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Stanford researchers calculate global health impacts of the Fukushima nuclear disaster
Date:7/17/2012

Radiation from Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster may eventually cause anywhere from 15 to 1,300 deaths and from 24 to 2,500 cases of cancer, mostly in Japan, Stanford researchers have calculated.

The estimates have large uncertainty ranges, but contrast with previous claims that the radioactive release would likely cause no severe health effects.

The numbers are in addition to the roughly 600 deaths caused by the evacuation of the area surrounding the nuclear plant directly after the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and meltdown.

Recent PhD graduate John Ten Hoeve and Stanford civil engineering Professor Mark Z. Jacobson, a senior fellow at the Precourt Institute for Energy and the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, are set to publish their findings Tuesday (July 17) in the journal Energy and Environmental Science. The research constitutes the first detailed analysis of the event's global health effects.

No effects?

The Fukushima Daiichi meltdown was the most extensive nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. Radiation release critically contaminated a "dead zone" of several hundred square kilometers around the plant, and low levels of radioactive material were found as far as North America and Europe.

But most of the radioactivity was dumped in the Pacific only 19 percent of the released material was deposited over land keeping the exposed population relatively small.

"There are groups of people who have said there would be no effects," said Jacobson.

A month after the disaster, the head of the United Nations Science Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, for example, predicted that there would be no serious public health consequences resulting from the radiation.

Global reach?

Evaluating the claim, Ten Hoeve and Jacobson used a 3-D global atmospheric model, developed over 20 years of research, to predict the transport of radioacti
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Contact: Max McClure
maxmc@stanford.edu
650-725-6737
Stanford University
Source:Eurekalert

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