Food in Fukushima. Imperial College vs Japan

The method of radiological protection called displacement relies upon people subject to nuclear contamination being properly nourished.

This is because of the rules of bio-chemistry. There are various nutrients that a person must have for health. These include Iodine, Potassium, Calcium and Phosphorous.

The fission process produces two types of chemicals of interest to the displacement method of radio protection. These are: 1. Radioactive isotopes (versions) of nutrients. 2. Radio chemicals which are radio active and which behave in the body in a similar way to essential nutrients. These substances are called bio-chemical analogues of nutrients. Similar to the actual nutrients, but not the same as the actual nutrients. These analogues can’t do the same job as the actual nutrients do when used by the body.

Radium is a natural radioactive substance which is a calcium analogue.
Strontium is a fission product which is a calcium analogue.
Radio Isotope is a fission product which a radio active version of the stable iodine needed by the body.
Cesium is a potassium analogue which is produced in radioactive form by reactors. 100% of fission cesium is radioactive. 0.01% of normal potassium is the radioactive K40, which has less radioactivity and less energy than radio cesium. The use of potassium fertiliser can, in sandy soils, reduce the radioactivity of crops by displacing cesium from plants.

There is another way, apart from fission, by which nuclear reactors create a radioactive version of a normal nutrient: That is, by neutron created activation products. The most important os these includes P32, a radioactive version of phosphorous. It is not normally a substance of concern unless fission takes place in the open air. Unlike Chernobyl, Western reactors have pressure vessels which contain fission processes, including neutron radiation to the insides of that pressure vessel.

So in the context of Japan we are left with three chemicals which are of primary concern in the matter of diet and where to grow food and how to grow it in Japan post a nuclear disaster. Iodine radio isotopes. Cesium radio isotopes and strontium isotopes.

Today the primary hazard remains the radio isotopes of cesium in some areas of Japan. This has been true except for the early days of the disaster. The risk of radio iodine no longer present in Japan, the risk of radio cesium continues to exist in some areas, and the risk of strontium and other radio chemicals released by the reactors pale into relative insignificance compared to cesium.

Cesium 137 is a gamma emitter. As gamma can deeply penetrate the body from the outside, it poses a hazard to radio sensitive tissue such as the thyroid gland.

As the population of Japan has one of the highest levels of daily stable iodine uptake from diet in the world, it can reasonably be guessed that Japanese children enjoyed far greater protection from radio Iodine uptake than Chernobyl did. There are a number of reasons why Chernobyl children were far more vulnerable post Chernobyl than Fukushima children were. The chernobyl children were not evacuated from the close in fallout area for 2 weeks or more and they continued to eat milk etc contaminated with fission products, importantly radio Iodine. The Chernobyl children lived in an entirely different economy from Japan’s and as a result the Chernobyl children did not enjoy as much chance as Japanese children of being properly nourished all the time.

Displacement works because the body tends to control what nutrients passes through the gut wall according to the degree of biological needs for the nutrient in question. Further, in a well nourished person, the body’s discrimination against biological analogues (such as cesium) and discrimination for the actual nutrient is increased.

A poor homeless person in either Chernobyl at the time of disaster, and a poor homeless (totally unsheltered) person in Japan at the time of disaster were the most vulnerable to uptake of radio cesium, radio iodine, and were it was a concern, if it was, radio strontium. This is because when people who do not regular eat a proper and full diet and when they live out in the open, they are very vulnerable to nuclear fallout both externally and internally.

I do not know how children of poor families faired in these regards post Chernobyl. I hope there were no children of as poor families in Japan.
I have a view – which may be right or wrong – that poverty due to the Soviet system was a problem in Chernobyl. The sociology – the radio-sociology – of Japan and the Soviet territories were completely different. Ukraine today and Japan today are completely different in character.

That is the first thing I would like to say. About the risk of food immediately post Chernobyl compared with immediately post Fukushima.

There were vulnerabilities present in the Chernobyl cohort in the immediate aftermath which were not present, to any great degree (I think, believe and hope) in Japan. I am pretty sure I’m right. I could be wrong. I don’t know, I can’t prove it myself.

There is radioactive chemical and then there is the person. Only when the radioactivity of the chemical interacts with the person’s tissue does an absorbed dose occur. This may be an external dose or an internal dose.

Living things tend to concentrate specific radio active chemicals from fission releases. The main substance of concern now is radio cesium.

The decontamination of affected areas has continued for about 7 years. Priority in decontamination is given to what is called “high value land”. Low value land can be left for later and people are excluded from it. Food cannot be grown there. And people should not go to areas which have been labelled exclusion zones in search of wild game and wild fruit, wild vegetables and so on.

Such considerations are matters of actions currently being undertaken by the Japanese government. And as I understand it, the declaration of where food is to be grown and where it should not be obtained from is a matter of both law and warning in Japan.

Where food has been declared safe to eat by relevant authorities, individuals may and can disagree and obtain their food from other sources. However, it has been proven that food obtain from Japan’s exclusion zones in Fukushima Prefecture produce elevated cesium readings in the bodies of at least one relevant population. Yet that same population source shows no abnormal cesium uptake where those people have eaten only “food from approved sources”.

The sociological impact of these things is pretty clear. Obviously some people would rather continue traditional hunting and gathering than worry about or consider government warnings about the need to only eat approved food.

I now refer again to Channel 9 (Australia) TV’s “Sixty Minutes” program, episode 34 and will continue the partial transcript I have made of that program. Channel 9, in this partial transcript, is interviewing Prof Gerry Thomas of Imperial College London. This is how Prof Thomas defines the precise areas where food growing and meat etc raising is approved (she does not in fact explain this reality that some areas in Fukushima remain unapproved for these things. Both science and Japanese government authorities warn against obtaining non approved food from non approved areas by any means.):

Narrator: “Is it a safe area?”
Prof Thomas: “Yea,absolutelly. I’ve been there many times myself. And I would have no hesitation in going back. It’s a beautiful part of the country.”
Narrator: “You would not have any problems eating lettuce from the ground or whatever it may be?”
Prof Thomas: “Actually if you go to Fukushima the food there is fantastic. They grow massive peaches.”

The following extract from a recent scientific paper relating to the reality of approved and non approved food growing areas, and the actual result of eating unapproved food adds information which is very critically MISSING, OMITTED, LEFT OUT, by the narrator in his questions about food in Fukushima, which is a whole Prefecture – Fukushima is equivalent to that of a state as we have in Australia.
South Australia itself has a huge variety of foods grown here in very many different areas.

I refer to the text “Exposure and current health issues in Minamisoma M. Tsubokura Minamisoma Municipal General Hospital, 2-54-6 Takamicho, Haramachi-ku, Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan; e-mail: available in full at :

Please read the complete document at the download link for the pdf document above.

A brief quotation from this paper follows:

“More than 5 years since the disaster, internal exposure levels on the order of several thousand or several tens of thousands of becquerels are still being detected in those who regularly consume wild boar, wild birds, wild vegetables, or mushrooms that are highly contaminated, with a frequency of about several persons per 10,000 people (Tsubokura et al., 2014). However, internal exposure levels are not likely to increase for those who consume foods distributed through regular channels. External exposure levels have also been maintained at low levels. ”
Source: Takamich et al as cited above.

Clearly, while food obtained at the retail level which is produce from regular and regulated agriculture is of no concern to Japanese authorities and other authorities, food which is sourced from the un-remediated exclusion areas produces internal contamination of “internal exposure levels on the order of several thousand or several tens of thousands of becquerels are still being detected in those” (citation as above) ……(who consume contaminated food resultant from the remaining contaminated land).

While it can be said most people eat the food from conventional sources in Fukushima with no concern, Japanese scientists point out that food obtained from contaminated areas (the exclusion zones) imparts a far higher internal dose to those people who hunt and gather their own from those contaminated biospheres.

Biospheres extend beyond human boundaries, so I would keep my chooks in a chook yard and I would consider very carefully the source of my potting mix and organic fertiliser if I lived in the region of Fukushima described by Takamicho.

Keeping up radiological hygiene measures is a matter of common sense. One never knows where or how big one’s next dose is going to be.

I knew a man who had to receive treatment dose radiation exposures to fight cancer. When he returned to work, our employer, upon the urging of the man’s medical team, replaced the man’s Cathode Ray computer monitor with an LCD monitor. This was sensible but at the time quite expensive for the employer.

No doubt the same man would be well advised, should he visit Fukushima and enjoy shooting and enjoying his meat and collecting his mushrooms , to eat food only sourced from reputable and regulated retail outlets.

In the age of personalised medicine, where the circumstances of each person’s unique radiological history must be taken into account, it is quite appalling, given how frequently treatment dose radiation features in the lives of Australian, that Imperial College London is more interested in selling reactors than it is in transmitting as a set of facts as possible.

The food grown and meat and milk produced from decontaminated areas in the State of Fukushima is very likely to be of no health consequence in the mind of science. But science continues to show how dirty the remaining exclusions zones are. They produce wild game and wild food which is not fit for human consumption.

There is nothing hard about this. It is simple. These are facts. Don’t go hunting or collecting food in the contaminated zones of Fukushima. The exclusion zones are VALID.

Fear is not the driver behind the professional need to keep the dose down. There are reasons why the dose must be kept down. It is unprofessional to suggest otherwise. It is merely technically correct.

Unless you have been inculcated by the Brucer/Goldman school of fallout is good for you, for the industry runs a smaller loss post emergency.

None of things apply to wind solar or hydro, so why is that esoteric and old technology still getting air time.?

Because Imperial College London want to design a reactor for Australia perhaps? It’s the home of reactor design in the UK.

1/4 of all Australians will die from cancer. Many of them will experience at least one, maybe more, rounds of fractionated treatment doses of radiation.

For the sake of their survival, civil authorities need to keep any additional dose which may add to the individual dose down as low as possible.

Ask a competent oncologist about these things.

Dont eat wild boar who lived in the Fukushima Exclusion zones. Unlikely for Australians, quite likely for a traditional rural Japanese lifestyle.

Imagine being warned against fishing from the sea at Port Noarlunga. Would we be thrilled? That’s the Japanese hunters must feel. Pretty angry at the nuclear industry. They keep hunting and so produce the above figures. Does not sound like radiophobia afflicts the wild boar hunters of Fukushima Prefecture. Though Thomas admits the fear got too much for her, so she swapped ideologies and read Brucer and Goldman, I presume.

At least Prof Thomas admits it was she herself who was driven by fear into the arms of the industry. However, her simplistic rendering of the reality of clean and dirty places in Fukushima Prefecture and her ignorant assertion that all food which can, by all means, be considered uncontaminated is wrong by omission.

The wild food sources obtained from the Fukushima exclusions zones should not be eaten anyone who. Certainly, all people should be warned that if they hunt and gather game and other food which lives within the exclusion zones biospheres, then consumption of those foods will, as proven by scientists and medicos in the relevant area, increase your radio cesium body burden. Clearly this is the reality, a reality omitted because it does not meet the requirements of Imperial College London, and it does not meet the requirements of Channel 9 TV Australia.

I presume therefore Channel 9 would like all Australians to chip for the cost of a dozen or so British designed reactors. Prof Thomas may well get to enjoy our “Sunshine”. If we do cough up the required filthy lucre.