California Babies Put at Risk From Iodine-131
Newly revealed tapes, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, show the unconscionable failure of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to protect California infants from radioactive fallout from the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan.
As reported by Energy News.com, NRC officials on March 17, 2011 candidly discussed the reliability of an estimated dose projection of iodine-131 prepared by DITTRA (Defense Threat Reduction Agency) and NARAC (National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center). The projections had calculated an annual thyroid dose of 40,000 Microsieverts (or 4 REM) for infants under one year of age in California. The NRC was not satisfied with figures provided by DITTRA and NARAC and engaged in ordering another set of tests other than those sanctioned by the Department of Energy. NRC officials are heard repeatedly stating they will not be releasing the information to the public. The shocking transcript can be read, here.
Per the US Department of Health and Human Services division of Radiation Emergency Medical Management division (REMM), a child’s dose of 5 REM is immediate grounds for evacuation and prophylactic measures. (REMM does not specifically reference an infant dose) Thus, the projected government dose of 4 rem was 80% of the suggested evacuation rate.
The modeling was based on facts and assumptions specific to circumstances known as of March 17 , 2011. It is unclear if the projections were met or exceeded. No government agency has released an adequate volume of information to either refute or support what the actual fallout rates were in California or elsewhere. Yet, with California in the wind path of the Japanese nuclear disaster— public concern is deeply warranted. Unfortunately, most government-based testing, such as efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency, relating to testing Fukushima fallout stopped in June of 2011. Yet, the Fukushima Nuclear Complex continues to spew significant amounts of radiation into the atmosphere and Pacific Ocean with no clear end in sight. Main Stream Media often refers to the problem of Fukushima in the past tense compounding the public information gap. Proof of the continuing problem is largely tasked by citizen based reporting. A commendable example of this is Los Angeles based reporter Michael Collins, who regularly posts radiation readings and conducts radiation testing on his website EnviroReporter.com. This past week he reported the highest levels yet of radiation from Fukushima in Southern California.
While this article addresses the NRC discussions concerning California, it is important to emphasize that Fukushima radiation has traveled the globe. Much of the fallout follows the atmospheric Jet Stream and has blanketed Alaska, Canada, the US Pacific Northwest, US West Coast and US Mid-West. However, radioactive contamination from Fukushima has also been detected in Europe and even in the Southern Hemisphere. A fallout map, based only on one of the six reactors melting down shows the widespread deposition of nuclear particles across a huge geographic region.
Since the NRC and other government agencies did not share projected dose modeling with the public, they thwarted the efforts of parents and caregivers of infants and children as well as the pregnant from taking preventive action.
In radiation emergencies Potassium Iodide (KI) can be given to adults, pregnant women, infants and children to protect the vulnerable thyroid gland. Iodine -131, a radioactive isotope, is primarily taken up by the thyroid gland. It is a bio-mimicker. The thyroid gland requires iodine to function. In a nuclear accident large amounts of radioactive iodine-131 are released. The thyroid gland is unable to differentiate between regular iodine and radioactive iodine and will uptake whatever chemical form it is presented with. The timed administration of Potassium Iodide (KI) enables victims of nuclear disasters to quickly flood their thyroid glands with non-radioactive iodine in a highly concentrated dose.
Additionally, citizens faced with nuclear fallout need to be given prompt information about the time, location and amount of contamination. This affords an opportunity to alter eating habits, evacuate vulnerable populations and remedy ranching and farming practices. The failure to protect the thyroid gland from inhalation or ingestion of radioactive iodine can primarily result in thyroid cancer and disorders of the parathyroid and thyroid gland.
The calculated threat of iodine-131 is mainly modeled around the intake of milk. Radioactive fallout gets deposited by wind and rain onto pastures where cows then feed on radioactive grass. Humans drinking milk or resultant dairy products from those cows would be at risk for iodine-131 contamination via ingestion. Although cow derived milk and dairy is popularly cited as a threat, the milk products from other ruminants, such as sheep or goats, are also a cause for concern.
Additional contamination, via ingestion, would be from water or food sourced from plants, such as green leafy vegetables. Pregnant women can pass iodine-131 onto their unborn baby via the placenta after inhalation or ingestion of iodine-131. Breast milk, can also become contaminated by the same pathways.
The negative health consequences of iodine-131 target the sensitive populations of the pregnant, unborn, babies and children up to 10 years of age most aggressively. If iodine -131 is inhaled or ingested it lingers in the body with a half life of 100 days, wherein it emits radioactive energy that results in internal damage mainly to the thyroid and parathyroid glands. Continued uptake, lengthens this time frame, setting up the opportunity to cause more devastating damage. Other areas of target include the bone, kidney, spleen and reproductive organs.
The unborn, infants and children have tiny thyroid glands and an overall small body mass. Thus when ingested, a particle of iodine 131 can direct tremendous and damaging energy at cells at a much greater ratio than in an adult. For infants, who are primarily consuming milk (be it breast milk or dairy derived formula) for the first six months of their life small amounts of daily contamination can quickly bio- accumulate within the body with life threatening and health altering consequences.
Critical uptake facts Per the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Case Studies in Environmental Medicine:
- Newborn babies will uptake iodine at rates 16 times higher than adults
- Infants under the age of one have an 8 times higher uptake than adults
- Five year old children have four times the adult uptake rate
- Pregnant mothers have increased thyroid uptake. Most noted in the first trimester.
- The unborn have an increased thyroid uptake in the second and third trimester of pregnancy
- Nursing Mothers can secrete 25% of iodine reserves to their babies
The above statistics highlight the bodies natural requirement for iodine. Again, the body will uptake whatever iodine is available to satisfy immediate need. If there is a deficiency of iodine, or a sudden overrun of radioactive iodine then that is what it will uptake. This is the reason why the failure of the government to protect our children is so deplorable. They knew the radiation was coming and they failed to inform and protect the exposed populations of women and children. A review of official government proclamations from March of 2011 indicate that the public was repeatedly told that there was no need to worry. The NRC informed President Obama that Fukushima fallout would not reach the shores of the United States. The president, then in a Rose Garden speech, on March 17th the same day the as the NRC tapes utters the following historically regrettable words:
“I want to be very clear: We do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the U.S., whether it’s the west coast, Hawaii, Alaska, or the U.S. territories in the Pacific…The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health experts do not recommend people in the U.S. take precautionary measures beyond staying informed..Going forward we will continue to keep the American people fully updated because I believe you must know what I know as president.”
Was it not the right of the children of California to know that they were being projected to receive 4 rem of radioactive iodine?
Immediate large scale and accountable testing must be made of air, food and water within the United States with methods that scan for ALL radioactive isotopes (view World Baby Report’s recent post on radioactive Cesium in San Francisco milk) and the results must be made public. Additionally, children should be screened by medical professionals knowledgeable about the health impacts of long-term radiation exposure. Parents and pediatricians will need to work together over the long term to mitigate further exposures and monitor health outcomes.
Our babies and children are greatly,greatly at risk.
Please circulate this message. We need to have parents, grandparents, pediatricians, child caregivers and those advocating children’s rights demanding answers from the government in order to save our beloved children.
Sources of Information: