary, we know that the city is telling the residents to come back.

The obstetrician, Dr. Takahashi, was able to fit the mothers with glass badges that record the external radiation exposure, thanks to the donation of an NPO. After one month, he got the result. It was between 1 and 6.96 millisieverts on the annual basis - that is, if they stay where they are for one year.

"Is this safe? No one can say for sure, but it is probably safe. There's not enough data to show the effect of radiation below 100 millisieverts per year", the NHK narrator says.

Dr. Takahashi goes and measures the radiation levels at another home. "0.58 microsievert/hour outside, about half that inside". The narrator says, "At this level, the annual radiation exposure would be about 2.5 millisieverts, far below 20 millisieverts". The husband chimes in, as if to convince himself and his wife that it is OK to stay there, "So it is higher than 1 millisievert/year standard that they often talk about, but far less than 20 millisieverts".

After the Minami Soma segment, the guest commentator speaks. Associate Professor Mitsuyoshi Urashima of Jikei University School of Medicine says the following:


To begin with, there is no radiation safety standard for fetuses. So we cannot say it is definitely safe, but I consider [these numbers in the video] to be safe.


There are three reasons why I say this. First, the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) says the low radiation above 100 millisieverts [per year] will increase the risk for cancer, but below that level, particularly below 10 millisieverts/year, it is designated as ultra low radiation where there is no increase of cancer. Second, the levels of natural radiation vary. There is a place in the world where people are exposed to 10 millisieverts radiation per year.


Third, there was no risk of thyroid cancer for the fetuses in Chernobyl. There was no increased risk for thyroid cancer after the babies were born. So, if [the radiation exposure] is less than 10 millisieverts, I don't think they need to worry too much.

Experts like him still cite the 10 millisieverts/year location as if that's totally acceptable and safe for people in Fukushima, whose natural radiation exposure has been 1.4 millisievert/year, not to mention this 10 millisieverts/year includes internal exposure.

Experts like him (and the infamous Dr. Yamashita) always cite thyroid cancer, as if that's all people need to worry about.

I can't really blame these mothers for escaping the extremely uncomfortable evacuation centers where they have to sleep on the hard floor with no privacy. It's just too bad that they didn't have anyone who would take them in, outside Minami Soma, and that no one cared about them in the government, national or municipal.

The governments don't do anything, because pregnant women are not supposed to be there in the evacuation-ready zone...