Friday, March 1, 2013

Pays to read the source

ABC once again push the panic button on a WHO report on a Health Risk Assessment of the Fukashima Nuclear Disaster. The ABC story by Reuters fails to adequately explain the WHO findings.

The source document is quite clear and succinct on the risks. Here are a few things missing from ABC's report.
This from the report's executive summary:
"Outside of the geographical areas most affected by radiation, even in locations within Fukushima prefecture, the predicted risks remain low and no observable increases in cancer above natural variation in baseline rates are anticipated."

"The estimated dose levels in Fukushima prefecture were also too low to affect fetal development or outcome of pregnancy and no increases, as a result of antenatal radiation exposure, in spontaneous abortion, miscarriage, perinatal mortality, congenital defects or cognitive impairment are anticipated."

The Exec. summary states: "In the two most affected locations of Fukushima prefecture, the preliminary estimated radiation effective doses for the first year ranged from 12 to 25 mSv."

However ABC's report claims:
"The report found that these people received a lifetime radiation dose of up to 50 milli-Sieverts (MSV) and therefore have a significant, but relatively small, additional risk of contracting cancer in later life."

ABC's report states:
"In the most contaminated area, the WHO estimated there was a 70 per cent higher risk of females exposed as infants developing thyroid cancer over their lifetime.
The thyroid is the most exposed organ as radioactive iodine concentrates there and children are deemed especially vulnerable."

 ABC fails to add the important follow on information explaining the risk for Thyroid cancer:
"Due to the low baseline rates of thyroid cancer, even a large relative increase represents a small absolute increase in risks. For example, the baseline lifetime risk of thyroid cancer for females is just three-quarters of one percent and the additional lifetime risk estimated in this assessment for a female infant exposed in the most affected location is one-half of one percent."

It was only in the geographically smaller areas where exposures were higher that the increased cancer risks are significant. For thyroid cancer the actual increase in risk is one-half of one percent.

Nothing ABC loves more than a beat up!

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